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CoLmes
06-11-2009, 11:14 AM
This topic is for everyone, hopefully I got a very varied response as I really wanan know what helped people improve the most.. This is to the newest members all the way to Seeso and Aldrine and the likes of the most skilled here at UU.

What made you better at playing the ukulele? Was it tutorials, lessons, other members? What made you the player you are today?

I consider myself a very average player. I've been playing for about a year in a half now, and I can say that I have improved dramatically, but still not where I want to be. Not that I want to be a professional ukulele player or something, but I do want to become very good some day.

I'm starting to get bored of finding songs, finding chords, and just strumming chords all day. I want to start learning songs from tabs, because that seems like the way the best players use to play their songs.

As someone who has no musical background, I can see this being a very long journey for me. :( I want to be able to play Gently Weeps and Let's Dance and other very complicated, skillful songs. I want to be able to hear a song and figure it out, I want to be able to come up with my own picking pattern's and improvise a solo whenever my heart desires. I want to be able to do the funky strums Aldrine bangs away and have quick and accurate coordination of Jake S.

I want to be a great ukulele player.

I'm hoping by reading some of your stories and experiences that you put in this thread will help me figure out how to better myself at the Ukulele.

Hopefully some people add their comments to this and help me out. Just tell me what worked for you!

1014
06-11-2009, 11:17 AM
commitment. self-motivation. acceptance. practice.

Bratset
06-11-2009, 11:23 AM
What made me imrove.... Nothing :D still suck
Well... gotten a bit better maybe :p thanks to all the great tutorials made by other Uke playes mostly from these forums!!!
But also from beeing addicted so I have been playing pretty much everyday for 5 months between 1-3 hours :P

Spooner
06-11-2009, 11:24 AM
Three words...

Practice! Practice! Practice!

specialmike
06-11-2009, 11:25 AM
because pokemon taught me to be the best by catching them all.

no, all joking aside, I've always wanted to play an instrument worth playing. I have tried piano and guitar, but they just aren't my thing. The ukulele is nice and I hope that I will become even better in the future.

so self motivation and the need to be the very best.

sebi
06-11-2009, 11:25 AM
Playing a lot a lot a lot, especially cover songs, made me become a better ukulele player.

It also helped a lot, listening to other players and watching their videos on Youtube. And, of course, exchanging knowledge and information with the "ukulele tribe" here on ukulele underground!

GX9901
06-11-2009, 11:27 AM
I think I was able to improve from when I first started out mainly due to an intense desire to learn a few Jake Shimabukuro songs, specifically Gently Weeps. I got a hold of the tabs, tried it, and found that it was within my capability to learn it. After that it was just a lot of playing songs I've learned over and over.

Myala509
06-11-2009, 11:28 AM
Aldrine has made me a better ukulele player!

Bratset
06-11-2009, 11:30 AM
Three words...

Practice! Practice! Practice!


Aldrine has made me a better ukulele player!

Words of wisdom! :bowdown:

Pippin
06-11-2009, 11:36 AM
I grew up with music all around me, but vocals were the focus of just about everything... well, that and writing songs. So, the thing that worked best was and always has been, have a passion for music and play, play, play.

Lori
06-11-2009, 11:37 AM
I would say that preparing for making a video, made me improve the most. I have spent many hours playing many songs, which was fun, but left me without any songs memorized or any songs practiced enough to perform for others. Having to focus on just one or two songs, until you get them really good... good enough to play on video all the way through without any really big mistakes... that is what is advancing me right now.

–Lori

1014
06-11-2009, 11:52 AM
i think a fifth point i should add is:

persistence.

sukie
06-11-2009, 12:03 PM
In some ways playing with the Twin Cities Ukulele Orchestra has made me a better player. That and a lot of practice -- but I still suck at it. Practice, practice, practice is good advice.

Aldrine Guerrero
06-11-2009, 12:10 PM
Being surrounded by music definitely played a huge role. I think the most important factor in my growth was all the other musicians that I've met and jammed with. Might it be technical skills or their wisdom, it all helped me grow as not only a musician but also as a person :D

Ukuleleblues
06-11-2009, 12:13 PM
Practice seems to be the best way. I read a book about how the brain process music and they cited a study where they tried to find something that united all of the Virtuosos in their respective field, (music sports, etc) and the only comon thread was 10,000 hours of doing their craft. That would be 8 hours a day seven days a week for 3.4 years of uke playing. I bet that woul piss off the neighbors for at least the first 2 years.

Ahnko Honu
06-11-2009, 12:26 PM
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! :shaka:

JT_Ukes
06-11-2009, 12:31 PM
practice

with others if possible

cpatch
06-11-2009, 12:33 PM
I'm not a better player yet.

Ukulele JJ
06-11-2009, 12:54 PM
I want to start learning songs from tabs, because that seems like the way the best players use to play their songs.

Actually, the thing that the best players seem to use to play their songs is their ears. This is true on any instrument.

Which brings me to...


I want to be able to hear a song and figure it out, I want to be able to come up with my own picking pattern's and improvise a solo whenever my heart desires.

