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View Full Version : Ukule-Along at the Music Center, Los Angeles - a disappointing experience



janeray1940
08-11-2012, 02:31 PM
Let me set one thing straight from the beginning - I'm not posting this to slam anyone or to start trouble. I'm posting this in the hopes that it will be helpful to the organizers of the event that I'm about to describe, and to anyone considering attending next month's session of this event.

Let me also preface this with a few words about me: I’m an introvert with a really weird learning style. Most of my musical background has come via teachers who work at McCabe’s (http://www.mccabes.com/classuke.html), which sets a pretty high standard. I’ve been to my fair share of workshops and I will admit, I tend to always leave feeling disappointed.

The event I’m talking about is the Ukule-Along (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?66979-Ukule-Along-Abe-Lagrimas-Ukulele-Bartt-Jason-Arimoto-Daniel-Ho-Lincoln-Kaio-amp-me), put on by an organization called Active Arts, at the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles. The intention behind the event was quite noble - a FREE event to bring ukulele players together, held on three different days in July, August, and one more to come in September. Such a fantastic idea!

I didn't attend the first session but heard absolutely STELLAR things about Mitch Chang, Jason Arimoto, and Daniel Ho as instructors. So based on this positive feedback I decided to attend today's session. I attempted, repeatedly, both in this post (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?66979-Ukule-Along-Abe-Lagrimas-Ukulele-Bartt-Jason-Arimoto-Daniel-Ho-Lincoln-Kaio-amp-me) and via email to get exact information about which instructors would be teaching the advanced section. I didn't want to name names, but there were a couple that I've already experienced, and my interest was in experiencing new-to-me instructors.

Given vague information that I could opt for a different instructor if I didn't care for the one I ended up with, I decided to give it a go, and headed downtown from Santa Monica this morning. Upon arrival, I learned that there was only ONE advanced session, and the instructors were: Ukulele Bartt (http://www.bartt.net/), Mitch Chang (http://www.ukulelewebsite.com/Ukulele_Website/Home.html), and Lincoln Kaio (http://swimboat.com/UkeSet090210.htm).

My heart sank. I had taken a Ukulele Bartt workshop once before, and – let’s just say it wasn’t my thing. But I had carpooled with others today and decided to keep an open mind and stay.

As with my previous Ukulele Bartt experience, I could tell that no sooner had I sat down than he had singled me out as the person to pick on. I don’t understand what it is – he’s like the class bully who likes to pick on the shy kid. Bartt is an extroverted, flamboyant type who likes to be the center of attention. I am a quiet, reserved type who wants nothing more in the world than the super-power of invisibility: I am an observer. And I am quiet. And I learn in was visual-kinesthetic way that is pretty alien to most instructors. Sometimes I process information a bit…slowly... until I figure out what I need to do to grasp it. I need to concentrate in order to learn. Sometimes I do weird things, like draw pictures of what I am hearing, or go through the physical motions without actually playing. Sometimes I play VERY quietly until I get the hang of what I'm doing. I suppose that may have been what I was doing today.

No later than five minutes into the workshop, Bartt moved in for the kill, singling me out for playing “wimpy.” “YOU! WHAT’S YOUR NAME?” he growled at me after the accusation. I tried to play it cool, and I told him. I’ve got an odd first name; he proceeded to mangle it, sort of make fun of it with a fake accent, and as soon as I sensed he was about to ask its ethnic origins, I announced “I’M OUT OF HERE” and packed up my stuff and made for the hallway to wait it out.

At this point, a gentleman named Ed, one of the Active Arts organizers, chased me down to ask what the problem was. I told him that I’d taken a Bartt workshop before and got nothing from it; I found it to be a hostile learning environment and found Bartt’s potty-mouth and gutter sense of humor to be offensive. I also acknowledged that this could simply be a learning style/personality conflict, and that I was quite content to hang out in the corridor and play my uke while waiting for my friends.

When the workshop let out, a couple of people – complete strangers – came up to me and told me that after I left, Bartt dialed back the in-your-face attitude, and they thanked me for standing up to him. Another person who had experienced his workshop told me she thought he was an… oh, I’m not going to resort to name-calling but there you have it.

Next up was Mitch Chang, with a guest appearance from the always-fabulous Sarah Maisel (http://www.sarahmaisel.com/). Mitch seems like a good guy and probably a pretty decent instructor, but before the workshop Sarah mentioned that they were repeating their “intermediate” workshop even though we were supposedly the advanced section. The workshop consisted of a strumming song with a simple C-G-Am-F progression and a few mentions of things like “hey, you guys know about moveable chords, right?” Nothing wrong with any of that except that there was nothing particularly “advanced” about it. In fact, none of it was anything that I wasn’t already doing as a beginner some years ago – but like I said, my music education has set the bar pretty high I think.

