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OldePhart
08-31-2012, 06:28 PM
...As in multiple types of instruments, not just multiple ukes.

There was a thread a while back on the "one uke" theory and there is probably a lot of validity to what was said there. But tonight I've been playing my guitars in preparation to lead our band on the 9th while our worship pastor is out of town and it hit me, I've been playing several instruments for years and every time I pick up a new instrument it makes me a better musician...and it shows up in the other instruments I play.

For years I played mostly acoustic guitar. I played a little electric but but wasn't really comfortable playing electric rhythm because I couldn't "think fast enough" to "transpose" chords to barre positions on the fly.

Then, our band ended up with three guitar players and no bass so I volunteered to switch to bass "until we could find a bass player." I discovered two things 1) I really liked playing bass and 2) I learned all about "the box" and one day I realized that the box could be applied to playing barre chords on electric guitar. Suddenly, playing electric rhythm was no big deal.

Then I picked up the uke, barely touched my guitars for the last two years (actually, I'd barely touched them since I switched to bass about four years ago).

This week I've blown the dust off the guitar cases and discovered to my delight that I haven't forgotten how to play...but tonight I also noticed that my arpeggios are much, much nicer than they were before. I realized I've been doing a lot of that on the uke and it has obviously paid off. It's not that I couldn't have improved my arpeggios playing just guitar, but I probably just wouldn't have.

So, now I just need a violin, a cello, and a double bass... :)

John

ukuloonie
08-31-2012, 06:44 PM
You are right we are building our music brains and everytime we use a different instrument it helps that part of the brain grow. ( my Theory)

and I have always thought the double bass was Just a really really big ukulele:)

Hippie Dribble
08-31-2012, 06:47 PM
So, now I just need a violin, a cello, and a double bass... :)

John
and a BANJO!!!!!! :old:

janeray1940
08-31-2012, 06:52 PM
Just had a conversation about this with a friend who I play uke with. He has a guitar background but is relatively new to the uke, and to banjo as well, and he was saying exactly this: that with each instrument he has taken on, he has become a better player on all three.

As for myself - I think I need a piano!

Patrick Madsen
08-31-2012, 07:15 PM
I agree John. I just picked up an Acacia UBass and the joy of playing bass came flooding back. The poly strings make it sound like a standup bass, even though I can't stand up anymore lol.

mm stan
08-31-2012, 08:09 PM
and a BANJO!!!!!! :old:

No forget the mandolin and lap steel....he he

Ben_H
08-31-2012, 08:49 PM
You are right we are building our music brains and everytime we use a different instrument it helps that part of the brain grow. ( my Theory)


I totally agree.

I played piano, clarinet and drums/percussion from a young age till my 20's but then had an enormous break till I picked up the Uke only 3 months ago at the age of 40. Although musically rusty I found an enormous advantage in having an understanding of what was going on, even though my stringed instrument knowledge was limited to fiddling around on a borrowed accoustic 20 years ago and giving up.

What I have found difficult is my brain being ahead of my physical skill level and getting frustrated at having to balance wanting to practice lots with taking it easy as a beginner till callouses and muscle memory develop. There are also so many different things I want to do with the uke that it is hard to know where to start and to find time for finger picking, claw hammer, jazz chords, classical arrangements, hawaiin slack key style and much more.

The final thought is that maybe this is partly driving my own UAS as my brain and pre-developed musical ear are demanding better quality instruments than my playing perhaps justifies. If I was a complete musical newbie maybe I would have been happier with basics for longer? (I'm happy at the moment though planning for the future ;) )

drbekken
08-31-2012, 11:07 PM
I play piano (my main instrument), and then ukulele, guitar, tuba, various accordions, a recorder (the flute) and some harmonica....more or less in that order. All those 'second instruments' improve my piano playing. And, i almost forgot, I sing.

buddhuu
08-31-2012, 11:42 PM
I play many instruments poorly. I do agree that each instrument contributes to our understanding of music and adds a new perspective. Also, some instruments complement each very well and principles and techniques translate between them. However, technique can suffer as one struggles to split practice time between instruments.