That's all entirely possible for you, trust me! And it all requires developing your ears. How do you do that? Same way you develop anything else, be it your abs or your foreign language skills... by using them! :D

There are lots of things that I feel have made be a better musician, but there are two in particular. The first is my decision to try to figure out songs myself now and then, instead of relying on sheet music. I cannot stress enough how useful this is.

Back then, this was a bit more of necessity because there wasn't a worldwide web yet. I even remember the first song I tried to figure out. "She's Got a Way" by Billy Joel. I recall sitting on the piano bench with my portable cassette deck (no CDs back then either), playing back a snippet... plinking out notes and chords on the piano... seeing if it sounded right... rewinding the tape a bit... playing the snippet again...

It took forever. And it probably wasn't 100% right. Didn't matter. Like learning to play an instrument, learning to figure out songs by ear is something you're just going to suck at for a while, but that you eventually do get better at.

The important thing is to do it! It's never to early to start. Resist the urge to Google the chords (they're probably not right anyway).

Another thing that helped develop my ear in a big way was learning about and using the Nashville Number System. The basic gist is that instead of writing out the chords to a song as G, C, D, Em, etc... you write them as 1, 4, 5, 6-, etc. It takes a wee bit of theory to understand it, but not much. And it's totally worth it.

Not only does this make transposing a cinch (a number chart can be used in any key without modification), but it trains your ear to recognize the relationship of a chord you're hearing to the key of the song. Using numbers instead of letter names constantly reinforces that relationship.

The second thing that has made me a better musician is this book (http://www.amazon.com/Inner-Game-Music-Barry-Green/dp/0385231261). I highly recommend it.

:shaka:

JJ

FHS-72
06-11-2009, 12:54 PM
Picking up the uke every chance I had. And jamming with Kanaka916 and DHKANE every friday. Also the inspiration watching this girl Carla. She's one of the most bestest guitar and uke player I've ever seen.:rock:

UkuEroll
06-11-2009, 12:59 PM
I used to start a new song and once I got to the bits that were too hard I gave up and started onto something else, this left me with lots of songs I could start but never finish. What has made me a better player was to persevere with the hard parts till I got them down, I now realise that I can get through stuff, I just needed to be more patient and as stated before, Practice as much as possible, even ten minutes a day on pieces your stuck on will help.
Don't go over and over the bits you know, start from where you get stuck, soon you'll be getting to the end, then you can go over the whole song and perfect it.
That's the way I do it, hope it helps.

hawaiianmusiclover06
06-11-2009, 01:03 PM
What makes me a better Ukulele player is that I been taking private ukulele lessons, commitment, be self-motivated, and lots of practice. I practice from 1-3 hours.

haole
06-11-2009, 01:19 PM
Aldrine. ;) When I discovered UU over the summer, the lessons helped me learn some songs fast. This site was the first I found that had a modern approach to the ukulele, rather than focusing only on old-timey standards or Hawaiian classics. It was easier to learn from someone about my own age who can write songs and play several different styles really well.

I also discovered a lot of awesome music from you guys, and Dominator's tabs are great.

Practice is the most important, but always seeking new inspiration has kept me from getting bored.

Brad Bordessa
06-11-2009, 01:56 PM
There is no right answer. Period. Whatever you find interesting is the most important thing you can pursue at the moment.

Theory - get a book at the library. Learn about the number system, how the chords, scales, modes relate, etc.

Not having a teacher - Don't get me wrong, I love to have opportunities to learn from Herb Ohta Jr. and the like, but I feel that not having a teacher and having to figure stuff out for myself has given more of my own style. If you watch Aldrine's videos (again, they are great, so don't get me wrong) all day, certainly you will get good, but you will also start to sound like Aldrine - and you're not Aldrine. You need to be you. If you are forced to teach yourself, you will end up learning things that you like the sound of, not whatever Aldrine decides he's going to teach next. Those videos and others are great, but if that is the only thing you learn from...

Chords - Do you know F13b5#7 off the top of your head? Didn't think so. (I don't ether) The book "Joe Pass Guitar Style" has some great info on constructing jazz chords.

Fun - If you aren't having fun there is no point playing. Don't pressure yourself into unfunness.

The jist - Who cares if you play a song note for note? You aren't a record - play it how you like. Again, this is your style.

Jamming - play with anyone you can. Other instruments, people better than you, just jump right in. That is probably the best way to learn the groove and timing.

Teaching - I swear I learn more from my students than they learn from me. It's a challenge, but if you want to pass on the knowledge, it can be a great reward.

Being around music - Listen to it, play it, be around other musicians, watch concert footage (MTV doesn't count), drum on things, anything to get a bigger quantity of music into your head.

And of course practice - but if you are playing a song and you discover something cool, keep working on it. If you go back to the song, you just lost one more piece of music.

Good luck!

Waterguy
06-11-2009, 02:10 PM
I still have a long way to go but...I would say practicing whatever I am working on as slowly as I need to, to play with no mistakes might be one of the better short cuts I have picked up. I pick up the pace as I get whatever I am working on, but I never play faster then whatever I can manage mistake free. Working with a metonome is great for this because it's really easy to step up the pace a tiny little bit at a time and sooner then you think, you are going along at a good clip mistake free. The point of this is that muscle memory works just as well for playing with mistakes as it does for playing without. I'd rather commit it to muscle memory mistake free.