Last up was Lincoln Kaio. Uncle Lincoln is absolutely the embodiment of the aloha spirit – a warm, good-natured guy whose mission in life seems to be to spread aloha and Hawaiian culture. As a beginner, I used to play in one of his uke groups, and I was curious to see what he would offer to an “advanced” group since I had never really seen him go beyond three-chord strumming. Turned out that’s what the entire workshop was – three-chord strumming. Kaholos in several keys. Again, nothing wrong with it, except it wasn’t exactly “advanced” playing.

So. That was my experience with this event, in sharp contrast to my fellow uke travellers’ experiences of last month’s event. While it’s always a pleasure to spend time around other ukulele players, I have to say aside from the camaraderie, the event was a huge disappointment. The highlight of the day was the amusement that came from the privilege of using the Artists’ Entrance of the Music Center – not something that is likely to happen again in my lifetime! :)

ramone
08-11-2012, 03:14 PM
I'm sorry you had to endure that kind of treatment, but good for you for standing up for yourself and walking out on the bully.

OldePhart
08-11-2012, 03:14 PM
Thanks for the honest review! Re. the problems with Bart - it's not the first time I've heard similar stories. I've never met him or taken his (or anyone else's) workshop but I work in an industry where our primary "product" is extremely expensive training and it sounds like he could use a week (or six) of our professional instructor improvement course. :)

Now...I don't suppose it's fair to hold an instructor at a free workshop to the same standards as an instructor delivering a $30k 2-week course - but the basic principals of not ridiculing any of your clients would seem to be a basic no-brainer even at a free workshop.

John

dkcrown
08-11-2012, 03:21 PM
Sorry to hear about your bad experience and Bartt in particular. Some people just don't have that "diplomatic" gene. But remember this. A bad night out with your ukulele and fellow uke players is sure better than a lot of other things that I can think of.

janeray1940
08-11-2012, 03:24 PM
Sorry to hear about your bad experience and Bartt in particular. Some people just don't have that "diplomatic" gene. But remember this. A bad night out with your ukulele and fellow uke players is sure better than a lot of other things that I can think of.

LOL! If it had been a *night* out it might have been easier to take. This was a morning event, and I'm not exactly a morning person :)

janeray1940
08-11-2012, 03:26 PM
Thanks for the honest review! Re. the problems with Bart - it's not the first time I've heard similar stories. I've never met him or taken his (or anyone else's) workshop but I work in an industry where our primary "product" is extremely expensive training and it sounds like he could use a week (or six) of our professional instructor improvement course. :)

Now...I don't suppose it's fair to hold an instructor at a free workshop to the same standards as an instructor delivering a $30k 2-week course - but the basic principals of not ridiculing any of your clients would seem to be a basic no-brainer even at a free workshop.

John

The fact that it was a free workshop leaves a lot of room for forgiveness. But in this case - I've taken his fee-based workshop. It was... similarly in-your-face. Which some people probably find optimal for learning for all I know!

PoiDog
08-11-2012, 03:35 PM
Wow. I'm very glad I hadn't seen anything about this event, so as not to have even been tempted to attend.

Though, in all honesty, I likely wouldn't have anyway. Like you, I'm not the most outgoing person, and I've never even mustered the courage to take any sort of public play/course/thing.

Sorry about your experience. Hopefully some good comes of it.

janeray1940
08-11-2012, 03:43 PM
Wow. I'm very glad I hadn't seen anything about this event, so as not to have even been tempted to attend.

Though, in all honesty, I likely wouldn't have anyway. Like you, I'm not the most outgoing person, and I've never even mustered the courage to take any sort of public play/course/thing.

Sorry about your experience. Hopefully some good comes of it.

In my experience, ukulele workshops are far more about socializing than they are about actually playing or really learning. This is one of my take-aways from today, along with a few other insights about myself and about why I play... I can honestly count the number of ukulele workshops I've enjoyed on one hand. One finger, actually. One!

Playing with other people is great. Taking classes and lessons, both of which I've done for years now, is also great. But most of these workshops seem to really exist for one reason: as a forum for the "instructors" to promote themselves and sell stuff.

