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Jcollazo
05-31-2012, 08:01 AM
I was just reading a post in the Beginner Section about someone wanting to find classical music for the ukulele. This got me thinking about how many people will pick up an instrument, even play it well, but not be able to read music. There's such an abundance of written music out there that for someone wanting to get in deep with their instrument, learning standard notation should be a necessity.

Opinions?

Plainsong
05-31-2012, 08:09 AM
But no method books for ukulele. I've asked around, and no one's ever mentioned a method book that uses standard notation for ukulele, where each exercise builds on the last one, and you develop that finger memory that way... like any other method book for any other instrument. No one's done for uke. I freaking hate tabs. I've been sight reading since the third grade and it's annoying to not be able to just pick up a sheet of music and play it on the instrument I prefer. I still keep a clarinet around for that.... or just sing it.

Kimosabe
05-31-2012, 08:15 AM
I taught myself to read a year or two ago and certainly use it daily. It's very useful for getting the exact melody down. I take a jazz fakebook and play the melody first and sing along. Then, I sing and play the chords. Sometimes I'll play the chords and throw in bits of the melody line. Reading makes this possible. Before I would sometimes sing the melody in a parallel key that didn't always sound good with the chords,.

Occasionally I still use tab, but when I have both I prefer standard notation because I'm faster reading it. Tab's good for more than one note at a time.

Lutes originally used a kind of tablature.


Curt Shellar's Uke reading book teaches one how to read, relatively painlessly.

Plainsong
05-31-2012, 08:30 AM
I taught myself to read a year or two ago and certainly use it daily. It's very useful for getting the exact melody down. I take a jazz fakebook and play the melody first and sing along. Then, I sing and play the chords. Sometimes I'll play the chords and throw in bits of the melody line. Reading makes this possible. Before I would sometimes sing the melody in a parallel key that didn't always sound good with the chords,.

Occasionally I still use tab, but when I have both I prefer standard notation because I'm faster reading it. Tab's good for more than one note at a time.

Lutes originally used a kind of tablature.


Curt Shellar's Uke reading book teaches one how to read, relatively painlessly.

Curt Shellar. Will look him up. Thanks! I never learned to sight-sing until my senior year of high school. Assign solfage to the notes, get your tonic, and away you go. The ear training part of theory courses reinforces that too. I'd love to be able to sight read with a uke though!

PedalFreak
05-31-2012, 08:34 AM
My reading isn't as good as it use to be, or even as it should be now. Teaching again is helping it out though :)

luluwrites
05-31-2012, 08:40 AM
I studied French for years and can still only ask where the beach is. I have the same problem reading music. Always I find myself counting up the staff, Every Good Boy Does Fine-ing and then immediately forgetting what I'm supposed to have been figuring out.

Plainsong
05-31-2012, 08:47 AM
Welp, looked up Curt Sheller, didn't find much, just the usual chords, strums, and jazz books. :(

PedalFreak
05-31-2012, 08:54 AM
Welp, looked up Curt Sheller, didn't find much, just the usual chords, strums, and jazz books. :(

http://curtsheller.com/books/ukulele/index.php

The reading book is near the end of the page.

Plainsong
05-31-2012, 09:12 AM
http://curtsheller.com/books/ukulele/index.php

The reading book is near the end of the page.

Ah, found it. But it's only key of C first position. Still though, better than nothing.

SailQwest
05-31-2012, 09:12 AM
For me, being able to read standard notation is just another tool that I have available.
(I've been doing it for longer than I care to mention here. :D)

On the other hand, I struggle horribly with tabs, to the point that I have rewritten tabs to standard notation.

For my husband, part of the appeal of the ukulele is being able to play music without having to read notation.