To one or another extent I play guitar, bass, 'ukulele, mandolin, bouzouki, banjo, harmonica, fiddle, tin whistle, bodhran. I play them all just about well enough to gig, but there's no way I'll ever get really good because there aren't enough hours in which to work on them all.

I think I'd be a better musician if I stuck to just one, two or three of them. The thing is that I don't think I have any particularly strong natural talent, so I doubt that I'd ever be a great player of anything. So, as all the instruments I mess with are so enjoyable to play, I've chosen just to enjoy the variety and have fun.

barefootgypsy
09-01-2012, 12:35 AM
Well - coincidence here - yesterday hubby came home with news of a second-hand four 4 string banjo he'd seen in a shop, very cheap - we went straight up there, I checked that the neck was straight, it looks pretty new - so I bought it! Never even wanted a tenor banjo, though I've had designs on a 5 string before now - anyway, I got it home and immediately broke two strings, tuning it up, so now I have to wait for new ones. I think I can guess why they broke.... anyway, I've written about it on my blog, if anyone's interested..... but I do believe firmly in transference of skills, it's like in learning languages.... trouble is, I'm rather a butterfly - flitting.....

Pippin
09-01-2012, 12:56 AM
I play a lot of different instruments. I never took a lesson in my life... but I come from a musical family. So, I was surrounded by instruments. What I always found enjoyable was being able to record and play all the instruments myself. That way, I could always tinker around a bit when the weather was bad and I had nothing else to do (can't imagine that these days). I'd start recording a bunch of tracks and played all of them, sang all the vocals. It was a lot of fun.

Lalz
09-01-2012, 01:48 AM
Indeed, I've been playing drums for about a year and it has had a very positive impact on my uke playing and vice versa (better more precise rhythm when strumming, changing chords and fingerpicking <-> striving to gett a clearer, more precise sound when hitting the drums etc).

There are soooo many instruments I would like to learn how to play! However, I was given the advice from a multi-instrumentalist to stick to one or two instruments at a time for a few years to get proper good at them and only then add another one when I feel very comfortable with these instruments, focus on that new one for a long while, and so on. He explained that if you try to learn too many at the same time you end up not playing any of them well enough, because there isn't enough time during the day for all the practice you'd need to do and your brain will stop processing all the new input you're giving to it. I was very close to starting cello lessons recently but after he told me that, I figured I could start learning it in a few years instead. No rush, there's a whole life of learning music ahead of me!

Besides playing other instruments, I think dancing can improve your playing skills. I'm a dancer from the start and only picked up acoustic (as opposed to experimental electronic) music instruments recently, so I don't know how it is when you do it the other way around, but I think being a dancer has helped me a lot in knowing how to hear and feel the music rather than think about it too much when I play. When I first started playing the uke, I was overthinking it and kept stopping to think about what to do next, but then I figured "what if it's just like dancing but with your fingers on the fretboard and above the soundhole?" and it made a huge difference :)

savagehenry
09-01-2012, 02:35 AM
I too have many instruments but play none of them well. I like to play, but never make time for practice. My guitar background made the ukulele a lot easier and it seems that the ukulele has definitely made my guitar playing better. The point is don't be afraid to try a new instrument, even if you don't get really good at it, you're in for a good time. If you think UAS is bad, just imagine a more generic IAS, instrument acquisition syndrome.

PhilUSAFRet
09-01-2012, 03:04 AM
I'm working on this theory. I just had my banjo uke upgraded. I find that I can learn different banjo strums more easily on my banjo uke. I also plan on trying bass as (I hope) an easier way to play the whole fretboard.. I am also starting to work on my harmonica technique. Here's hoping this aging brain will expand it's musical circuitry.

