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consitter
06-05-2012, 10:40 PM
I've been taking lessons now for about 2 months after "playing" uke for 6 years. I've found how little I know. My teacher is asking me to do things that I'm having extreme difficulty doing. I have lost faith in myself. I have a wonderful ukulele and can't do it justice. I can't even keep rhythm with a friggin metronome. I'm having real problems trying to mute notes, etc, etc, etc.

I don't want a pity party here either. Maybe a good knock in the head with a 2X4 is more what I need. So any criticism out there is welcome.

Thanks,
Scott

Camsuke
06-05-2012, 10:53 PM
Hang in there Scott, we all have bad days and I'm sure this is just one of those. I'm sure great things are just around the corner.

SuzukHammer
06-05-2012, 10:57 PM
Nothing wrong with a good 2X4 to the head.

I read your post. You are taking lessons and learning new things. What's the problem again?

consitter
06-05-2012, 11:02 PM
Nothing wrong with a good 2X4 to the head.

I read your post. You are taking lessons and learning new things. What's the problem again?

Haven't been thinking of it quite like that. Feeling sorry for myself. Need to stop that. Like NOW!

whepper
06-05-2012, 11:20 PM
I understand your frustration. I've got the same challenges. Looking at someone else playing and thinking: Oh, that's simple..... And when I want to repeat it... disaster... :) But it's part of a learning process. There are some chords and strumming techniques that were impossible for me to play a few weeks ago and now it's on automatic mode.. but new challenges arise every time.

Just enjoy playing your uke! :) That's the most important part. And continue practicing... the uke doesn't give it's precious sounding secrets away for free! :D

Sven-Uke
06-05-2012, 11:27 PM
Ah.. the learning curve.. how I know that feeling..
I understand your frustration very well, having gone trhough the same at work.

Hang in there, have fun with things that do sound good, and let us know in a few months time how you you've progressed.

luluwrites
06-05-2012, 11:29 PM
Nothing wrong with a good 2X4 to the head.

I read your post. You are taking lessons and learning new things. What's the problem again?

Exactly! Who needs a teacher if all he is going to do is say you're already doing things exactly right? This is what those lessons are for!

Have you read Twyla Tharp's book THE CREATIVE HABIT? In it, she describes how even the most experienced ballet dancers make classes a part of their regular routine and how they are always struggling to learn new things. That's what it is to get better at something you love.

kirbo
06-05-2012, 11:40 PM
Hang in there bud. I just started recording myself and have realized how badly I suck. My wife thinks that I'm getting good. I'm pretty sure we are all harder on ourselves and maybe we aren't as bad as we think we are?

Or my wife was lying to make me feel better and I really do suck. Hmmm.

consitter
06-05-2012, 11:48 PM
Not that this reflects on you, but my wife has lied to me a few times to make me feel better. ;)

Raygf
06-06-2012, 12:35 AM
I've been taking lessons now for about 2 months after "playing" uke for 6 years. I've found how little I know. My teacher is asking me to do things that I'm having extreme difficulty doing. I have lost faith in myself.
Thanks,
Scott
Scott,
Not every teacher is right for every student and vise versa. Don't lose faith in yourself. Be kinder to yourself than you think you should be. What is it that you want to get out of the lessons? Tell your teacher. I always ask my students that before the first lesson. Some students tell me before I ask. Ask your teacher for practice tips. Discuss your frustration with them. If you are not satisfied with the results, try to figure out if what you want from lessons is realistic and/or if this teacher is right for you. Most of all, never give up playing for your own enjoyment. Music self-played is Happiness self-made.

Ukuleleblues
06-06-2012, 01:00 AM
Maybe you have a poor instructor? They are out there.

pulelehua
06-06-2012, 01:30 AM
Playing with a metronome is hard. I do a lot of recording, where I use a clicktrack playing through headphones. On some pieces, if it's not absolutely clobbering me in the ear like a sledgehammer, I go off the beat. I think there are metronomic people, and groovy, loose people.

Don't feel bad. Music is hard.

Frank Sinatra couldn't hit the beat with a stick, and most people reckon he had some musical ability. :)

blab
06-06-2012, 01:30 AM
My teacher is asking me to do things that I'm having extreme difficulty doing
Here's the problem. Your teacher should be aware of your current level and use it as a starting point.

Plainsong
06-06-2012, 01:40 AM
Here's the problem. Your teacher should be aware of your current level and use it as a starting point.

Yeah, there's a pleasant challenge, and there's soul-crushing. It's at a different place for everyone. If you're not pushing to be the most competitive audition-winningest player there is, there's no reason to get soul-crushing about it. The instructor should know this.

As for metronomes, from someone who was grilled to always be aware of what happens when the foot is up and when it is down, to subdivide everything, who marched at a high school where most of us were in a drum corps, having been in a drum corps... years of solo playing has gotten me very unfriendly with a metronome.

Don't worry about it. Unless you're recording a guide track on which your rhythm relies, unless you're playing in an ensemble, I'll tell you a little musical secret.... it doesn't matter. But if you're looking to improve a skill that you need, then absolutely practice with a metronome. Then have fun without one. :)

frankiefirefox
06-06-2012, 01:47 AM
Here's the problem. Your teacher should be aware of your current level and use it as a starting point.

Tell your teacher about your frustration. But remember that is this instrument was easy, everyone would be playing like Jake! Keep strumming!