GregT
08-11-2012, 05:18 PM
Well the "feedback" you supplied in your session must of had an effect. I was in the last session of the day by Ukulele Bartt (a Latin workshop), and it was completely opposite of what you described. Not the slightest bit hostile, nothing close to in-your-face behavior by Bartt. In fact, and I attended the July workshops too, I found Bartt's to be one of the better ones - I liked Daniel Ho a lot too. So, I guess all of us in that final workshop owe you a thank you for making enough of an impact on Bartt that he got his act together for the last workshop. BTW, I agree 100 percent on your comments regarding Uncle Lincoln - a nice guy, a total waste of time.
My thoughts on workshops of all sorts is that if I can come away with one new tip, one insight into something new or exposure to something I hadn't thought of...well, that's all I hope to get. I probably won't attend the September meeting, but based on my exposure to all the teachers, I think Bartt's and Daniel Ho would be the two workshops I would sign up for.

janeray1940
08-11-2012, 05:26 PM
My thoughts on workshops of all sorts is that if I can come away with one new tip, one insight into something new or exposure to something I hadn't thought of...well, that's all I hope to get.

That's always my hope, too. But I have to be realistic; I've been taking private lessons for several years and am probably beyond the level any large-scale open-to-the-public workshop will teach to. But since everybody learns differently, and everybody teaches differently, usually I find something I've never seen or thought of. Today though - nothin'.

Glad to hear you enjoyed the sessions that you went to. I saw a lot of smiling faces and it looked like the beginner and intermediate folks were well taken-care of.

coolkayaker1
08-11-2012, 06:36 PM
Janeray, I have always found you to be thoughtful and kind on UU. That's why your experience strikes me as particularly sad. I'd not want to be in that situation either. It sounds downright unpleasant.

I learn so much from Utube, that I can't imagine gaining much from "in person" group sessions, but, admittedly, I have not attended any to know. I like the ability to watch videos repeatedly to let it "sink in".

I understand that Kimo Hussey has a week long intensive training for a couple dozen or so intermediate players at a time in Hawaii every once in a while... I'd break all rules to do that group, now ya!
http://www.kimohussey.com/events
Example of a workshop technique: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_CmQEnSHpQ

I learned another thing from your post that is of great value: don't carpool. lol

janeray1940
08-11-2012, 07:09 PM
Janeray, I have always found you to be thoughtful and kind on UU. That's why your experience strikes me as particularly sad. I'd not want to be in that situation either. It sounds downright unpleasant.

I learn so much from Utube, that I can't imagine gaining much from "in person" group sessions, but, admittedly, I have not attended any to know. I like the ability to watch videos repeatedly to let it "sink in".

I understand that Kimo Hussey has a week long intensive training for a couple dozen or so intermediate players at a time in Hawaii every once in a while... I'd break all rules to do that group, now ya!
http://www.kimohussey.com/events
Example of a workshop technique: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_CmQEnSHpQ

I learned another thing from your post that is of great value: don't carpool. lol

Thanks coolkayaker for the kind words :)

It's funny, I usually can't learn from videos at all, but the Kimo Hussey one you linked to is really well done - it almost felt like being there. I've heard he's a great instructor.

I've always done best with one on one instruction, and I'm really lucky to have that. Group sessions I've been to have been a mixed bag - the advanced ensemble playing classes I'm in now are wonderful and challenging, but I haven't found much else like that out there. Part of this is on me: I'm not a singer, so I'm not a strummer. I've played from tab and standard notation since I first picked up the uke. I know more moveable chords and oddball inversions than first position chords, and I prefer (and don't fear) barre chords. Heck, I even like playing in the key of E! So... I suppose I really shouldn't expect to fit in well with most uke groups :)

And yeah, carpooling - great for the environment, maybe not so great when you need to make a quick escape and the only alternatives are a 2 hour bus ride or a $100 taxi fare. But I actually had a very pleasant time hanging out waiting for my friends to come out of the workshop - I challenged myself to play some stuff from memory and by ear that I didn't think I could play, and probably got more playing in during that time than the whole rest of the day.

mitchchang
08-11-2012, 07:14 PM
Janeray, I got your email. I am very disappointed to hear about your experience in Bartt's class- I can't apologize for him but I am sorry for what happened. I've sat and watched Bartt's workshops before and everything was kosher and fun so I am surprised to hear this. See what happens when you don't take my advice? haha I told you to just go to the instructors you wanted regardless of wherever you were placed. It's not like they were policing the doorways checking everyone off a list.