Another tip, this from a way more experienced player then I. Try and work up to the point where you can play a song about 1 and a half times faster then you will ever perform it. That way, when you perform at the actual speed it will seem easy.

Kanaka916
06-11-2009, 02:13 PM
Kinda off topic and not to be controversial, but would you kindly define "Hawaiian Classics"? I happen to love the mele of Hawai'i and probably so do a number of other folks. What I would term as classic would be songs like Hi'ilawe (Gabby Pahinui), Makee Ailana (Sonny Chillingsworth) and E Ku'u Morning Dew (Eddie Kamae) to name a few. The thing is you can still have a modern approach to these songs by using the info being presented on this forum. The focus of the forum is to teach and share knowledge of the ukulele, not any single genre of music. My dos centavos and 'nuff said on this.

hoosierhiver
06-11-2009, 02:21 PM
Try learning songs you really like, each one will bring up a different challenge.
Playing with other people helps alot and the fun keeps you motivated.

bnicholas26
06-11-2009, 02:30 PM
i went to echords.com and chordie.com and printed out all my favorite songs, it makes it fun learning.

p.s. dylan and ukulele go together like fudge and ice cream

haole
06-11-2009, 02:31 PM
Kinda off topic and not to be controversial, but would you kindly define "Hawaiian Classics"? I happen to love the mele of Hawai'i and probably so do a number of other folks. What I would term as classic would be songs like Hi'ilawe (Gabby Pahinui), Makee Ailana (Sonny Chillingsworth) and E Ku'u Morning Dew (Eddie Kamae) to name a few. The thing is you can still have a modern approach to these songs by using the info being presented on this forum. The focus of the forum is to teach and share knowledge of the ukulele, not any single genre of music. My dos centavos and 'nuff said on this.

Those are the kind of songs I had in mind. And don't worry; I wasn't insulting them or dismissing them as trite and hokey. In fact, I've really learned to appreciate them and enjoy playing Dom's renditions of them since I've been uking. But until UU existed, it was really hard to find anything else to play, as the vast majority of ukulele discussion and instruction on the internets was super-traditionalist. Not that it's a bad thing, but it was a little intimidating since I didn't grow up in Hawai'i or during the Depression. This site really turned me onto what the ukulele can do, in any style. Sorry if my previous post came across as something completely different. ;)

Kanaka916
06-11-2009, 02:34 PM
No apologies needed, just clarification. Funny thing is, growing up in the 808, tried to learn and do songs from the radio. Now it's quite the opposite, trying to learn the Hawaiian melodies instead of the pop 40 stuff. Uke on Brah...

hawaiianmusiclover06
06-11-2009, 06:00 PM
There is no right answer. Period. Whatever you find interesting is the most important thing you can pursue at the moment.

Theory - get a book at the library. Learn about the number system, how the chords, scales, modes relate, etc.

Not having a teacher - Don't get me wrong, I love to have opportunities to learn from Herb Ohta Jr. and the like, but I feel that not having a teacher and having to figure stuff out for myself has given more of my own style. If you watch Aldrine's videos (again, they are great, so don't get me wrong) all day, certainly you will get good, but you will also start to sound like Aldrine - and you're not Aldrine. You need to be you. If you are forced to teach yourself, you will end up learning things that you like the sound of, not whatever Aldrine decides he's going to teach next. Those videos and others are great, but if that is the only thing you learn from...

Chords - Do you know F13b5#7 off the top of your head? Didn't think so. (I don't ether) The book "Joe Pass Guitar Style" has some great info on constructing jazz chords.

Fun - If you aren't having fun there is no point playing. Don't pressure yourself into unfunness.

The jist - Who cares if you play a song note for note? You aren't a record - play it how you like. Again, this is your style.

Jamming - play with anyone you can. Other instruments, people better than you, just jump right in. That is probably the best way to learn the groove and timing.

Teaching - I swear I learn more from my students than they learn from me. It's a challenge, but if you want to pass on the knowledge, it can be a great reward.

Being around music - Listen to it, play it, be around other musicians, watch concert footage (MTV doesn't count), drum on things, anything to get a bigger quantity of music into your head.

And of course practice - but if you are playing a song and you discover something cool, keep working on it. If you go back to the song, you just lost one more piece of music.

Good luck!

I am having the opportunity to learn how to play the 'ukulele with Herb Ohta, Jr. yes, he is one of my 'ukulele teacher. The other teacher that I am learning from is Jody Kamisato.

drubin
06-11-2009, 06:33 PM
Interesting and valuable thread. For me, the top three things that have helped the most in making progress:

1. Be disciplined and approach practicing in a focused manner for small increments of time, like a half hour a day or whatever you can commit (that is, don't just noodle with the TV on for mindless hours). Rather, pick a given technique, song, or whatever and focus on learning how to play it at a very slow tempo. Work a little each day until you can do it with no mistakes repeatedly, then increase the tempo incrementally.

2. Playing with a metronome. In my experience, most people do not have an inborn sense of good time and rhythm. A good sense of rhythm and time only comes from repeated practicing, careful listening, mastery of technique, practicing slowly, and, most importantly, playing with a metronome.