Tudorp
06-06-2012, 02:07 AM
Persistance is key. Its funny because most of us, are like that with many things. Ya do something for awhile, and then take it to a formal level only to find out how much ya didn't know. Kinda like myself, I never read instructions on things until I break it. Only then I will read them to find out what I did wrong.. ;) We all are in, or have been in the same boat with you at some point my brother.. keep the chin up and keep playing. I am not happy with my playing anymore due to health reasons. I finally had to come to grips with it, and just play anyway. Suck or not, it makes me happy to do it.. That, and I get as much, if not more satifaction teaching kids to play and hearing them play and seeing them smile when they hit a note or chord right. I feel better about making a change for them, than I do listening to my own playing.. ;)

consitter
06-06-2012, 02:17 AM
Thank you all. I've lost sight that I'm playing for the fun of it, not to impress anybody. I've been looking at it as WORK. If I keep that up, I'll quit altogether. I'll keep fun in mind, and press on. I'll still get frustrated, like I am now, but I need to remember to just have fun. It's not like I'm gonna do this for a living after all! Again, thanks to all that have responded.

Scott

mm stan
06-06-2012, 02:18 AM
Everyone learns at a different level..and many get fustrated with a excelerated lesson... I say step back and explain this to your instructor... if every thing fails, look for a new one and
go back and play your uke for fun on what you know..it will come one day....I believe in Keep it simple in uke playing too...happy strummings.. smaller steps on the learning curb..

Hippie Dribble
06-06-2012, 02:28 AM
Hey Scott. I think it's just like life mate...it's a rollercoaster ride. Everyone on this forum goes through these feelings of frustration at all levels of playing ability, it's part of the journey mate. Thing is, we're always our own worst critic. Just remember why you took up playing and why you love the instrument as you do. It's easier said than done, but try to be patient with it brother and you will reap the rewards of your efforts in due season.

As for the metronome, I hate em myself. I don't even think they're of much benefit, except for people with absolutely no sense of rhythm or timing. And, especially if you're a solo player, it's not something to get too hung up on. Songs ebb and flow naturally anyway as part of their inherent dynamic and subtle changes in tempo can be really effective. Fritz Richmond (from the Jim Kweskin Jug band) always used to love things "loose but tight" and I reckon there's some wisdom in that.

Blessings bro, keep on keeping on :)

Tudorp
06-06-2012, 02:40 AM
Oh yeah, the metrodome thing. For the record brother. I have always hated them too. I play with soul, and heart, and that is where true music comes from. Not a text book IMHO. No disrespect for technical therory, but, that has never been me. I said it a million times. I have played, even semi pro guitar and bass for many years, but have never been able to read a note of music. I tried, and tried to learn the science of it, and it just never would stick. The times I tried to apply science to my playing, my fellow musicians would tell me to stop, and play with my soul like I normally do. When I applied science, it REALLY sounded mechanical, and shallow. Point is, just play. Thats all, it's simple. ;)

garyg
06-06-2012, 03:20 AM
Ray made a wise statement in saying that not every teacher is for every student. As a lifelong teacher I can tell you that there are plenty of bad teachers out there. I don't know how old you are but I came to the ukulele late in life and although I can always improve I'm at the cusp of trying to decide how good a player I want to be. Do I want to devote the time to being a "lead" uke player and be able to pick Bach cantatas on the uke, or would I rather be a "rhythm" uke player and devote my extra time to writing songs and increasing my repertoire or do I want to be something in between? Many teachers in the fine arts have one style and one style alone and that is turning you into a superlative musician, but that's not something that I ever wanted to be and highly unlikely for someone in my age group (50's). A good teacher will sit down with a new student and ask what their goals are and if they don't it is something you should do. "I wan't to learn how to pick, I want to be able to pick "Stairway to Heaven", I want to learn all the individual notes above the sixth fret.", all of these are reasonable goals and should be active items of discussion with your teacher. It is true that it's difficult to go back and learn the basics once you've been playing for some time, but if you're happy with how your playing maybe there are more specific things they can help you with. One size doesn't fit all in the student-teacher relationship, especially when it's one-on-one and something as personal as music or art. I don't know if any of this applies to your situation but remember you're a client not just the recipient of someone else's magnificent wisdom. This reminds me of a situation that I had when I started carving stone about 10 years ago. I looked around for someone to give me lessons and someone with a recently completed degree in sculpture (stone carving) agreed to give me lessons. I had already done some carving and said that I wanted to learn basic techniques etc. and that I had preferences in sculptural styles (I named some well known sculptors whose work I would love to emulate), the potential teacher's style was totally different, furthermore she simply wasn't interested in the folks that I wanted to emulate. So after agreeing to give me lessons she backed out and from our conversations I could tell that she wasn't interested in teaching someone who had goals of their own but was only interested in teaching someone that she could "mold" to use an apt adjective in her image. My guess is that lots of music teachers are like that too. Well just some words for thought and yes remember that above all your music is for you and no one else. You be the judge of what you do and play not someone else. cheers, g2

Sporin
06-06-2012, 03:39 AM
I think jumping into formal lessons for a relatively new, but self-taught, player will always be hard.

I'm a confident, reasonably competent strummer and have pretty much achieved my goal of "rythme" ukulele while I sing and that was all I ever wanted for myself. Now I need to decide if I want to get a bit more 'formal" with lessons and learning to read music, and finger picking.

Either way, don't lose sight of the fact that you (if you are like most of us) play ukulele first and formost for YOUR enjoyment.

Tudorp
06-06-2012, 04:01 AM
Yes, yes, that has always been a HUGE personal weakness of mine. I can sing, and I can play, but have NEVER been able to do both at the same time. Not sure why, but there is a huge disconnect and always has been with that. My daughter suffers from the same. She is an unbelieveable vocalist, and an awesome guitarist, and can sing you to tears, or rock your socks off on the axe, but she fight with herself as well doing both at the same time. Maybe it's a genetic thing, don't know. But she suffers from the same thing and gets discurraged with herself over that. Everyone has their own personal weaknesses, no matter how novice, or veteran you are. Just dont ever give up on trying to accomplish what you wish to.


goal of "rythme" ukulele while I sing and that was all I ever wanted for myself.

