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View Full Version : 1 week reflection online course: Ukulele Way



itsmemattchung
09-15-2017, 01:43 PM
Context

Let me start off by saying I consider myself a beginner, picking up my first (and only) ukulele two years ago, when I learned one to two basic strumming patterns that I taught myself through watching YouTube tutorial videos. Prior to that, I've had practically zero background in music; in other words, the ukulele is my first real instrument.

So about a month ago, I found a local ukulele instructor who I've been taking 30 minute, 1 on 1 in person lessons for the past four weeks. During our first lesson, I had shared with him my two long term goals, my motivation behind taking lessons: jamming with others and improvising. In addition to taking lessons, I decided to complement them by exploring some courses online. Eventually, I stumbled on this website, where I signed up not only as a member on this forum but as a paid subscriber on UU+.

While surfing the forum, I surreptitiously stumbled upon a comment that enumerated some amazing, talented ukuele players such as the infamous Jake Shimabukuro. I searched for each of these listed players in YouTube and sat on my comfy chair behind my desk, completely floored with their talent and craftsmanship. One video in particular left me in awe, a video of a player named James Hill who was on soloing the song Michael Jackson's Bill Jean. I then discovered that he offered an online ukulele program: The Ukulele Way.

So I did some basic research, reading through the forums and watching the (free) introductory videos. Since the site only cost $7 a month, I decided to sign up for it, despite already having a UU+ membership. I wanted to not only compare the content but also the overall cohesiveness. In other words: does the current lesson relate to the last ? Is there an end goal for each module?

These questions are in mind because although I do think the quality of the UU+ videos are well produced (i.e. very professional), I find myself having to hop around on the website—with the help of their staff (big shout out to Kira, who send me a comprehensive list of videos to watch) searching for material that glues the topics together.

The Ukulele Way

It's been one week since taking my first lesson on the theukuleleway.com and I couldn't be happier.

I'm slowly working my way through Level 1 (there are 6 levels, each filled with 9 or 10 videos).

Every time I complete a video (and practicing along), I find myself ending the session with a smile. I love that each lesson builds upon the previous, instead of treating each of them as isolated sessions. For example, James starts off by introducing the basics: learning the melody (using sheet music) of a very basic song. After teaching this elementary melody, he asks a simple question: how do we add color to the song? How can we make it sound "better". These questions get my mind ticking. He explains that you can use the gaps in between each of the notes as an opportunity, "filling them in" and adding depth. This new concept blew my mind. Naturally, this concept lead to integrating chords and teaching us how to pick the right notes for the song to sound (i.e. resolve) correctly.

So far, I'm pleased with the content and the overall organization—especially the cohesiveness. I love the happy medium between theory and practice. He offers his insights, giving a glimpse into what's ticking inside his mind and taking a very Socratic approach, posing questions and and engaging us and challenging us. It feels as if we're on a journey together, exploring the world of music. And it just so happens that we're learning with my favorite instrument: the ukulele.

lfoo6952
09-15-2017, 04:52 PM
Thanks for sharing your story. Best of luck to you in your musical journey.

Booli
09-15-2017, 10:26 PM
Both James Hill (Ukulele Way) and Aldrine Guerrero (UU+) are professional performers, world-class players and excellent teachers.

What you've seen is that there is more than one approach to learning...and in some cases with the right combination, they can be complimentary to each other.

Tonya
09-16-2017, 02:13 PM
Great "mini" review of The Ukulele Way. Thank you for your insight and sharing your experience with it (so far!). I'll be waiting to see an update in a couple months--maybe?

robedney
09-18-2017, 01:38 PM
As a paying member of both (UU and the Ukulele Way) I find them useful in different ways -- neither exclusive of the other. It's easier to dip into UU, pick up a song or two, learn a new strum or whatever. Ukulele Way is more structured and requires more consistency and focus from me -- the student. However, if I can ever even sound the least little bit like James Hill I will be a very happy camper. Aldrine is another of my idols and his love of the instrument and spirit are infectious. What I really need is both the discipline and time to take full advantage of both!!! I disappoint myself regularly on this count...:(

captain-janeway
03-06-2018, 07:58 AM
I've found Ukelele Way a little frustrating, because when using it it would be helpful to have the screen be split to see the sheet music and what he's playing. I'm only digging my way through booster uke but I almost feel like I need to know songs ahead of time or have the sheet music. There's nothing showing the strumming patterns which would be useful too. Maybe I'm overthinking it.

