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Kherome
03-12-2019, 01:58 PM
I got my first ukulele a little over a week ago. (Amazon) Being new, it was not the best decision and I ended up returning it because the quality wasn't really there as it was a cheap model. (I didn't know any better, but I've learned more since I joined here)

I have another on the way, but in the mean time I was able to borrow a uke from a friend (who doesn't really play either, but happens to have a uke). This one is of substantially better quality than the one I sent back and I found the difference kind of amazing. The sound is so much better, I didn't realize it until I played with this borrowed one but the one I returned had a bit of a flat sound to it, kind of bland and blah. Plus no matter what I did I always had a buzz on certain chords. The borrowed uke is amazing! It's like going from listening to music on crappy laptop speakers to some kind of amazing surround sound.

That said, having been at this for a bit over week now, I still can't manage a whole song. I've been following a YouTube tutorial that is trying to teach "Riptide". People in the comment section are like "Gee I watched this video once and I'm playing Riptide like a pro! Thanks!" Me, I'm able to partially grind out the song, sort of...with some hesitation. I seem to struggle going from A to G, and my strumming hand gets a little wild and starts doing it's own thing, like a two year old child strung out on Easter candy.

Someone please tell me that I'm not the only one who's been on the same tutorial for a week and still haven't mastered it? I really love playing, I just stink at it at this point. I'm not quitting, not in any way is that a concern. I just want to hear that other people had slow progress but ended up a reasonably good player at some point? I don't expect to ever be like Jake S or anything, but darn if I don't feel as clumsy as a new born horse trying to figure out it's legs.

robinboyd
03-12-2019, 02:23 PM
I got my first ukulele a little over a week ago. (Amazon) Being new, it was not the best decision and I ended up returning it because the quality wasn't really there as it was a cheap model. (I didn't know any better, but I've learned more since I joined here)

I have another on the way, but in the mean time I was able to borrow a uke from a friend (who doesn't really play either, but happens to have a uke). This one is of substantially better quality than the one I sent back and I found the difference kind of amazing. The sound is so much better, I didn't realize it until I played with this borrowed one but the one I returned had a bit of a flat sound to it, kind of bland and blah. Plus no matter what I did I always had a buzz on certain chords. The borrowed uke is amazing! It's like going from listening to music on crappy laptop speakers to some kind of amazing surround sound.

That said, having been at this for a bit over week now, I still can't manage a whole song. I've been following a YouTube tutorial that is trying to teach "Riptide". People in the comment section are like "Gee I watched this video once and I'm playing Riptide like a pro! Thanks!" Me, I'm able to partially grind out the song, sort of...with some hesitation. I seem to struggle going from A to G, and my strumming hand gets a little wild and starts doing it's own thing, like a two year old child strung out on Easter candy.

Someone please tell me that I'm not the only one who's been on the same tutorial for a week and still haven't mastered it? I really love playing, I just stink at it at this point. I'm not quitting, not in any way is that a concern. I just want to hear that other people had slow progress but ended up a reasonably good player at some point? I don't expect to ever be like Jake S or anything, but darn if I don't feel as clumsy as a new born horse trying to figure out it's legs.

For me it was months.

If I watched a video tutorial of Riptide now, I'm pretty sure I could play the song within a few minutes, but when I first started it would have taken me months of practice.

rainbow21
03-12-2019, 02:45 PM
It does not come as fast as watching the video once unless you have previous experience. When you begin, you are trying to coordinate a whole lot, including timing/rhythm, left hand chord formation (and done quickly), right hand strumming pattern, reading the music (or watching video) and maybe even singing!
G is not an easy beginning chord because it requires three fingers in an initially awkward formation. The goal is to keep improving through practice. You will notice then that the songs will be easier and sound better. There is a ton of beginning videos to help you along. (also PM sent)

Arcy
03-12-2019, 05:46 PM
I was playing Riptide less than an hour after I picked up a ukulele.

Neener! Neener! I AM A UKULELE GOD!!!

True story (except for the god part), but there's important context:

0) This was a beginner class at the local library
1) We played a significantly simplified version of the song
2) I probably made a ton of mistakes
3) We played a simplified version of the song
4) I didn't know the song and skipped the singing
5) We played a simplified version of the song
6) My standard of "success" was low
7) Did I mention that we simplified of the song?

I'm sure that to somebody listening it was a complete mess, but I had a blast and was hooked.

Seriously: anybody who watched the video and "mastered" the song in one play through wasn't starting from scratch and they probably have a low standard for mastered.

This is hard.

You're doing three things that you're not used to, and you're trying to do them together, synchronized, for a long time.

This is hard. This takes time. You'll build skill, you'll build strength. You'll build speed. Don't get discouraged.

Take the three parts, eliminate one, simplify another, and concentrate on the third.

