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WifeOnFourStrings
04-20-2017, 04:56 PM
I will be taking a 30 min introductory (not free) class soon, after which it is expected that if I want to continue I will sign up for a month of weekly classes. I'm somewhat torn about this as I doubt that a half hour is enough to really judge an instructor (outside of maybe liking or disliking his or her personality), but the alternative, committing to five classes (month of May) seems like a bit much, especially if I figure out by week two we're not a good fit for each other.

Here's my question: how much of a "breaking in" time should I, as a student, be expected to give an instructor?

stevepetergal
04-20-2017, 06:14 PM
Good question. My perspective is very different from yours. I don't think 5 classes/lessons is much at all. I wouldn't feel able to judge a teacher for at least a few months. You may be a far better student than I, so maybe a month or so would be a big investment.
My other thought is, if you really think the instructor has nothing to teach you, you should be able to get out of the "expected" classes by simply telling the teacher "I don't think you have anything to teach me."

70sSanO
04-20-2017, 07:48 PM
I agree that it is a good and tough question. If you have absolutely no knowledge about playing a ukulele, or even tuning one, it will take more time to learn tuning, how to hold it, how to make chords, how to strum, etc. if you have some experience with a string instrument, the initial introduction may go quicker.

Either way, you need to let the instructor know what is your overall playing goal. Do you what to play chords and strum to accompany singing, alone or in a group? Do you want to play melodies? Do you want to understand fretboard theory? If you want to play chords, learning scales may seem like a waste of time.

I would think that after 2-1/2 hours you should be able to tune a ukulele, hold it and have a basic strum or two and know 6 or 8 easy chords (which may still require referring to a chord chart) that will let you play some songs.

John

Croaky Keith
04-20-2017, 11:03 PM
Personally, I don't feel an instructor would be of any use until you know what you want to achieve.

I'd start by learning the basics from a book or the internet, then when you know what you want, maybe, go looking for instruction in that area.

My own personal way of learning, is by teaching myself, from info that is freely available online, though I did start out with books. :)

We each learn differently.

WifeOnFourStrings
04-21-2017, 05:47 AM
Thanks everyone for your feedback.

I can read music notation and I've been working with a ukulele beginner book so the instructor won't have to start completely from scratch. I think having a physical list of my goals, short-term and long-term, when I walk into the lesson is a great idea. :) If the instructor responds positively, I'll wager a month's worth of lessons and we'll see what happens.

ScooterD35
04-21-2017, 06:33 AM
For $9 a month, you can take lessons online at your own pace from James Hill.


https://www.theukuleleway.com


BTW, I'm in NJ too! There is a group that meets in Morristown regularly (The Morristown Uke Jam on FB and Meetup). Also, there's a Uke festival in Altoona, Pa starting today and running all weekend.

http://soiree.alleghenyukes.com

There's also another festival in the Morristown area in late August, and one at Funky Frets in the Philadelphia area in the fall.


Scooter

rubykey
04-21-2017, 09:10 AM
[/QUOTE]Here's my question: how much of a "breaking in" time should I, as I student, be expected to give an instructor?[/QUOTE]

You already have your doubts and I don't blame you. I would be uncomfortable with such an arrangement with someone I didn't know. Have you shared your concerns with this teacher? I would ask the teacher what I would learn in that one month. What specifically does that teacher plan to teach, what method do they use, and what results do they expect to get from participants. A knowledgeable teacher would know how to answer this question and would welcome it. And that should give you a feel for the teachers Style interest in students learning and ability to convey information.

No one here in this forum can tell you how long or how much time you would need to assess the value of the class. That's individual and personal. I have been mostly self-taught. There are books and videos and lots of free information out there. I did start out taking so-called lessons from someone. It was fun to have comradery and a little group but essentially she didn't know how to teach. She would just bring songs with chord grids over them. That is what a lot of people who call themselves teachers do. And for some students that's enough.

A good teacher can say" these are the skills I will teach and this is the method I will use to help you master the skills." As you progress in music you can develop a sense for yourself of what skills you want to learn. But in the beginning I think that's a hard concept for you to know.