IMO, everyone wanting to "get in deep with their instrument" needs to find the path that works best for them. :music:

amandadverse
05-31-2012, 09:18 AM
I was in the school band for 7 years, and took private guitar lessons for 6 of those years as well. So I used to be a pro; I could have even told you what all of those little italian words meant. But, it's been 5 years since I read music on a regular basis, so I am very out of practice. And I never liked bass clef. :P

Plainsong
05-31-2012, 09:19 AM
I know right? Tabs are the most headache-inducing thing I've ever come across! OTOH, my husband hates any kind of notation and gets it pretty note-perfect by ear. I wish I had his skill at it.

I got that same bass clef problem. I learned it by using that "the name of the note is the one that's a third above it in treble clef" trick, and it never stuck. If I try to plonk something out on piano, the left hand lapses into treble.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
05-31-2012, 09:32 AM
Thanks for the 'IMO' SailQwest!

Some of us who are Standard Notation-challenged are always looking for 'permission'
NOT to have to do it :) I suppose I'm being lazy, but right now, and for the last 40+ years,
I haven't felt the need to study it. I does seem like a good idea... but for later :)

Strummer that I am, I'm happy to HEAR the music I love, and simply (or not so simply)
endeavor to mimic/reporduce it in a manner that makes sense to me. That's a bit of
artistic license. So if you hear one of my MP3s and it doesn't sound the way you
remember the song, well, that's 'my' rendition :)

keep uke'in',

ghardy
05-31-2012, 09:47 AM
I was in the school band for 7 years, and took private guitar lessons for 6 of those years as well. So I used to be a pro; I could have even told you what all of those little italian words meant. But, it's been 5 years since I read music on a regular basis, so I am very out of practice. And I never liked bass clef. :P

I'm in the same situation as you, except I'm still in band. I can easily translate notes to fingerings on my trumpet, but notes to string/fret combos are a little tougher for me, at least at this point with little practice. I learned tabs from guitar, and I find they're easier to understand, and they're usually the more dominant form of written music for guitar/uke. At least for the songs I play :D

pulelehua
05-31-2012, 10:10 AM
Plainsong, I've considered writing a method book. Part of my not doing it is that I have more fun doing what I'm doing at the moment. But you could argue that a method book would get more people into the other stuff I do.

Dunno. When I think of doing it, it's a LOT of work. And a bit ploddy.

I think I'd need to think of a way to make it fun. Hmmmmmmm. Not to mention that it would certainly improve MY technique.

RuckMonkey
05-31-2012, 10:15 AM
I'm kinda in an odd boat on this one. I can read treble and bass clef no problem when playing brass instruments, violin or cello, and when singing (in choir). However, when I'm playing my guitar or my ukulele I can't place the notes on the neck to save my life. It makes no sense to me what so ever. :S

philpot
05-31-2012, 10:16 AM
I'm self taught at pretty much everything, of course using online "teachers" like UU. I did start out with a couple years of piano. I guess I've always had an inclination towards music, and for awhile I could sight read decently. I've completely lost the ability now. And I've just never felt the need for uke :P

Louis0815
05-31-2012, 10:32 AM
IMHO standard notation will kick in as soon as you start playing together with other instruments. As long as you stick to ukes you can probably read/write tabs or standard or whatever - as long as you and your fellow ukers get the meaning of it.
Standard notation gives a much better clue of what the others will be doing/what to expect from them. As the name implies, it is a common standard amongst musicians of all kinds. Must admit that the different clefs and keys do add some challenges though...
Transferring the dots and lines of standard notation into moves for your left hand is "just" a matter of training - and there might not be a single "correct" translation as the most convenient fingering always depends (on the previous and next notes/chords).
I am glad being able to read at least treble clef like a book, wouldn't want to miss it. (But as a clarinet and sax player I might be a bit biased...)

Plainsong
05-31-2012, 10:50 AM
Plainsong, I've considered writing a method book. Part of my not doing it is that I have more fun doing what I'm doing at the moment. But you could argue that a method book would get more people into the other stuff I do.

Dunno. When I think of doing it, it's a LOT of work. And a bit ploddy.

I think I'd need to think of a way to make it fun. Hmmmmmmm. Not to mention that it would certainly improve MY technique.