To clarify a few things:
As far as I know, I was the first one the Music Center contacted about the possibility of putting on this event and I was the one who told them about Jason, Lincoln, Abe, etc. From our first (and only) group brainstorming meeting, it was my understanding that this was to be an outreach primarily for beginners, as an introduction to the instrument. There was no talk of advanced or intermediate, in fact, none of us even knew they were grouping people like this until that first Ukule-Along last month. My original concept was that there'd be these certain chords: C, Am, F, G, and a few others, and all of us would teach songs in different styles using those chords - which is why I thought of people like Jason who's good at reggae and blues and someone like Lincoln - who I know perfectly well is not a teacher per se, but he does know Hawaiian music and I'm tired of the constant bastardizing and misrepresentation of what Hawaiian music is by people who can't even pronounce it - so for that reason and for that warm spirit of aloha Lincoln brings everywhere, I recommended him.

But the whole thing morphed into what it is - it's not exactly how I would've done things but there you go. There wasn't much communication between the Music Center staff and us about the whole thing, to tell you the truth - I didn't even know it wasn't going to be in the same location as last month until yesterday, for example.

Just so you know, there were endless rules and regulations we had to abide by. We were not allowed to teach/sing/perform ANY songs other than the ones in those packets. If you noticed in my class, when I played a chord progression and you guys called out song titles of what you thought they were, I never actually mentioned the song names myself. Whether or not anyone else abided by those rules in their class, I don't know. I was told I couldn't even run a CD recording of the songs that we were playing due to restrictions - that's why I invited Sarah to come sing for us. So there was only so much I could do within these parameters. Daniel is teaching his own song and Jason is teaching general stuff like 12 bar blues so they have more leeway. I'd wanted to do "I'm Yours", Hey Soul Sister" and others but they couldn't get the permissions needed for me to do so.

I was actually surprised that everyone in your class already understood 1/2 steps and transposition - or at least no one spoke up to the contrary. First time that's ever happened to me with a group that considered themselves "advanced", so I admit that caught me off-guard. I thought the transposing thing was going to be a big thing for everyone, definitely something I wouldn't have addressed to the other levels. Given the restrictions on song performance/instruction (I tend to play by the rules and Ed was sitting right there, too) and how no one was asking any questions about anything I was kind of at a loss, I'll give you that. But just so you know, I did notice a few people who weren't totally keeping up with the chord changes and other things but they were probably too shy to hold up the class - so not everyone was at the same level in there.

Two comments I want to address though:
"most of these workshops seem to really exist for one reason: as a forum for the "instructors" to promote themselves and sell stuff."
I take teaching seriously and always do my best to address the kind of things my teachers never did and to remember what it was like when I was learning. So I seriously hope you're not including ME in that statement because I wouldn't appreciate that at all.

And PoiDog:
"I'm very glad I hadn't seen anything about this event, so as not to have even been tempted to attend."
Maybe I'm misreading the intent behind that but it sounds freaking rude to me. I actually warned them that this attitude would likely be out there and to not count on those members of the ukulele "community" to show up. Janeray, at least you gave it a try and we all appreciate that.

I did get a lot of positive response not just for me and Sarah but for the whole thing overall. I hope you understand that there were nothing but good intentions behind putting on this event in the way we did.

Lastly, here is some info about the September gathering from an email sent out to us yesterday:

We are still working on the schedule for the day but the general idea is this:

1. Workshop A
2. Workshop B
3. Big Gathering - everyone in the same place playing together.

The participants will choose which workshops to attend by genre. In essence, it will be Version 2 of your first workshop - next steps, more techniques, etc. The workshops will be mixed-level. The point is to get like-minded people together so they can figure out how to continue studying the styles that they like the most - exchange phone numbers, find practice partners,
etc.

At the end of your workshops this Saturday, it would be appreciated if you could give a “teaser” of what you will cover in your workshops at Session 3. Since the participants will only get to attend 2 out of 6 styles that we’ve presented overall, let’s give them a vision of what will come next.

gyosh
08-11-2012, 07:16 PM
Thanks coolkayaker for the kind words :)

It's funny, I usually can't learn from videos at all, but the Kimo Hussey one you linked to is really well done - it almost felt like being there. I've heard he's a great instructor.