3. Learning to desire to play cleanly with an emphasis on good tone. Fast, flashy playing is fine, but what I really find to be the cat's pajamas is a few notes played soulfully with really good tone. IMHO, I think we all have some ideal sense of what "good tone" sounds like inside our heads, but achieving it is the trick. The only way I've found to get close to achieving it physically has been to listen to lots of other great players (not only on ukulele, but also other instruments), try to master good technique as best I can, and focus on playing each note to its fullest, whether that be a long sustained note, a full chord, or a short, staccato riff. For me, it's always an approximation of what I think "good tone" is.

A friend recently told me that there's some NYT best-seller book about how basically there is no such thing as "innate talent" or "genius" and how the author of this book argues that it takes approximately (rough estimate) 10,000 hours to master any given discipline, such as playing an instrument, playing basketball, painting, writing, physics, or what have you. I think this is right. There's no need to mythologize. The greatest musicians, artists, et cetera were and are great because they cared enough to put in the time. John Coltrane (if you don't know him, look him up) has been said to have practiced 18 hours a day for many years, even when he was making records with Miles Davis! (If you don't know him either, again, look him up!). This example is surely extreme. But I think my larger point is that, if you really love something, you'll learn how to put in the time to learn to do it and do it well. The key is, just stick with it!

Sorry if I'm preaching to the choir here, or if you disagree. I'd be happy to debate any of these points. To be sure, YMMV. :) I guess these are just a few lessons that have really helped me come to terms with my own desire to learn and to make progress on the uke. I hope others find them helpful, but, if not, no biggie. To each their own! :smileybounce:

Good luck to all on your uke journeys!

smgold101
06-11-2009, 06:38 PM
Practice a butt load and use a metronome. Gotta stay on beat in time =)

Craig
06-11-2009, 06:54 PM
"I want to be able to hear a song and figure it out, I want to be able to come up with my own picking pattern's and improvise a solo whenever my heart desires..."

I didn't learn how to read (and I don't mean sight read) music until my mid-20s. Just by learning the names of the notes both on paper and on the fingerboard, is a great help. While going through this process, one trains their ear to hear and recognize music in a different, accurate way.

When I first made the switch from guitar to ukulele, I got a couple of Jim's books and made up little chord solos... I could've made them up strictly by ear, but this would've taken longer....

jbenti
06-11-2009, 07:03 PM
youtube helped alot for me and ukulele chord finder helped a ton too just to know the chords and start to jam with people helped alot in just getting things done from there its just a lot of playing and patience

seeso
06-11-2009, 07:20 PM
This is a great idea for a thread. There are a lot of valuable nuggets of info here. Here are my contributions:


Play out live.
Yeah, you can sit in your room all day and progress, but there's not a whole lot of motivation to get better if that's all you do. To play in front of people, you've got to have it down. I'll sit and go over a song forever until it sounds halfway decent, and then I'll play it some more. With every iteration of the song, I learn something.


Learn music theory and how to read music.
I'm so glad I took piano lessons as a kid and learned how to read music. It makes everything easier. I'm still working on theory, but I know more than enough to get by, and I'm still learning.


Figure out songs.
One of my favorite things to do (as evidenced by all my tabs) is figure out songs and translate them to ukulele. I'm not just talking about chords and such. I'm talking about specific riffs and licks. I'm still working on that "Little Wing" transcription. That kind of stuff. When you do this, you figure out what music is. You start to notice recurring patterns and relationships. These little tricks become tools that you can stick in your tool belt to call upon as the moment demands.


Jam with others.
I'm always picking stuff up from the people I jam with. If you play by yourself all the time, you run the risk of "closing your doors" in a way. For years, I was locked into this one rhythm in my song writing. I couldn't stop playing it. When I started to jam with a country band, the "doors" opened.

jbenti
06-11-2009, 07:36 PM
Jam with others.
I'm always picking stuff up from the people I jam with. If you play by yourself all the time, you run the risk of "closing your doors" in a way. For years, I was locked into this one rhythm in my song writing. I couldn't stop playing it. When I started to jam with a country band, the "doors" opened.
[/LIST]

this was key for me i had the same rhythm for like 4 months and then something just clicked as i was jamming with some buddies

watchmeuke
06-11-2009, 07:43 PM
hot girls that like guys that play good.


but on a serious note, playing the songs that i like vs. playing the cliche stuff (which is still really good music, no offense) helped me.

Pippin
06-11-2009, 08:32 PM
Try learning songs you really like, each one will bring up a different challenge.
Playing with other people helps alot and the fun keeps you motivated.

HH brings up a great point (playing with other people). When I was a kid I was surrounded with great musicians. Playing with them was cool because I kept my eyes and ears open and picked up a lot of tricks on various techniques. That greatly reduces the learning curve.

In my case, though, these were professional musicians and were big on partying and not as big on teaching or giving you the ability to "follow along at your own pace". That can be daunting, but for me, it worked. I fell into place really quickly and became one of the gang in a pretty short time.

whetu
06-11-2009, 08:40 PM
I'm sort of in the same boat - I'm average in capability but I want to be better. I play pretty much every day after work (it's a great de-stresser!), I have a songbook with about three dozen songs and I usually have a dozen or more songs that I have yet to chord/tab up and format nicely before they enter my songbook.