000Kanaka000
09-01-2012, 03:07 AM
absolutely agree even singing makes the playing better. Noticed after singing my cajon rhythm skills
got better. When i picked up the uke it's now enhancing the other skills as well. Am going to
get rid of my guitars though as am hooked on the ukes. Was going to get back into guitar and
so bought a couple of nice vintage ones but am finding the Ukes are so versatile and are really
becoming my thing. Well those and the cajon. Am off to spain for a month (leaving tomorrow
morning) to work on cajon skills. And gosh darn it am enjoying the uke so much went out and
bought a traveling one so i don't lose the skills am working on developing with chords and
strumming etc. Yep have to face it am hooked.

Mya Moe Mahogany Baritone
Mya Moe Blue Pond Myrtle Tenor (on it's way)
Koa Tenor Kamaka
Vintage Viking Hagstrom Guitar
Vintage Espana guitar
PRK Cajon
and numerous others.

frets alot
09-01-2012, 03:45 AM
You can tell from my signature what stringed instruments I play. I really enjoy learning new instruments and each one helps me with the other. I'm really good with some and not-so-much with a couple (fiddle and mandolin). But I enjoy the challenge and the progression. I'm never bored at home and play whatever I'm in the mood for.

Kem
09-01-2012, 05:00 AM
I play the piano, accordion, flute, piccolo, Irish flute, pennywhistle, harmonica, ukulele, mandolin, and various types of percussion, and I've just purchased a tenor guitar. I do find the skills are transferable. In particular, I remember learning to play in thirds on the accordion and transferring that little trick to the piano (my first instrument, and the one on which I really taught myself complex improvisation). All my instrumental knowledge has sort of leaked into all my other instrumental knowledge. The flute, the only instrument on which I have been classically trained, has taught me how to produce vibrato, which I can now deliver on any wind instrument and also in my singing voice. I do play the guitar when necessary, but I didn't list it because I never got really competent at it; my skinny fingers just couldn't handle bar chords. However, when I was first learning the guitar, I was taught about finger-picking patterns, and I adapted the idea for the ukulele (which I had played since I was eight) when I was a teenager, inventing my own patterns and gradually learning to improvise melodies while picking rhythmic harmonies. There was a bit of a hop between knowledge of the ukulele and knowledge of the mandolin, as the chord patterns were different, but I'm now comfortable enough with both that I can switch without much of a problem, and knowing the mandolin has helped with the tenor guitar. I can also tell that my practice on the tenor guitar is going to help with the mandolin. The accordion was easier to figure out because I knew about the circle of fifths from my flute training, and the need to understand the circle of fifths while playing the accordion helps with every other instrument (especially the mandolin and the tenor guitar, which are tuned in fifths). My ability to transpose on the piano has also trickled down to the other instruments.

Long story short: it's all connected. I do understand the logic in becoming extremely skilled at a single instrument. However, I think there's a place for multi-instrumentalists as well. I find that I always end up loaded down with instruments when my band has a practice or a gig, while the guitarist smugly wanders in with just his axe (to be fair, he also sometimes plays my mandolin, which he was handling extremely well within about ten seconds of first picking it up). Multi-instrumentalists may not be virtuosos, or not often, but they bring variety to a group, and frequently not inconsiderable skill. They also bring a certain flexibility and a willingness to try unusual techniques instead of sticking rigidly to the rules.

Barbablanca
09-01-2012, 05:49 AM
I play many instruments poorly.... (but) I don't think I have any particularly strong natural talent, so I doubt that I'd ever be a great player of anything. So, as all the instruments I mess with are so enjoyable to play, I've chosen just to enjoy the variety and have fun.

You've stated everything I'd ever need to state on the subject there Rick. That describes me to a "T" - and I've got MIAS really bad, more than 45 instruments surround me as I type. My other half says: "It could be worse, it could be heroin you're addicted to, rather than musical instrument acquisition!" Nice to be understood :rolleyes:

Skitzic
09-01-2012, 06:29 AM
I play many instruments poorly. -snip- I think I'd be a better musician if I stuck to just one, two or three of them. The thing is that I don't think I have any particularly strong natural talent, so I doubt that I'd ever be a great player of anything. So, as all the instruments I mess with are so enjoyable to play, I've chosen just to enjoy the variety and have fun.


