PDA

View Full Version : Where to start?



Melissa82
07-13-2009, 03:18 PM
I don't have a uke yet but I will soon. I haven't touched sheet music in, oh dear, 12 years. I have a keyboard which I don't know how to use and the internet at my tips.

What would you suggest the first things a beginner should do in preparation to learn the uke? *cringes at the thought of theory*

ritzer012
07-13-2009, 04:07 PM
while this has no rhyme or reason to it, i just started googling "ukulele" and anything that was remotely related. eventually i was lead to UU which is where i eventually landed and spend most of my time now. you're here. so you're already ahead of me.

but in the beginning i just kinda roamed around the internet looking up whatever had to do with the uke. and if my ADD brain wandered in the meantime, so be it. i would start looking at the history of ukulele and i'd come across another link and look at chord shapes and get confused and give up and click another link to a youtube of IZ playing on the beach which would bring me to a grandma playing a banjo in the bath tub...oh the randomness of the internet.

but seriously, even now i just kind of look up whatever i'm interested in at the moment. most people won't agree with it and i wouldn't endorse it as the best or easiest or most logical path to learning the uke but it got me interested and keeps me interested.

i think in the beginning i was sort of looking for something like a "12 step program to become a good ukulele player". and thank god i never found it because if i had to follow anything with any structure i would have become bored and discouraged and given it up after 2 weeks.

just my story!

DaveVisi
07-13-2009, 04:09 PM
You've come to the right place. Just browse Aldrine's tutorials and play-alongs here. Learn a couple of single and two finger chord patterns and just start playing! Theory can come later... if at all.

Melissa82
07-13-2009, 04:29 PM
Thanks for the replies!
I've been told I have ADHD (pssh, whatever, I just get bored easily, ha) and I tell ya, I've been getting side tracked and everything when trying to look something up, lol.

Like the comment about the theory, lol. Theory was actually the reason I dropped band in high school... I regret it but whatever... hehe.

KC8AFW
07-13-2009, 05:07 PM
Thanks for the replies!
I've been told I have ADHD (pssh, whatever, I just get bored easily, ha) and I tell ya, I've been getting side tracked and everything when trying to look something up, lol.

Like the comment about the theory, lol. Theory was actually the reason I dropped band in high school... I regret it but whatever... hehe.

They tell me I have ADHD, but I just don't underst...oh look, an ukulele...:D

Theory is usefull once you're ready to create your own songs...for now, you can get great enjoyment from just learning to play songs you know. Aldrine's lessons are a great place to start. I actually started by learning C-G-Am-F and just noodling around with those 4 chords till I was comfortable with them. Watch lots of YouTube videos to see how people are positioning their hand to finger those chords. then start trying to learn songs with those 4 chords. Once you're comfortable...then start learning new chords, and new songs that use those chords. Most of all...HAVE FUN!

itsme
07-13-2009, 05:20 PM
Melissa, what are your goals? Are you looking to learn accompaniment for songs or more like fingerpicking melodies on their own?

Honestly, you don't need to know theory to play an instrument. houghty posted a nice chart of chord progressions in the various keys.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16083

I'm a pretty accomplished reader on classical guitar, but the idea of mentally translating all the notes differently (especially with the re-entrant tuning) seems quite daunting. So I'm actually learning to read tab for uke. There are lots of free tabs out there. :)

Good luck to ya!

Melissa82
07-13-2009, 05:23 PM
Thanks for the great advice!

My goal is to be able to sing and play the uke in a style that most suits my voice. That being said, I don't know what style that is so I have some discovery ahead of me.

itsme
07-13-2009, 05:39 PM
My goal is to be able to sing and play the uke in a style that most suits my voice. That being said, I don't know what style that is so I have some discovery ahead of me.
Then I would work on learning chords and chord progressions. :)

You can find the lyrics and chords for just about every song ever written somewhere on the net. You may need to translate them to a key that works within your vocal range, though.

built
07-13-2009, 05:45 PM
www.chordie.com would be a very good place. they
ukulele chords diagram and even transpose to suit your key.

