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janeray1940
09-08-2012, 07:19 AM
Aloha all... something I've been pondering a bit as of lately that I thought I'd put out there: Do you think of yourself as a ukulele player, or as a musician who just happens to play ukulele? Or perhaps both?

I've always felt kinda like a... fraud whenever anyone would refer to me as a musician - mainly because I've been surrounded by super-talented musicians all of my life (who have been playing all of *their* lives). As I've only been playing seriously for a few years, and didn't start until I was in my mid-40s, the label "musician" has always felt far too... big for me. But I think I've finally started to grow into it, and it feels like it fits.

I think many of us are uncomfortable with the idea of being only one thing, all the time, but there seems to be something about the ukulele that does pigeon-hole us into that "all ukulele, all the time" box. For instance - I'm sure we all have those friends who relentlessly email us ANYTHING ukulele that they come across. Good intentions, but the issue I have is this: just because there's a ukulele in it doesn't mean I like it. Or for that matter, doesn't mean it's even good!

There's a LOT of ukulele stuff I don't care for. A LOT, just like there's a lot of music in general I don't care for. But I love music, and I love playing music, and I just happen to do so by playing ukulele.

Anyway, yeah, rambling here but thought I'd put this out there and see if an interesting discussion can come of it... Do you love all things ukulele, always? Or are you more selective? If you see yourself as a musician, how do you define that?

spookefoote
09-08-2012, 07:31 AM
Both...........

joeybug
09-08-2012, 07:31 AM
I call myself a "musician", but also an "ukulele player" depending on who I talk to, like you I feel a bit of a fraud, so I always add "amateur" to that and explain that I'm no where near professional...like, at all!

kenikas
09-08-2012, 07:37 AM
I would say both, although I'm a complete hack at both!

UncleElvis
09-08-2012, 07:38 AM
I usually say "Entertainer", as my ukulele playing is more a means to the end, rather than the end... although it is the absolute core of what I do. So, given those two choices, I'd say "Ukulele Player".

janeray1940
09-08-2012, 07:41 AM
I call myself a "musician", but also an "ukulele player" depending on who I talk to, like you I feel a bit of a fraud, so I always add "amateur" to that and explain that I'm no where near professional...like, at all!

I don't think one has to be a (paid?) professional to be a musician, not by any means. Some of the best musicians (and artists, and writers, for that matter) I know pay the bills by doing something far more mundane.

I tend to think of "musician" as one who plays, studies and is knowledgeable about music in general. Whether or not it's their profession doesn't really matter.

janeray1940
09-08-2012, 07:42 AM
I usually say "Entertainer"

Aha! This is another thing I've recently pondered - entertainer, vs. musician. I play music, but I most definitely do not "entertain"!

Thanks for adding this element to the discussion, as I'd overlooked touching on it.

joeybug
09-08-2012, 07:53 AM
I don't think one has to be a (paid?) professional to be a musician, not by any means. Some of the best musicians (and artists, and writers, for that matter) I know pay the bills by doing something far more mundane.

I tend to think of "musician" as one who plays, studies and is knowledgeable about music in general. Whether or not it's their profession doesn't really matter.

Totally OT, but as for the "artists and writers for that matter" and it does have something to do with the topic.

I'm a writer, I've had my books published, therefore I am a writer, an author, whatever, but I don't make enough to support myself, therefore it is not technically my "profession" though I would say I was a professional...tying it to the musician/ukulele player/entertainer, I still wouldn't consider myself anything other than amateur even if I was paid. I have an icon on my blog, that states I am a "writer/student/musician" even though technically speaking professionally, I am unemployed/medically retired/unable to work due to illness...

Hope that all makes sense, my pain level is high and my brain foggy!

mascompro
09-08-2012, 08:05 AM
Neither, I am merely a hack in training.

BassGuyukin'
09-08-2012, 08:14 AM
I'm definitely a musician as I've been playing bass professionally for 35 years. Matter of fact, if there was any one word that described me, it would be "musician". And I say that above words like "husband" or "employee" (at my full time regular job) or any other such word. My passion is music and I am a musician. However, that is with bass. I am still a beginning ukester, so when I tell people what I play, of course I am used to saying that I am a bassist. I also play a little guitar but I have never called myself a "guitarist" because I never took it too seriously. But even as a beginner I am taking ukulele seriously, so now I am saying I am a musician that plays bass and ukulele. It sounds right, but also kind of weird since I am advanced on one and a beginner on another.

kvehe
09-08-2012, 08:22 AM
Given the choice between musician and ukulele player, I think of myself as a ukulele player. This is weird, though, because it is the newest and least accomplished of my musical pursuits (not that I am much accomplished in the others). I've fooled around with the piano for a million years, and while I'm not very good, it's probably the one at which I am the least bad. I've taken flute lessons for almost three years, and classical guitar for two. Out of the four instruments, the uke seems to be the one that "fits" me the best. I'm definitely not an entertainer, except maybe to my cat.