I haven't tried UU yet. Honestly I was trying to keep cost down.

Hope OP comes back to this thread so I can see how he/she is doing now. Like you I want to build a more solid base rather than playing random songs. I'll be signing up for UU I think, and hope it has that. My longterm goal is more like bluegrass fingerpicking. I'm not a strum and sing type.

Anyone else with ideas please jump in as well.

Uke Don
03-06-2018, 09:54 AM
Here's the way I handle Ukulele Way. Click the Sheet Music or TAB tab. Right click on the sheet music and choose Save Image As. Save the image to a dedicated folder on your computer. The page gets saved as a GIF file. Then open that image in your image viewing program and print it out. The reason for doing it this way is that the page will end up being the right size for printing. You can then have the music or TAB in front of you as you follow the video, and you can practice without being on line. You can also right click the audio in the Audio tab and save the audio track too.

captain-janeway
03-06-2018, 10:18 AM
Here's the way I handle Ukulele Way. Click the Sheet Music or TAB tab. Right click on the sheet music and choose Save Image As. Save the image to a dedicated folder on your computer. The page gets saved as a GIF file. Then open that image in your image viewing program and print it out. The reason for doing it this way is that the page will end up being the right size for printing. You can then have the music or TAB in front of you as you follow the video, and you can practice without being on line. You can also right click the audio in the Audio tab and save the audio track too.

Thanks! I'm still trying to find a decent way to cast to TV. I know it's speed problem from the wretched Comcast. Heck I got these speeds with dialup! For some reason, I can get UU to work. I'll figure a way around it.

maki66
03-06-2018, 05:41 PM
Thanks OP!
I've looking at various on line lessos.

sunshiNee
03-07-2018, 01:21 AM
Hello I'm about a month in with Ukuleleway and I did up to book 3 for the first two weeks. I do agree with you you pretty much have to know the song ahead of time if you want to play with the audiotrack and keep the timing proper. Unless you're freaking brilliant at reading sheet music on the fly, but in that case you probably wouldn't even need a newbie online ukulele course :)

For me how I worked it out is I would watch the video. After that I would open two browser windows one with sheet music, and a tiny one with the audio track. Then I just play the sheet music with the audio track. I do give credit for the Ukuleleway for setting me on the right path for reading sheet music and learning all the notes on the fretboard + corresponding it with sheet music:). I didn't think I could do it but up to 12 frets I know every note :cool:... Amazing what the human mind can learn after 15 mins of day of practice. Another thing is that if you are playing and reading at the same time. It does force you to fret the notes without looking at your hand because you're too damn busy looking at the sheet music haha.

For myself I just took a break from the site...I was just getting bored of learning songs which did not really excite me, even though it just autorenewed for another month. But at 9 bucks it's not bad! I can make up the 9 bucks just by browning bag a lunch instead of eating out :) One of these days I will put forth the effort on finishing the full course.

Prior to the Ukulele way I also did Andrew's Rockclass101 Definite Guide to Ukulele and the intro to finger style course. I bought the full year package at around 80 bux I believe? Definitely a steal! The site does have the online tab viewer, and the video play along. Yes the scrolling online tab viewer is nice, but there is no freaking way the average person can play the piece and keep proper time... I tried . For me to play it proper you just have to remember it. Other than that Rockclass101 is pretty good. I think Andrew works very hard on his his lessons and his arrangements. He has a ton of songs, including recent songs, that I think on average people are just more excited to learn.

For myself after 3 months of playing I noticed huge progress. I have been mainly learning songs from Ukulele Jazz book now. For me what I have trouble with is "playing in the pocket" and rhythm. I been using this free App call EarPaggio to do the rhythm training. When I first got the App I could barely get 3 questions right. It would play 1 bar of beats (whole, half, quarters, 8ths ... even 16/ths if you enable it) then you would have to arrange the rhythm on the staff. This week I think my brain just went off because before bed I would do 20 questions... and the last two days I got 95%.... pretty amazing! After that I tried enabling the 16notes and things went to hell again Haha. For some us these things dont come naturally but consistent practice really helps.