Melissa82
07-13-2009, 06:01 PM
www.chordie.com would be a very good place. they
ukulele chords diagram and even transpose to suit your key.Wow, nice site, thanks for the link!

Lori
07-13-2009, 07:17 PM
Do you like the Beatles? http://www.beatlesite.info/
Most of the songs have quite a few chords, but it is a lot of fun. It gives you the melody (as a midi) to play along with, and the lyrics. You can pause the playback to study parts that might go by too fast.

–Lori

JT_Ukes
07-13-2009, 07:22 PM
Just play.


Have a song you like to sing?

then check out http://www.chordie.com search for it there.

there is an option to see the uke chords. (c and d tuning.. u'll want c )

and just play.

JT

LazyRiver
07-13-2009, 10:48 PM
A chord chart can be overwhelming. Most songs - especially traditional ones - use groups of chords that pretty much follow a pattern. I've laid out the groups here: http://lazyriveruke.blogspot.com/2009/06/let-me-entertain-you.html

Just learn one group at a time, taking as much time as you need.

Another way is to focus on a single tune you like and learn just those chords. Stick with tunes you know. That way all you need to do is learn the few chords needed. Use a simple strum pattern. Begin with down, down, down, etc.; then go to down, up, down, up, etc.

-- Al

ichadwick
07-14-2009, 02:45 AM
Thanks for the replies!
I've been told I have ADHD ....
I have UAS-CSP (ukulele acquistion syndrome-can't stop playing). It's an obsessive-compulsive disorder, I'm told. It is contagious and easily spread through web sites.

Where to start?

Get a modest instrument.
Get it tuned. (repeat as necessary)
Get a basic book of chords and a few songs.
Plink away.
Once you feel you have the first germ of ukulele awareness, and can play a handful of chords, come back and ask specific questions.
View tutorials. Search Youtube for lessons. Try to follow along.
Plink some more.
Learn a couple of simple songs by heart.
Learn some more chords.
Expand your repertoire.
Plink more.
Repeat steps 9-11 ad infinitum.
One day you'll wake up and realize you are a ukulele player, ready to take on the world. You'll record your first Youtube video. You'll start offering advice to other beginners. You'll start looking at better and more expensive ukuleles. You'll spend more time in the marketplace than you do in uke talk. You'll show up at uke events and jams.

Just keep plinking.

ddepp
07-14-2009, 04:05 AM
I ran across a gentleman named Michael Lynch on Youtube who is a music teacher in Seattle. He's done close to 100 ukulele lessons ranging from how to tune the ukulele to playing specific songs.

You might want to check his lessons out. I've learned quite a bit since I started playing along with him.

seeso
07-14-2009, 04:55 AM
Is there any way that you can keep us informed on your progression? Any way to record yourself? It'll be fun to see you progress from zero to hero.

Melissa82
07-14-2009, 05:17 AM
Do you like the Beatles? http://www.beatlesite.info/
Most of the songs have quite a few chords, but it is a lot of fun. It gives you the melody (as a midi) to play along with, and the lyrics. You can pause the playback to study parts that might go by too fast.

–LoriWhat! That is awesome! Good thing I love the Beatles! :D


I ran across a gentleman named Michael Lynch on Youtube who is a music teacher in Seattle. He's done close to 100 ukulele lessons ranging from how to tune the ukulele to playing specific songs.

You might want to check his lessons out. I've learned quite a bit since I started playing along with him.I actually just subscribed to his videos the other day. :)


Is there any way that you can keep us informed on your progression? Any way to record yourself? It'll be fun to see you progress from zero to hero.Oh goodness, you want me to record myself from day one? Lol... we'll see. ;) It would be a fun thing. Omg, I should totally make a blog... Haha, thanks for the suggestion! This is a great way to keep me busy, yay!

