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MissMacadamia
08-21-2009, 05:46 AM
When I first picked up the ukulele (or anything else for that matter) everything went fast and I kept thinking about how well I was doing. But then after a while, when you get past the really easy stuff, the frustration kicks in.
And I was wondering how you motivate yourself in those very depressed moments when you don't seem to get better? Especially when the people around you aren't so supportive and would like you to stop chunking again and again for hours at once, and really don't like you talking about it for hours and hours (not that I blame them)

leftovermagic84
08-21-2009, 05:53 AM
When I ran across the plateau on the learning curve and started to get bummed, I made a point to try and learn a few new songs that didn't really involve anything new. I was excited to learn something new that didn't quite seem impossible at the time, and believe it or not, the extra practice, even on techniques I was already familiar with, made learning the more difficult stuff a bit easier. Best of luck, and stick with it. :shaka:

sukie
08-21-2009, 05:54 AM
When you hit a slump just keep going. If all things seem to be crushing me I just usually pull out a really easy song that I already know so I feel like like I can play the ukulele a little bit. Or else I pull out something different altogether -- maybe practice scales or do some strum patterns. On occasion I just go take a break.

On another note, when my friends (or family) tire of me talking about the ukulele I just change the topic to something different about the ukulele. Maybe play them some Aldrine or Jake. If you play them some IZ they'll probably relax a little bit because even IZ is someone they relate to. Eventually you'll settle down a little bit -- not much, but a little. And you'll probably start spending time with others like yourself.

I believe that the ukulele is all about having fun with an instrument. You can make it as complicated as you want. I will tell you my mantra: Practice, practice, practice. The plateaus go away and one day you'll be saying, "Wow! I didn't know I could do that!":D

Enjoy!

MissMacadamia
08-21-2009, 06:01 AM
Thank you, that's some really good advice.



I believe that the ukulele is all about having fun with an instrument. You can make it as complicated as you want. I will tell you my mantra: Practice, practice, practice. The plateaus go away and one day you'll be saying, "Wow! I didn't know I could do that!":D

Enjoy!

You're right. I always feel there's so much pressure to get very good very quick, but that's actually not only fairly impossible but also just unnecessary.

kissing
08-21-2009, 06:40 AM
How about getting yourself some help.
Like an instructional book/DVD for intermediate or advanced players?

ihavenotea
08-21-2009, 06:45 AM
I believe that the ukulele is all about having fun with an instrument. You can make it as complicated as you want. I will tell you my mantra: Practice, practice, practice. The plateaus go away and one day you'll be saying, "Wow! I didn't know I could do that!":D


This is so very true. I have been working on a piece for almost a month now. I am fairly sick of it, actually. But last night I played through the whole thing, in the correct tempo, and hit all the chords (it is a jazz piece, so there are a lot of odd chords). It was very exciting.

When I first started working on this piece I got tired of playing it and didn't seem to be making any progress. After about 2 weeks I found I was hardly playing my ukulele at all because I was frustrated.

So I picked it up and started playing easy songs that I know really well. And then I flipped though my stack of music and pulled out some pieces that I couldn't play last time I tried but look fairly simple with my current skills.

Learning those and playing older pieces I know well really re-invigorated me. I got excited again. And I picked back up the hard jazz piece.

Sometimes all it takes is a change in material.

And Sukie is ever right. Practice. Practice. Practice. (I really hate that third practice, but it is the important one…)

NukeDOC
08-21-2009, 06:48 AM
i hit a plateau when i was learning guitar. since im self taught. that plateau lasted for over ten years. TEN YEARS. this is before the internets happened. now, there is a treasure chest full of different things you can try out at all levels of playing skill. every time i pick up an instrument, whether it be guitar or ukulele, i learn something new. whether it be on my own, or through the plethora of lessons found online.

read about it too. there are so many written tutorials on how to understand your instrument a little better. everytime you read something new, apply it. try to apply it to a song you already know how to play. who cares if the original artist never played it that way? now YOU play it that way.

rock on.