Freeda
06-06-2012, 04:09 AM
This is a really great thread. :)

Sporin
06-06-2012, 04:14 AM
Yes, yes, that has always been a HUGE personal weakness of mine. I can sing, and I can play, but have NEVER been able to do both at the same time. Not sure why, but there is a huge disconnect and always has been with that. My daughter suffers from the same. She is an unbelieveable vocalist, and an awesome guitarist, and can sing you to tears, or rock your socks off on the axe, but she fight with herself as well doing both at the same time. Maybe it's a genetic thing, don't know. But she suffers from the same thing and gets discurraged with herself over that. Everyone has their own personal weaknesses, no matter how novice, or veteran you are. Just dont ever give up on trying to accomplish what you wish to.

There are still songs I can't play and sing at the same time, where the singing cadence doesn't match the strum pattern well. I just keep practicing!!

consitter
06-06-2012, 04:39 AM
This is a really great thread. :)

Turns out it is. Glad I decided to vent. Again, thanks to all who've contributed.

His Sinfulness
06-06-2012, 06:25 AM
I feel your pain. We are our own worst critics. I just shot a practice video of myself... My fiancee and friends assure me it is not bad - possibly almost even sort of good - but I am horrified by it. :(

Hobo
06-06-2012, 06:54 AM
Simply put: there are good teachers and not-so-good teachers. Just because someone can play well or even play great, does not make them a good teacher. A good teacher should inspire you to progress, not beat you up about it. Critique is to be expected of course... but, it should be instructive and done with some skill. If you're not getting that, then look for someone else. Don't let it deter you from learning...that's the worst outcome of a bad teacher experience.

janeray1940
06-06-2012, 07:04 AM
I've been taking lessons now for about 2 months after "playing" uke for 6 years. I've found how little I know. My teacher is asking me to do things that I'm having extreme difficulty doing. I have lost faith in myself. I have a wonderful ukulele and can't do it justice. I can't even keep rhythm with a friggin metronome. I'm having real problems trying to mute notes, etc, etc, etc.

I don't want a pity party here either. Maybe a good knock in the head with a 2X4 is more what I need. So any criticism out there is welcome.

Thanks,
Scott

Hey Scott. Nothing I really have to add that hasn't already been said other than - unless you have a bad instructor, all of this sounds absolutely normal to me. In other words: keep it up - you're doing it right!

I've been taking lessons for several years now and while some things come really easily to me - single note lead playing, for example - other things are taking FOREVER to sink in. Playing with a metronome is one of those difficult things, but is something I recently had to conquer because I was playing a classical duet with another person and we really, really had to keep accurate time with each other.

One thing that helped was using a digital metronome on my smartphone that actually flashed the numbers - 1,2,3,4 - rather than a traditional metronome that is sound-based. I'm a visual learner, and actually seeing those digits made a world of difference.

FWIW, playing arpeggiated chords is another thing that tripped me up - everybody makes it look so darned easy, but it's taken me almost three years to get the hang of it.

alanjang
06-06-2012, 07:14 AM
I used to think that happiness was a destination. If I can chunk, I'll be happy. If I can nail this song or this strum, I'll be happy. Something clicks, I do it right, and I'm happy alright, but it's fleeting because there's always something else I want to do better. I had it backwards. Despite all the things I can or can't do, bottom line is, I find joy in playing my uke. Happiness with my playing is not a series of destinations, it's become a constant state. Hope that helps.

jackwhale
06-06-2012, 12:00 PM
There are really good suggestions here. I definitely agree on the importance of playing at least 1/2 hour with a metronome every day. Practice very slowly and gradually increase the speed.
Also, when you are driving, count out the beat as you are listening to music. Most popular songs are in 4/4 time. This careful listening carries over to your own playing.

Raygf
06-06-2012, 12:06 PM
I feel your pain. We are our own worst critics. I just shot a practice video of myself... My fiancee and friends assure me it is not bad - possibly almost even sort of good - but I am horrified by it. :(

At least you watched it before posting. Be kinder to yourself than you think you should be.

Eyeguy
06-06-2012, 02:42 PM
Great thread, and one dear to my heart, well, maybe just close to my heart but not dear. As a self taught guitar player of about 9 years (I started at age 50) I took guitar lessons last year and told the instructor in no uncertain terms what I was interested in learning, and not learning. For instance, at 59, although I'm certainly not averse to hard work and will practice hard to maximize my limited innate musical abilities, time is of the essence to some degree and I don't want to spend years of lessons on learning every conceivable scale and mode known to man - some theory as it applies to learning chords and the fretboard, etc. are fine - but I wanted to play songs, specifically, fingerpicked acoustic blues. Unfortunately, the instructor was determined to infuse his passion - jazz - into my noggin, and with material that was way out of my league now and possibly forever. So after 4 weeks of trying to steer things back to what I wanted and getting no relief, I quit.