I play through at least ten songs from the songbook every night. I play them with different strums, different tempos etc and I experiment with them to see if I can improve anywhere - sometimes I'll dig them up in chordie and transpose them up or down a few semitones etc

Friends and family who have seen me practice and shown an interest in the ukulele - I've actually purchased them Makala dolphins and tuners, given them web links and left them to it. Whenever I catch up with them, we jam.. or if I was unable to take my uke with me, at least I know there's one there for me to play :D

What I've found has helped me out the most has been recording myself. I took my digicam, hooked it up to a gorillapod stand, threw in a 4gig card and went for it. I can then watch myself on my PC or if I'm game, my plasma TV. Sounds a little vain, I know, but I think it's a great way to pick up subtle ways that you can improve. I've already noticed that my posture is better, I hold the uke in a more comfortable position, and I don't unconsciously pout so much while playing!

Even if for you that means a cheap webcam, it's worth a shot. And when you get really good, you'll already have the recording skills to put quality stuff up on youtube :)

(assuming, of course, that you're not already youtubing your skills)

UkuLeLesReggAe
06-12-2009, 12:40 AM
i havnt picked the uke up in a while actually... so cold right now, hurts to type. Thing that got me better is watching aldrine's video's and getting a good way to hold each chord. Also taking it to school because i play it like 4 hours non-stop.

Dom's tabs r great aswell...

ichadwick
06-12-2009, 01:04 AM
Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. And a glass or two of wine.

RyRod
06-12-2009, 03:16 AM
The lessons, uke minutes, pretty much everything on UU, helped me alot. I also play at least 3 hours, off and on, every day.

minipixel
06-12-2009, 03:28 AM
Some great tips already. Here's my list;

The internet. Back in the last century when I was learning to play all those dusty guitars that don't get so much love anymore, there was no internet. I'd say this was the greatest motivation and resource for my ukulele playing. The enthusiasm of the uke community is infectious and their tolerance of beginners is something the guitar community should learn from.

Also I must thank the internet for paying for all my ukuleles (I'm a graphic artist) :D


Don't try to run before you can walk. Attempting to learn flashy licks straight away can put you off an instrument. Try to play the 'boring' stuff perfectly and you'll be amazed at your progress. Recording yourself can be a great help, alowing you to hear where you're going wrong.

Keep it fun. Gone are the days when you have to learn 'three blind mice' as your first tune. Learn some easy songs you like first, then you can put some time aside to study the fretboard and different chord shapes.

Get a notebook. This is a great resource for keeping track of your progress. Also handy for remembering the chords to 'that song' when you're out on a beach by a fire and have no internet access!

Timing is everything. Sure, you've learnt all the notes, but if you're not in time you'll still sound awful. If you haven't got a metronome, just tap your foot.

Tighten up those friction tuners and tune up every time you play.

Possibly most importantly;

Relax. Beginners have a tendency to clamp onto the fretboard like it was a winning lottery ticket. This doesn't help with smooth chord changes and fluid playing. It takes surprisingly little force to fret a note, especially with nylon strings.

And yeah. Practice (but that's not difficult once you're addicted)

UKISOCIETY
06-12-2009, 05:25 AM
This is a great idea for a thread. There are a lot of valuable nuggets of info here. Here are my contributions:


Play out live.
Yeah, you can sit in your room all day and progress, but there's not a whole lot of motivation to get better if that's all you do. To play in front of people, you've got to have it down. I'll sit and go over a song forever until it sounds halfway decent, and then I'll play it some more. With every iteration of the song, I learn something.


...other valuable stuff cut....


Jam with others.
I'm always picking stuff up from the people I jam with. If you play by yourself all the time, you run the risk of "closing your doors" in a way. For years, I was locked into this one rhythm in my song writing. I couldn't stop playing it. When I started to jam with a country band, the "doors" opened.



I want to echo these 2. There's playing and then there's playing in front of other people. You can learn a piece and have it down cold and still forget it due to stage fright. Get out in front of people at open mics, in parks, on the street, etc.

Also, a successful presentation on stage involves your verbal intros and talk with the audience. Best to know what you're going to say when you introduce your next song.

buddhuu
06-12-2009, 05:46 AM
Unfortunately, I'm not a better ukulele player yet. :o

When it happens I'll come back and credit the cause.

Yopparai
06-12-2009, 06:24 AM
The first thing that really improved my playing was discovered on banjo. I found some midi backup tracks for bluegrass tunes that I had been playing for 30 years by myself. I thought I had em down pat, but one time through with the robo-band revealed all kinds of embarrassing flaws in timing and tempo. A metronome helps, but having a track that fills in the band was much more revealing for me and much more fun.

Probably the most important thing for me was playing with other people. Not only does it improve timing and help develop your ear for hearing chord changes, but it provided me with a reason and a desire to learn new songs and stretch my boundries. I don't get to do it nearly as much as I would like. So..

I merge the first and the second and do multi-track recordings and multi-Yopp videos. Better than midi files, because I am playing all the instruments, so I improve a little all around, but not as good as playing with others live because its all me, which doesn't really push me much.