And thanks for all of the advice everyone! I seriously can't believe how helpful and wonderful everyone is. :D

seeso
07-14-2009, 06:00 AM
Oh goodness, you want me to record myself from day one? Lol... we'll see. ;) It would be a fun thing. Omg, I should totally make a blog... Haha, thanks for the suggestion! This is a great way to keep me busy, yay!

A blog would be awesome. :shaka:

Denno
07-14-2009, 06:02 AM
I did recordings from day 4 when I started playin the uke. So you would not be alone. And trust me, you will learn so much faster then you think if you just keep doing it. The first 3 weeks are the hardest I think. With fingers that hurts. Nails that falls off and stuff like that. :)

seeso
07-14-2009, 06:04 AM
I did recordings from day 4 when I started playin the uke. So you would not be alone. And trust me, you will learn so much faster then you think if you just keep doing it. The first 3 weeks are the hardest I think. With fingers that hurts. Nails that falls off and stuff like that. :)

What? :eek: Don't scare her away! Melissa, your nail will not fall off.

Melissa82
07-14-2009, 06:10 AM
What? :eek: Don't scare her away! Melissa, your nail will not fall off.LOL! Ok, I was going to say....

RevWill
07-14-2009, 06:39 AM
I would recommend getting a Jumpin' Jim's book with a bunch of songs you like. Their format is great for beginners.

Melissa82
07-14-2009, 07:05 AM
I would recommend getting a Jumpin' Jim's book with a bunch of songs you like. Their format is great for beginners.Thanks for the suggestion, I'll look it up.

ihavenotea
07-14-2009, 07:51 AM
Oh goodness, you want me to record myself from day one? Lol... we'll see. ;) It would be a fun thing. Omg, I should totally make a blog... Haha, thanks for the suggestion! This is a great way to keep me busy, yay!


Well, I didn't attempt to record a video until a Month in, but it is a lot of fun… and all the UkuleleUnderground folks are really supportive and love to see our beginner videos. Having a little audience does inspire one to improve.

When I am recording a song I am more aware of little mistakes than when I am just goofing around. It really does help you grow and you get to become part of this wonderful community.

Post your videos. I will watch them.

freedive135
07-14-2009, 08:43 AM
Lot's of great advice here!!!

Jumpin Jim has more than a few good books I have 4 of them.

Now that I can play most of the songs in them I have started taking a scale chart and writting in the fingering for the notes to play the melodey along with the chords.
Theory would make things eaiser but...

I'll second Aldrine's lessons also even if it's over your head (some are for me) you still pick up things and you can always go back to it.

Denno
07-14-2009, 09:08 AM
What? :eek: Don't scare her away! Melissa, your nail will not fall off.

Hehe ok maby not fall off, but there will be pain for a week or two untill you get used to working the new muscles in your hands. :)

Melissa82
07-14-2009, 09:10 AM
Hehe ok maby not fall off, but there will be pain for a week or two untill you get used to working the new muscles in your hands. :)Hehe, I remember the pain a bit from when I tried learning the guitar when I was 13.

Melissa82
07-14-2009, 11:16 AM
Alrighty, so I ordered some Jumpin' Jim's books and a tuner (Korg CA-30 $12.99 on Amazon and free shipping, woot).

Dibblet
07-15-2009, 12:57 AM
You can find the lyrics and chords for just about every song ever written somewhere on the net.

Yes, but the chords often contain errors so be careful.

Melissa82
07-15-2009, 03:23 AM
Yes, but the chords often contain errors so be careful.I'm going to start with books written for the ukulele so I don't get frustrated by that type of thing. Once I have a better idea of how to use my uke, I will look online for other sources.

Melissa82
07-16-2009, 08:09 AM
Would I be better off learning the song on uke and trying to sing it at the same time or should I should learn how to play it first?

KC8AFW
07-16-2009, 09:08 AM
Would I be better off learning the song on uke and trying to sing it at the same time or should I should learn how to play it first?