In my opinion, if it's my dough I should be able to spend it on learning what I want to learn, even if it's not ultimately in my best interest from a traditional teaching frame of reference, and regardless of what the instructor wants or thinks I ought to learn. If the instructor doesn't want to do that, that's cool, I can live with that, just tell me up front and I'll move on to someone who will. Problem is, it's difficult, if not impossible, to audition instructors in such a way that you know right off the bat whether you jeehaw with them or not, but I guess that is what it is. One thing I can say though, I wish GaryG was in my neck of the woods - sounds like just the ticket for my next foray into the lesson thing. Where are you by the way Gary?

garyg
06-06-2012, 03:02 PM
@Eyeguy, Thanks for the kind words. I live in Athens GA. Interesting how common these experiences are of the teacher wanting you to go their direction and not your own. Oh well, nothing wrong with being self-taught or learning from players that are better than you are. Keep the faith baby, g2

connor013
06-06-2012, 04:08 PM
Since this is (sort of) a thread about teachers and teaching, let me offer this:

I began teaching high school English right out of college (eleven years now -- yikes!) and I've been playing the uke for a little more than a year. One thing I can say for sure is that learning the ukulele has made me better, more compassionate teacher.

As a player, I've revelled in periods of rapid growth and I've fought through those frustrating plateaus, but if I've learned nothing else it's that my love for the ukulele has little or nothing to do with my ability.

So here's to the struggles, the frustrations, the realization of limitations and the thousand times we've all put down our ukes only to pick them up again. Keep at it, Scott!

thiam
06-06-2012, 04:41 PM
Scot, You, I and we aren't alone. I've been taking lessons ons and offs and still could hardly make some of the seemed to be difficult chords or tabs despite several attempts. But, we're playing uke for fun and keep life enjoyable and cheerful thru strumming...that's it. Keep strumming...

TCK
06-06-2012, 07:51 PM
Great thread- guess I come from life at an entirely different angle.
First, I have been a teacher (Biology) for 16 years now...know what, the world is full of lousy teachers. Their goals and your goals will never be the same...has to do with the whole teacher/student model I s'pose.
If I could find one I like, I would probably take a lesson or two, but I would rather learn from the fine folks here. I saw Iris Dement a while back and at the end of her show she made everybody stand up. She then asked us to sing along with her. She said (and I agreed) "know one cares what you sound like- that is not why we are singing" and then 500 complete strangers did the finest version of "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms" I have ever heard.
Guess my point is that is does not matter how good you are, or whether you can go from G to E really fast, or play like Jake whats his name...
Do you make yourself happy playing?
Do you make other folks happy playing?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jfBRmGSF3Zc
Yep. Good enough, keep playing :)
(How's that for a 2x4 in the head huh?)

Tigeralum2001
06-06-2012, 08:36 PM
there have been some great posts in this thread; what a great community! All I can say is I am there with you. The ukulele is the king of "minutes to learn, lifetime to master" instruments. I will never be Jake, but maybe one day I will actually play in public or shoot a YouTube video...

consitter
06-06-2012, 09:08 PM
Great thread- guess I come from life at an entirely different angle.
First, I have been a teacher (Biology) for 16 years now...know what, the world is full of lousy teachers. Their goals and your goals will never be the same...has to do with the whole teacher/student model I s'pose.
If I could find one I like, I would probably take a lesson or two, but I would rather learn from the fine folks here. I saw Iris Dement a while back and at the end of her show she made everybody stand up. She then asked us to sing along with her. She said (and I agreed) "know one cares what you sound like- that is not why we are singing" and then 500 complete strangers did the finest version of "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms" I have ever heard.
Guess my point is that is does not matter how good you are, or whether you can go from G to E really fast, or play like Jake whats his name...
Do you make yourself happy playing?
Do you make other folks happy playing?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jfBRmGSF3Zc
Yep. Good enough, keep playing :)
(How's that for a 2x4 in the head huh?)

Okay....NOT FAIR....using Raeden's video against me! :) No, brother you are right, if I make her happy, I make me happy!! I can't believe the outpouring of help that's came to me on this thread from you and everyone else. I know I've already said it before a couple of times, but to all who have responded...THANK YOU!!! You guys have re-inspired an old guy to keep playing. If I could pass out hugs from Raeden and me, I would. Later guys and gals.

mds725
06-06-2012, 09:47 PM
I'm currently learning a complicated (for me) double triplet picking thing (1-3-2-4-2-3) in my Hawaiian music ukulele class. I went from wanting to bash my ukulele against the wall to breaking down the task into small components -- master 1-3, master 2-4, master 2-3, try to put them together, and then have to start from scratch again when I added the fretting component. Everyone learns differently, but your brain will eventually be able to take on some tasks (like fretting and strumming) without having to think about them, and that just takes patience and repetition, so hang in there.

Off track, but only a little. There's a new book called Guitar Zero written by Gary Marcus (http://www.amazon.com/Guitar-Zero-Musician-Science-Learning/dp/1594203172/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339054799&sr=1-1), a neuroscientist who used himself as am guinea pig to study how adults learn music. From amazon.com: "Marcus investigates the most effective ways to train body and brain to learn to play an instrument, in a quest that takes him from Suzuki classes to guitar gods. From deliberate and efficient practicing techniques to finding the right music teacher, Marcus translates his own experience—as well as reflections from world-renowned musicians—into practical advice for anyone hoping to become musical, or to learn a new skill."It may not allay your frustration, and Marcus says it, by itself, won't teach anyone how to play a stringed instrument, but it's an interesting read and it may give you some comfort about your own learning journey.

bodhran
06-06-2012, 10:08 PM
This is a great thread.

As with any hobby: if you are enjoying it then you are doing it right! Life is way too short to worry about perfection...........

garyg
06-07-2012, 01:11 AM
@Con - that video is just too cute and as a previous poster said - you have your answer right there. This has been a really interesting thread so thanks for starting it with an honest and heartfelt post. I have to admit that I haven't spent much time on the board in the last few months. Truth is I get tired of seeing the same posts over and over again but every so often one comes along that makes one feel part of a community again like this one. So thanks to everyone for all the interesting posts. Uke players really are a special group of people and perhaps it takes a special type of confidence and dignity to pick up and play something like a soprano uke, that at face value, seems to be a "toy instrument". I have one last confession to make, I don't really like Hawaiian music, okay there it is, I feel a lot better now <g>. g2

consitter
06-07-2012, 01:18 AM
I have one last confession to make, I don't really like Hawaiian music, okay there it is, I feel a lot better now <g>. g2

Thank you Gary for all your posts. My confession is that I don't either!