WifeOnFourStrings
04-21-2017, 09:19 AM
For $9 a month, you can take lessons online at your own pace from James Hill.


https://www.theukuleleway.com


BTW, I'm in NJ too! There is a group that meets in Morristown regularly (The Morristown Uke Jam on FB and Meetup). Also, there's a Uke festival in Altoona, Pa starting today and running all weekend.

http://soiree.alleghenyukes.com

There's also another festival in the Morristown area in late August, and one at Funky Frets in the Philadelphia area in the fall.


Scooter

I did look at the Ukulele Way and also at Ukulele Underground's lessons but I know from experience that I do better with in-person instruction be it a group class or one-on-one.

The Altoona Festival is something to keep in mind for next year. There are other uke groups a little closer to me than Morristown, but I am keeping my eye on the website for the August Festival. :)




You already have your doubts and I don't blame you. I would be uncomfortable with such an arrangement with someone I didn't know. Have you shared your concerns with this teacher? I would ask the teacher what I would learn in that one month. What specifically does that teacher plan to teach, what method do they use, and what results do they expect to get from participants. A knowledgeable teacher would know how to answer this question and would welcome it. And that should give you a feel for the teachers Style interest in students learning and ability to convey information.

No one here in this forum can tell you how long or how much time you would need to assess the value of the class. That's individual and personal. I have been mostly self-taught. There are books and videos and lots of free information out there. I did start out taking so-called lessons from someone. It was fun to have comradery and a little group but essentially she didn't know how to teach. She would just bring songs with chord grids over them. That is what a lot of people who call themselves teachers do. And for some students that's enough.

A good teacher can say" these are the skills I will teach and this is the method I will use to help you master the skills." As you progress in music you can develop a sense for yourself of what skills you want to learn. But in the beginning I think that's a hard concept for you to know.

The intro will be my first time meeting the teacher, I've only spoken with the admin at this time. As suggested above I'm going to make a list of goals and see how the instructor responds. If the first lesson goes well, I'm inclined to take a gamble on a months worth of lessons as I do understand the necessity of that requirement—this is how they make their living and carving out time in the schedule for someone who may or may not show up week to week would adversely affect them.

niwenomian
04-21-2017, 02:49 PM
I'd say approach the intro lesson with the intention to continue for at least a month. Measure the teacher at the end of the month by your progress toward your goal.


I didn't catch whether you were new to uke, intermediate or advanced. I think the further along the uke trail you are, the more nuanced your goals will be and accordingly, the more specific the instruction. Early on, you need more general instruction, so you have a wider choice.

I've been taking a weekly lesson for about a year now and I don't see the progress week to week, but when I measure how far I've come in a year, it amazes me. I'd been playing for a few years and sought out a teacher to teach me the style that I want to play.

I guess I would assume heading in to it that things will work out and that I will make positive progress toward my goal. Unless something goes drastically wrong, you probably won't know after a lesson. After a month, you'll know if it's a good fit and you'll have a good idea of the kind of progress that you can expect to be making.

derbyhat
04-21-2017, 06:18 PM
A lot of folks have said something similar, but I wanted to put forward my advice:

Step 1- Do you like the teacher as a person? If you don't, you're less likely to practice.

Step 2- If you can, tell the teacher specifically you want to learn. If you don't know, you will know of the instructor is right for you if they can answer this question to your satisfaction:
If I'm your average student, where will I be in 1 month? 6 months? 12 months?

Or, if those words don't sound right, ask them what their plan is to turn a generic "beginner" into a generic " intermediate" player, into a generic "advanced" player.

Best...

70sSanO
04-21-2017, 07:51 PM
My advice is to take lessons in person if that is how you want to learn.

I have tried to teach my wife to play here and there over the years. She finally signed up for group lessons. It was the best thing she could do. Now when she has a question or wants to learn a new chord she has a better appreciation of what it takes to play... When you pay for lessons and the instructor tells you to practice, it has more impact.

John

sculptor
04-27-2017, 05:36 PM
Well, I'd ask about their background first. I took lessons on another instrument from several different people. One was just a college kid. He was OK on the instrument but really didn't have a clue as how to teach it. The other a professional musician who was an instructor at a well know conservatory (I think he heads the department now.) The difference was night and day. Interview them during your lesson about their experience, interests and education. A heavy metal guitarist isn't going to be a very good ukulele teacher, period!

-- Gary

WifeOnFourStrings
04-27-2017, 06:35 PM
If you are thinking of giving the teacher a "break in" time, I don't think you are ready for learning or lessons yet. You need the teacher, the teacher does not need you, when you are ready to learn you will just start a course of lessons and follow where the teacher leads you.