I suppose technically I can put notes on a page and use scale-based exercises that build note by note, but I'm not sure what a good system is. I guess if I knew the system, I wouldn't need the method book. I need something more than just memorizing scales. Like you said, something more fun.

mds725
05-31-2012, 10:55 AM
I'm kinda in an odd boat on this one. I can read treble and bass clef no problem when playing brass instruments, violin or cello, and when singing (in choir). However, when I'm playing my guitar or my ukulele I can't place the notes on the neck to save my life. It makes no sense to me what so ever. :S

I'm the same way. I was a clarinet player from third grade through college, and I can probably still translate standard notation notes into clarinet finger positions but I can't do that for ukulele. My thought is to learn the fretboard so that when I see a note on sheet music, I can train by brain to find that note quickly on the fretboard. For this purpose, I bought Fretboard Roadmaps for Ukulele (http://www.amazon.com/Fretboard-Roadmaps-Ukulele-Essential-Patterns/dp/1423400410/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338497720&sr=1-1), and I also ordered these two free pdf minibooks (http://curtsheller.com/ukulele/free_books.php)from Curt Sheller's website on learning the fingerboard for both C and G tuning.

Plainsong
05-31-2012, 11:15 AM
I'm the same way. I was a clarinet player from third grade through college, and I can probably still translate standard notation notes into clarinet finger positions but I can't do that for ukulele. My thought is to learn the fretboard so that when I see a note on sheet music, I can train by brain to find that note quickly on the fretboard. For this purpose, I bought Fretboard Roadmaps for Ukulele (http://www.amazon.com/Fretboard-Roadmaps-Ukulele-Essential-Patterns/dp/1423400410/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338497720&sr=1-1), and I also ordered these two free pdf minibooks (http://curtsheller.com/ukulele/free_books.php)from Curt Sheller's website on learning the fingerboard for both C and G tuning.

Yup, same exact boat with the same clarinet family and a mellophone (badly) in the mix, and voice, and my last paying clarinet gig was like a week after college, and that was it, from 3rd grade to just out of college. It's amazing. If there are places for the fingers to go, no problem remembering what note is made how. But a fretboard? Forget it.

And there's the sinking feeling that after getting those method books, it's like "Oh hey I can sight-read this, oh wait, it's in D, so either transpose or feel stupid." And you go right back to feeling like you're in 3rd grade all over again.

RuckMonkey
05-31-2012, 02:19 PM
Absolutely agree on that. It just makes sense with a french horn, or trumpet or baritone in my hand. Heck, even the cello made perfect sense. I don't know why I go stupid as soon as I grab my guitar or uke though. Like you said, reading the page is cake. Putting those notes on the fretboard? yeeeeeeeaaaah.... >.<


Yup, same exact boat with the same clarinet family and a mellophone (badly) in the mix, and voice, and my last paying clarinet gig was like a week after college, and that was it, from 3rd grade to just out of college. It's amazing. If there are places for the fingers to go, no problem remembering what note is made how. But a fretboard? Forget it.

And there's the sinking feeling that after getting those method books, it's like "Oh hey I can sight-read this, oh wait, it's in D, so either transpose or feel stupid." And you go right back to feeling like you're in 3rd grade all over again.

Plainsong
05-31-2012, 02:29 PM
Absolutely agree on that. It just makes sense with a french horn, or trumpet or baritone in my hand. Heck, even the cello made perfect sense. I don't know why I go stupid as soon as I grab my guitar or uke though. Like you said, reading the page is cake. Putting those notes on the fretboard? yeeeeeeeaaaah.... >.<

And then there's the explaining "No no, I can read music... just not on the instrument I actually play." At least I picked up sight singing, but still, it's nice to let the fingers do the walking.

austin1
05-31-2012, 02:46 PM
I was just reading a post in the Beginner Section about someone wanting to find classical music for the ukulele. This got me thinking about how many people will pick up an instrument, even play it well, but not be able to read music. There's such an abundance of written music out there that for someone wanting to get in deep with their instrument, learning standard notation should be a necessity.

