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View Full Version : Bit of a rant, opinions please, experiences.



philrab66
01-23-2012, 01:24 AM
Hi all.
Sorry if this turns out to be a long post..
I began to play classical guitar a few years ago because I liked the sound, had fortnightly lessons. I noticed the Ukulele on the internet and thought I would get my partner one as she likes to sing. Anyway she always turned the offer down so I left it at that. I had a birthday coming up so popped into local music store picked one up and that was it, hooked. Said goodbye to guitar , to wide a neck, to many strings.

Started to play the normal C,Am, F, G and play it every moment I can. I would like to sing eventually but that is a different matter.
Anyway I thought it would be a good idea to find a group in local area more of a social thing I guess as I do nothing that gets me out and to meet people. I also suffer from depression and the uke seems to pick me up when I am playing.

The group is held at a school term time only and is run by a music teacher, his main instrument is a fiddle. A parent asked him to teach a small child guitar and somebody suggested him to teach ukulele. So he thought he would set up a group for adults. I joined half way through a term and they where learning around 6 songs to play for a end of term concert. Some were above my level but he said it would be good for me to join in the concert so I did.I did the best I could and mimed what I didnt know.

This term has just started and he has already thrown about 13 songs at us to play through because he like them. Some are very complex new chords for everybody. Also there are new people joining every week absolute beginners. I presume this week will be more of the same 8-10 more songs to fly through. Then he said we (he) will choose some songs to play for end of term concert.

I did ask the (teacher) what happens when beginners come to the group and he said it is in his best experience just to let them catch up.
I did not think this was very fair at the time but after a bit realised you really had to learn quick to try and keep up.

I am now thinking do I really want to go to the group anymore just to fly through loads of songs that nobody likes and can play to a satisfactory standard. By the time we have single it down to about 6 songs there will be around 6 weeks to learn them.

I have asked a few people in the group if they would like to do an extra session on our own but they said they were to busy with other things. That kind of put me off asking anybody else. A lot of the other people have said comments about the way it is run, but have not said anything.

Plus there is no social element to the session it is more like a school lesson. He is obviously in a good position being able to buy his ukes for the class books and dvds through the school I guess.
There are no other groups locally so do I stay or do I go?
i have spoken to another member on here and he has suggested a group out of town and said there is a good folk scene around here so I may look into this.

It would be nice to hear from other peoples experiences on the group thing. I do understand that there will always be people with different playing abilities and you can not cater for everybody.

Thanks Phil.

Gwynedd
01-23-2012, 01:28 AM
his best experience just to let them catch up.

This is a lazy person. Why not find a teacher for lessons, then find or start a group in your area. Failing a local teacher (and beware, like this fiddle player, many musicians will claim they can teach anything and they cannot) there is UUplus here which has online video lessons.

joeybug
01-23-2012, 01:33 AM
Hi Phil,

I'm Joey, I'm kinda in two minds on this subject myself. I tried to start my own group and it never took off, so I've never actually played with other players in person and would love to, so part of me says if you want to play with others stay with it. However, I do also agree that it sounds like it's more of a lesson than a social gathering of like minded people who want to share in their love of the instrument. As you said, you can't cater to every person in a group, but there should be some leeway.

I think ultimately, the decision will have to be yours, if you want to play with others and don't have any other options - the other group out of town might be worth a look? - then I'd say stick with it and see about talking to him about the level of teaching rather than social group. If you find you'd rather learn on your own and don't want to be piled with song after song that you are struggling to learn well, then I'd give it up and keep your ears to the ground for other groups popping up.

Hope that helps!

philrab66
01-23-2012, 01:35 AM
This is a lazy person. Why not find a teacher for lessons, then find or start a group in your area. Failing a local teacher (and beware, like this fiddle player, many musicians will claim they can teach anything and they cannot) there is UUplus here which has online video lessons.