Here's what I do...I have to learn the chord progression first, then layer the vocals on top. I have a hard time singing and playing at the same time. I have to be comfortable with the playing first (where I can do it basically without thinking about it), otherwise my voice is all over the place.

Your milage may vary.

Melissa82
07-28-2009, 07:20 AM
I'm going a bit crazy.

I'm trying to learn bar chords, but the joint in my fingers lay across the string and I have to press so hard for the string to go down. Gr.

sukie
07-28-2009, 07:26 AM
I'm going a bit crazy.

I'm trying to learn bar chords, but the joint in my fingers lay across the string and I have to press so hard for the string to go down. Gr.

I am a master of being too hard on myself -- so do as I say, not as I do. BUT you've been playing, what, 2 weeks? Take it easy. Barre chords are hard. One trick is to barre with your pointer finger and if possible place your middle finger on top and kind of press down. (I've seen Jake do it) It'll help while you build up finger strength. Another piece of wisdom -- practice, practice, practice. Words no one wants to hear, but words that are true.

Isn't it fun to play the ukulele? I've seen your first video. You're doing great!:rock:

KC8AFW
07-28-2009, 07:26 AM
I really struggle with those too. Something to try...make sure your thumb is directly behind the finger you're trying to bar with...and adjust your finger up/down as necessary to make sure the string is not running through the joint/crease of the finger.

Melissa82
07-28-2009, 07:27 AM
I am a master of being too hard on myself -- so do as I say, not as I do. BUT you've been playing, what, 2 weeks? Take it easy. Barre chords are hard. One trick is to barre with your pointer finger and if possible place your middle finger on top and kind of press down. (I've seen Jake do it) It'll help while you build up finger strength. Another piece of wisdom -- practice, practice, practice. Words no one wants to hear, but words that are true.

Isn't it fun to play the ukulele? I've seen your first video. You're doing great!:rock:Hehe thanks. It's just frustrating when I know so many chords and can't change fast enough between them.. then I can't do the bar chord... I'm developing uke anxiety.

ukulelearp
07-28-2009, 08:02 AM
There are two online resources I'd suggest that both helped me a lot as I was learning.


Pineapple Pete's Uke School (http://www.ukeschool.com/)

and

MusicTeacher2009's Youtube lessons (http://www.youtube.com/user/MusicTeacher2009#play/user/663F35947A003ADD)

Melissa82
07-28-2009, 08:10 AM
There are two online resources I'd suggest that both helped me a lot as I was learning.


Pineapple Pete's Uke School (http://www.ukeschool.com/)

and

MusicTeacher2009's Youtube lessons (http://www.youtube.com/user/MusicTeacher2009#play/user/663F35947A003ADD)Thanks. I haven't seen Pineapple Pete's School of Ukulele yet.

itsme
07-28-2009, 08:57 AM
I'm trying to learn bar chords, but the joint in my fingers lay across the string and I have to press so hard for the string to go down. Gr.
Just like your hands and fingers were sore at first, it takes some time to build up the muscles in your hand and forearm to do barre chords easily.

When I had surgery on my left hand, as part of my therapy they gave me this special putty to squeeze, but you can do the same thing with a tennis ball or such. Squeeze and hold for a few seconds, then release and relax. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

And like sukie says, don't be too hard on yourself. I think you're doing great considering you just started. Keep it up! :)

Melissa82
07-28-2009, 09:18 AM
I'll try to find a tennis ball Roxi hasn't claimed her own, lol. Thanks. :)

itsme
07-28-2009, 09:40 AM
I'll try to find a tennis ball Roxi hasn't claimed her own, lol. Thanks. :)
Oh, come on! What's a little dog spit? :p

Or maybe you have one of those "stress balls" laying around somewhere.

ihavenotea
07-28-2009, 10:16 AM
Hehe thanks. It's just frustrating when I know so many chords and can't change fast enough between them.. then I can't do the bar chord... I'm developing uke anxiety.

