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Joyful Uke
10-21-2017, 02:33 PM
As I work on getting the right notes, in the right rhythm at the right speed, I realize that there is something else that is needed: musicianship. But I'm not sure how to define it.

What would you say defines "musicianship"? Can it be learned, or do some people have it and some people never will?

Where can I get me some? EBay? :D

zztush
10-21-2017, 02:49 PM
Hi, Joyful Uku! My answers are as follows.

Q: What would you say defines "musicianship"?
A: Good ear for music

Q: Can it be learned, or do some people have it and some people never will?
A: Yes we can.

Q: Where can I get me some? EBay? :D
A: Listen to music and your own play. Yes. you can get some on EBay too.

Freeda
10-21-2017, 03:21 PM
First, play the notes.

Then start over.

This time, tell the story.

Booli
10-21-2017, 07:12 PM
I think that acquiring greater musicianship comes with LISTENING - to yourself if playing solo and to both yourself AND others if in a group.

If you are only banging away from a chord chart and NOT actually LISTENING and adapting your technique in order to achieve a pleasing sound and engaging performance of the song, it will only ever SOUND like you are mechnically banging away.

How to do this? How do you KNOW you are better?

If you are actively LISTENING when you are playing as per above, after maybe 800-1,000 hrs of practice you may not even ask this question, and likely will be able to recognize musicianship in other folks.

JMHO.

Croaky Keith
10-21-2017, 10:57 PM
Rather than just playing the notes/chords, you just need to add some feeling to it. :)

(Express yourself through your music.)

Rllink
10-22-2017, 04:36 AM
Rather than just playing the notes/chords, you just need to add some feeling to it. :)

(Express yourself through your music.)I was going to say something similar. I call it presence.

SailingUke
10-22-2017, 04:49 AM
I think that acquiring greater musicianship comes with LISTENING - to yourself if playing solo and to both yourself AND others if in a group.

If you are only banging away from a chord chart and NOT actually LISTENING and adapting your technique in order to achieve a pleasing sound and engaging performance of the song, it will only ever SOUND like you are mechnically banging away.

How to do this? How do you KNOW you are better?

If you are actively LISTENING when you are playing as per above, after maybe 800-1,000 hrs of practice you may not even ask this question, and likely will be able to recognize musicianship in other folks.

JMHO.

This is what I have found the real difference in players is. LISTENING.
You need to ween yourself from the paper and play.

MopMan
10-22-2017, 05:35 AM
There is a book that recently came out which is geared toward teaching musicianship:

Arpeggio Meditations For Ukulele by Daniel Ward (http://www.danielward.net/)

I purchased a copy and found it to be very relaxing and enjoyable to play the exercises.

You can read more about it in this thread (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?128281-Arpeggio-Meditations-for-Ukulele-(Daniel-Ward)&highlight=arpeggio+meditations).

Joyful Uke
10-22-2017, 06:29 AM
How to do this? How do you KNOW you are better?

If you are actively LISTENING when you are playing as per above, after maybe 800-1,000 hrs of practice you may not even ask this question, and likely will be able to recognize musicianship in other folks.

JMHO.

So far, I've considered myself "better" when I can hit more of the right notes, play more complex pieces, (I play fingerstyle), memorize what I want to play, and other more mechanical type of measurements. I'm not sure how to tell if my musicianship is getting better or not.

I do recognize musicianship in others, but don't know how to define it.

If I shouldn't have to ask the question after 1,000 hours of practice, I'd better not add up the practice hours. Maybe I'm not at that # of hours yet, though, if I do a quick calculation in my head. Especially if you count real practice vs. just playing, which is a different use of time.

Joyful Uke
10-22-2017, 06:38 AM
First, play the notes.

Then start over.

This time, tell the story.

I'm probably trying to overthink this. I think that's a great response - until I start to try to define how you tell the story.

There has to be a vocabulary, (and one that is understood by whoever is listening), and appropriate feeling/emotion, and what else?

I'm not a good story teller in words let alone music, so will have to think about what makes a great story teller vs. someone just trying to tell a story. Maybe the great story tellers just have lots of charisma, which you either have or you don't?

You could send 2 people up on a stage presenting the same script with the same exact words. One might have the crowd mesmerized, and the other might not be able to hold the attention of the audience at all. Both might be presenting the script with feeling/emotion. There is something more that makes a great story teller.

bratsche
10-22-2017, 06:55 AM
I think of musicianship as what makes music sound personal. It involves many things that have already been mentioned, to which I'd add variations in tempo (slowing down or speeding up occasionally if the piece calls for it); variations in volume (dynamics); phrasing (simply letting the music "breathe"). These things all combine to add a human element to the music (I like the word "presence", it sums up a lot!), making an interpretation distinctively your own, and avoiding the robotic or "MIDI-ish" sound of something played simply "correctly" to the metronome tempo and all at the same degree of loudness. You can recognize un-musical playing, and it just sounds boring or pedantic, even if the notes are all there. Good musicianship has a spark of life that's absent from its opposite.

bratsche

Pueo
10-22-2017, 07:11 AM
You may be over-thinking it, based on your response to Freeda's post.
If I know how a song goes, I can pretty much look at a song sheet and passably play the song - even if it is the first time I have tried to play it. That comes from having played for a while.
Once I am able to actually learn a song by heart, then you are free to put some of yourself in there too, which transforms your playing from a recital to a performance!