Bill Mc
06-07-2012, 05:08 AM
Keep your chin up Scott. Playing music to a metronome is no fun ! I'm in your camp on that one.

sukie
06-07-2012, 07:41 AM
I've been taking lessons now for about 2 months after "playing" uke for 6 years. I've found how little I know. My teacher is asking me to do things that I'm having extreme difficulty doing. I have lost faith in myself. I have a wonderful ukulele and can't do it justice. I can't even keep rhythm with a friggin metronome. I'm having real problems trying to mute notes, etc, etc, etc.

I don't want a pity party here either. Maybe a good knock in the head with a 2X4 is more what I need. So any criticism out there is welcome.

Thanks,
Scott
Keep going. Really. I can't do my ukulele justice either. But that's not stopping me. It takes work to get better.

ksiegel
06-07-2012, 12:10 PM
Thank you all. I've lost sight that I'm playing for the fun of it, not to impress anybody. I've been looking at it as WORK. If I keep that up, I'll quit altogether. I'll keep fun in mind, and press on. I'll still get frustrated, like I am now, but I need to remember to just have fun. It's not like I'm gonna do this for a living after all! Again, thanks to all that have responded.

Scott

Scott, if you play for fun, you're doing it right. If it isn't fun, then by all means stop playing - for a while.

I quit playing guitar for a year while I was in college, because frankly I sucked. To quote John Sebastian, "Anyone who unpacks his guitar can play twice as better than I will."

I hated that I was no good, and that I wasn't fit to carry the spare picks for anyone else I knew who played. So I just tossed the guitars in my dorm closet, and quit.

One night, I was running sound at an open mike, and a few of the girls I went to college with were screaming for someone to play "Tennessee Stud", and none of the other performers knew the song. One of the ladies shouted "Kurt Can Play It!". Keep in mind, I'd not touched an instrument in a year, and didn't want to hear this. But, as it was a college function, the legal drinking age was 18, and these fine ladies were very aware that they could get a lot louder if they wanted...

I had no choice but to hear them.

So the guy on stage- a professional quality performer, I might add - called me up, handed me his guitar, and said "It's your problem now."

So I played "Tennessee Stud".

4 phenomenal guitarists asked me to teach them the song that night, and complimented me on my playing - and were even more surprised to hear that I played totally by ear. (And still do.)
I was invited to play at the next open mike.
Several people asked if we could get together to "just play!"
At least one person said "I didn't know you played, man. Why you been hiding out?"

So take all the criticism as a way to improve, but don't drag yourself over the coals.

Just Play!





...But if you do decide to give it up, can I have your custom KoAloha? (g)





-Kurt

joekulele
06-07-2012, 12:41 PM
Hi Scott,
I have found that that playing with a group really helps get over the hump of "practice frustration." Are you part of a uke club or meet up group? The other thing I have to do is sloooooooow doooooown. I have a tendency to want to go so fast that I get frustrated. And when you do get frustrated, throw down some Twinkle Twinkle on Lokahi...;)

consitter
06-07-2012, 04:13 PM
Hi Scott,
I have found that that playing with a group really helps get over the hump of "practice frustration." Are you part of a uke club or meet up group? The other thing I have to do is sloooooooow doooooown. I have a tendency to want to go so fast that I get frustrated. And when you do get frustrated, throw down some Twinkle Twinkle on Lokahi...;)

That's the unfortunate thing about living as far out as I do...the closest group to me (all 3 people in it) is about an hour and a half drive away. But, I'm thinking about making a Sunday drive there.

consitter
06-07-2012, 04:16 PM
Scott, if you play for fun, you're doing it right. If it isn't fun, then by all means stop playing - for a while.

I quit playing guitar for a year while I was in college, because frankly I sucked. To quote John Sebastian, "Anyone who unpacks his guitar can play twice as better than I will."

I hated that I was no good, and that I wasn't fit to carry the spare picks for anyone else I knew who played. So I just tossed the guitars in my dorm closet, and quit.

One night, I was running sound at an open mike, and a few of the girls I went to college with were screaming for someone to play "Tennessee Stud", and none of the other performers knew the song. One of the ladies shouted "Kurt Can Play It!". Keep in mind, I'd not touched an instrument in a year, and didn't want to hear this. But, as it was a college function, the legal drinking age was 18, and these fine ladies were very aware that they could get a lot louder if they wanted...

I had no choice but to hear them.

So the guy on stage- a professional quality performer, I might add - called me up, handed me his guitar, and said "It's your problem now."

So I played "Tennessee Stud".

4 phenomenal guitarists asked me to teach them the song that night, and complimented me on my playing - and were even more surprised to hear that I played totally by ear. (And still do.)
I was invited to play at the next open mike.
Several people asked if we could get together to "just play!"
At least one person said "I didn't know you played, man. Why you been hiding out?"

So take all the criticism as a way to improve, but don't drag yourself over the coals.

Just Play!





...But if you do decide to give it up, can I have your custom KoAloha? (g)





-Kurt

That's a really cool story. Thanks for sharing it! I've pretty much decided to not put down the uke for now. But if I do, you've got 1st dibs on Lokahi!

