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View Full Version : What are your top two areas of frustration?



mitchchang
07-19-2010, 08:11 AM
Hi all,

I was wondering if you could help me out? I wanted to find out from y'all what are the top two areas of frustration for you as....

1) An ukulele player just getting started?

2) Someone who's been playing ukulele for two or more years?

I'm working on some new content to help answer these kinds of questions. Thanks for your help!

Mitch Chang
http://www.ukulelewebsite.com/

jehicks87
07-19-2010, 08:38 AM
As a beginner, I didn't run into much frustration at all.

Having played a few years, now, though... I get frustrated with myself when i try to write songs. I also become frustrated when i don't pull of a 5-finger roll. I don't pull those off very much, either, so I get frustrated by that alot ;)

spookefoote
07-19-2010, 08:55 AM
Good to see you're sharing the ukulele love........ at a price. So I'll tell you my two frustrations at only $4.95 each.

pulelehua
07-19-2010, 08:59 AM
I find the premise of this thread frustrating. ;) I've played guitar for 20 years, and ukulele for about 9 months. It wouldn't be fair for me to identify myself as a beginner, but in some ways I am. I suppose I'm suffering from some sort of experiential/skills-based dichotomous fracture of self-identity.

Does that count???

mitchchang
07-19-2010, 09:02 AM
jehicks - by five-finger roll do you mean that soft flamenco-rasgueado-type of strum? what's the frustrating thing about song writing? coming up with melodies or figuring out which chords sound good in what order?

spookefoote - lots of places people can get some ukulele love for free:
http://www.youtube.com/user/tafkam1
http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs036/1102037575574/archive/1103574083236.html
http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Mitch_Chang

mitchchang
07-19-2010, 09:05 AM
Pulelehua, I recently sent out a poll where more respondents said they had a harder time knowing WHAT to practice than "finding the time" to practice. Does this describe your situation?

Swampy Steve
07-19-2010, 09:31 AM
Passing Chords , if thats the right term..ala Craig Robertson. I can mimic poorly,,, but not create

jehicks87
07-19-2010, 09:36 AM
Yup. The five-finger roll is where you up-stroke with your thumb and flick your four fingers down, creating a 5-strum (one up, four down).

And the songwriting is the chord progressions and strum patterns. Just can't ever seem to get the right mood. But, I don't imagine that's something that anyone can "teach" you. You just have to know the right progressions.

RyanMFT
07-19-2010, 09:53 AM
My top two areas of frustration are:
1) Finding other players to play with (I find I learn and improve a lot when I play uke with others)
2) Having a mother in law who hates me.....(I am open to suggestions on this one) :)

ukecantdothat
07-19-2010, 10:02 AM
My top two areas of frustration are:
1) Finding other players to play with (I find I learn and improve a lot when I play uke with others)
2) Having a mother in law who hates me.....(I am open to suggestions on this one) :)

For 1) I find that when there are no actual people around to play with, YouTube and the like is full of "virtual" player at all skill levels. The only problem is you can't talk directly to them, but on the other hand, they can repeat over and over and over without getting mad at you!

For 2) Teach her how to play and kill two birds with one stone, so to speak!

haole
07-19-2010, 10:45 AM
I've always had the same top two.

1) Having a dreadful, atonal singing voice (I'm tone-dumb; I can hear the distinction between notes just fine, but I can't reproduce them with my voice)
2) Trying to run before I learn to crawl (attempting difficult stuff because I'm too lazy to learn the basics, thus playing sloppy and unimpressive renditions of complex pieces)

I'm not half-bad at strumming, so I kinda wish I could sing and make pleasant music. It seems as though most folks don't care for instrumentals unless they're played really, really well, but even an average singer/chord strummer will attract lots of interest.

Lori
07-19-2010, 11:19 AM
1) Performance nerves make me mess up whenever I want to shoot a video, or play solo for other people.
2) Having a great desire for many ukes, I have trouble with storage in a small apartment space. I like to keep them safe in their cases.

