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View Full Version : A Wee Bit Discouraged



tooney
12-10-2011, 09:20 AM
Hello, everyone,

Feeling a little discouraged lately and unfocused in my practice. I don't get much time - maybe an hour in the morning, sometimes during lunch hour. Very often after work, dinner & cleaning up, I'm too pooped to do much. Someone wise here said that when you feel like you're not improving, you're only learning what you know more deeply. I try to take that to heart, but I feel now that I'm at a standstill. I learned Woodshed's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" from Ukulele Hunt and it's become mostly musical and I do practice it nearly every time I sit down. I have a song that I work on but just can't find the strum (after trying for months), and I just don't know where to go now. I don't know my major & minor scales absolutely cold, but I do have a good grasp of them and I work on them every time I sit down. I'm having a hard time, still, on rhythm and keeping the strum - or matching a strum to a song I might want to learn (see above). I don't have one particular song I want to learn now, and my practice feels very piecemeal and unfocused. Do I want to learn to pick? Pick and strum? Strum only? Do I work on fingering? Do I want to learn chord theory and progression? Do I concentrate on my scales (and THEN what)? What should I concentrate on, is what I ask myself when I sit down. ...Then I drink my coffee.

So, what do the experienced players out there do when they're stuck and have lost sight of a goal? How do I make the most out of my limited time? Especially when I'm not a particularly, shall we say, talented player. What I can play, I've worked very hard at. :o

Thanks for any input. I know some of you have been here!

Lori
12-10-2011, 09:38 AM
Hi Tooney

I have been where you are. It is almost impossible to practice effectively if you are tired. I actually stopped playing instruments completely for many years when my work schedule was too heavy. That was BU (before uke). I think I could have kept playing if I was playing ukulele then, because I would have brought it to work and played during lunch. The key is to get some practice time in before you get too tired. Strumming is tricky, and I found it easier if I tried playing along with a recording or another player. When you can't play, listen to music you would like to play. I often listen to the CD that comes with a music book, especially if I am driving in the car. It really helps train your ear for what you are going to learn to play. If you want to work on many things, spend one practice session each week on each subject. I found it was more efficient for me to get a half hour practice on related exercises rather than to be too fragmented in one practice session. It might be too boring just doing scales, so you might combine that study with trying to pick out tunes by ear. The scales are a great help in getting a connection between what you hear in your head to what you play on your uke.

Hope that helps.
–Lori

arpie
12-10-2011, 09:44 AM
Hi Tooney

I reckon the Best thing to do (if you can) is to join a group of established ukers - on your day off - it MAKES you go along & it will push your boundaries & you will find that you will improve within months & be able to hold your own on all but the more difficult chorded songs.

Always sing the song you are practising - otherwise it CAN be difficult to maintain the correct strum and most likely, you'd be strumming too fast.

Re picking - try this one Mr Sandman. Not too difficult & and a change from your regular strumming. You don't need to read music to 'pick'
http://www.brookadams.com/docs/mister_sandman.pdf

Don't give up - and GOOD LUCK!!

Roberta

mm stan
12-10-2011, 10:11 AM
Aloha tooney,
I know what you mean...It is hard to focus when you are tired and stressed out...You brain is on overload..best time to practice is when you get a good sleep and after an hour after
you wake up... you mind is rested and you mind is not stressed and cluttered with other things.. you retain and focus better..and you are more creative and can practice new strums
and techniques...hope it helps... look for new songs for motivation and inspiration...as for your uke....make sure it is tuned right....if you can tune by ear..and check if your uke has
good intonation and if you got good strings...those things can really throw you off...Happy strummings...rememeber...practice, patience, passion, and perseverence... good luck

tooney
12-10-2011, 10:17 AM
Hi Lori,

You're Lori UkeLeash! What a help THAT has been! I couldn't play as well as I even do now, without it. :)

Thank you for the good advice. You're right, a half hour of concentration is better than an hour of being half-focused. I will just try to concentrate on one thing and not flit about. I like your idea of choosing one thing each week. I hadn't thought of listening to the CDs that come with my books during my commute. And I'll continue to concentrate on the scales. Even if I'm a little tired, I can still do those.