TCK
06-07-2012, 04:32 PM
Hey Scott- totally get that. I have my wife, and a handful of kids at school that play, but the only group is about 1.5 hours away (and on Thursday nights). I have found that playing along with others videos really makes me push myself...kind of like I have my own uke group right here in my den. There is also Skype, though I have yet to see an ukulele group use it the way I think it could be used.

That's the unfortunate thing about living as far out as I do...the closest group to me (all 3 people in it) is about an hour and a half drive away. But, I'm thinking about making a Sunday drive there.

Dan Uke
06-07-2012, 06:17 PM
Don't sell yourself short. If you have a passion for the uke, does it really matter?

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men

consitter
06-07-2012, 06:21 PM
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men

Man, did you ever hit the nail on the head! Thanks!

watrr
06-07-2012, 08:33 PM
adversity builds character. keep pushin', and as long as you don't quit, you'll always succeed brother. but you just gotta keep pushin'

Teek
06-07-2012, 08:48 PM
My own self judgment is that I've got way too many ukes for my level of ability, and my excuse is that I used to be an artist (bronzes and oils) and I love the sculptural and artistic presence of a fine uke, heck even the little beaters, they all have SOUL. I don't seem to practice as much as I want, I was doing well for awhile but currently have a flare of RSI and nerve impingement that makes my wrists numb and weak and my fingers ache.

One night when it started again I said heck with it, I need a uke fix and played maybe an hour, and at the end I hardly had any pain. I firmly believe the joy of "conversing" with one of my "friends" helped me on a physical level with endorphins and probably a little oxytocin in there, cause I really am fond of them, they all have their personalities.

The other thing, besides what everyone else has already said in this inspirational thread and thanks all! is that truly, happiness is an inside job and it is found in the moment, right now. "I'll be happy when" is ego BS (our egos are all about expectation, it's a long story), we forget to be happy now. I heartily recommend a book called Be Happy (http://www.amazon.com/Be-Happy-Release-Power-Happiness/dp/1401921817/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339180441&sr=1-1) by Robert Holden, and for all you creative types, a different book by Stephen Pressfield called The War of Art (http://www.amazon.com/The-War-Art-Through-Creative/dp/1936891026/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339179816&sr=1-1). Both have changed my life, and I have been studying many wisdom traditions for a long time. I mention this because it has really helped me with self judgment (which usually comes from internalization of a parental critic), and I know some days I can't get a clean C chord, and some days I can pick a plenty. Nothing at all snazzy but it sounds a little like music. On the days I suck, I just have fun anyway and remind myself it's not permanent yet, anyway, and tomorrow is another day, the point is I had fun. If I had the money to spare I would be taking lessons.

The other thing I wanted to share was that I have been out of work for sixth months now and it is really kind of scary, (even though I walked away because it was insane and what caused my RSI, and it was the largest of three jobs and I still have two), and kind of not. I just keep looking, thought I had one I would have loved, made it through three interviews, no go. We've been scraping, my husband is working like a dog but only four days a week, we have a kid in our pocket pretty deep too. Going into fear is not helpful, so I worry only about today, then I count all my blessings for the day, and discover that right now I am fine. But what was happening was I had been very very bummed for the last few years because I had made space to paint again but had no time or energy left after work, just dragged through chores and tried to recover to get to work the next day.

All this time off, at first I thought finally I can paint! and then I did a couple of small pieces and they sucked. I have done good work in the past, but my mojo was no where to be found, so I got scared. I got a few new books and studied up, got into mixed media, did some testing of materials. Did some fun test pieces, still not only couldn't paint, was afraid to go finish a commission I have (I have two actually). What was hanging me up was pressure that I had to produce, produce a lot, and it had to not only be saleable, it had to sell. By not doing even little studies I wasn't even brushing up :) skills, just treading water. So this last week I have been working on shaking the fear loose by removing the expectations that were crippling me. Now I just tell my self "You want to paint?! PAINT! Just start! You love it so ENJOY!" and that works. I've got some good results, and when I don't I just look at it as a canvas that can be reworked into something else. Even washing out my brushes now feels fabulous!

I think at any age learning any subject, self doubt and expectation cripple us. If we do it for the love and love that we are doing it, the muse comes and sits on our shoulder and the whole universe gets behind us and is in our corner. Fear and self criticism just create more of the same. Love and joy in what you are doing washes all of that away. That's my long rambling take on the matter to essentially reiterate to keep on strummin them strings! as mmstan would say..

garyg
06-08-2012, 02:52 AM
@teek, sorry for the somewhat relevant hijack Con -- when I get "stuck" on my art, I make a small copy of a piece that I love and that help me get those new creative juices flowing. Blocks happen to everyone and everyone has a slightly different method of getting unblocked but they do all involve getting back up on the horse again and leaving your frustrations and self-criticism (even if warranted) back on the ground! Keep painting and playing sister!

angusdegraosta
06-08-2012, 08:31 AM
I'd imagine after a few years most people hit a point where they're underwhelmed. I've been at it about a year now - that's like the honeymoon phase. I'm happy to strum, sing, and do the old ragtimey stuff. I composed a few instrumental pieces for fun.

What I don't want to do is compare myself to others with Jake-and-James-Hill skills. I was even reluctant to get anything bigger than a soprano for that reason, but I'm digging the concert I got. Good enough.

One of my other creative outlets is writing. I go to poetry events. Every now and then I play them a song. I've also joined a uke club that meets in Patchogue. We're playing at a nursing home later this month.