My favorite method is to just mess around with only modest direction… I have a big fat song book (Rise Up Singing (http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Up-Singing-Group-Songbook/dp/0962670472); it is awesome. I can't reccomend this book enough.) and a chord sheet. I will just sit and kind of muddle through songs. I find I spend a lot more time practicing if I am not really trying to practice, but rather just "fiddling". To be sure: I am probably making far less progress than if I followed some more regimented approach. But I am having fun. And I pick up the ukulele often.

When I do need to improve, I find working on the chords sans vocals makes it a lot easier to keep time when I add the vocals back in.

Further, a practice technique once conveyed to me by my betters may take you far. It goes like this:

Play the song as fast as you can. Don't worry about mistakes, just keep going.
Play the song precisely, as slowly as necessary, ignoring tempo. Just focus on the chord changes and the strum, etc. Get it all perfect, no mistakes. Go as slow as needed.
Play the song at tempo; hopefully with only a couple mistakes. Playing through the mistakes is advised, as when performing it is better to maintain tempo with a few chord mistakes than to correct them. (and with a group you have no other choice.)
Repeat.


Things like quick chord changes and barre chords, etc. just take time. Keep working on them. Doctor Uke's exercises (http://www.doctoruke.com/theory.html) can be handy, as the "all keys" versions of "Amazing Grace (http://www.doctoruke.com/amazinggracemultikey.pdf)" and "Five Foot Two (http://www.doctoruke.com/fivefoottwomultikey.pdf)" will force you to play through barre chords in common progressions. Those have helped me a lot (one day I will be able to get through those a tempo…).

One last thing (I am rambling yes… sorry): Work on things you struggle with the most right before you go to sleep. Your brain will reply what you were doing during the day, but emphasis is often given to you last half hour of wakefulness… You will find that practicing the hard stuff before sleeping cuts down the time it takes to develop the "muscle memory".

Melissa82
07-28-2009, 10:26 AM
Very good advice, thanks!

ihavenotea
07-28-2009, 10:48 AM
Very good advice, thanks!

Yeah, but watch out… you can end up having very strange dreams about ukulele chord progressions…

kailua
07-28-2009, 11:42 AM
Lots of good advice on this thread. My two cent regarding barre chords: To help strengthen your index finger, practice barring the first fret and slide up through each fret until you reach the 12th fret and then work back down to the first fret. Strum once for each fret and try to get a clean sound (no buzzing or muted strums). Also, your thumb should be directly under your barring finger. At first you need to use a lot of thumb pressure. You're "pinching" the neck between your index finger and thumb. After a lot of practice, it'll get easier. :D :music:

Lori
07-28-2009, 07:59 PM
When I discover an especially difficult part of a song (no matter what instrument), I will often drill on the problem spot until it gets easier. So, if it is a transition between 2 chords, I will just practice doing that transition over and over again, without playing the entire song. After working intensely on that trouble area (repeating it as much as necessary to get it up-to-speed), I try playing the whole song again from start to finish, and I usually see a great improvement.

–Lori

ukulele2544
07-28-2009, 08:21 PM
I think I'd wait for the ukulele to come...

I don't know,, up to you...

ichadwick
07-29-2009, 12:56 AM
*cringes at the thought of theory*
Well, you don't really need to learn the theory behind music to play an instrument. Passion, dedication, aptitude, willingness to practice, delight - all of these will help, but theory isn't necessary.

I suppose if you want to get into translating classical pieces for the uke, or you start composing, theory will be a big help. And certainly it's good to know if you decide you can teach.

I played guitar 40+ years, as well as some keyboard and harmonica, and the only theory I learned was stuff I picked up along the way, like a snowball accumulating mass as it rolls. I really didn't know a lot about music at all until the last few years when I started to read moe on how music works and why. Now it fascinates me (what little I understand).

Just play. Don't intellectualize it.