–Lori

pulelehua
07-19-2010, 11:22 AM
Pulelehua, I recently sent out a poll where more respondents said they had a harder time knowing WHAT to practice than "finding the time" to practice. Does this describe your situation?

I'm a music teacher, so I spend lots of time telling people what to practice. I don't worry about that. I work full-time, and have a 2 1/2 year-old son and a 10 week-old daughter, and the nearest relative is an hour away. So, finding time is definitely a big issue.

In terms of actual playing, I'd say right-hand technique. I'm left-handed, but play right-handed (have done so on guitar for 20 years, and am not about to change). Some of the more advanced techniques just don't quite flow like I'd like them to: fan stroke, 8/10-finger roll. I know if I had a few hours to sit and really get on top of them, and start to build some muscle memory, it would be better. So I suppose, not enough time really is the killer.

I'd also like to learn how to do golpes on the ukulele, but the narrow size makes it tricky.

And ordering my next ukulele is slowly making me insane. I've got it narrowed to 3 choices, all of which are good. It's a win-win-win, but I just can't decide.

Ok. I seem to have a number of frustrations when it comes right down to it. :)

mailman
07-19-2010, 11:29 AM
- Not having any uke-buddies to jam with. Our local uke group is usually 15 - 20 people of different skill levels, always bashing out the same song in unison. It's fun in it's own way, but I don't feel I learn much. Many don't play well, many don't sing well, several play banjo ukes....it seldom sounds good. I'd learn better with two or three folks who I could ask questions of, have them show me stuff, really learn a few songs with.

- Right hand technique. I'm apparently stuck thumb-strumming, and can't seem to get away from it. I have no desire to finger-pick or play lead riffs at this point, but I'd like to learn a nice, comfortable right hand strum....maybe like krabbers or unclejeff, for example.

kenikas
07-19-2010, 11:47 AM
1. Never enough time to practice.
2. When I do get a little time, I seem to practice/ play the same things.

lozarkman
07-19-2010, 12:22 PM
Having played piano for 64 years, I am note/score reader and do not do well with tabs. So learning the fretboard on a note level that my fingers just "Know" where they belong is my frustration. I am getting much better at it, but it takes a lot of practice.

My second frustration would be smooth moves from easy chords to more difficult chords. Lozark

whetu
07-19-2010, 01:19 PM
Pulelehua, I recently sent out a poll where more respondents said they had a harder time knowing WHAT to practice than "finding the time" to practice. Does this describe your situation?

1) +1 vote for the above. If I had some self-directed training material where I could measure my progress against some goals, that'd be fantastic I think. As an IT Professional I routinely have technical books on my desk which teach in this style i.e 2-6 skills per chapter are taught, at the end of the chapter is a quick test and checklist of skills covered that you can self grade and mark off as complete. Putting self-learning into digestable chunks makes it more achievable, in my opinion.

2) The split stroke. It continues to evade me.

YogaJen
07-19-2010, 02:11 PM
For 1) I find that when there are no actual people around to play with, YouTube and the like is full of "virtual" player at all skill levels. The only problem is you can't talk directly to them, but on the other hand, they can repeat over and over and over without getting mad at you!

For 2) Teach her how to play and kill two birds with stone, so to speak!

Great suggestions.
I too WISH I had more folks to play uke and sing with more often, as it is I drive hundreds of miles to get to uke jams & ukefests - why, I even took 3 flights from Sydney to LA to Denver to Indianapolis to get to a weekend Uke Love-in called the Ukulele World Congress in Needmore Indiana :)
In absence of uke folks I too make use of YouTube every day, like you say you can replay etc.
Re the mother-in-law ... not quite so easy. But as they say - it takes two to tango - what can you do to win her over, little by little. Getting her into uke, if she was half way inclined would be an amazing achievement, a triumph, on your part. Everyone would win - one more happy uker on the planet, & you'd have another person to jam with. I wonder if that seems inconceivable ?