Of late, participating in the many contests on UU has been a great source of inspiration and has pushed me to stretch myself in ways that I would not have done on my own.

Denno
06-12-2009, 07:15 AM
Three words...

Practice! Practice! Practice!

What he said.

Link
06-12-2009, 10:27 AM
Watching youtube videos and trying to copy the techniques. Then when I was a little better, Acoustic Monster's scales thread helped me with solos and making cooler riffs. Then watching Bruce Baird use the whole neck made me use more chord variations.

Basically watching and copying. And playing many many hours.

Not that I'm any good, but it helped me get better than I was.

UkuleleHill
06-12-2009, 10:42 AM
Youtube is the answer for me!

Pueo
06-12-2009, 11:07 AM
I would say that finding the ukulele has made me a better musician! I took Guitar lessons as a kid, but I have never been as motivated to practice and learn as I have since I started playing ukulele. The time spent playing is very important, you just have to put in the time. For some reason ukulele has made that time more fun for me. The fact that it is very portable has also allowed me to bring it with me more often than I would bring my guitar, so by extension I play more. I am also motivated because now I want to show everybody that you can play anything on ukulele, and that inner challenge has motivated me. I surprised myself the other night when I was working late doing system updates, so I brought in my ukulele to pass the time waiting for the updates to finish. At random one of the guys said, "Can you play Cherub Rock?" and I just said, "I don't know, is that the song that goes like..." and I just played it! Sure it was simple, just vocal melody and then I tried filling in a couple of chords, but he knew what song I was going for, and I was like "COOL!"

Oswegan
06-12-2009, 11:35 AM
Beer.

Lots and lots of beer.

jdmcnasty
06-12-2009, 04:04 PM
Getting my Kanile'a helped :)

tshirtandties
06-13-2009, 04:55 AM
UU + Practice

Moondoggie
06-13-2009, 02:44 PM
Actually, the thing that the best players seem to use to play their songs is their ears. This is true on any instrument

THERE'S my problem! I've been using my fingers! Why doesn't someone right that down somewhere?

Seriously, though, the first thing that helps is to remember that no two people learn exactly the same - there are many different methods that help and some directly contradict each other. The things that have helped me the most are:


Throw out preconceptions Part 1. I've always kind of wanted to play piano, but there's a problem there. I've grown up listening to really hard piano music. Everything from classical to Billy Joel, Elton John & Ben Folds. While my brain tells me that I shouldn't expect to play that stuff right off the bat, a small part of it still thinks "They have ten fingers, you have ten fingers. No reason why you can't play like that right now." With the uke, I haven't listened to a lot of "uke-only" music, so I'm not going into this with the thought that I should be able to pick up the uke and play "Flight of the Bumblebee" right off the bat.
Throw out preconceptions Part 2. It bugs me to hear people amazed that someone can play a certain style of music on a uke or asks if it's possible to do it. The ukulele is a musical instrument. If you have a piece of music, you can make the uke play it, whether that music is hula, metal, bluegrass or techno. If you keep your mind open, not only will you find more music to play, you'll find new ways to play it.
Study various learning styles but don't hold yourself to them A lot of lessons & tutorials start you out with the simple chords and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" stuff. That works for some people. As mentioned above, working on the "boring" chords will help some people stick to it. Not me, though. If I had to keep slogging through the simple stuff, I'd quit playing. Not that I don't play simple things, or that I even play anything that's necessarily that difficult. But I try everything and change stuff up. One day, I might play a bunch of three chord songs, another day, I might be working on finger picking or writing out a riff to try. Other days, I just plink along on the uke with no particular place to go, seeing how chords go together.
Love music that no one else does This is the primary reason I'm teaching myself music theory and trying to build up my ear muscles. I love music in all genres, and a lot of what I want to play, no one else has tabbed out, chorded out or sold any sheet music for. My desire to play songs I want to play is pushing me to learn how to make my own music.
An innate drive for perfectionism This can work against you, and I have a hard time quelling mine, but I think you have to have a little bit of the perfectionist in you to keep practicing one run/progression/measure over and over until you get it right. Just know when to say when :)
Natural rhythm I put this last because, while it's not necessarily something you can learn (up to a point, you can, but it might be work), it's something that has helped me immensely. Being able to feel the flow of the music helps dismiss questions of strumming patterns and chord changes. You just do what seems right when it seems like you should. Wow, that was helpful.

deach
06-13-2009, 04:01 PM
I still suck but a long magical weekend in New York with a couple great players made me want to play better. I was too embarrassed to play with them and I promised myself that it wouldn't happen again.

micromue
06-13-2009, 11:59 PM
Keep a uke wherever you are. Pick it up whenever you feel the urge to do so. Play whatever comes to your mind. Donīt worry to much about the details. Playing the uke is an attitude, not a hobby.:shaka:

krabbers
06-14-2009, 12:14 AM
ive been to a few workshops where i thought ooh this is a bit above me, but there is always something you pick up that sounds good.

the last time i did a UOGB workshop they showed us a jazz bend that you can throw in during a C chords , and it made my playing 100 percent more colorful.

so i would say , just jam with other people , that will improve time keeping chord change speeds and above all you make more friends

SailQwest
06-14-2009, 05:50 AM
Having my husband to play with makes a big difference for me. It makes playing a lot more fun.