I've always done best with one on one instruction, and I'm really lucky to have that. Group sessions I've been to have been a mixed bag - the advanced ensemble playing classes I'm in now are wonderful and challenging, but I haven't found much else like that out there. Part of this is on me: I'm not a singer, so I'm not a strummer. I've played from tab and standard notation since I first picked up the uke. I know more moveable chords and oddball inversions than first position chords, and I prefer (and don't fear) barre chords. Heck, I even like playing in the key of E! So... I suppose I really shouldn't expect to fit in well with most uke groups :)

And yeah, carpooling - great for the environment, maybe not so great when you need to make a quick escape and the only alternatives are a 2 hour bus ride or a $100 taxi fare. But I actually had a very pleasant time hanging out waiting for my friends to come out of the workshop - I challenged myself to play some stuff from memory and by ear that I didn't think I could play, and probably got more playing in during that time than the whole rest of the day.

I guess we won't be seeing you at the Wine Country Ukulele Festival in a few weeks. I think I remember you mentioning that you'd like to attend that one. Anyhow, sorry about your experience. I hope your next one, it there is a next one, is all that you expect and more.

Oh, and I totally appreciate your honesty about your experience.

Gillian
08-11-2012, 07:35 PM
Interesting account. I read somewhere that Bartt received Los Angeles' Teacher of the Year Award, but probably not for teaching the ukulele? :uhoh: I'm sure your departing comment forced a re-think of his teaching technique.

I attended a workshop where the teacher's shtick is to pick a student to be the "timekeeper". What seemed like every five minutes, he'd suddenly stop what he was talking about and ask the "timekeeper" what time it was. This antic was quite distracting. He charged $30 for this class and wasted a good amount of it making sure it didn't run overtime. As we were leaving, we had a quick vote in the parking lot. The general consensus was that his workshop was more entertainment than education. I felt bad because many of the attendees were members of our uke club who I suggested the workshop to.

I think participant feedback, like what you gave to Bartt, should be sought by anyone who conducts a workshop so they can improve either their teaching method and/ or their workshop material, especially if they charge a fee.

katysax
08-11-2012, 07:38 PM
I was there today, but I was in the intermediate session. A friend who had been there before told me he thought I should be in the advanced class, but I didn't know how the levels were done. At the beginning of the first session I asked Mitch Chang about the levels and he said the intermediate and advanced class were going to cover essentially the same thing.

As it turned out, the sessions were excruciatingly dull. By the end of the day I figured that if the advanced class wasn't much different it would be just as boring. The problem with a large scale thing like this is that you can't cater to everyone. I tried to take it in the spirit of being a chance to socialize. There was a young girl next to me who was quite sweet and I enjoyed meeting her. One of my co-workers has gone twice to the beginning sessions and he has loved it.

I'd rather see an event where the ukers all get into a hall - maybe send us some songs and chords in advance - and everyone play together with maybe some slide guitar and bass and things like that. I did pick up a couple of tips that I will use. There's almost always something to learn even from a beginner group. Most of the people there seemed iike beginners of varying degrees and I think they had fun. The organizers tried to make an enjoyable event.

janeray1940
08-11-2012, 07:42 PM
Mahalo, Mitch, for your thoughtful reply. And you're right, I should have just sought out the instructors rather than gone by the "level" of the groups. Ed even offered that to me when I walked out, but I guess I was too flustered to think clearly!


I've sat and watched Bartt's workshops before and everything was kosher and fun so I am surprised to hear this.

In my experience, people either love him or... really don't love him! The advice I'd give him is to single out the extroverts and interact with them - they love the attention and it's easy to tell who they are!



...someone like Lincoln - who I know perfectly well is not a teacher per se, but he does know Hawaiian music and I'm tired of the constant bastardizing and misrepresentation of what Hawaiian music is by people who can't even pronounce it - so for that reason and for that warm spirit of aloha Lincoln brings everywhere, I recommended him.


Understood. And I agree that at an event like this it's important to expose beginners to Hawaiian music, and it's great that you were able to do that.



If you noticed in my class, when I played a chord progression and you guys called out song titles of what you thought they were, I never actually mentioned the song names myself. Whether or not anyone else abided by those rules in their class, I don't know. I was told I couldn't even run a CD recording of the songs that we were playing due to restrictions - that's why I invited Sarah to come sing for us. So there was only so much I could do within these parameters.


Ha, I actually *did* notice that! But what a lot of red tape to have to entangle... I understand copyright and all that, but it's not exactly like there was money being made at this event. Oh bureaucracy!



I was actually surprised that everyone in your class already understood 1/2 steps and transposition - first time that's ever happened to me with a group that considered themselves "advanced", so I admit that caught me off-guard. I thought the transposing thing was going to be a big thing for everyone, definitely something I wouldn't have addressed to the other levels.