For example, if you want to concentrate on your A to G changes:
1) Singing - get rid of it for now
2) Strumming - simplify it! Just strum once per measure.
3) Fretting - concentrate on this. Just switch between A and G. Over and over. Don't worry about speed. Make clean transitions.

You'll get there. And once you have the A to G down, then start working on your strumming. Go from one per measure to two per measure, then four, then start mixing things up.

Go slow. Simplify. Then build up.

Having played a while now I can keep up with reasonable strumming and singing in a circle, certainly enough to have a great time and (I think) enough not to annoy my neighbors, but I can't really maintain a performance standard on both at the same time. When I record I have to do so on separate tracks or I'm a complete mess.

If you really want to progress I'd recommend finding a good in-person teacher who can look at what you do and give personalized suggestions for how to get from where you are to where you want to be.

UkingViking
03-12-2019, 08:38 PM
I played a song pretty much right away.

But then again, I did have tiny bit of experience with guitar before. And it probably didnt sound too good.

If you start with a simple song, it is easier.
I started out with "Lime in the coconut", which only uses one chord, to get hang of some strumming techniques.
Then I moved on to the Banana Boat Song, which has just two chords.
After that I went for the songs that I wanted to learn.

So I would say, find a simple song with 1 or two chords, and find some strumming toturials. Then learn riptide afterwards.

ripock
03-13-2019, 12:07 AM
Obviously, it also depends on the song. If it took you weeks to get a decent rendition of a two chord song like "Singing in the Rain," then there might be a problem. However, if you're working on a campanella arrangement of one of Bachs partitas, then you might be at it for a while.

Croaky Keith
03-13-2019, 12:21 AM
I still can't! :p

I do my own thing - trying to fret chords, strum, & 'sing' (see my name!), it's difficult for most of us, & highly unlikely to happen within weeks, maybe months, (unless you've played a stringed instrument before).

And, yes, I really am hopeless, even after a couple of years, but I do it for the fun of it - I'll never threaten Jake. ;)

robinboyd
03-13-2019, 01:23 AM
Obviously, it also depends on the song. If it took you weeks to get a decent rendition of a two chord song like "Singing in the Rain," then there might be a problem. However, if you're working on a campanella arrangement of one of Bachs partitas, then you might be at it for a while.

It took me longer than that when I first started. Much longer. I think people tend to underestimate how difficult this is for absolute beginners.

Rllink
03-13-2019, 02:04 AM
Depends on what you mean by playing songs. If you are talking about strumming two or three chords and singing them, it didn't take me very long at all. Everything else I'm still working on. I don't know what Rip Tide is, but starting out with a simple two chord or three chord song with basic chords is a better way to start than diving into something more advanced. I might suggest Wheels on the Bus. It is a C and a G7. It is a very simple children's song. You should be able to play it and sing it in a couple of days.

Swamp Yankee
03-13-2019, 02:28 AM
I don't think any of us were able to pick up their first stringed instrument and quickly master all the coordination it takes to play it. It's going to take lots of time. Hopefully, you're enjoying the process because nobody goes from total newbie to proficiency without a whole lot of time spent practicing.

Kherome
03-13-2019, 05:33 AM
Thanks I guess I just wanted to know that I'm not the only person who wasn't able to pick a uke up and play a song right away.

Kherome
03-13-2019, 07:08 AM
I pulled out a book that I had called "how to play the ukulele for the complete ignoramus". I can now play "Twinkle twinkle little star" so I guess that's a start?

captain-janeway
03-13-2019, 08:38 AM
I can kind of play simple songs, but as far as playing anything complicated, I'm still trying to get some strumming and picking patterns down. Uncle Rod's bootcamp helped as far as transitioning exercises. I started James Hill's course but kind of gave up because there was a point early on where it seemed you needed to be able to read sheet music.
I did pick one song though and have been spending a really long time trying to coordinate picking and singing. Getting the left and right hand working together while trying to remember the picking pattern and singing is crazy hard for me.
I'm continuing to try though. I'm hoping I'll hit one of those "A Ha" moments. I'm almost there on that one song I picked.
I started to go to a jam and even though they're kind of over my head, I just mute the strings and try to get the strumming down. I figure if I can do that without thinking I'll be able to integrate the chords.
Good luck.

Barrytone
03-13-2019, 08:46 AM
I think kherome is making the mistake many others do. Because the general view is the Uke is an easy thing to play, folks do not want to learn how to play the ukulele but how to play a song.
You cannot play in correct tempo and rythmn without learning to play slowly; strum efficiently and with consistency while accurately and cleanly forming chord shapes. This takes time and patience.
I would suggest as others have mentioned, go back to the beginning, watch beginners tuition vids. You must learn to walk before you can run.
If you do not want to put in some hours of practice then you may be able to play a passable form of Vance Joy's Riptide after all while, but your next song might well be another tedious exercise.