I am not to worried about the learning side I am more interested in the social , jamming side. It would be nice just to play along with somebody nobody in family is interested. I have heard a lot of people say you learn a lot just playing with others and I guess it is a lot more fun.

philrab66
01-23-2012, 01:39 AM
Hi Phil,

I'm Joey, I'm kinda in two minds on this subject myself. I tried to start my own group and it never took off, so I've never actually played with other players in person and would love to, so part of me says if you want to play with others stay with it. However, I do also agree that it sounds like it's more of a lesson than a social gathering of like minded people who want to share in their love of the instrument. As you said, you can't cater to every person in a group, but there should be some leeway.

I think ultimately, the decision will have to be yours, if you want to play with others and don't have any other options - the other group out of town might be worth a look? - then I'd say stick with it and see about talking to him about the level of teaching rather than social group. If you find you'd rather learn on your own and don't want to be piled with song after song that you are struggling to learn well, then I'd give it up and keep your ears to the ground for other groups popping up.

Hope that helps!

Thanks for that Joey i feel for you about the group. I think in the end you just have to have musical friends and if you havent you may be lucky to find a decent group. There maybe something that comes up you never know.

Gwynedd
01-23-2012, 01:44 AM
Yes, music played with others is WONDERFUL. As a soloist most of my life (piano), I found I prefer ensemble work, so I sing and play accompaniment to singers, which I really like. And one is less self-conscious as well. Hopefully you can find a group you like--have you considered MEETUP (assuming you are in the US.) It is possible there is a group or could be a group to jam with near you. Or you can start one.

Even in this state, which is about the second or third least populated in the US, there is a Uke player who offered to jam downstate--only 45 min from my office. If there are people here, there are people everywhere. I'm not at the jamming point yet as I have to memorize my chords but when I'm set, I'm going to try some jamming.

bennyhana22
01-23-2012, 01:45 AM
Hi Phil

Forgive me as what I'm about to write may well sound somewhat immodest ans arrogant; it's not intended to be so and I thought your post deserved honesty in reply.

I REALLY empathise with your dilemma. I've been playing uke for only four months, but with a significantly musical background and daily practice, I'm already pretty OK. I can play complex songs with mutilple chord changes, difficult chords and quite a few inversions. I can fingerpick OK too. Blah blah blah.

Bottom line is that I would love to play with other people too, either only ukes, or other instruments, but I'm too ambitious and slightly too pompous to be able to enthuse over joining a uke club where 'beginners are welcome'. Now I know how that sounds, really I do. But I would generally only want to play with 'musicians', who already have ability and are ambitious to get much better, pretty quickly. I would go CRAZY at being in a group where I was constantly waiting for the weakest player to catch up. So, I guess the 'average' uke club (whatever that means, hands up - I've never been to one) might not be for me - unless as a route to meeting like-minded people who might want to do something separately - much like you suggesting extra sessions at your group - If I was there I'd bite your hand off!

So I share a dilemma, feel a bit of a git for being a bit snobby, but can't help wanting what I want. I have no idea how to pursue my uke ambitions with other people...currently making some enquiries about lessons for me in an attempt to progress faster than I can self-teaching alone...

Ben

PS - UU'ers - please don't think I'm horrible for seemingly 'dissing' uke groups - I'm not at all, it's just probably not the right model of playing for me...

mm stan
01-23-2012, 01:45 AM
I am not to worried about the learning side I am more interested in the social , jamming side. It would be nice just to play along with somebody nobody in family is interested. I have heard a lot of people say you learn a lot just playing with others and I guess it is a lot more fun.
Aloha Phil,
Your big oppertunity has just passed...christmas was just here, and you should have bought them dolphins..ha ha I am sure once they can strum a few chords they will be hooked...ha ha LOL
You know go to your local music stores and ask or post on their bulletin board...for groups or people who want to play together..hope it helps..Happy Strummings...