You've stated everything I'd ever need to state on the subject there Rick. That describes me to a "T" - and I've got MIAS really bad, more than 45 instruments surround me as I type. My other half says: "It could be worse, it could be heroin you're addicted to, rather than musical instrument acquisition!" Nice to be understood :rolleyes:

This also describes me. I like to think of it like this...if I have a passable knowledge on many instruments I can switch things up before anyone realizes just how little talent I have. :D

pulelehua
09-01-2012, 10:12 AM
I think there are really two conversations here:

1. I play lots of stringed instruments
2. I play instruments from several different families

I think if you're talking stringed instruments, the cost of translation is pretty low. That is, if you can clawhammer on your 5-string banjo, you can probably clawhammer on your ukulele. If you can fingerstyle solo on your acoustic dreadnought, you can probably fingerstyle solo on your ukulele. I don't mean to sound down on people who play several stringed instruments. I just think it's relatively straightforward. The essential logic of stopping a note (or several) with one hand, and plucking a string (or several) with the other doesn't change.

If you're talking about translating something like clarinet thinking to a ukulele, it's a much different matter. It's a lot harder, for one, but I also think it can be really valuable. The way music happens on a wind instrument is inherently different. Phrasing, dynamics and sustain are all controlled very differently. So, the way you express music changes. And what can be really interesting is seeing/hearing someone translate the sensibilities of one onto the other.

I met John Scofield about 20 years ago, and he said that one of the secrets to his guitar playing is that he listened to horn players as a kid, so that when he picked up a guitar, he wasn't trying to sound like a guitarist. He was trying to sound like Miles Davis.

On a similar note, about 10 years ago, I met an incredible sax player. He picked up a guitar and played some crazily interesting things. He was NOT a guitarist himself. So you could see his brain translating his ideas. I just stared and wondered if I could do what he was doing, and was fairly sure it would never occur to me to do what he was doing.

I started playing sax about that time............................

Hippie Dribble
09-01-2012, 10:20 AM
great thread John. Yep, I'm with Rick, barbablanca, tammy etc who play a number of different instruments with varying degrees of skill. Thing is, you don't need enormous amounts of talent to experience joy in music nor the thrill in seeing some progress being made, however small that might be. My primary instrument has always been guitar - until the uke took over my life a few years ago. I have found that playing ukulele has improved my ability to play the guitar, though it's a rare thing to pick it up these days I confess. But yes we are surrounded by music in our home...our daughter is proficient on the piano and has just bought a bass and amp and taking some lessons there, as well as playing uke occasionally. Our son is also learning piano and has a basic drum kit and he is also taking lessons on both. There is no doubt that developing skill in one area and on one instrument informs and benefits ones development on others. My wife sings and tinkers on the guitar. For me it's ukulele full on. But I play guitar, banjo and mandolin (poorly), dulcimer, bass, recorder, harmonica (badly) and just about anything I can get my hands on. We have a box full of percussive and toy instruments in the library...cowbells, kazoos, shakers, triangle, tambourine, toy accordion etc etc etc....

My philosophy is that, for the most part anyway, a musical home is a happy home :)

Hippie Dribble
09-01-2012, 10:28 AM
If you're talking about translating something like clarinet thinking to a ukulele, it's a much different matter. It's a lot harder, for one, but I also think it can be really valuable. The way music happens on a wind instrument is inherently different. Phrasing, dynamics and sustain are all controlled very differently. So, the way you express music changes. And what can be really interesting is seeing/hearing someone translate the sensibilities of one onto the other.

I met John Scofield about 20 years ago, and he said that one of the secrets to his guitar playing is that he listened to horn players as a kid, so that when he picked up a guitar, he wasn't trying to sound like a guitarist. He was trying to sound like Miles Davis.