I appreciate your input.

tooney
12-10-2011, 10:24 AM
Aloha tooney,
I know what you mean...It is hard to focus when you are tired and stressed out...You brain is on overload..best time to practice is when you get a good sleep and after an hour after
you wake up... you mind is rested and you mind is not stressed and cluttered with other things.. you retain and focus better..and you are more creative and can practice new strums
and techniques...hope it helps... look for new songs for motivation and inspiration...as for your uke....make sure it is tuned right....if you can tune by ear..and check if your uke has
good intonation and if you got good strings...those things can really throw you off...Happy strummings...rememeber...practice, patience, passion, and perseverence... good luck

Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone. I tell myself that, but it's good to connect. My husband says, "Why don't you go on the forum?" I say, "I only have a limited amount of time, I WANT TO BE PLAYING."

I also happen to pick songs that are way beyond me. :) I've discovered the beauty of self-teaching is there's no one to tell you what to do, but the down side is there's no one to guide you and choose songs at your level and bring you along one step at a time.

My routine is to exercise in the morning to wake me up, make my coffee and grab my uke. It's tuned correctly, my strings are good. ... Now if only I were! ha ha ha

I will share one cool moment of inspiration. I was practicing 'Happy Birthday' for someone and didn't like it. I ended up picking it and changing the song just a little. It was mine, a version I'd never heard done in quite my way. Those are the moments that keep you going. (And yes, of course it happened on a day I wasn't working and was somewhat rested.)

Thanks for the encouragement.

tooney
12-10-2011, 10:28 AM
Hi Roberta,

Love Mr. Sandman! Thank you so much for sending it. I'll resume singing along to get the strums right - one of the hardest things I've ever tried is singing one rhythm and playing another (there's a reason i don't play piano). I'll always try something that's worked for someone else. Will try to find a group again. ...I'm so afraid of playing for other people! argh!!!!

Thanks.


Hi Tooney

I reckon the Best thing to do (if you can) is to join a group of established ukers - on your day off - it MAKES you go along & it will push your boundaries & you will find that you will improve within months & be able to hold your own on all but the more difficult chorded songs.

Always sing the song you are practising - otherwise it CAN be difficult to maintain the correct strum and most likely, you'd be strumming too fast.

Re picking - try this one Mr Sandman. Not too difficult & and a change from your regular strumming. You don't need to read
http://www.brookadams.com/docs/mister_sandman.pdf

Don't give up - and GOOD LUCK!!

Roberta

vanflynn
12-10-2011, 10:32 AM
The reason I play is for the enjoyment. I constantly bounce back and forth between challenging stuff and easy stuff I know by heart but like playing. Sometimes I stay on the easy stuff for quite a spell just for the fun of it. Eventually I want a challenge again.

That's just me, everyone's different. Just keep at it and remember why you started playing the Uke in the first place.

Good luck

garywj
12-10-2011, 10:33 AM
I enjoyed the input on this thread. I may be under you in musicianship, but I will contribute anyway. I believe that when you're trying, you're always doing better than you think you are. First you learn the components and then little by little things come together. Learning is best when it's fun and time flies by. Playing with others (live, taped or on a computer) makes for quicker improvement. Expect a lot of yourself and remember growth takes time.

mm stan
12-10-2011, 11:18 AM
Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone. I tell myself that, but it's good to connect. My husband says, "Why don't you go on the forum?" I say, "I only have a limited amount of time, I WANT TO BE PLAYING."

I also happen to pick songs that are way beyond me. :) I've discovered the beauty of self-teaching is there's no one to tell you what to do, but the down side is there's no one to guide you and choose songs at your level and bring you along one step at a time.

My routine is to exercise in the morning to wake me up, make my coffee and grab my uke. It's tuned correctly, my strings are good. ... Now if only I were! ha ha ha

I will share one cool moment of inspiration. I was practicing 'Happy Birthday' for someone and didn't like it. I ended up picking it and changing the song just a little. It was mine, a version I'd never heard done in quite my way. Those are the moments that keep you going. (And yes, of course it happened on a day I wasn't working and was somewhat rested.)

Thanks for the encouragement.
Aloha Tooney,
That creative and aha moments you get here and there is what makes it fun when those days come along...remember I'd rather play an easy song great and enjoy myself rather than play
a hard song bad and get fustrated....when the time comes you'll know when to try for the next level of harder songs...until then stay within your range...Happy Strummings..