Kherome
03-13-2019, 09:24 AM
I think kherome is making the mistake many others do. Because the general view is the Uke is an easy thing to play, folks do not want to learn how to play the ukulele but how to play a song.
You cannot play in correct tempo and rythmn without learning to play slowly; strum efficiently and with consistency while accurately and cleanly forming chord shapes. This takes time and patience.
I would suggest as others have mentioned, go back to the beginning, watch beginners tuition vids. You must learn to walk before you can run.
If you do not want to put in some hours of practice then you may be able to play a passable form of Vance Joy's Riptide after all while, but your next song might well be another tedious exercise.

That is not so. I am following a "learn the Ukulele" course and this what they are teaching. I didn't choose anything. I'm merely following the instruction.

hendulele
03-13-2019, 10:54 AM
It took me several days to put together a couple of chords into a recognizable strumming pattern. I started with a few songs from the 'beginner' section of Doctor Uke. I think Twinkle, Twinkle may have been my first one as well.

As I progressed, I got stuck on the few occasions I said, "I want to play THIS," even if "THIS" had difficult chord changes or unusual tempos. It was easier for me to learn to finger the I, IV, V C chord progression and pick songs with those chords. Then branch out. I was a frustrated uker until I figured that out.

JoyLily
03-13-2019, 11:42 AM
So, try something simpler. I find Cynthia Lin's beginner tutorials to be quite good and a great motivation. She starts you off easy and you're playing a song by the end of the video, slowly though, but a song. When you get to the second and third videos, you'll start to get more comfortable. But don't be discouraged if you're not. Our brains are not readily set to coordinate our left and right hands in two different directions, while also remembering a rhythm and/or singing without a lot of practice. I find my best way to practice is to do little bits throughout the day. While my work schedule allows it, I pretty much play for 10-15 minutes (guessing) randomly and multiple times a day working on strumming and chords, then when I feel comfortable with certain ideas, I'll move on to the progression in a song. It definitely takes time, though, to get used to a new thing. And each and every song is new. So each song will take time.

I highly recommend recording your practices, too, if only to see what you're doing in comparison to the video you're watching. When you watch a video of someone else, you're looking at them face to face. But when you compare what you're doing, you're looking down at your hands. Seeing how it looks face to face might help with visualizing and seeing where you can improve, change, or advance. Also, having a video record of where you start can be a fun way to remind yourself with other things when you're better that practice, practice, practice makes perfect!

jane_grey
03-14-2019, 12:47 AM
Depends on a song. It took me a month or so to learn my first one (and I won't say it was hard one!). But I had less time for my practice, and that was a huge mistake of mine.
As for now, simple fingerstyle stuff with repetitive patterns I can get very quickly. More complex fingerstyle stuff is still proving to be quite devilish.
Nothing comes without practice. Start with basics, then try something else, and yes, it will take your time, but we all have different skills.

ukantor
03-14-2019, 01:43 AM
When people say the ukulele is easy to play, I understand that to mean it is easy to sing a song and accompany yourself with a few simple chords. If you want to play melody lines - successions of single notes - then the uke would not be top of the list of instruments I would recommend.

John Colter

Lacole
03-14-2019, 05:46 AM
When picking your first song look for something easy and not very long. Look for something with one or two easy chords such as C and F. (Add G7 and you can play Kim Ba Yah). Enjoy!

Kherome
03-14-2019, 06:20 AM
When people say the ukulele is easy to play, I understand that to mean it is easy to sing a song and accompany yourself with a few simple chords. If you want to play melody lines - successions of single notes - then the uke would not be top of the list of instruments I would recommend.

John Colter

I have never met any instrument that was easy to play.

Kherome
03-15-2019, 11:13 AM
So after steady work and lots of bungles I was able to (on 3/4 speed) follow a tutorial and play "Country road" and also a passable version of "Lava" (I lava you). Loooong ways to go before anyone should ever hear me, but I am having fun. I am still having trouble controlling the strumming hand. It likes to cut loose and do it's own thing, strumming pattern be darned. I am still working through the "ukulele for the ignoramus" book.

ripock
03-15-2019, 01:30 PM
So after steady work and lots of bungles I was able to (on 3/4 speed) follow a tutorial and play "Country road" and also a passable version of "Lava" (I lava you). Loooong ways to go before anyone should ever hear me, but I am having fun. I am still having trouble controlling the strumming hand. It likes to cut loose and do it's own thing, strumming pattern be darned. I am still working through the "ukulele for the ignoramus" book.

Cool. Then you did it. I'm glad you made it. I will mention that you'll need to come to peace with the strumming stuff because it never ends. You'll practice right hand technique and then you'll notice that your left hand is holding your progress back. Then you'll focus on the left hand and then the right hand will suffer. On and on it will go. You'll get better and better, but the better you get, the more you'll need to improve. That's the fun of it all.

actadh
03-15-2019, 02:50 PM
I picked up a uke on Christmas Eve and was playing Jingle Bells and a few other holiday songs the next day. I first pulled up a site that had the 11 most important chords and learned about six of them. Then, I googled the songs. One reason I did well is that the songs are so well known to me.