On a similar note, about 10 years ago, I met an incredible sax player. He picked up a guitar and played some crazily interesting things. He was NOT a guitarist himself. So you could see his brain translating his ideas. I just stared and wondered if I could do what he was doing, and was fairly sure it would never occur to me to do what he was doing.

I started playing sax about that time............................

these are great points John and very eloquently expressed mate. I think you're totally right. To take it further, delving into different styles and genres of music is incredibly beneficial too in widening ones musical sensibilities and responses. It just broadens the musical palette and by extension, your ability to offer a very individual perspective and rendering of different songs. Best example that comes to mind of a uke player doing that is dr bekken...who has a passion for early piano blues and jazz stuff and has a way of interpreting this music on the ukulele that makes you feel like you're on a New Orleans back porch, sipping whiskey, dripping in honey and swatting mosquitoes. It's so authentic and real...you forget he's actually playing a uke...it's a feeling, a vibe...hard to quantify but it gets deep inside you

OldePhart
09-01-2012, 10:39 AM
No forget the mandolin and lap steel....he he

Actually, I have a fairly decent mandolin that I got about a year before I picked up the uke. I got it thinking it would be easier to play than guitar because I'm beginning to get enough arthritis that acoustic guitar, at least, takes its toll. I didn't think about the fact that the strings are under HIGHER tension and there are two of them for each note. Anyway, I was practicing a lot on the bass and mando and started getting all the warning signs of carpal tunnel in my left wrist and hand. In fact, it was bad enough that I thought for a while I was going to have to give up bass and I did switch to short scale for a while until my wrist recovered. Even now I sleep with a brace and find I need the brace if I'm going to play barre chords on guitar.

So...I really need to sell that mando before the temptation to play it becomes too great again... :)

OldePhart
09-01-2012, 10:47 AM
I started playing sax about that time............................

Heh, heh. I flirted with sax about ten years ago. I bought a used tenor sax. All I ever succeeded in doing was making very LOUD flatulent-elephant noises. The night the neighbors a block away called the humane society on me was the straw that broke that camel's back (just kidding). I did finally give it to a college kid I knew 'cause he could actually get music out of it. :)

John

myrnaukelele
09-01-2012, 02:20 PM
You are right we are building our music brains and everytime we use a different instrument it helps that part of the brain grow. ( my Theory)

and I have always thought the double bass was Just a really really big ukulele:)
Ukuloonie - I like your theory about building the musical part of our brains every time we learn a new instrument. I agree.

However, as a double bass player...well...I love my ukes and I love my bass but it's a bit of a stretch to think of a bass as a big uke lol!

myrnaukelele
09-01-2012, 02:28 PM
Actually, I have a fairly decent mandolin that I got about a year before I picked up the uke. I got it thinking it would be easier to play than guitar because I'm beginning to get enough arthritis that acoustic guitar, at least, takes its toll. I didn't think about the fact that the strings are under HIGHER tension and there are two of them for each note. Anyway, I was practicing a lot on the bass and mando and started getting all the warning signs of carpal tunnel in my left wrist and hand. In fact, it was bad enough that I thought for a while I was going to have to give up bass and I did switch to short scale for a while until my wrist recovered. Even now I sleep with a brace and find I need the brace if I'm going to play barre chords on guitar.

So...I really need to sell that mando before the temptation to play it becomes too great again... :)
I too got a mandolin a few years ago. I really wanted to learn to play a melody instrument. For years I simply strummed my guitar and uke and played the bass. After working with the mando awhile I decided it just wasn't for me. I just gave it away to a friend a couple days ago. Now I'm determined to learn to pick melodies on my uke.

ukuloonie
09-01-2012, 02:36 PM
Ukuloonie -However, as a double bass player...well...I love my ukes and I love my bass but it's a bit of a stretch to think of a bass as a big uke lol!