YogaJen
07-19-2010, 02:20 PM
Now, my top 2 areas of frustration ...
1. I don't have a Fairy Godmother to take care of the rest of my life while I do nothing but play ukulele.
2. I have yet to figure how to earn a fantastic income from doing nothing but play ukulele.

Please help solve these problems. I don't want to do anything but play ukulele.
Ukulele playing does not put dinner on the table. Ukulele playing does not walk the dogs. Ukulele playing does make me extreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeemely happy :)

70sSanO
07-19-2010, 04:04 PM
My two frustrations...

1) I used to sing pretty good, now I have a really tough time, so I usually don't.

2) I used to retain songs, 30 plus years ago I could play guitar for 2-1/2 hours and not repeat a song. Now I forget them almost as fast as I learn them.

I have been trying to market myself as a poor singer who can't remember the songs.

That way if I ever get a gig, I can't possibly fail.

John

mitchchang
07-19-2010, 08:40 PM
Thanks everybody! Lots of great responses (except for one:p). Based on what y'all are saying, here are some possible topics I could cover in upcoming Ezine articles and Youtube videos (all free content):

1) Rasgueado and golpe technique (including "fan" stroke), this could include practical examples of when to use 'em
2) How to come up with chord progressions
3) How to practice for performance
4) Right hand technique - arpeggiating, 8/10-finger roll, etc
5) How to memorize songs
6) Mother-in-law issues

Do you like these? Please tell me if I'm on the right track.

Some questions/comments:
- Swampy Steve, can you give an example of what you mean by passing chords?
- Thumb-strumming is fine for lighter and jazzier stuff but you'd have a pretty hard time keeping up with the gang when it comes to Tahitian ukulele styles - one should definitely consider learning to use the (index) finger so you can strum harder and faster when necessary (I don't know who Krabbers and Unclejeff are)
- Not sure what a "split stroke" is
- Mailman: getting together in a group where everyone is playing the same thing would be a great opportunity to try out different things like arpeggiating the same exact chords the rest of the people are strumming - I bet they'd be wowed and the contrast would sound great. Also a great chance to show off your knowledge of different inversions too : )
- Yogajen: Are you are playing your lucky numbers regularly in the Megamillions? I am!
- Whetu, love what you're saying and I've taken that approach with the new lessons I'm creating for my site. I feel like all the stuff out there just shows you the specific notes of a specific chord or the strumming pattern to a specific song without showing you the principles behind being able to figure these things out for yourself as they come up

Again, thanks everybody for the wonderful dialogue - keep 'em coming! I'm looking forward to posting some stuff I hope will help.

Mitch Chang
http://www.ukulelewebsite.com/

pulelehua
07-19-2010, 11:01 PM
whetu, my split stroke isn't totally 100% reliable, but it's close. I actually play up the neck above the body and ricochet my index finger off the neck, so on the down, I hit strings 3 and 4, and on the up, 1 and 2. The ricochet gives my finger that little lift to just clip the two strings.

Not how it's supposed to be done, but it works for me, and I can use it most any speed, which is nice.

whetu
07-20-2010, 12:11 AM
- Not sure what a "split stroke" is

Ah. It's a technique popularised by George Formby. I became aware of it after seeing George Harrison's strumming hand in this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5k-OE0-fWs). This video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW7oEN5maZY) has an explanation. You might know it by another name?

I guess, to be honest, is that trying to master that stroke has frustrated me so far and I've lost a bit of discipline in practicing it (i.e. focused my efforts elsewhere) :(

HoldinCoffee
07-20-2010, 12:50 AM
Guess I missed the poll, but my biggest problem is that for over a year now I have bombarded myself with countless tutorials and instructionals... I want to learn EVERYTHING... NOW! I have yet to find a comprehensive progressive method of instruction... something that goes step by step. My learning is all over the road and although that is kinda cool in some ways, I think I'm missing a lot. Not sure that makes sense....

Magoosan
07-20-2010, 03:22 AM
1. Finding local music stores with a good selection of ukes to play (not just the cheapies).
2. The long period of time for strings to stretch after a string change. You really have to plan when to change relative to your gig schedule.