Opinions?

I can't read standard notation to save my life, and it's not for lack of trying--I started taking formal music lessons when I was six, stopped when I was fifteen, and in between had several different music teachers, all of whom tried to teach me to read music, and I just...can't! No matter what I do or what I try or what approach my teachers took, standard notation still looks like russian to me. I used to struggle through a piece once or twice until I memorized it, then play from memory while pretending I was reading the music. I thought this was a serious detriment to musicality, until I started taking singing lessons. My new teacher here in Germany asked me the first day if I could read music, and when I told him to do everything by ear, he said "You know, sometimes that's better." He was probably just being nice, but it's nice not to feel like a musical failure just because standard notation is lost to me!

Jcollazo
05-31-2012, 03:39 PM
I'll just chime in, being the original poster... I find the ukulele to be an instrument that one can become a proficient strummer in very little time. And it is fun to play!!! From that standpoint, I don't think the majority of ukesters really need to learn standard notation.


But there will be a small minority that want to dig deeper into music and the instrument of their choice. For them, standard notation may be the only way they can continue.


Here's a short and true story... I have a buddy who leads a worship band in a local church. He has a policy of letting younger players sit in, if they can read the music or lead sheets (words and chords for the guitarists and bassists). Every few months he gets a kid who is phenomenal on guitar.... but asks, "what is this C and this Dm thing"? I know that's never happened with a ukulele player :-)


My feeling... If we want to strum along, have fun, play on the beach, parties or even record our own tunes, standard notation is not necessary. If we want obscure music from the 1700s... well, I don't know anyone who would want that, but if you did, standard notation better be in your tool box.

itsme
05-31-2012, 04:50 PM
And then there's the explaining "No no, I can read music... just not on the instrument I actually play."
As a classically trained musician, I can read standard notation quite well, at least on the guitar. But when I took up uke I had a hard time wrapping my head around the different tuning (since the notes aren't in the same places), so I basically learned uke by tab. Ironic, since I had previously dismissed it as somehow being beneath me.

I can read standard notation on uke just fine if I'd doing it like guitar and realize I'm actually playing in a different key. :)

But since I can read music, I much appreciate when the tabs are alongside standard notation. Some tabs indicate note duration, which is very helpful.

What I really don't like is text-only tabs that give you no clue to duration where you have to basically know the song to be able to use the tab.

kapahulu50
05-31-2012, 04:57 PM
It's really useful for sight reading with a group, and I love being able to "hear" what a piece will sound like before playing it just by looking at the sheet music. I've played with lots of great guitarists who can't read a note and have no interest in it, they just spend more time preparing, learning by ear, and improvising. They have very fulfilling musical careers (professional and avocational) and aren't too concerned with reading.

In terms of method books, when I started with the uke I pulled out my paul deville universal method for saxophone and worked through it-all the scales, arpeggios, in every key. Also used 1st and 4th string alternates. Did the trick! A bit dull at times, though!

lkdumas
06-01-2012, 04:28 AM
Check out the "Ukulele In The Classroom" series of three books by James Hill & Chalmers Doane - all notation.

Plainsong
06-02-2012, 04:30 AM
Check out the "Ukulele In The Classroom" series of three books by James Hill & Chalmers Doane - all notation.

Thanks! :)

Ukulele JJ
06-02-2012, 05:31 PM
I studied French for years and can still only ask where the beach is. I have the same problem reading music. Always I find myself counting up the staff, Every Good Boy Does Fine-ing and then immediately forgetting what I'm supposed to have been figuring out.

Yup. Standard notation is like any other language. You can study the nuts and bolts all day long, but in the end, to achieve fluency, you've got to just roll up your sleeves and do it. Lots of it. For a good amount of time.

So the best way to get good at speaking French is to speak it, and the way to get good at reading music is to read it. And it can be a sloooow slog.