just being goofy;)

barefootgypsy
09-01-2012, 09:44 PM
I too got a mandolin a few years ago. I really wanted to learn to play a melody instrument. For years I simply strummed my guitar and uke and played the bass. After working with the mando awhile I decided it just wasn't for me. I just gave it away to a friend a couple days ago. Now I'm determined to learn to pick melodies on my uke.Hi Myrna - I'm determined to learn to pick melodies between strums too - here's a great tutorial video for starters, by a very nice young man from my part of the world.....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPj1vfy6b58&feature=plcp
(I posted this one to my blog and I'm learning it - it's not hard! :D)

mds725
09-01-2012, 11:37 PM
I was a clarinetist from third through twelfth grade, and made a few stabs at playing the piano as an adult before starting on the ukulele three years ago. The hardest stuff for me was thinking in chords instead of in one note at a time (although, of course, clarinets contribute to the making of chords by the ensemble in which they are playing) and teaching my brain to let my hands work independently. Playing the clarinet did give me an understanding of being expressive in making music, but it wasn't until my hands began to think for themselves in playing the ukulele that I began to translate that expressiveness to ukulele playing. Now it seems that if I think of a rhythm in my head I can strum it, which is pretty cool. I recently bought a tenor guitar and I'm finding that some of the strumming techniques I'm developing while playing that are translatable to ukulele, and vice versa, which I also think is pretty cool. But I did checken out a bit -- I had my temor guitar tuned like a baritone uke so I wouldn't have to learn new chord shapes.

Kem
09-02-2012, 03:43 AM
I was a clarinetist from third through twelfth grade, and made a few stabs at playing the piano as an adult before starting on the ukulele three years ago. The hardest stuff for me was thinking in chords instead of in one note at a time (although, of course, clarinets contribute to the making of chords by the ensemble in which they are playing) and teaching my brain to let my hands work independently. Playing the clarinet did give me an understanding of being expressive in making music, but it wasn't until my hands began to think for themselves in playing the ukulele that I began to translate that expressiveness to ukulele playing. Now it seems that if I think of a rhythm in my head I can strum it, which is pretty cool. I recently bought a tenor guitar and I'm finding that some of the strumming techniques I'm developing while playing that are translatable to ukulele, and vice versa, which I also think is pretty cool. But I did checken out a bit -- I had my temor guitar tuned like a baritone uke so I wouldn't have to learn new chord shapes.

I do recommend that you eventually try tuning your tenor guitar in fifths. I find I have no problem switching back and forth (admittedly, I've also played the mandolin for years; it does take time to get used to). The most common chord shapes are not difficult, and once you know them, you'll be able to pick up the mandolin, mandola, and tenor banjo (okay, yes, the mandolin is tuned GDAE, but that's still in fifths). If you ever go mad and decide to start on the violin, viola, or cello, you'll notice that they are ALSO tuned in fifths.

drbekken
09-02-2012, 04:56 AM
these are great points John and very eloquently expressed mate. I think you're totally right. To take it further, delving into different styles and genres of music is incredibly beneficial too in widening ones musical sensibilities and responses. It just broadens the musical palette and by extension, your ability to offer a very individual perspective and rendering of different songs. Best example that comes to mind of a uke player doing that is dr bekken...who has a passion for early piano blues and jazz stuff and has a way of interpreting this music on the ukulele that makes you feel like you're on a New Orleans back porch, sipping whiskey, dripping in honey and swatting mosquitoes. It's so authentic and real...you forget he's actually playing a uke...it's a feeling, a vibe...hard to quantify but it gets deep inside you
Well, what can I say but thank you, Jon? I simply love that old music. As for multi-instrumentalism, I am first and foremost a piano player, who sort of dabbles with other instruments on occasion. That dabbling forces me to use my ears and be open for different sounds and different ways to find my way around scales, runs and chords. It's a way of keeping alert and not take the main instrument for granted. The ukulele is the instrument that I play best of all the 'second' instruments, and I have been a session player on all of them except the recorder (and that is not likely to happen, trust me.). I don't believe in pigeion-holing instruments. Any music can be played on any instrument. Whether it sounds 'good' or not, is really up to the listener...Or?