Gwynedd
01-23-2012, 01:57 AM
You don't sound snobby to me--unless you are in a "teaching" mode, jamming with people of limited ability can have limited appeal. We all are at various levels and I would never be insulted if an experienced player declined to jam with me, a rank tyro. It's like tennis--what joy can there be for someone to play with a beginner? You'd just be shagging balls.

itsscottwilder
01-23-2012, 03:04 AM
Since the group is at school and taught by staff. There are certain expectations. Curriculum, standards, conerts, etc. If you're just looking to have fun and socialize than starting your own group is going to be the way to go. Groups always start off slowly. But if you stick with it. Use the internet to keep advertising it. It will grow.

stevepetergal
01-23-2012, 03:12 AM
The ukulele can be the greatest therapy. I had a UU friend tell me he didn't get the whole group "sit and strum" thing, but for a lot of us it fills a great need. I understand the desire to share the pleasure of playing in a group. I completely understand what you're hoping for. The group I attend does lots of things for me. The music isn't all my favorites, and we're not all experts. The group doesn't have me playing my best. But, the meetings get me out of the house, and put the ukulele in my hands. It also fills a great need for companionship, and gives me access to other people who share one of my greatest interests.

I would try to start a new group if I were in your shoes. I don't think I would quit the first one, yet. The leader is probably not lazy. His vision for the group doesn't fit your needs. I'll bet you can find the people and things in that group that do, though they may be few. While they're learning songs, you can learn to find joy. For some of us this is hard. My first year in the group, I "mimed" all the time. But, I was getting started in playing and maneuvering in the social setting, too.

When you can, go to the local uke or guitar store and investigate. Ask the manager, put up a flyer. Look for or create an interest in the kind of group you want. You might even find someone who would want to lead. You don't have to be a teacher to create a social group. The ukulele community is full of people looking for a way to share the passion. You can find them.

vanflynn
01-23-2012, 03:21 AM
Although I've never tried it (don't think I'm good enough), your answer may be right here. At the top of the Uke Talk forum is UU Mini Jam, an online group. That may be what you're looking for (or not) Just a suggestion.

Ukuleleblues
01-23-2012, 03:29 AM
I enjoy jamming on simpler songs. Our Uke group is all paper, we have been trying for years to change that. Learn a few 1 4 5 songs by heart and Jam along with other folks. You really can get much better at playing by doing that. Plus you are interacting with other folks not just staring at the paper.

We evern had Jim D'Ville down for a workshop and he told the story of the uke group he belonged to whose "group" song was Five Foot Two. He said every time they would play it everyone would get their sheet music out, went on for 7 years. He said if they learned a chord a year they could have learned it years before.

Find a group that meets your needs socially and musically.

Alos I think it is kind of dumb to have a large group play songs with tons of accent chords, it just gets mired in the mix. That is much more effective with a solo or Duo with a Bass, Guitar, drum, etc.

philrab66
01-23-2012, 03:34 AM
Hi Phil

Forgive me as what I'm about to write may well sound somewhat immodest ans arrogant; it's not intended to be so and I thought your post deserved honesty in reply.

I REALLY empathise with your dilemma. I've been playing uke for only four months, but with a significantly musical background and daily practice, I'm already pretty OK. I can play complex songs with mutilple chord changes, difficult chords and quite a few inversions. I can fingerpick OK too. Blah blah blah.

Bottom line is that I would love to play with other people too, either only ukes, or other instruments, but I'm too ambitious and slightly too pompous to be able to enthuse over joining a uke club where 'beginners are welcome'. Now I know how that sounds, really I do. But I would generally only want to play with 'musicians', who already have ability and are ambitious to get much better, pretty quickly. I would go CRAZY at being in a group where I was constantly waiting for the weakest player to catch up. So, I guess the 'average' uke club (whatever that means, hands up - I've never been to one) might not be for me - unless as a route to meeting like-minded people who might want to do something separately - much like you suggesting extra sessions at your group - If I was there I'd bite your hand off!

So I share a dilemma, feel a bit of a git for being a bit snobby, but can't help wanting what I want. I have no idea how to pursue my uke ambitions with other people...currently making some enquiries about lessons for me in an attempt to progress faster than I can self-teaching alone...

Ben

PS - UU'ers - please don't think I'm horrible for seemingly 'dissing' uke groups - I'm not at all, it's just probably not the right model of playing for me...