Swampy Steve
07-20-2010, 04:06 AM
Mitch, I guess Imean the dim. 6th & 9ths that some folks use to fill a chord progression out. Also , I would like to get a good grasp on the circle of fifths. I have a mental block there. I always shunned theory , and its coming to back to bite me in the butt,, now that Im trying to play more than blues ,country & bluegrass ,Im not putting any of those genres down, I just felt I was able to get by with sparse basics.
Steve

rasputinsghost
07-20-2010, 04:40 AM
I really wish Aldrine would make a split stroke tutorial.

mitchchang
07-20-2010, 06:42 AM
Thanks whetu for the video links - before this, I thought you were talking about the "split stroke" that I used to do all the time when I was on the swim team. Ha ha, just kidding. But that's the thing - I never had a name for it and that goes the same for probably most things people like to discuss on here including "chunking" (I was like, what the hell is THAT?).

Anyway, the split stroke is a popular technique in mariachi music which I used all the time (I used to play in a mariachi band in Hawaii - hey don't laugh!!) and I (and the players that have influenced me) also often use it for flamenco to emphasize a beat but when I want to play something a little hipper than a full rasgueado and with more space.

Should I start a new thread for "split stroke" to answer some questions about it?

Also, for the circle of fifths - well, I never memorized it that way. I could start a new thread about that, too, if you feel it'll be helpful.

SweetWaterBlue
07-20-2010, 07:12 AM
I guess my two greatest areas of ukefrustration right now are:

1. The difficulty of memorizing songs, which others have mentioned (old age?)

2. Being too lazy or too dumb to memorize the whole fretboard, the major chord progressions all up and down the neck, and the basic scales to go with them all. I bought the Fretboard Maps book months ago, and after a cursory read, I just put it down. I know that knowing that stuff would definitely improve my improvisation and ability to play with groups at will.

Graymalkin
07-20-2010, 09:16 AM
As a beginner (and discounting 'friends who've played the guitar for twenty years picking up my uke and taking ten minutes to get much better than I've managed in three months due to my never having played a string instrument before'):

1) Strumming with my index finger - I just don't get it. I keep catching my finger in the strings on the upstroke - and it sounds quieter and messier than using my thumb. I keep hoping it's one of those things that will 'click' one day, but How Soon is Now?

2) Making chord shapes consistently. Who on earth thought a fretboard was a vaguely sensible way of organising notes? And how exactly am I supposed to use three fingers to make a D - they just won't fit (maybe I shouldn't be learning on a soprano, but hey...)!

Could have added 'not really knowing how to go about learning' or 'waiting for my fingers to toughen up', but those two'll do.

Ukulele Jim
07-20-2010, 09:23 AM
1) finding gigs

2) finding other musicians to play with

Swampy Steve
07-20-2010, 09:33 AM
As a beginner (and discounting 'friends who've played the guitar for twenty years picking up my uke and taking ten minutes to get much better than I've managed in three months due to my never having played a string instrument before'):

1) Strumming with my index finger - I just don't get it. I keep catching my finger in the strings on the upstroke - and it sounds quieter and messier than using my thumb. I keep hoping it's one of those things that will 'click' one day, but How Soon is Now?

2) Making chord shapes consistently. Who on earth thought a fretboard was a vaguely sensible way of organising notes? And how exactly am I supposed to use three fingers to make a D - they just won't fit (maybe I shouldn't be learning on a soprano, but hey...)!

Could have added 'not really knowing how to go about learning' or 'waiting for my fingers to toughen up', but those two'll do.


This I can help with. Ive had this problems when giving people guitar lessons... You have to really limp wrist it. You have to let your wrist be free and floatey. That may sound weird ,, but your finger . wrist everything has to give a bit, not be rigid
Steve

mitchchang
07-20-2010, 09:45 AM
"free and floatey" eh, Steve? :rolleyes: haha

you know when someone asks you "hey how did you do?" and you say "eh, so-so" and you do that horizontal wave thing with your hand? that's kind of how the strumming movement should be - like Steve says, it's all in the wrist.

as for the index finger, it doesn't seem to bother you when you strum down....so why not use the same exact approach for strumming up? just use the same exact part of the finger but on the opposite side and strum down, up, down, up with the exact same attack and volume, very robotically. see if that doesn't help you get over the hurdle pretty quickly.