Glad to see the responses here. Lessons are probably good. I might even give them a try down the road.

tooney
06-08-2012, 02:21 PM
Hi Scott,

I hope you realize now that you're not alone - to some degree, we all feel the same way. I know I feel that way a LOT, and I've only been playing 2 years. It's funny, I give every other player a lot of slack and applaud their effort, but I'm my own worst enemy. I get discouraged sometimes. But then sometimes I think, oh if only all my mistakes could make me laugh this much. I find I don't enjoy playing when I'm trying a piece that's just too hard for me, so it's not challenging, it's just way past my capabilities. When I feel this way, I ease up on the playing and then I pull out something I couldn't play a year ago, and chords that I couldn't reach, look at that, I recognize them and I can hit them. I realize I am making progress, just not at the rate I want to (who does?). Sometimes I just blame my fingers. It's not MY fault, it's theirs - they just won't hit those notes, naughty fingers.

Talk to yourself like you're your best friend. Would you want to hit your best friend upside the head with a 2x4? :)

Maybe you do need a different teacher. Maybe you need to step back for a short while just to find the fun in it again.

I heard a friend of Doc Watson's talking about him - he said that Doc used to practice until his arm nearly fell off, even when he was already that good. Doesn't sound much like fun to me, being a professional. Lots of pressure to be entertaining, imaginative and give people their money's worth. Hey - at least the majority of us in this forum don't have that. We play to have fun, not to turn it into work, right? And to help us appreciate the professionals more - I'm so much more impressed by people who stand there, smile when they don't feel like it, and be creative in front of an audience.

Oh - as for folks talking about playing and singing. Wow, one of the hardest things there is, playing one rhythm & singing another! Well, for me, who doesn't have much natural talent, just a love of this little instrument. Some of my happiest moments are my D-D-D-D strum with a favorite piece. Nothing fancy, just a song in my heart. I hope you return to that.

We've all felt the way you do, and we understand. This community - this forum- is so supportive. I hope it helped to vent, and realize the way you feel will pass. You won't feel this way forever.

Best wishes.

GinnyT11
06-08-2012, 02:48 PM
I'm in agreement that you should be playing for pleasure. A challenge to learn a new song or a new strum is good---but there are no uke police to take you in for not being good enough, or improved enough, or a fast-enough learner.

This thread has had several references to Jake's level of playing. Just last night I saw and heard him play in our town. Yes, he has a hundred strum and picking variations, plus a couple dozen ways to add percussion, and a mind-blowing facility up and down the fretboard---plus a prodigious memory!---but he's been practicing and performing for 30 years. Some days practicing all day long...for 30 years! (He's also young and energetic, don't forget that.)

When you get to the Pearly Gates and St. Peter puts down his pen and says, "Can I play your uke? Are you good at this?" There's no need to say anything besides, "I worked at it and I enjoyed playing."

Nickie
06-08-2012, 05:30 PM
Remember, we are our own harshest critics. Don't stress over it. My piano playing sucked today, so I switched over to organ and played something different. It worked!

drbekken
06-08-2012, 08:01 PM
The learning process can be very, very hard indeed. Sometimes, a particularly difficult thing that you struggle with, may be put aside because you just don't get it right. Then, when you return to it later, you may find that it is actually much easier than you thought. That's the strange way the brain works. Mine, anyway...

Hippie Dribble
06-08-2012, 08:05 PM
When you get to the Pearly Gates and St. Peter puts down his pen and says, "Can I play your uke? Are you good at this?" There's no need to say anything besides, "I worked at it and I enjoyed playing."
yes. what a lovely post Ginny, thanks for a sweet perspective :)

consitter
06-08-2012, 08:07 PM
That is so true. Thanks Ginny.

tooney
06-09-2012, 12:06 AM
Yes! There's no need to say anything besides, "I worked at it and I enjoyed playing." Perfect, GT3T11

I started playing relatively late in life - 49 - and had never played a fretted instrument. I've struggled to give up expectations and just take each song as it comes. Stopped aspiring to anything like Jake or James Hill early into the game. I don't have their abilities. I'm me. I can do more now than I could 2 years ago when I started.

We saw Jake in April and I chuckled when I realized that the level I play at now, he played at when he was probably 4 or 5 - i.e., when he picked it up. That put it in perspective for me. I'm me and will only ever play how well I can. Some days are better than others.

garyg
06-14-2012, 02:05 AM
Hi Scott, I sympathize with the lack of local uke players but even playing with guitarists or other instrumentalists will really help your playing, especially with respect to chord changes, timing and ability to play in a band. So don't wait to get to other uke players but find a guitarist or string bass player who likes to play the same music that you do and jam with them. I found playing with others to be very distracting at first but now I'm getting used to it and it really has improved my musical concentration and my ability to "hear" the music "intuitively" and "feel" when the changes are going to happen. I was at a scientific meeting earlier this week and at the banquet there was a professional bluegrass/gospel band, they tried to encourage audience participation and get people up on the stage and some folks knew that I played uke so they started shouting my name and "ukulele" (they had asked me to go and get my uke earlier when the stage was empty). I don't really know the etiquette of these things but the band seemed genuine about wanting people to come up, and I thought "well this will be good experience for performing" so I took my uke up there and played some songs -- I asked after every song if I should play another and they kept me up there for four songs and finally I just said, "enough"). I play a combination of rock songs and old time ballads and just played some ballads, but know what, the "pros" (these folks really are professionals) didn't know the songs I played and even when I told them the chords they had a bit of hard time accompanying me (I've learned when playing with guitarists, when in doubt play G or C or alternate <g>) probably because I typically play at a fairly fast tempo and also probably because I don't really know the pro "playing with others" techniques like showing what you're fretting, dipping the neck of your instrument when you're about to finish, etc. So what is the point of this ramble? Two points, my guess is that all of us downgrade our own playing and upgrade the playing of people we go to see. I think that someone said this before in this thread but I wanted to give a personal example of the phenomenon and secondly, mention how beneficial playing with guitarists has been for me. Keep that head up. cheers, g2

Mim
06-14-2012, 02:46 AM
Play for you!