I also really love to jam with other people, and I almost always pick up something new.

Lanark
06-14-2009, 06:12 AM
Just like Sukie, playing in the the Twin Cities Ukulele Orchestra definitely helps me too. I end up learning new things all the time adapting songs for the uke and in how we end up arranging them. I also make an effort to learn chords in second & third positions to fill out the sound. Plus since everyone tends to follow me, I have to practice more and be on top of things.

Also making the effort to learn some of the jazz standards that I was always too intimidated to try on guitar has been pretty eye opening and a grand introduction to all kinds of chords with long names.

Waterguy
06-14-2009, 02:04 PM
Getting my Kanile'a helped :)

There is a lot of truth to this. Get an instrument that you LOVE the sound, look, and feel of. You end up practicing more.

CoLmes
07-06-2009, 12:04 PM
I know it's been awhile but I just read all of these replies.. It's really cool, I don't know why I even wrote a thread but I remember I was sitting on the forums, and I started to think about all the Uke players I look up to. I wondered what it took to become what they have become as of now. And in basically a fit of rage (and weirdness) I just posted this thread and was happy to see and read everyone's thoughts, wisdom and experience come out through here.

Really interesting stuff.

I'll answer my own thread..

For me, as the Uke player I am right now.. what made me better was..

watching others. Even when I live in a place where the next Ukulele player I know of is about 2 hours away, I can go on youtube and listen to some players that really touch me...not in a weird way, just their music I really enjoy. Seeso, Aldrine, John Irving, RussBuss, Deach. Just to name a few, (I'm subscribed to like 30 of you guys)

One of the biggest things I learned to do recently was the finger roll, and how to mute the strings with my pinky. (Feats I thought I'd never be able to do.) My strumming has transformed and I can make every song my own now. And it wasn't just how to do those techniques, it was when to do them. I'd watch Aldrine's videos and just try to figure out and notice how he uses them. Def. Helped me two fold. (Next technique to learn is the Flamenco)

I love how being a Ukulele player makes me different because how many freaking Uke players are in MA? I could throw a stone and hit 4 guitar players, 2 drummers, a piano player and land on a Harmonica player's pinky toe.. But I for one have never seen a uker yet. :D

And as far as hearing songs and figuring them out.. before when I'd listen to songs I'd just hear the noise they wanted me to hear. Now I can hear different tone's, different chords, I can hear them switch chords on a guitar. I can hear a picking of a song and get an idea of what I'd have to do. If I had a nickle everytime Brit and I were in the car listening to the radio and I'd turn to her and say "We could do this on the Uke" I'd have enough to buy another Uke by now. That actually happened today.. we were listening to Funky Town haha

It's just really weird how much I developed since I first bought my toy uke off of Ebay for a dollar. (Shipping was like 15, wtf.) It's crazy, I don't know what exactly happened but I can see my progress and it's been a straight shot ever since.

I love the Uke and I can only imagine where I'll be in another 2 years.. then another 2 years... then another 2..

Only if I could learn to sing.

seeso
07-06-2009, 12:31 PM
It's just really weird how much I developed since I first bought my toy uke off of Ebay for a dollar. (Shipping was like 15, wtf.) It's crazy, I don't know what exactly happened but I can see my progress and it's been a straight shot ever since.

I love the Uke and I can only imagine where I'll be in another 2 years.. then another 2 years... then another 2..

Right on, Colin. I've definitely noticed your progression. You've come a long way just since your first video. Kudos, bro.


Only if I could learn to sing.

You can. If I can, you can.

CoLmes
07-06-2009, 12:36 PM
You can. If I can, you can.

The only difference is, you know your voice. You have a very different type of voice and it really works for what you do with it. And it sounds freaking unique and really awesome.

I'm still trying to find mine :)

seeso
07-06-2009, 12:39 PM
The only difference is, you know your voice. You have a very different type of voice and it really works for what you do with it. And it sounds freaking unique and really awesome.

I'm still trying to find mine :)

I'm still trying to find mine, too. It's a battle. Lessons and practice can only help.

whetu
07-06-2009, 04:09 PM
Only if I could learn to sing.

There are lessons for that on youtube, and go with my previous post (record yourself, play it back*) and you'll improve :) Learn the limits of your voice and work with what you've got, and don't worry too much about it: some of the most unique and some of the most overrated voices out there are almost monotonous...

* when Andrea Bocelli finishes a show he almost immediately listens to a recording of the show, listening intently for areas where he can improve. Sometimes your biggest critic, as it turns out, is yourself.

tuscadero
07-06-2009, 05:29 PM
Hey, Colmes, I'm in MA, there are more of us here than you think!

I don't think I've got much to add to the great advice here, but what I've learned lately is that I need to focus on being a better listener. When I play with the couple of meetup groups I've joined, I have to pay closer attention to how the other players are strumming, what is their rhythm/tempo. When I played the luau singalong, I realized that I had to follow the singers as well as lead them, sometimes they would skip to the chorus or in one case a singer took over the bridge acapella. If I just drilled along they way I practice alone, well, that would have ruined the spontaneous moments of brilliance :rolleyes:

Up 'til now it's been all about focusing on what I'm doing, what the next note/chord is going to be, the mental loop in my head reminding me not to drop the ball. As I get more comfortable with the basics, my focus will turn to being able to respond more athletically to the other balls that fly my way.