Lori
08-21-2009, 07:29 AM
Always have a couple of easy songs that you can go to in times of crisis. I like to play something that is easy, but is also something that can be played with a lot of feeling. You don't have to play something difficult to sound good. Even a very simple song, when played well and with feeling, will be very satisfying.

–Lori

PoisonDart
08-21-2009, 07:37 AM
Slow WAY DOWN and practice the part you can't get, not the parts you can get, until you CAN get that part. then speed up. Don't play the song at a faster tempo than you can play the hardest part.

Learn something relatively simple that's in a completely different style.

Dress up last months simple songs with some finger picking, a solo, a new strum, or just focus on getting it polished and truly memorized.

Go to an open mic and have a drink with other (probably frustrated) musicians and listen to some music to remind yourself why you are doing it. It's probably more about the feeling than hearing someones chops, so don't critique yourself on not learning super quickly as long as you're having fun.

Listen to your earliest recordings and your latest recordings and realize how far you've come. (Record yourself so you can critique your playing!)

Take your favorite song and use music theory to figure out what makes it sound so good.

PoisonDart
08-21-2009, 07:42 AM
Also,

Find some other musicians to play with every once in a while.

Consider if you should try fingering the prior chord in a new way in order to make it easier to get to the next chord.

For instance, if I'm playing from C to F, I use my ring finger for C, but if I'm going from C to E Minor, I use my middle finger, with my pointer finger already on the second fret of the first string. This way I don't have to move my hand AND change finger positions.

MissMacadamia
08-21-2009, 08:11 AM
There's some great advice in here, thank you! It already kind of motivates me. I'm sure to take your advice to heart. :)

MisoHappy
08-21-2009, 08:40 AM
When I first picked up the ukulele (or anything else for that matter) everything went fast and I kept thinking about how well I was doing. But then after a while, when you get past the really easy stuff, the frustration kicks in.
And I was wondering how you motivate yourself in those very depressed moments when you don't seem to get better? Especially when the people around you aren't so supportive and would like you to stop chunking again and again for hours at once, and really don't like you talking about it for hours and hours (not that I blame them)

If your frustrated, and you just can't seem to get it no matter what, put your ukulele down for just 2 days. 48 hours. When you come back to it, you'll be eager to play again, you'll have a clear mind, and your fingers are all rested up. It always works for me :)

Don't worry, we all get those struggles, even the world's best musicians do.

KC8AFW
08-21-2009, 04:34 PM
I have the attention span of a gnat. I usually have two or three songs I try to learn at the same time. When I get bored or frustrated...I'll switch songs. Or, I'll not play a "song" and just take C-G-Am-F and play them in different progressions and try different rhythms just to entertain myself.

Currently, I've switched over to trying to learn the blues harp (I just learned to bend notes yesterday :D). I would like to be able to play both at the same time. When I get frustrated with that...I'll switch back to the uke.

Just remember to have fun.

Lanark
08-22-2009, 11:16 AM
You also have to remember that learning and playing an instrument is never a straight line.
It is a series of plateaus and dry spells punctuated by some seriously intense moments of discovery that open up different possibilities to explore. Which is then followed by more plateaus and ruts. Always ruts and comfort zones.

I really don't think that anybody ever explains that adequately to people when they start out. I mean, there's that initial rush you get when you first pick up an instrument where everything is new and exciting and any skill or progress you make seems monumental in relation to starting at zero. It's just that as time moves on the improvement becomes much more incremental so that you don't always immediately notice or appreciate it.

The point is that this is normal and part of the process. Expect it and accept it as such and work through it.

I've got a few books of Standards and individual songwriter's that I keep around for those times when I'm in a bit of a playing rut. Then even if my playing isn't always going well, I'm at least forced to learn a few new chords in a Rogers and Hart tune or I'm challenged by the complexities of Cole Porter until I feel a bit more inspired. That's what works for me anyway.

And like others have said. Playing with other people is always an eyeopener. You will play differently when you have to listen to somebody else as much as yourself.