Nickie
12-10-2011, 02:29 PM
Hi tooney,
There is some wonderful advice here! This is why I spend about as much time on the forum as I do practicing. I started a little under a year ago, and still do not understand music theory, not even in the least. But I'm not worried, ukulele is for my enjoyment. It took me almost a YEAR before I could strum and sing at the same time! Most people seem to want "instant gratification" when it comes to making our own music, that is, we expect too much of ourselves, too early. I'm toward the end of middle age, so my learning curve can be quite long nowadays. Playing ukulele has been about learning for me, but also having fun. If there is a ukulele group near you, I suggest joining them immediately. If there is an instructor, you may want a lesson... I'm quite fortunate, I'm a Hospice nurse, and my supervisors smile upon me for taking my uke to work and playing for my patients and families. They don't know I'm not very good, they don't care, they all seem to love it. Most of them want me back! When our department has a function, I am in demand, and I'm really not very good, but they don't care. My minister wants me in the church band, but I know I'm not ready, so I'm playing with the kids in the Youth Department first. We all learn differently, and at our own pace. The fellow that sold me my first uke says he has never seen anyone learn as fast as I. I think he is just being sweet, but whatever...
Don't allow yourself to get discouraged, if a piece seems too difficult, leave it alone for a while. Slow down, enjoy yourself, have fun, and don't expect too much out of yourself, one day, you'll wake up, and that song you've been struggling with will pour right out of your ukulele!

sukie
12-10-2011, 03:02 PM
After 4 plus years I still feel that way sometimes. But I don't give up. I go back and play something from a long time ago and --WOW! -- it's easier. It will for you, too.

australe
12-10-2011, 03:22 PM
Thanks for posting this... it helped me to hear the encouraging words that others shared with you.

Little Plink
12-10-2011, 03:44 PM
I think it helps to establish an ultimate goal. Ask yourself why you play. Where do you want to be in a year? Are you content to play chord progressions in your living room, or do you want to play complicated, self-composed fingerstyle songs on stage? (Those of course being at polar ends of the spectrum, and not the only options.) Maybe what's missing is interaction. You can sound good by yourself, but if you've never played with another person, you're missing out. You might get together with a good percussionist and realize it sounds even better. Sounding good is fun, and it can be discouraging to sound bad. As far as practicing, one of the fantastic things about the ukulele for me was it's size, the advantage being that you can kind of noodle around on it while doing pretty much anything else. So when you have some down time, don't practice, play! You may find yourself coming up with something interesting if you just don't think about it.

Sorry if that didn't help. I'm not exactly eloquent when it comes to giving advice. My point is in there somewhere... I think

Plainsong
12-11-2011, 12:22 AM
I have to remember these wise words when the uke ensemble never invited me back, and when everyone's favorite tabs seem to be written for those with 20 fingers. My husband says I'm good, but he would.




Hi tooney,
There is some wonderful advice here! This is why I spend about as much time on the forum as I do practicing. I started a little under a year ago, and still do not understand music theory, not even in the least. But I'm not worried, ukulele is for my enjoyment. It took me almost a YEAR before I could strum and sing at the same time! Most people seem to want "instant gratification" when it comes to making our own music, that is, we expect too much of ourselves, too early. I'm toward the end of middle age, so my learning curve can be quite long nowadays. Playing ukulele has been about learning for me, but also having fun. If there is a ukulele group near you, I suggest joining them immediately. If there is an instructor, you may want a lesson... I'm quite fortunate, I'm a Hospice nurse, and my supervisors smile upon me for taking my uke to work and playing for my patients and families. They don't know I'm not very good, they don't care, they all seem to love it. Most of them want me back! When our department has a function, I am in demand, and I'm really not very good, but they don't care. My minister wants me in the church band, but I know I'm not ready, so I'm playing with the kids in the Youth Department first. We all learn differently, and at our own pace. The fellow that sold me my first uke says he has never seen anyone learn as fast as I. I think he is just being sweet, but whatever...
Don't allow yourself to get discouraged, if a piece seems too difficult, leave it alone for a while. Slow down, enjoy yourself, have fun, and don't expect too much out of yourself, one day, you'll wake up, and that song you've been struggling with will pour right out of your ukulele!