Hmmm, am I playing ukulele or resigning from my position as Governor of a large, snowy state?

Yeah, and practice. Also. ;)

ichadwick
07-07-2009, 01:33 AM
Rule number 1:Practice.
Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. And have a glass of wine. Or two.

Seriously. Play every moment you can, every day. You become better because you develop subconcious, muscular memory - your hands, your arms will know what to do even when you consciously can't recall the next chord or note. Practice until you can play the song in the air without an instrument, yet hear every note in your head. Play every song you know, then play them again. Play them until you don't have to look at a songsheet.

The wine, by the way, helps you relax. Practice can be stressful. A little wine relieves that.

Persistence, too. Yes, but also curiosity. When you're curious about how a tab might sound when you've never heard the song, - it makes you sit down and struggle through it. When you're curious about how someone makes that sound, or gets that particular riff going, or how he/she manages to do that version so much better than you - then you get motivated to learn and practice (see note 1, above). If you're curious, you explore opportunities and challenges that take you to new places. You try things, you change keys, add notes, alter chords; you make mistakes but you also find hidden treasures. You get better from it.

But most of all:

Passion. If music is mechanical, then find another hobby. If you're moved by the simple sound of a plucked string; or by the sweet sound of a chord strummed lightly in the morning air; if tones resonate sympathetically through you; if songs stick in your head like glue and you repeat them endlessly inside, working out your own variations and intrumentation; if you hear a beat when you walk down the street and it gets you singing to yourself; if you wake up in the morning with a song playing in your head; if you can listen to the same song over and over, each time hearing something new and peeling it apart like an onion to find its core - then you have the passion. You make music because it's like air, food, water and sex - a necessity.

I have several Tibetan singing bowls scattered around the house. I can stroke or strike them and the tone vibrates my whole body. The sound sweeps me up and holds me. I listen until it finally fades from my hearing. Just one note, but it's like swimming in an ocean of sound. I stand there, motionless, listening. I could do it for hours, but it drives Susan crazy. Her passion is for beat and rhythm; she likes to dance to the music. I like to bathe in it. For me, to make music, even to make a pure tone, is almost a religious experience. It can be better than sex.

And last of all:

Money. No, I'm not being facetious. Getting a good instrument is an incredible inspiration for improvement. Doesn't have to be a high-end, custom-made one-of-a-kind job, but something that changes the way you hear - which changes the way you play. A simple upgrade from a $50 laminate uke to a $200 solid-top uke can make a world of difference, without breaking the bank. When your instrument sounds better, you play better.

I played a lot of guitars in my day, many good ones, and many inexpensive beaters, but when I got a Martin, I found I played a lot better. The notes were clearer, the sustain longer, the tones richer. I stopped banging for effect and started playing for sound. Even after I had parted with it, I was still a better player. Playing a good instrument will make you want to play more, to improve and to perform up to the level of the instrument.

joezane
07-07-2009, 02:06 AM
I love how being a Ukulele player makes me different because how many freaking Uke players are in MA?

I'm a Uke player in MA.

and don't forget, so is Craig Robertson (ukulele noir), and Mark (Jazz Ukes) Occhionero, and many many more...

CoLmes
07-07-2009, 04:28 AM
Hey, Colmes, I'm in MA, there are more of us here than you think!




I'm a Uke player in MA.

and don't forget, so is Craig Robertson (ukulele noir), and Mark (Jazz Ukes) Occhionero, and many many more...

Where are you guys at? I'm in Carver right now next to Plymouth.. I'll be living in Cambridge by the end of August

joezane
07-07-2009, 05:32 AM
i'm in cambridge


ukulele noir is usually just down the way in somerville. it's held at johnny d's in davis sq.
on the red line..
http://www.ukulelenoir.com/

CoLmes
07-07-2009, 09:08 AM
that's awesome i'll def. check that place out once i'm moved in.

we should jam sometime, and whoever else is from Ma

tuscadero
07-07-2009, 01:07 PM
I'm in Arlington, one town over from Cambridge. Have you been to Music Emporium in Lexington? They have some beautiful instruments there, and Tim Mann works there and offers lessons. (He often plays at Ukulele Noir and with Craig Robertson)

nacho
07-07-2009, 03:49 PM
Like you, I'm very average. I started playing 4 months ago, in mid-March. The first month, I was able to learn how to make chord shapes and do basic strumming. The following months, it seems like my growth was in spurts. I didn't play for days at a time. Once I started playing on a more regular basis, I noticed myself getting a lot better as I learned new strums with cool rhythms from some of Aldrine's lessons, and as I found motivation to play favorite songs. From here, I think I will get better by finding songs I really like and learning how to play them well :D

Johnny Elsewhere
07-07-2009, 03:58 PM
Seeing Jake play in person really helped (actually, that's what got me started in the first place!). And all of Aldrine's Uke Talk videos, etc.

Watching and hearing people play also helped, too!