I can't speak for everyone there, but there were a fair number of folks in there who have taken classes at McCabe's (which is where I go). We get a lot of theory. A LOT :)



no one was asking any questions about anything I was kind of at a loss


It definitely wasn't apparent that you were at a loss - you filled that time well! And gave me a good reminder about how to find the Ab chord, which always vexes me for some reason :)



Two comments I want to address though:
"most of these workshops seem to really exist for one reason: as a forum for the "instructors" to promote themselves and sell stuff."
I take teaching seriously and always do my best to address the kind of things my teachers never did and to remember what it was like when I was learning. So I seriously hope you're not including ME in that statement because I wouldn't appreciate that at all.


Definitely not; I didn't see you selling anything and I didn't feel like you used the time to perform rather than teach, which are the two main criticisms I have at most workshops and the reason why I've pretty much lost interest in attending them. Time is limited, and I'd rather use my time to play music!



I did get a lot of positive response not just for me and Sarah but for the whole thing overall. I hope you understand that there were nothing but good intentions behind putting on this event in the way we did.


I think the intentions behind the event were great! I do, however, think it should have been stressed more that it was geared toward beginners (which I sensed all along). And as I mentioned, my friends who went to the first session last month were really happy with the quality of instruction, and some of them are pretty advanced players.



The point is to get like-minded people together so they can figure out how to continue studying the styles that they like the most - exchange phone numbers, find practice partners, etc.


That's a really, really helpful explanation, and very much in line with what I said earlier about the socializing/networking aspect of events such as this. Living five minutes from McCabe's, I tend to forget that SoCal is a huge place without a ukulele-friendly music store on every corner!

Thanks again, Mitch, for taking the time to respond!

janeray1940
08-11-2012, 07:43 PM
I guess we won't be seeing you at the Wine Country Ukulele Festival in a few weeks. I think I remember you mentioning that you'd like to attend that one. Anyhow, sorry about your experience. I hope your next one, it there is a next one, is all that you expect and more.

Oh, and I totally appreciate your honesty about your experience.

Nah, no Wine Country for me this year, although if lodging wasn't so darned pricey up there I'd consider it because a vacation would go real good right about now. Heck, I'm even considering it for next year :)

coolkayaker1
08-11-2012, 07:46 PM
Thanks for your reply, janeray1940. Wish we lived closer, we could play Kiwayas and have some fun.

It struck me what you said about singing...I can;t either, so strumming chords will need to take a back seat to picking. I;ve only been playing about a year, so I have to get to your level, slowly and with practice, as you have done.

G'night.

P.S. Mitch's reply here is honest and sincere. Janeray1940 did, as she mentioned in her original post, bring it to light and the organizer, Mitch, can take this one person's and perhaps adapt it in the future to "tweak" and improve what sounds to already be a well-attended event. A win-win.

janeray1940
08-11-2012, 07:48 PM
Interesting account. I read somewhere that Bartt received Los Angeles' Teacher of the Year Award, but probably not for teaching the ukulele? :uhoh: I'm sure your departing comment forced a re-think of his teaching technique.

If I'm not mistaken he teaches high school music. I can see where his sense of humor would go over really, really well with that age group.



The general consensus was that his workshop was more entertainment than education.


That's been my experience at several workshops, including the previous one I paid for with Bartt. There were people who LOVED it. Then there were some of us who didn't. But love it or not, the point is to learn something - and I took absolutely nothing away from that workshop.



I think participant feedback, like what you gave to Bartt, should be sought by anyone who conducts a workshop so they can improve either their teaching method and/ or their workshop material, especially if they charge a fee.

I think feedback is important, which is why I posted here in the first place. Sure, you can't make everyone happy, but you can maybe reconsider doing what you're doing if you learn that it made someone UNhappy. That's what I hope will come of this.

janeray1940
08-11-2012, 07:52 PM
I was there today, but I was in the intermediate session. A friend who had been there before told me he thought I should be in the advanced class, but I didn't know how the levels were done. At the beginning of the first session I asked Mitch Chang about the levels and he said the intermediate and advanced class were going to cover essentially the same thing.

As it turned out, the sessions were excruciatingly dull. By the end of the day I figured that if the advanced class wasn't much different it would be just as boring. The problem with a large scale thing like this is that you can't cater to everyone. I tried to take it in the spirit of being a chance to socialize. There was a young girl next to me who was quite sweet and I enjoyed meeting her. One of my co-workers has gone twice to the beginning sessions and he has loved it.