Last I checked, teachers need students if they want to make a living. Being a starving artist has lost its charm for most. If all music teachers were created equal, then yes, a beginner could walk in anywhere and go wherever the teacher led, but that's not the reality. The expertise of teachers vary, and as an adult I will take into account how well we get on and if we have similar goals in mind for my playing.



Some teachers will have a well defined syllabus to follow, James Hill/Chalmers Doanne material is a good example. Some teachers will find out where you want to go and then take you there. Some teachers will appear totally random, but after you have done the work, the results wont be random.
As the saying goes, when the student is ready, there will be a teacher. If you are talking like the language in the OP, you are not hungry for knowledge and you may not know where you want to be musically, you are more concerned about materialistic stuff like how much it costs, so you are really not ready for lessons yet.

A little less condescension please. It was never about the money, it was about if the money was better spent giving someone a month tryout, or if it was better to try a handful of teachers in the same time frame.



To get an idea of the best things to learn on your uke to be able to be an independent music person, check out some Chalmers Doanne and Melanie Doanne videos, where they talk about using the ukulele as a music learning tool. Take note of what they say about melody, harmony and chords, it is only about 3 minutes long, but is a great summary of what you should look for in learning to play your ukulele to its maximum potential.

I would be happy to do so if a link were provided. A google search turns up a few too many—over 59,000—for me to dig through.

Rllink
04-28-2017, 04:46 AM
I have recently acquired a student. A twelve year old girl. I do not really consider myself the teaching type, but I reluctantly took on the student because her mother is a good friend of my niece and I have known her since she was a child herself. I am taking a somewhat unorthodox approach to it. I'm also only charging ten bucks a lesson. After three lessons the mother is saying that her daughter is having a lot of fun learning to play her ukulele and really looks forward to getting together each week. I guess that is what is really important.

sukie
04-28-2017, 06:37 AM
I'm not sure that trying out a lot of teachers instead of going with one will lead to success. I would think you wouldn't learn much as it takes time to gel. When I had my lessons I would learn something and then be given homework for the week. We then built upon what I'd learned (or didn't learn). My in person lessons weren't so great. When I started my online lessons it was dang hard work. Sometimes I didn't even understand the goal. Then I'd have a lesson where all the things I had been working on came together.
Like someone else has said, per each lesson I maybe thought I'd made no progress. But after a few months I'd really see how far I'd come.
I hope you find a solution that works great for you.

WifeOnFourStrings
04-28-2017, 07:47 AM
I'm not sure that trying out a lot of teachers instead of going with one will lead to success. I would think you wouldn't learn much as it takes time to gel. When I had my lessons I would learn something and then be given homework for the week. We then built upon what I'd learned (or didn't learn). My in person lessons weren't so great. When I started my online lessons it was dang hard work. Sometimes I didn't even understand the goal. Then I'd have a lesson where all the things I had been working on came together.
Like someone else has said, per each lesson I maybe thought I'd made no progress. But after a few months I'd really see how far I'd come.
I hope you find a solution that works great for you.

May I ask how long you took in-person lessons?

It's definitely not my goal to switch instructors with frequency, but committing to the first one on a list based on distance and availability doesn't always work out for the best.

I'm lucky that the music teacher I met is very personable, skilled and knows a lot of music theory. Now the question is: will he be able to teach me? Teaching is an art, and no matter how amazing someone is, there's no guarantee that they communicate in way that helps others. I've got at least the month of May to think it over, though my initial homework (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?127067-How-many-chords-to-learn-practice-at-a-time&p=1962553#post1962553) is raising some eyebrows.

sukie
04-28-2017, 08:48 AM
I took in person lessons for about 2 years. On line lessons for almost 6, but he toured a lot so the were some lesson gaps. Which was okay with me.

valde002
04-28-2017, 10:00 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dE00vlfnAV8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5Pf-D2o-1c&feature=youtu.be

brUKEman
04-28-2017, 05:17 PM
There are a lot of guitar teachers out there who also play/teach ukulele. I would suggest that you find a ukulele player as they make the best teachers. Anyone can show you the chords, but the ukulele has a lot of right/left hand techniques than need to be taught as well. Good luck with your lessons..

sukie
04-28-2017, 06:56 PM
There are a lot of guitar teachers out there who also play/teach ukulele. I would suggest that you find a ukulele player as they make the best teachers. Anyone can show you the chords, but the ukulele has a lot of right/left hand techniques than need to be taught as well. Good luck with your lessons..