Best advice I can give.

Dont compare yourself to others, if you like what you play and you can eeeek out a tune and you are happy, that is better than stressed out playing any day!

Blue Skies
06-14-2012, 03:02 PM
Hey there consitter:aka birthday boy! Which I would first like to wish you a Happy Birthday! Except maybe you're not very happy right now:(.

You were the first one to jump in and welcome me and I really appeciated that. I'm learning how to peruse this forum a little better now.

I don't think I should have enough 'tenure' or to know you well enough to really respond to you about this post, but from what I've read about 'how your custom tenor came to life', it didn't seem someone like you could 'get the blues'!

Other than for a very brief time in grade school, (so brief that it can barely be remembered) when I was stuck with a violin, then a clarinet, I've never played an instrument. It has been many, many years ago when that was. So now, in my (ahem) 50's...I have decided to take up the Ukulele because of my Dad. Musically, I have wanted to 'try' to play an instrument, but never thought there was much hope. I also try to sing, only when I'm home, for my dogs do sing along with me. I am also the poster child for Murphy's Law, seriously. People that know me try not to stand too close...so I don't know what kind of chance I have of actually 'playing' the Ukulele!

I would think that with the talent you already possess, it would seem...(how to say this so you don't take it wrong or badly)... kinda silly for you to be 'losing faith' when you already have faith in so many other things. I reckon we all have our down times, I just hate to hear of you going through one. So,

Grab your Ukulele, go to the closest beach, lake, park, whatever, and just sit for a bit and then start playing and watch it happen.....I think it'll take over. Good luck.

ukuLily Mars
06-15-2012, 08:32 AM
This is a great discussion! So glad you decided to bring it up here instead of getting more and more frustrated.

I went through the exact same thing when I went from group (albeit small) violin lessons in a public school to private lessons. All of a sudden my teacher was telling me I was not only holding the bow wrong, I was holding the violin wrong! It was brutal for a while, during which all I could think about was holding the instrument, let alone making any sound that was halfway decent, then suddenly it clicked. My teacher was aware of my frustration and was really supportive, but still didn't let up on making me do it correctly.

It's hard to tell whether you have the "wrong" instructor (meaning not the right one for YOU) or if you are just being too hard on yourself. If it's the latter, I would encourage you to be patient with yourself, and HAVE FUN! The 'ukulele isn't the 'ukulele if there isn't any fun going on! Keep up the good work, though. Your commitment is admirable, and you are probably doing a lot better than you think you are. And remember that there is always more to learn, so you might as well get used to enjoying the journey!

Ukuleleblues
06-15-2012, 08:39 AM
Play for you!

Best advice I can give.

Dont compare yourself to others, if you like what you play and you can eeeek out a tune and you are happy, that is better than stressed out playing any day!
That's it. I've had folks want me to play classic rock, blue grass, certain tunes, etc. but I play what I like to play instead.

My wife has one rule, it's supposed to be fun, when it isn't, we will quit. Sometimes I get caught up in things and then I remember, I already have a stressful job, keep this fun.

KalaBrand
06-22-2012, 07:06 AM
I used to think that happiness was a destination. If I can chunk, I'll be happy. If I can nail this song or this strum, I'll be happy. Something clicks, I do it right, and I'm happy alright, but it's fleeting because there's always something else I want to do better. I had it backwards. Despite all the things I can or can't do, bottom line is, I find joy in playing my uke. Happiness with my playing is not a series of destinations, it's become a constant state. Hope that helps.

Alan that is great wisdom. It's the journey, not the destination.

I have been playing guitar (and studying it, not just noodling) for 33 years and can say that it is very difficult for any of us to see the progress we are making. As we get better and learn more, we begin to see other areas we can improve. It has always helped me to keep a journal when I am working with an instructor or through new material. I log where I am today, and make short notes every day on what I am doing well, and where I am struggling.

I also play difficult passages at a VERY SLOW pace with a metronome. I log these Metronome BPMs and speed them up by a couple of BPMs every session. This has been very encouraging to me for when I think I am not making much progress. I go back to the beginning of my journal to see I was struggling to play a passage at 50BPM, and now I have it down pat at 160!

As many others have said the most important thing is that you ENJOY PLAYING. I always tell my students to just enjoy their current level, and make some music with their friends whenever they can.

Thanks for starting this thread it is good for all of us as we all deal with this issue. (I remember reading an interview with Steve Vai where he was frustrated with his playing - that was eye opening!)

consitter
06-22-2012, 11:51 PM
To everyone who has answered this thread--Thank You. I am humbled at the outpouring of sympathy and advice. It has helped me immensley. I just hope it has helped others as well that are in the same boat I was. It isn't often you can find as many people on a public forum that are as nice as the folks on this one. Again thanks to all.

UkeNukem
06-23-2012, 02:26 PM
Lots of great insights. Tells me that we all are on our own journey with the ukulele. I'll add that a student coming to an instructor after playing an instrument for several years may have some "habits" that the instructor wants to "guide" the student away from. Though the instructor should be experienced enough to know they have to TELL you this! Another thing humans go through with all learning is plateaus. Often we get stuck at one level and only through persistent effort will we break out. It's like kids who gain weight then grow taller.

Ultimately you need to keep this in perspective. If Winston Churchill could say "Never, never, never give up" facing Hitler, we all can pick up our instruments and work on that one section that we are having trouble with. My problem is that I'm basically pretty lazy, but honest enough to admit it.