Anyway I am rambling but I would like to share my soundcloud. I have a few songs on there now.
https://soundcloud.com/joe-sun-427031883

Although after recording myself and listening to it... there are some rough patches LOL... but after 3months I'm very happy with my progress. I highly recommend people record themselves and listen to it. You might think you are playing like a rockstar... but after you hear yourself you might roll on the floor laughing like I did to myself.



I've found Ukelele Way a little frustrating, because when using it it would be helpful to have the screen be split to see the sheet music and what he's playing. I'm only digging my way through booster uke but I almost feel like I need to know songs ahead of time or have the sheet music. There's nothing showing the strumming patterns which would be useful too. Maybe I'm overthinking it.

I haven't tried UU yet. Honestly I was trying to keep cost down.

Hope OP comes back to this thread so I can see how he/she is doing now. Like you I want to build a more solid base rather than playing random songs. I'll be signing up for UU I think, and hope it has that. My longterm goal is more like bluegrass fingerpicking. I'm not a strum and sing type.

Anyone else with ideas please jump in as well.

NoyBoy98
03-18-2018, 10:17 PM
Just had to chime in. Relatively new uke player here and just got to Book 2, Lesson 2 on the workhorse chords. The chords weren't new to me, but there's a little golden nugget which he refers to as the "Tapping Game". Since I learned it from TUW, I won't reveal how to play it (though you can maybe find it online somewhere), but basically it's an exercise to help you learn and transition to chords faster. I spent the past 20-30 mins doing this with a couple of chords I've been having trouble transitioning to (GCEA - 3535 non-barre, 2013, 1013) and I already see a vast improvement. Twinkle twinkle little star never sounded better from my hands lol.

That alone was worth the first month's 9 bucks.

Rllink
03-19-2018, 04:11 AM
I've found Ukelele Way a little frustrating, because when using it it would be helpful to have the screen be split to see the sheet music and what he's playing. I'm only digging my way through booster uke but I almost feel like I need to know songs ahead of time or have the sheet music. There's nothing showing the strumming patterns which would be useful too. Maybe I'm overthinking it.

I haven't tried UU yet. Honestly I was trying to keep cost down.

Hope OP comes back to this thread so I can see how he/she is doing now. Like you I want to build a more solid base rather than playing random songs. I'll be signing up for UU I think, and hope it has that. My longterm goal is more like bluegrass fingerpicking. I'm not a strum and sing type.

Anyone else with ideas please jump in as well.I too wish that the OP would let us know how it is going. Started the 4th of September and the last post was the 9th of December. As with a lot of people who show up for a while and then disappear, I'm curious whether they got tired of playing the ukulele, or if they just got tired of UU.

sunshiNee
03-20-2018, 01:20 AM
The 8 beat tapping drill helped me with a lot of closed chords like 1212. But I don't practice it anymore now I just play. But I don't think I could have learned Hello Dolly, Sunny Side of the Street, Undecided, Side By Side,Fly Me to the Moon, etc without this drill.

I think too often you see people just giving up playing because for the majority of people like myself it is hard... and it doesn't come naturally. I talked to my friend Matt yesterday and he got his Ukulele a year before me. I asked him if still plays because, well, I'm just insanely obsessed with it now. His reply was "I've discovered I'm not musically inclined". Needless to say he doesn't play anymore... Which is a shame. So I'm hoping the OP is still playing!









Just had to chime in. Relatively new uke player here and just got to Book 2, Lesson 2 on the workhorse chords. The chords weren't new to me, but there's a little golden nugget which he refers to as the "Tapping Game". Since I learned it from TUW, I won't reveal how to play it (though you can maybe find it online somewhere), but basically it's an exercise to help you learn and transition to chords faster. I spent the past 20-30 mins doing this with a couple of chords I've been having trouble transitioning to (GCEA - 3535 non-barre, 2013, 1013) and I already see a vast improvement. Twinkle twinkle little star never sounded better from my hands lol.

That alone was worth the first month's 9 bucks.

Mivo
06-23-2018, 01:27 AM
As with a lot of people who show up for a while and then disappear, I'm curious whether they got tired of playing the ukulele, or if they just got tired of UU.

When I disappear for a few months or a year, it's usually because the forum can turn into quite a time sink, and it's very UAS inducing.