I completely agree with you on that point . I havent really thought to hard about it thats why I posted on here. Everybody is looking for something different in theses groups. I am at a stage where I need to practice practice practice, and I do not think it is for me.

philrab66
01-23-2012, 03:38 AM
Although I've never tried it (don't think I'm good enough), your answer may be right here. At the top of the Uke Talk forum is UU Mini Jam, an online group. That may be what you're looking for (or not) Just a suggestion.
I was interested in the mini jam but when I go there my shock wave player thingy crashes. Also most people are out of my time zone. If I knew when people would be on there I would make the effort.

Shakespeare
01-23-2012, 03:56 AM
I understand why you feel a bit, for want of a better word, put upon. I have to agree with him about beginners catching up though. I have always found that tackling harder material will make going back to easier stuff a pleasure. When I decided to teach myself classical guitar I dived in the deep end and learned classical gas. Was it a grind? Yes, but I learned alot by doing it that way.

Kem
01-23-2012, 04:10 AM
Your teacher's approach sounds like a fairly common one among people used to leading community choirs or other largish groups that don't depend on an audition process. Basically, the idea is to throw as much stuff as possible at the group, in the process figuring out its capabilities and preferences. Beginners enter at their own risk; they're not unwelcome, but there's a basic understanding that the group is taking the average between the absolute beginner and the accomplished musician. More accomplished members act as anchors, providing support for less accomplished members, while beginners work harder to bring themselves up to the median level of the group. Not everybody likes this approach, but I've certainly seen it have results. In the hands of a skilled, sympathetic leader, it can work very well. However, it can also be mishandled.

At any rate, it's important for each group to make its expectations clear. If a group is advertised as not really being for beginners, beginners who join it don't really have an excuse to feel resentful. If it's advertised as catering to beginners, more advanced players who join it should not try to force it beyond its level. There should be no problem with the skills of the players being at different levels as long as the players themselves understand the basic level of the group. If the leader doesn't clarify this basic level, the group may run into problems.

itsscottwilder
01-23-2012, 04:33 AM
Hi Phil

Forgive me as what I'm about to write may well sound somewhat immodest ans arrogant; it's not intended to be so and I thought your post deserved honesty in reply.

I REALLY empathise with your dilemma. I've been playing uke for only four months, but with a significantly musical background and daily practice, I'm already pretty OK. I can play complex songs with mutilple chord changes, difficult chords and quite a few inversions. I can fingerpick OK too. Blah blah blah.

Bottom line is that I would love to play with other people too, either only ukes, or other instruments, but I'm too ambitious and slightly too pompous to be able to enthuse over joining a uke club where 'beginners are welcome'. Now I know how that sounds, really I do. But I would generally only want to play with 'musicians', who already have ability and are ambitious to get much better, pretty quickly. I would go CRAZY at being in a group where I was constantly waiting for the weakest player to catch up. So, I guess the 'average' uke club (whatever that means, hands up - I've never been to one) might not be for me - unless as a route to meeting like-minded people who might want to do something separately - much like you suggesting extra sessions at your group - If I was there I'd bite your hand off!

So I share a dilemma, feel a bit of a git for being a bit snobby, but can't help wanting what I want. I have no idea how to pursue my uke ambitions with other people...currently making some enquiries about lessons for me in an attempt to progress faster than I can self-teaching alone...

Ben

PS - UU'ers - please don't think I'm horrible for seemingly 'dissing' uke groups - I'm not at all, it's just probably not the right model of playing for me...

I'm starting a group on Indianapolis' South Side. I think in order to be a welcome place for beginners and advanced players alike; we are going to do something like.

1. Start with a one chord song that everyone can jump in on no matter what level.

2. Do a couple of two chord songs

3. Then up to three chords, etc, etc

As the night goes on, the beginners find new challenges to work on and the experienced players get to show to their stuff as well.

I think it will be important to do songs that are widely known and loved. So when you can't hang on the uke, you can still sing or play some percussion.

And for the really confident players, I think we'll do things like solos in the some songs and maybe even have some folks play solo songs.

Just some ideas on how to make the group interesting for everyone.