What Freeda said is EXACTLY what you are asking though!

Down Up Dick
10-22-2017, 07:17 AM
I think that acquiring greater musicianship comes with LISTENING - to yourself if playing solo and to both yourself AND others if in a group.

If you are only banging away from a chord chart and NOT actually LISTENING and adapting your technique in order to achieve a pleasing sound and engaging performance of the song, it will only ever SOUND like you are mechnically banging away.

How to do this? How do you KNOW you are better?

If you are actively LISTENING when you are playing as per above, after maybe 800-1,000 hrs of practice you may not even ask this question, and likely will be able to recognize musicianship in other folks.

JMHO.

I agree with Booli that listening is very important, but I would like to add that it is also very important to just listen on YouTube or wherever to the kinda music that you wanna play.

Another thing I reccomend is that one sing or hum or whistle lots. I do those things a lot and probably drive those around me to distraction. Anyway, one can more easily adjust his music that way, and maybe get a better feel for his/her musianship. Like . . . git down wid it . . .
:old:

Croaky Keith
10-22-2017, 07:41 AM
Another thing, if you don't already do it, is to record yourself, listen to how you are playing it to get an idea of what is missing.
As said above, music does not sound monotonous, it rises & falls, gets louder & quieter, goes a little faster & a little slower, all these things count toward musicianship. But once you start to put a bit of yourself into your playing you will develop your own style too.

Rllink
10-22-2017, 09:21 AM
Rote, is described by Marriam-Webster Dictionary as, "a joyless sense of order." I find that a lot of uninspired musicians are a living definition of rote. I would say that being a Joyful ukulele player would be a great start.

acmespaceship
10-22-2017, 11:32 AM
When you're looking at the paper and trying to remember the chord shapes and worried about how you sound and you notice your ring finger is cramping up and you're wondering if you'll ever hit a clean Bb chord... you're not letting the music take flight. True musicianship is a flow state. You forget yourself and no longer think about the mechanics. See here: https://daringtolivefully.com/how-to-enter-the-flow-state

Sometimes it helps to sit alone on a porch somewhere, start playing a song you love, close your eyes and listen as you play. If you can't close your eyes and play, you need to pick an easier song. Enjoy the music and pay no attention whatsoever to whether you're playing it correctly. If you're singing, remember the words mean something.

Or sometimes it helps to get some friends together and bang out an old song loud and crazy.

When your favorite song comes on the car radio and you're singing along with the windows down, you aren't thinking about how well you sing. You aren't inhibited. You're totally immersed in the music. Do it that way every time.

Or try. Sometimes it just won't flow, and that's ok. Keep trying at it. It's not about you, it's not about the frets and the chords and the notes... it's about the music and the moment.

robedney
10-22-2017, 12:46 PM
Lots of great, thoughtful posts above!

What's funny is that I was just thinking about this yesterday. I was trying out a new uke setup and started strumming really loudly -- pushing it as far as I could. From a technical standpoint I was seeing if I could overdrive the instrument -- play so hard that the sound started to distort/break-up. However, as I was doing that it occurred to me that I tend to strum at a more or less steady volume -- partly because I play a lot at our meet-up. It's safer to blend in, particularly if you happen to play the wrong chord at the wrong time.

So, I took a moment and strummed from as quietly as I could manage to as loud as I possibly could -- in steps. I discovered that it was a lot of fun, and that lots of things change as you do this. This happenstance exercise stretched me well outside of my normal, safe and predictable limits.

I think we have a very human tendency to play it safe -- and that means staying inside a certain box we've gotten comfortable with in things like dynamics (volume), tempo (rrythm), strum pattern, etc.

One way out of the box is to push the limits, which tends to expand the often discussed "comfort zone". We can't possibly know what might work if we never go there to hear it.

Taimane Gardner is probably one of the most dramatic uke players out there. Youtube her and check out how she uses dynamic range, tempo, strumming/picking/drumming on the uke patterns to express herself. She also tends to move around a lot, and I don't think I've ever seen her in shoes :)

robedney
10-22-2017, 12:50 PM
I just reread all of the responses here and each of them offers something valuable (with the possible exception of my own). As we're all musicians, perhaps this ought to be a sticky?

Tootler
10-23-2017, 10:56 AM
For practical ways to introduce emotion or musicianship or whatever you want to call it, think about what makes music sound emotional. Soft and loud. Harmonious and discordant.
Here is a list of things that are notated in written music which are possibly about musicianship (list from MuseScore App):
Arpeggios and Glissandi
Breaths and Pauses
Brackets
Articulations and Ornaments
Accidentals
Dynamics
Fingering
Tremelo
Tempo
Beam Properties
Frames and Bars
If you go through this list and study each item you will find a lot of ways to put some emotion and musicianship into your playing.