I used to be pretty terrible at reading music, to be honest. But the more I did it, the better I got. (Le Francais est la meme chose...)

JJ

webby
06-03-2012, 03:33 AM
Welp, looked up Curt Sheller, didn't find much, just the usual chords, strums, and jazz books. :(

Hey Plainsong I just looked at the larger photo of your koaloha Concert, That's simplistic beauty right there, me want !

:)

Plainsong
06-03-2012, 04:34 AM
Hey Plainsong I just looked at the larger photo of your koaloha Concert, That's simplistic beauty right there, me want !

:)

It is a wonderful little uke. My only wish is that I could lower the action at the saddle just a tiny tiny bit. It's still playable of course. I wouldn't have left it so long if it wasn't, just a personal preference. Sadly, the saddle is stuck in like it's glued, so action can't be lowered. But otherwise, I play the hell out of it. It really sounds like a uke should.

mattydee
06-03-2012, 05:21 AM
This is my next big theory project. I never had any real theory, just the rudimentary bits i picked up on my own in high school choir. I have fretboard roadmaps, and Roy Smeck's D method book so I can start learning the notes on the board -- I know there are a couple of iphone apps that quiz you on this stuff, so once I get comfortable with reading notation by sight and seeing it on the board in my head, then I'll start quizzing myself on the apps.

Of course I'll also have to find time to just have fun and play!

Iolaus
06-03-2012, 08:03 AM
As a flutist of over 30 years, I can sight-read relatively well on that instrument. Over the years, I have learned some strumming on the guitar out of books that tended to have standard Grand Staff notation as well, and have often able to pick out some embellishments beyond the chords from that. I never tried to learn to read tabs. More recently, I took some classical guitar classes and piano classes when I returned to college, and they were likewise taught in standard notation. I wish now that I had kept up with those; I may get back to them soon.

Personally, I found my limited ability to associate the notes on the page to the guitar to be helpful, but at the same time, not being able to truly "read" for the guitar was extremely limiting, and at times, frustrating. If I am going to learn the uke for anything beyond playing in my living room, I want to be able to access resources in standard notation; as noted by others, it will make communicating with other musicians much easier if we all speak the same language.

Plainsong
06-03-2012, 12:17 PM
This is my next big theory project. I never had any real theory, just the rudimentary bits i picked up on my own in high school choir. I have fretboard roadmaps, and Roy Smeck's D method book so I can start learning the notes on the board -- I know there are a couple of iphone apps that quiz you on this stuff, so once I get comfortable with reading notation by sight and seeing it on the board in my head, then I'll start quizzing myself on the apps.

Of course I'll also have to find time to just have fun and play!

Oh I wish you had my old HS choir director. You couldn't even get into the main choir unless you could sight sing, but before getting to that point, he was very good at teaching you how to do that. Find the key of the song (hoping it's not atonal), assign solfage to the notes, look at some of the intervals between the notes in the song, and vocalize those so that you can better hear them... then start on the tonic and you're off to the races. :)

It was a big mystery to me before joining the choir, how you actually sight sing. I was used to sight reading when you're holding an instrument and can just play the notes. I was filled with dread at the prospect, but that's how he taught us to do it! It was a life-saver in college, for the ear training part of theory, and made practicing my rep easier.

I mention it since you said you were in a choir, that method might feel more approachable for you.

luluwrites
06-04-2012, 01:01 AM
Yup. Standard notation is like any other language. You can study the nuts and bolts all day long, but in the end, to achieve fluency, you've got to just roll up your sleeves and do it. Lots of it. For a good amount of time.

So the best way to get good at speaking French is to speak it, and the way to get good at reading music is to read it. And it can be a sloooow slog.

I used to be pretty terrible at reading music, to be honest. But the more I did it, the better I got. (Le Francais est la meme chose...)

JJ

That's it! Immersion! All I gotta do is move to Paris and buy me a Black Bear and it'll all come together!