Try kid songs, carols or anything else that you know really, really well. After I did the Christmas songs, I learned The Hokey Pokey for the grandkids I was seeing that day. Three chords - C, G, G7. They still ask me to play it and remember that Christmas day.

Kherome
03-15-2019, 03:18 PM
I picked up a uke on Christmas Eve and was playing Jingle Bells and a few other holiday songs the next day. I first pulled up a site that had the 11 most important chords and learned about six of them. Then, I googled the songs. One reason I did well is that the songs are so well known to me.

Try kid songs, carols or anything else that you know really, really well. After I did the Christmas songs, I learned The Hokey Pokey for the grandkids I was seeing that day. Three chords - C, G, G7. They still ask me to play it and remember that Christmas day.

I have learned "twinkle twinkle little star" "you are my sunshine" and I'm working on some other "folk" songs from the book I mentioned above. But in addition to that I've been using youtube tutorials that claim to be for beginners too.

Graham Greenbag
03-17-2019, 01:18 AM
I got my first ukulele a little over a week ago. (Amazon) Being new, it was not the best decision and I ended up returning it because the quality wasn't really there as it was a cheap model. (I didn't know any better, but I've learned more since I joined here)

I have another on the way, but in the mean time I was able to borrow a uke from a friend (who doesn't really play either, but happens to have a uke). This one is of substantially better quality than the one I sent back and I found the difference kind of amazing. The sound is so much better, I didn't realize it until I played with this borrowed one but the one I returned had a bit of a flat sound to it, kind of bland and blah. Plus no matter what I did I always had a buzz on certain chords. The borrowed uke is amazing! It's like going from listening to music on crappy laptop speakers to some kind of amazing surround sound.

That said, having been at this for a bit over week now, I still can't manage a whole song. I've been following a YouTube tutorial that is trying to teach "Riptide". People in the comment section are like "Gee I watched this video once and I'm playing Riptide like a pro! Thanks!" Me, I'm able to partially grind out the song, sort of...with some hesitation. I seem to struggle going from A to G, and my strumming hand gets a little wild and starts doing it's own thing, like a two year old child strung out on Easter candy.

Someone please tell me that I'm not the only one who's been on the same tutorial for a week and still haven't mastered it? I really love playing, I just stink at it at this point. I'm not quitting, not in any way is that a concern. I just want to hear that other people had slow progress but ended up a reasonably good player at some point? I don't expect to ever be like Jake S or anything, but darn if I don't feel as clumsy as a new born horse trying to figure out it's legs.

I haven’t read the full thread (yet) hence I go back to the original post and question “how long before you could play your first song”?

For me it was about four weeks but there are loads of factors to that so please don’t take answers too literally.
# I play other instruments and have for years so that was a real help.
# I learnt in a group with other beginners lead by a really good teacher, he’s a good player too but the type of teacher who pulls gently pulls achievements out of you.
# I turned up at a Uke Club, still being barely able to change from one chord to another, and just joined in. No one complained, we all sang and played, everyone had fun. My first song was ‘played’ and I never looked back.
# My first sessions at the Uke Club weren’t pretty, they were mentally challenging and I probably sucked. However, no-one cared ‘cause: they were just pleased to see another starter, they believed that I’d improve and (importantly) they remembered being a new starter themselves.

For what it’s worth I’ve been playing for several years now, I continue to get better and still take lessons from time to time. If I were to judge myself against the folk who post videos here then I recon it will be about a decade before I’m around that level. That skill gap doesn’t stop me enjoying what I do and making a useful contribution to the Uke group that I play in. It’s all a journey and I’d advise beginners to be not overly concerned by what they can’t do and to enjoy what they can.

A lot of folk believe that the Uke is an easy instrument to play, after all it’s taught to primary school children. The truth of the matter is that the Uke is easy to physically pick up and is relatively inexpensive, both good reasons to use them in schools. However they are also used because, in addition, they can produce quite complex music requiring rhythmic skills, use of chords and use of individual strings - all good for teaching/demonstrating music theory too. Playing a Uke to a high standard is hard, but just playing something on a Uke is easy - I love that inclusivity.

Barrytone
03-17-2019, 06:30 AM
Ok Kherome. You are following the instruction but you are having difficulty. I do not wish to argue. I was only pointing out that it takes time to learn correct fingering and chord transitions. Riptide is an easy Am, G, C tune with a bit of F at the end. If you already have spent some time learning the basics slowly then it is an easy tune to strum although achieving a good snappy right hand also takes time.
You will find good advice here but You do what works for you.