I'd rather see an event where the ukers all get into a hall - maybe send us some songs and chords in advance - and everyone play together with maybe some slide guitar and bass and things like that. I did pick up a couple of tips that I will use. There's almost always something to learn even from a beginner group. Most of the people there seemed iike beginners of varying degrees and I think they had fun. The organizers tried to make an enjoyable event.

One of the friends I went with today signed up the last time for the intermediate, because she thought the advanced might be too challenging. Turned out it was the exact same class!

If you're interested in playing with others and are anywhere near the westside, feel free to check out Westside Ukulele Ensemble (http://www.westsideukes.com/)! We don't sing, we do instrumental ensemble playing and have a lot of fun. We're attempting to get a bass player on board with us.

janeray1940
08-11-2012, 07:57 PM
Thanks for your reply, janeray1940. Wish we lived closer, we could play Kiwayas and have some fun.

It struck me what you said about singing...I can;t either, so strumming chords will need to take a back seat to picking. I;ve only been playing about a year, so I have to get to your level, slowly and with practice, as you have done.

G'night.

P.S. Mitch's reply here is honest and sincere. Janeray1940 did, as she mentioned in her original post, bring it to light and the organizer, Mitch, can take this one person's and perhaps adapt it in the future to "tweak" and improve what sounds to already be a well-attended event. A win-win.

Goodnight coolkayaker! And thanks again :)

Strumming chords has always taken a back seat to picking for me... I've never bothered to do anything like the "boot camp" approach of memorization, I just learn them when I need them.

ricdoug
08-11-2012, 08:41 PM
Bart Warburton and Mitch Chang are the real deal. They both love music and teaching. I have zero interaction with the third gent you mentioned. If you're looking for a challenge beyond those levels, Brad Norris is your ticket. Don't complain here or anywhere else if you feel his advanced classes are too hard. Ric

gyosh
08-11-2012, 08:46 PM
Nah, no Wine Country for me this year, although if lodging wasn't so darned pricey up there I'd consider it because a vacation would go real good right about now. Heck, I'm even considering it for next year :)

I stay in Vacaville which is about a 20 minute drive from the festival. Much cheaper and the drive into Napa is nice. Hope to see/meet you next year at least.

janeray1940
08-11-2012, 08:52 PM
Brad Norris is your ticket. Don't complain here or anywhere else if you feel his advanced classes are too hard. Ric

Sounds like the type of challenge I'd enjoy (as long as he doesn't single me out and put me on the spot like a bully!). Tried to look him up and he has a very limited online presence. Where does he teach?

webby
08-12-2012, 04:24 AM
you should ask for your money back, oh wait... It was free right ?

Well you gets what you pay for.

All joking aside I think you did the right thing in packing up and leaving when you did, It obviously wasn't for you and it's a shame you were left disappointed by the event.

Thanks for your heartfelt and honest description of what happened and I hope you have more luck at future workshops, but then again given what you said about your way of learning (which is fine, everyone is unique and individual) then perhaps workshops are not the best place for you, an informal social get together with a small bunch of fellow ukers may be heaps more fun and a lot more relaxed.

wishing you all the best...

webby

ricdoug
08-12-2012, 04:30 AM
The workshop schedule has not been published for http://www.sandiegoukefestival.com/workshops/ . Keep your eye on that site. If Brad's teaching an advanced workshop, it really means advanced. Brad is not anything close to a bully. Brad's in the San Diego area if you're interested in other classes. Ric

janeray1940
08-12-2012, 05:18 AM
you should ask for your money back, oh wait... It was free right ?

Well you gets what you pay for.

All joking aside I think you did the right thing in packing up and leaving when you did, It obviously wasn't for you and it's a shame you were left disappointed by the event.

Thanks for your heartfelt and honest description of what happened and I hope you have more luck at future workshops, but then again given what you said about your way of learning (which is fine, everyone is unique and individual) then perhaps workshops are not the best place for you, an informal social get together with a small bunch of fellow ukers may be heaps more fun and a lot more relaxed.

wishing you all the best...

webby

Thanks webby! I was actually joking yesterday about the money-back thing - when you pay for something, you can always ask for your money back and maybe get some satisfaction. But when something is free, you can't exactly ask for your time back :)

And I think you've nailed it: most of the uke players I know LOVE workshops in general, but I just don't. But then most uke players don't have access to the individual instruction and small classes that I go to, so they don't have that basis for comparison.