Okay. I know a purchase won't make me magically able to read music, but I can pretend while I save my pennies, right?

Season
06-04-2012, 07:57 AM
Hal Leonard has two ukulele method books written by Lil Rev that teaches reading music with the ukulele. I was just working in volume one last night.

JamieFromOntario
06-04-2012, 08:30 AM
I'll second the James Hill/Chalmers Doane book, Ukulele in the Classroom. If you want to use this on your own, you should probably pick up the Teacher's Edition. Neither the student nor the teacher edition are set up for self-study, but they are better than nothing.


I've got lots of experience reading music as a choral and solo singer, trumpet player and pianist. However, when I'm playing uke, I usually use TABs. I think that the main reason for this is that idiosyncratic high g string. Because of this re-entrant string arrangement, it is often difficult to decide which finger/string combo to use to play each note.
When singing, playing piano or playing brass instruments (except double horns), there is really only one fingering or note to play to produce the required pitch, i.e. if you need to play an A above middle C: on piano, you just play the A key to the right of middle C; when singing, you just sing and hope you've got the right pitch; on trumpet (in C) you just press valves 1 and 2 and blow just the right amount...but trying to play that same A on uke, should you play the A string open, G string second fret, E string fifth fret or C string 9th fret? It all depends on context and planning for ease of fingering.


So, I think learning to read to play from standard notation as a ukulele player is not vitally important. Learning to read music will open up doors and areas of music making that are simply inaccessible to non-music-reading players.

Plainsong
06-04-2012, 10:21 AM
Hal Leonard has two ukulele method books written by Lil Rev that teaches reading music with the ukulele. I was just working in volume one last night.

That's the book I was wondering about! Thanks!

Lori
06-04-2012, 10:37 AM
Sounds like learning to site read for vocals would be a good system.

I learned notation for classical guitar, and a little piano, but usually depend on tabs for ukulele and banjo. It is very difficult for me to move between similar instruments (guitar/ banjo/ uke) and try and apply the musical notation variations for each tuning. Since ukuleles are commonly tuned to either C or D, it makes it even more complicated. Tabs just make more sense for me, and it prevents headaches and allows me to concentrate on other skills. If I was only going to play one stringed instrument, and only use one tuning, it might make sense to learn musical notation.

–Lori

pulelehua
06-04-2012, 12:01 PM
I'll second the James Hill/Chalmers Doane book, Ukulele in the Classroom. If you want to use this on your own, you should probably pick up the Teacher's Edition. Neither the student nor the teacher edition are set up for self-study, but they are better than nothing.


I've got lots of experience reading music as a choral and solo singer, trumpet player and pianist. However, when I'm playing uke, I usually use TABs. I think that the main reason for this is that idiosyncratic high g string. Because of this re-entrant string arrangement, it is often difficult to decide which finger/string combo to use to play each note.
When singing, playing piano or playing brass instruments (except double horns), there is really only one fingering or note to play to produce the required pitch, i.e. if you need to play an A above middle C: on piano, you just play the A key to the right of middle C; when singing, you just sing and hope you've got the right pitch; on trumpet (in C) you just press valves 1 and 2 and blow just the right amount...but trying to play that same A on uke, should you play the A string open, G string second fret, E string fifth fret or C string 9th fret? It all depends on context and planning for ease of fingering.


So, I think learning to read to play from standard notation as a ukulele player is not vitally important. Learning to read music will open up doors and areas of music making that are simply inaccessible to non-music-reading players.


I agree with all of this. When I'm putting together a composition, I sit and work out the fingering. Then sometimes, if not often, when I'm recording it, I rethink a few bits. And they're not always obvious. But sometimes, they do save some time. And sometimes they do create a particular effect. I think it's easy to underestimate the difference re-entrant tuning makes.

Still, all that being said, perhaps that's because we don't have a re-entrant "method" in our head. And many string players would be upset to find that a composer had imposed their own fingering.

Still, for me, tablature is very useful in getting my ideas across.