Melissa82
07-29-2009, 02:45 AM
When I discover an especially difficult part of a song (no matter what instrument), I will often drill on the problem spot until it gets easier. So, if it is a transition between 2 chords, I will just practice doing that transition over and over again, without playing the entire song. After working intensely on that trouble area (repeating it as much as necessary to get it up-to-speed), I try playing the whole song again from start to finish, and I usually see a great improvement.

–LoriVery good point. I was working on the transition of a few chords.


I think I'd wait for the ukulele to come...

I don't know,, up to you...I do have it now...




Well, you don't really need to learn the theory behind music to play an instrument. Passion, dedication, aptitude, willingness to practice, delight - all of these will help, but theory isn't necessary.

I suppose if you want to get into translating classical pieces for the uke, or you start composing, theory will be a big help. And certainly it's good to know if you decide you can teach.

I played guitar 40+ years, as well as some keyboard and harmonica, and the only theory I learned was stuff I picked up along the way, like a snowball accumulating mass as it rolls. I really didn't know a lot about music at all until the last few years when I started to read moe on how music works and why. Now it fascinates me (what little I understand).

Just play. Don't intellectualize it.I don't know, I have this thing where I need to know everything about something... kind of an OCD thing I supposed, lol

Ukulele JJ
07-29-2009, 05:04 AM
[INDENT]
I suppose if you want to get into translating classical pieces for the uke, or you start composing, theory will be a big help. And certainly it's good to know if you decide you can teach.

I agree that you don't have to know theory to play the uke--or any other instrument. But I'll add that there are more benefits to it than might meet the eye (or ear).

Music theory helps you:


Learn (and memorize) songs
Pick songs out by ear
Transpose songs into a more comfortable key
Figure out what key you're in in the first place
Figure out what chords are being represented by tabs or traditional notation
Arrange guitar or piano (or whatever) music for the uke, whether it's classical or not
Come up with unique arrangements by substituting chords
Know what to play when it's your turn to solo
Talk to other theory nerds about music :p


If the thought of "music theory" is too daunting, well just think of it as "music trivia". Or "music knowledge". Or "musical engineering". :D

If you're the kind of person who likes to understand things--who enjoys knowing not just the "what" but also the "why"--then you'll probably really get into it.

JJ

seeso
07-29-2009, 08:01 AM
To dip your toes in the seas of music theory, check out Howlin' Hobbit's Cheater Theory (howlinhobbit.com/docs/cheater_theory_v2.pdf) document.

After you chew on that for awhile, head over to musictheory.net (musictheory.net/) and just go through the lessons in order.

It's not as hard as you think, and like Ukulele JJ and I, you may even find it fun!

ihavenotea
07-29-2009, 09:37 AM
I don't know, I have this thing where I need to know everything about something... kind of an OCD thing I supposed, lol

OCD is your bestest friend when it comes to learning to play an instrument.


To dip your toes in the seas of music theory, check out Howlin' Hobbit's Cheater Theory (howlinhobbit.com/docs/cheater_theory_v2.pdf) document.


That is a nice document, especially if you are coming in with no real prior knowledge. Most beginner theory stuff focuses on notation… which is not what a beginning ukulele player needs.

If you are a really big nerd you can browse around the music theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_theory) section on Wikipedia. It is not as pedagogically strong as some of these other resources… but for the insanely curious, you will find all sorts of odd tidbits about the history and nature of things that the more pedagogical sources don't usually delve into. So not the most efficient way to learn, but quite fun. You can learn about Chords (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chord_(music)), Keys (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_(music)), Equal Temperament (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_temperament), etc. (I find all the stuff about tuning absolutely fascinating, though it makes more sense once you grasp the dominant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominant_(music)) and sub-dominant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subdominant) and interval (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interval_(music)) stuff fairly well…

All right, that should give you a nice information overload for the day. Enjoy!

Melissa82
07-29-2009, 10:14 AM
Thanks for all of the helpful info everyone. :D