I also posted my fingering method for D at this thread: http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?32529-Is-there-a-set-way-to-play-the-D-chord (post #5)

UncleElvis
07-20-2010, 09:52 AM
My two biggest areas of frustration would be "Playing" and "The Ukulele"!

But I'm practicing!

I'm finding that, as I do get better at it, chords becoming second nature, strumming becoming more natural, that I'm having trouble supporting the instrument so that the neck is braced a little more, for ease of fingering changes... if that made any sense.

A strap fixes the problem, but it's something I'm practicing.

Graymalkin
07-20-2010, 11:09 AM
This I can help with...You have to really limp wrist it. You have to let your wrist be free and floatey...everything has to give a bit, not be rigid...

Oh my word - first go at it after reading your advice and the difference is astonishing! Wow! Thanks ever so...


[A]s for the index finger, it doesn't seem to bother you when you strum down....so why not use the same exact approach for strumming up? just use the same exact part of the finger but on the opposite side and strum down, up, down, up with the exact same attack and volume, very robotically. see if that doesn't help you get over the hurdle pretty quickly...

Thanks, I'll try that...


I also posted my fingering method for D at this thread: http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?32529-Is-there-a-set-way-to-play-the-D-chord (post #5)

Thanks for that also - I had been using just my index finger, but that was a bit hit-and-miss (and sometimes a bit tricky to change smoothly from) - that looks like it could be a good compromise.

Thanks again, gentlemen!

cheekmeat
07-20-2010, 11:26 AM
Top 2 problems:

1--I'm falling back on a lot of the same tricks, and its beginning to make my music a little same-y and predictable. I need to mix it up. I went to the 2008 Windy City Uke Fest, and that gave me enough material to really expand my techniques, so I prolly need to get to another fest, or take some lessons or something.

2--I've started developing some nasty stage fright when performing alone. I'm ok in my bands, but alone onstage, I kinda freak out. This is very new to me, just showing up in the last couple of years, and I have been performing since I was a child. I might actually just stop performing alone. I've had a couple of pretty nasty episodes in front of a crowd.

--Troy

Waterguy
07-20-2010, 01:17 PM
My biggest issue seems to be transitioning from strumming to finger style. I can strum pretty good, I can pick kind of ok, and I can go from picking to strumming with no problem at all. It's when I try and hit a single string right after a strum that seems to be killing me. Practicing the 1234(Plain White T's) lesson seems to be helping but I still mess up the pick way to often.

Chris Tarman
07-20-2010, 05:59 PM
1) Finding other people to play with. I think I am at the stage where I would progress much faster if I was playing with other people, even if they weren't on ukulele (although it would be great to have some other ukulele players nearby!). I know a guitarist who has expressed an interest in getting together to play old Django-esque jazz type stuff, but so far I haven't been able to get anything scheduled with him. I've played bass with him quite a bit in informal bands in the past, and he's a super-nice guy and a great player, so hopefully we can work something out soon.

2) I guess it would be getting some more interesting strums perfected (or at least PLAYABLE), like triple, fan and split strokes. I can ALMOST do some of them. But my fan stroke doesn't look nearly "Showy" enough, if you know what I mean!
Or, alternately, just getting a better grasp of theory and chord structures. I guess BOTH of those would be good to work on, really.

mitchchang
07-21-2010, 06:47 AM
Love all the responses! Does anyone feel that having to list the two areas AND say it "out loud" helps to identify the issues, making it more concrete for yourself? I know for me it helps a lot.

ukecantdothat
07-21-2010, 09:00 AM
Love all the responses! Does anyone feel that having to list the two areas AND say it "out loud" helps to identify the issues, making it more concrete for yourself? I know for me it helps a lot.