Totally.
That's one reason I loved my on-line teacher. He is an ukulele rock star. (But he can play a mean guitar)

One Man And His Uke
04-28-2017, 09:52 PM
Personally, I don't feel an instructor would be of any use until you know what you want to achieve.

I'd start by learning the basics from a book or the internet, then when you know what you want, maybe, go looking for instruction in that area.

My own personal way of learning, is by teaching myself, from info that is freely available online, though I did start out with books. :)

We each learn differently.
Agree with this. As for teachers, I'd say half an hour with a good teacher who is enthused about their subject, be it ukulele or quantum physics, and enthuses you about the subject, is probably worth more than an hour with a rubbish teacher. Joining a Uke group is great for learning too. Enjoy! :D

Rllink
04-29-2017, 06:17 AM
I throw out this disclaimer right off, as often times a simple observation is interpreted as a declaration of war on something and I certainly do not have any criticism of people who pay to take ukulele lessons. But most ukulele players who I personally know are self taught. I remember the first ukulele festival that I went to and I attended a workshop where I saw a lot of thumb waving going on. I mentioned that to the instructor after the class and he blew it off, saying that most ukulele players are self taught and that pretty much the natural thing to do is to stick that thumb up in the air instead of placing it precisely on the back of the neck. But to me part of the allure of the ukulele is the fact that you can teach yourself how to play it. That you don't have to go out and find a ukulele instructor and schedule lessons every week. I feel a kindred spirit with the rest of the thumb wavers.

Graham Greenbag
04-30-2017, 10:42 PM
I'm not certain what the factors for the OP really are. Is it cost or time or content or interaction or syllabus, etc. It might be there but I've missed it.

Rather than individual lessons or teach yourself I opted for group lessons and that worked well for me. I think that there were about a dozen in the group and both musical background and natural ability varied quite a bit, but that proved to be helpful in a way. The teacher had a structured course that they were working through and enough ability to teach and play to have a steady stream of students - not all do. Class tuition obviously doesn't centre on an individual's needs but a good teacher does observe individuals in their group and does help when needed, the students help each other too. Lessons are much longer longer so you play more and have more time for an idea to sink in. That same teacher does do individual 30 minute lessons too, both in person and over the web, which follow his course structure but my preference is the group setting. Maybe that's a route to consider or at least pick someone for private lessons who also teaches groups in a structured way - my old teacher's selected syllabus matches his students needs for their later independent playing and that gives him repeat business through referrals and follow-on courses.

WifeOnFourStrings
05-01-2017, 12:12 PM
I'm not certain what the factors for the OP really are. Is it cost or time or content or interaction or syllabus, etc. It might be there but I've missed it.

The question was, how much time should I devote to figuring out if an instructor is right instructor for me? My choices were 30 minutes (one introductory class) vs 180 minutes (the required monthly commitment after an intro). I opted for the latter since one 30-minute lesson didn't seem adequate to get to know a teacher. :)

Alytw
05-01-2017, 12:50 PM
Why not email the teacher in advance and ask any questions that you have about thier style, experience, philosophy etc? You could also ask them directly if they feel that 30min is enough time for them to do a proper assessment of your current level or if 1hr is required.

If they are serious about taking you on as a student, they can invest a few minutes of their time to answer your questions.

I would think that 30 min is a bit too short personally, but I'm not a teacher.

Just my thoughts,

Adam

WifeOnFourStrings
05-01-2017, 02:07 PM
Why not email the teacher in advance and ask any questions that you have about thier style, experience, philosophy etc? You could also ask them directly if they feel that 30min is enough time for them to do a proper assessment of your current level or if 1hr is required.

If they are serious about taking you on as a student, they can invest a few minutes of their time to answer your questions.

I would think that 30 min is a bit too short personally, but I'm not a teacher.

Just my thoughts,

Adam

The admin handles calls, schedules lessons and books rooms, so there isn't a direct path to the teacher (at least in the beginning). But I'm ok with using the half hour to address questions. A teacher's time is valuable (imagine if they had to email every student—minutes add up) and I think I'll learn more from face-to-face interaction than from an email anyway.