pulelehua
09-02-2012, 05:43 AM
Heh, heh. I flirted with sax about ten years ago. I bought a used tenor sax. All I ever succeeded in doing was making very LOUD flatulent-elephant noises. The night the neighbors a block away called the humane society on me was the straw that broke that camel's back (just kidding). I did finally give it to a college kid I knew 'cause he could actually get music out of it. :)

John


I had a similar experience with a flugelhorn. Sold that and used the money for my custom ukulele, which I have played about 1000 hours more. Happily, I stayed with the tenor sax long enough to be decent. Played the solo to Girl from Ipanema for a student's recording last year, and was fairly proud of myself. I'm no Stan Getz, of course, but I also don't play the sax as much as he did. ;)

buddhuu
09-02-2012, 08:04 AM
This is a great thread. The focus is quite tightly on the music and instruments, but somehow I think it gives a bit of insight into what makes us all tick. I feel like I know yz all better for reading it. :)

engravertom
09-02-2012, 11:04 AM
A great thread indeed! I started on piano, because my parents required 3 years of piano before anything else. I dropped piano, and took up the drums. Wished I hadn't left the piano behind... Anyway, after taking up the Uke almost 3 years ago, I have become a better musician. learning to sing a bit in Church over the past many years has helped too. I'm starting to put more effort into my drumming again, and the Uke influence has really helped me. I am much more concerned about making music with the drums than I used to be. I over heard my dad talking to someone, and his comment was, "i keep waiting for Tom to do something with his drumming again.". So I signed up for the guitar center drum off this fall. And what is cool is that i have developed a solo that is musical, has some technical chops in it, but is geared towards being interesting, as opposed to winning. It is very much more fun, than worrying about getting a winning solo together. Now, i do want to win! But, if i don't, I will still enjoy sharing my music with the folks who hear it. And I'll enjoy playing it, as well as what i have learned while practicing seriously again.

I learned this while transcribing classical pieces for the Uke. I can't make every note from the guitar fit, and i don't need to. I'm making a different musical statement, and I'm learning that on the drums too. The music has become more important than demonstrating some expected level of technical competence. I never hoped to be very good on the Uke, because of the limited time I could devote to it. I am ok with that, and find it very much more enjoyable. I am so glad that spirit is finding its way into my drumming too, even though I am more advanced as a drummer than as a Uke player.

Plainsong
09-02-2012, 02:18 PM
It always felt to me that picking up one instrument made me better on the other too. But speaking of that need to really practice every type of music you can get your hands on, there was this crossroads moment, where I made the wrong choice. I was the clarinet section leader, but we hardly ever played jazz pieces, and I didn't feel comfortable in jazz. For one thing I'd have to get another set of reeds and a mouthpiece and ligature specific to it, which is fine but I wasn't even very into it at all. And I felt like jazz pieces are where you see that I really suck. You can't suck and be in that band, much less a section leader, so nevermind, but that's how I felt.

We used to have a great jazz band tradition in the 60s, but it fell away, until my senior year, some band members were getting it going again, and the band director was all for it. I took all my hard courses my junior year, so my senior year was spent in the music building, just doing band and chorus stuff, I wasn't out of that building and could have fit it in. One day after symphonic practice, a fellow clarinet player asks if I want to join the jazz band.

What flashed before my eyes in that few seconds was how exposed I would be. Nowhere to hide, no big section to cover me up. Everyone, including the director (who didn't mince words) would know I suck. And sight reading pieces they all knew already?? Forget it! And yet... it would make me better. Feeling exposed shouldn't have been an issue, I had multiple solos in every piece we played! I played for that band director and he put me in that seat! Why feel exposed? Doesn't make sense.

I said no. This was a huge mistake. My improv skills would be so much better now. My ear would be better now. Music would be less scary now. Just look at my husband. He never learned to read a note and plays circles around me, because he was brought up in jazz. Stupid stupid me.