Yes! Once you put it out there for the whole world to see it kinda puts it on the front burner, internally, as well. Good thread!

rasputinsghost
07-21-2010, 09:47 AM
"Should I start a new thread for "split stroke" to answer some questions about it?"

Yes, please!

mitchchang
08-20-2010, 08:49 AM
OK here it is, finally! Please tell me what you think! It's the best I could do without a video to go with it

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?34658-Fan-Stroke-Strum

SuzukHammer
08-20-2010, 01:51 PM
I had luckily found more frustrations learning the harmonica starting about 2 years ago.

I think the issue for frustrations is not knowing enough or having the skill to play like a "prodigy" or a "genious". haha.

I get past this by laughing about myself like when I played the intro to Highway to Hell for this beautiful receptionist and she told me, "That doesn't sound like Highway to Hell". Funny!! I was like, "What???!!!!" and we laughed.

The uke is fun. When I let go that I'm no musical genious, then its fun.

Hippie Dribble
08-20-2010, 05:11 PM
hi Mitch

no frustration whatsoever at getting started. Just joy and excited anticipation (see JJ's thread in the "beginners" forum re "UU is a big, green dot!")

after a few years my only real frustration comes as I try to work out other ukulele songs / recordings by ear. Having come to uke via the guitar, I have no trouble working out bass lines and then chords to guitar-based music.

I still find after 4years of uke-ing though, my untrained ear is not familiar enough with the general tone of the instrument to be able to pick stuff up by simply listening to another ukulele being played

cheerio mate, eugene.

Teek
08-20-2010, 09:59 PM
My biggest frustration is making time to practice, some trouble memorizing (I seem to use up all my mental room for new stuff at work) and arthritis in my fingers from a ton of typing for work. And that I need this job right now.

Mitch, I came across your YouTube videos and they are great! Thanks for your clarity of instruction, demonstration, and willingness to share your talent and skill. Kudos!
:shaka:

deepeepee
08-21-2010, 01:24 AM
New strumming techniques in order to make the Ukulele sound fuller and more rhythmic...having played guitar for many years it's too easy to slip into the old routines.

Painful index finger on left hand after too much Ukulele practice...usually first thing in the morning, this loosens off throughout the day and whn I start playing the uke again.

UkuLeLesReggAe
08-21-2010, 01:38 AM
1. I'm not Hawaiian
2. can't offord expensive ukes :(

Ahnko Honu
08-21-2010, 03:32 AM
1. woman

2. women

UkuLeLesReggAe
08-21-2010, 04:48 AM
now now...

Jerlial Prophet
08-21-2010, 05:53 AM
I spend too much time on websites reading about Ukes when I should be playing.

bt93
08-21-2010, 06:18 AM
I spend too much time on websites reading about Ukes when I should be playing.

Agreed.

My biggest problem is reading tabs and soloing.

byjimini
08-21-2010, 07:15 AM
My first area is lack of experience; I do wish I'd have started playing many many years ago so that I'd have much more musical theory and experience of playing to crowds. On the flip side I often wonder if I'd be in the same great band that I currently play with had I started a lot earlier, in which case I stop moaning about it.

The second area is frustration itself. I need to sit back and just play what I know sometimes instead of continually pushing myself to do new things and learn new techniques.

cocohonk
08-21-2010, 05:27 PM
1. the lack of creativity when I try tabbing songs out myself, and also how rare I actually do that. And that's a really hard thing to learn how to do, I think.
2. I feel like it takes me too long to work out an optimal fingering on songs with complicated tabs. So, I usually give up, so for example, I know the first page of a few "Jake" songs, but that's it - just the FIRST page. :D I hate practicing tricks, so I'm horrible in them.

So basically, I guess, the problem is really my own laziness and a bit of complacency. I still love playing, and I do learn, but I feel like the learning has slowed down because I don't want to go through the music theory or tricks learning to help myself with problems 1 or 2.

ETA: Played for more than a year, but not quite two.