Yeah, basically, once again, I'm a uke snob :)

janeray1940
08-12-2012, 05:20 AM
The workshop schedule has not been published for http://www.sandiegoukefestival.com/workshops/ . Keep your eye on that site. If Brad's teaching an advanced workshop, it really means advanced. Brad is not anything close to a bully. Brad's in the San Diego area if you're interested in other classes. Ric

Thanks ricdoug, a bit too far from Santa Monica for me to consider classes, but I'll keep this in mind if I make it to the festival this year. Depends on... oh gosh, should I even consider it... if I can hitch a ride with a carpool from the westside!

mo9090x
08-12-2012, 01:45 PM
Given your mixed bag results with previous workshops, I commend you for getting out and giving the uke-along a try. So sorry to hear it was as disappointing, annoying and confrontational for you. Overall I enjoyed my experience at the July uke-along. Although I had mixed feelings about the instructors, my over arching result was still pleasurable. Oddly, those same mixed feelings prevented me from returning to the August class. I can certainly see your point of view. Hopefully some positive comes out of your experience and your shared recollection of it on UU. Seems as though positive things have come about already.

janeray1940
08-12-2012, 01:55 PM
Given your mixed bag results with previous workshops, I commend you for getting out and giving the uke-along a try. So sorry to hear it was as disappointing, annoying and confrontational for you. Overall I enjoyed my experience at the July uke-along. Although I had mixed feelings about the instructors, my over arching result was still pleasurable. Oddly, those same mixed feelings prevented me from returning to the August class. I can certainly see your point of view. Hopefully some positive comes out of your experience and your shared recollection of it on UU. Seems as though positive things have come about already.

Thanks for the feedback mo9090x! Interesting to hear that even though you had a good experience the first go-round, it wasn't good enough to get you to go back. And you're right, the response I've gotten to this post and the little bits of self-awareness that have come from the whole experience have been positive overall.

coolkayaker1
08-12-2012, 02:47 PM
Ivebeen thinking about Janes experience.

Uke Bartt may be a good instructor, some have said so.

The lesson for Uke Bartt and other instructors would seem to be in taking time to know the personality of the group members and adapt. There's always bulldogs, wallflowers, chatterboxes and teachers pets, to name a few, in every group.

An instructor would always be best to get a sense of the group and adapt accordingly.

janeray1940
08-12-2012, 03:26 PM
Ivebeen thinking about Janes experience.

Uke Bartt may be a good instructor, some have said so.

The lesson for Uke Bartt and other instructors would seem to be in taking time to know the personality of the group members and adapt. There's always bulldogs, wallflowers, chatterboxes and teachers pets, to name a few, in every group.

An instructor would always be best to get a sense of the group and adapt accordingly.

My uke instructor told me pretty much exactly this! That it's usually pretty obvious in any group to tell who wants to be the center of attention, and who does not.

As for whether or not Bartt is a good instructor, I can't say. People seem to think so, so who am I to argue with that. He's certainly a skilled player. But for those of us who are on the quiet side and don't really want to play aggressively, he may not be the best fit!

SailingUke
08-13-2012, 05:21 AM
Sometimes it happens, some event organizers just miss the mark with instructors.
Being a great player is sometimes is not synonymous with being a good instructor.
I have attended many ukulele gatherings near and far and been disappointed more than once.
Last year I traveled to a festival that turned out to be poorly organized, lightly attended.
When adding in my hotel and travel it was an expensive weekend. To make it worse the organizers did not seem to care.
I am always willing to try a new venue and/or festival. Looking forward to the Wine Country Festival in September, always well done and fun.

janeray1940
08-13-2012, 05:53 AM
I have attended many ukulele gatherings near and far and been disappointed more than once...
When adding in my hotel and travel it was an expensive weekend. To make it worse the organizers did not seem to care...
I am always willing to try a new venue and/or festival. Looking forward to the Wine Country Festival in September, always well done and fun.

I agree, it's always worthwhile to check out new venues and festivals, but like you, I've had a good number of disappointments. I try to get the opinions of other uke players who have attended before, but I'm starting to realize that there are many players who are just overjoyed to be in the company of other ukesters, without regard to the quality of the event - and really, that's great for them! But for those of us with less time/money on our hands, who already play with others, or who are content playing alone, quality matters - being around other uke players just isn't enough to make it a great experience.

It's all subjective, I guess - can't make everybody happy. Wine Country, though, sounds like it *does* make everybody happy, so I may consider it for next year.