You can do all these things and become a technically competent musician. However, musicianship is about the things that aren't written down in the score. It's how you put something of yourself into the music. It's how you relate to the music, how you interpret those directions.

Friends of ours had two daughters both of whom learnt to play the piano. If I went to their house and one of them was playing, I could pretty well always tell which one was playing. The elder one tended to be technically very good but mechanical. The younger was sometimes not quite so accurate but there was always that something extra, She somehow could put feeling into her music which the elder didn't.

The younger one eventually went to music college and is now a professional musician.

RafterGirl
10-23-2017, 03:32 PM
I have the hardest time when I'm playing with a group, and my inner " musician" what's to let loose. It's a challenge staying in sync with the group, when the timing or phrasing is more straight forward.

MopMan
10-23-2017, 10:23 PM
You want your ear and your fingers to become as one; to develop good ear-hand coordination, so to speak.

Listen and appreciate the various inflections you can impart to the sound as you play. You can make the sound sing sweetly, bark angrily, dance joyously, laugh, cry, boast. Pay attention and observe how your interaction with the instrument can bring out these qualities and others in your sound.

Never play mindlessly--focus on the character of the sound that you make. Strive to make the kind of sound you think best compliments the music you are playing. Be it a simple exercise or a complicated performance piece, always make it music and not just noise.

Once you have a degree of control over the technical aspects, musicality will come naturally as long as you have the habit of actively listening and shaping the sound you create.

Always listen first, and a fine musician you shall become.

Rllink
10-24-2017, 04:17 AM
You can do all these things and become a technically competent musician. However, musicianship is about the things that aren't written down in the score. It's how you put something of yourself into the music. It's how you relate to the music, how you interpret those directions.

Friends of ours had two daughters both of whom learnt to play the piano. If I went to their house and one of them was playing, I could pretty well always tell which one was playing. The elder one tended to be technically very good but mechanical. The younger was sometimes not quite so accurate but there was always that something extra, She somehow could put feeling into her music which the elder didn't.

The younger one eventually went to music college and is now a professional musician.


Some people don't need to ask for some tools and techniques to be more creative, they just relax and be creative. Other people need some pointers and need to learn the techniques a bit to work out how to be creative. Not everyone is the same, but everyone can be creative. Some people need to ask the questions like we see in the OP. As has been stated there is an element of creativity and emotion in what some call musicanship, these things are hard to teach and learn. If you look at the tools provided in the conventions of standard notation, which I have listed, you can start to look for the techniques to think about, but learning them wont necessarily guarantee you develop musicanship as pointed out above. However, you if you are looking for somewhere to start, it is a good list, it shows you the things that can be added to music. You do not have to learn how to read the notation, just research the effects and see how you can do them on your ukulele. It is up to the player to add them into the music in a way that is creative and emotional, and as also stated above, you do not always need to get them perfectly right. If you are unsure or can't seem to get the emotion happening, learn the technique first so you have a baseline, then rip it up and pull it to pieces to find some feeling and emotion.

I think that together you have hit the nail on the head. I do agree with Bill, the more tools one has, the more likely they will be able to express themselves in their music. I agree with Geoff, that when one immerses themselves is the mechanics to the point that there is no room for creativity, that their music will be missing something. Putting each one in perspective with the other is the trick.

spookelele
10-24-2017, 05:45 AM
I think musicianship is a double sided understanding of what is happening.
Music is both created and consumed so its appreciation is really two fold.
Its making music in a way that is both appropriate and appreciated.
It's not just techinique, and virtuosity, which people have already talked about.

There's also... a deeper underlying understanding of what you're playing, why, and who's listening beyond just the how.

For instance... improvisation.. is a form of personal creativity. But quoting another piece because it means something is also musicianship.
It's something that draws a listener deeper into the music or expresses ideas beyond just the notes.
It's something that makes the difference between sound, and music.

Nickie
10-26-2017, 06:48 AM
From what I've seen, I think it is a combination of at least 3 ingredients.
Mastery (technical, understanding and using theory)
Expression (like the masters)
Love (pure love of the music, and care about what the audience is experiencing, and enjoyment in what the musician is doing, being "inside of the music")

Joyful Uke
10-26-2017, 10:36 AM
Lots of great comments. Thanks.

Bill1 mentioned "Beam Properties". Even Google couldn't help me figure that one out. What is it?

I think that my technique needs more work before I can get the musicianship I'm looking for. What I'd like to hear coming out of the ukulele isn't what is coming out, but that is, I now think, in large part to need to practice more vs. not being able to hear it in my head.

Nickie
10-27-2017, 02:43 PM
Joyful Uke,
Try this.
https://musescore.org/en/node/112281

or this:
https://musescore.org/en/node/30901

Joyful Uke
10-28-2017, 12:55 PM
Thanks, Nickie.

plunker
10-31-2017, 01:58 AM
There are a ton of u tube uke performances covering the entire spectrum from why? to Wow!. Listening to them will help you see what other do. I have done this, find it helps.