Kathryn

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
09-08-2012, 08:26 AM
I'm a musician, a musician that loooooooves to play ukulele.

uke4ia
09-08-2012, 08:35 AM
Both. Other people may think of the ukulele as something other than a "real instrument". But it's self-defeating for us to think that way. Have faith in yourself -- you're a musician.

Bob Bledsoe
09-08-2012, 09:24 AM
There's an ongoing debate that beginning standup comedians have as to when they can call themselves a "comedian". Is it after they've done a few open mics, after they've been paid for comedy once or after they make their living that way? Comedy is really subjective in my mind and I still don't have an answer for that debate.
But music and calling yourself a musician seems to be a little easier to quantify. I have a hard time calling myself a musician because I've only been playing ukulele for a year or so. I can play some things pretty well but I don't have much music theory under my belt and I can't even begin to play by ear. I would feel comfortable calling myself a musician if I had a fairly solid understanding of music theory OR had the amazing ability of playing by ear. Both of those are disciplines that people spend a lifetime developing but I'm talking about just having a basic ability to jam with people or create music using theory or ear. I'm hoping to work on both of these things over the next couple years because I've always wanted to be able to legitimately call myself a musician... So to me, being a musician has nothing to do with earning money - it's more of a level of understanding and ability... Are you still reading this? That's impressive because I'm beginning to bore myself. Sorry about the long post.

mm stan
09-08-2012, 09:24 AM
Sorta like way back then, the ukulele was not accepted as an solo instrument...is it or isn't it?? it is....and so you are musician and a ukulele player...

itsme
09-08-2012, 11:35 AM
I don't know... calling yourself a musician seems a little pretentious. Like saying "I'm an athlete" instead of "I'm a runner."

dkcrown
09-08-2012, 11:36 AM
I think many of us are uncomfortable with the idea of being only one thing, all the time, but there seems to be something about the ukulele that does pigeon-hole us into that "all ukulele, all the time" box. For instance - I'm sure we all have those friends who relentlessly email us ANYTHING ukulele that they come across. Good intentions, but the issue I have is this: just because there's a ukulele in it doesn't mean I like it. Or for that matter, doesn't mean it's even good!


I am an ukulele player, and proud of it. It is the only instrument I play and I am serious about it. But while some might call me a musician, it sounds so serious. Ultimately I do this for fun and peace of mind.

Hippie Dribble
09-08-2012, 11:49 AM
good question Jane, I've debated this one in my own mind too.

Looking at dictionary interpretations of the word musician, there seem to be two different approaches taken, and a line drawn down the middle:
All focus on the ACT of 'performing, composing or conducting music or playing a musical instrument'. Others take it one step further and add the proviso...'As a profession." so, two schools of thought there.

eugenie has always introduced me to people as a 'musician' which does embarrass me. Not sure why exactly....I think that, even though I played professionally for a number of years (that is, got paid) I never had any formal music training or study and was laughed out of choir rehearsals as a kid in school. Maybe it's an issue that gets back to one's own self-confidence.

Thing is, if you just began 5 minutes ago as a uker, you are a musician technically, because you are involved in the act of playing an instrument...After that it's all semantics as to how we choose to qualify and quantify it.

My advice to anyone just starting is to cultivate a positive self attitude to your playing, because that's where the rubber hits the road. :)

ksiegel
09-08-2012, 11:59 AM
If someone asked me, "Do you play an instrument?" I would answer "Yes. I play the ukulele."

If someone asked me, "Are you a musician?", I would answer "Yes. I play the ukulele."

If the response to that answer was "Huh. Just a ukulele? You're not a musician", I would just smile, and think, "Your loss".


But when I'm making music with Michael Eck, one of our local Pro Musicians/Journalists, I think of him as a musician, and me as a ukulele player.

He tells me I'm a musician.

It is all perception. I just like playing the uke.

(Was that rambling? Did I seem as if I was talking to an empty chair? Oh, nooooooo.....)





-Kurt

janeray1940
09-08-2012, 12:11 PM
I'm a writer, I've had my books published, therefore I am a writer, an author, whatever, but I don't make enough to support myself, therefore it is not technically my "profession" though I would say I was a professional...tying it to the musician/ukulele player/entertainer, I still wouldn't consider myself anything other than amateur even if I was paid. I have an icon on my blog, that states I am a "writer/student/musician" even though technically speaking professionally, I am unemployed/medically retired/unable to work due to illness...

Hope that all makes sense, my pain level is high and my brain foggy!

I think it makes sense, this goes into a whole other level of self-identity that I wasn't even thinking of when I first posted. I had a recent conversation with friends about the question of "What do you do?" which is a question I hate since I don't have one single, strong self-identity. Over my almost half-century on this planet, I've gotten paid to write, take pictures, model, cook, and all sorts of other stuff having to do with computers - yet I never identified as a writer, photographer, model, chef, or even my current profession, information architect. And while I suppose that while supporting myself with those activities I was (and am) indeed a "professional," when the workday was over and done, what was my passion? Music, even though in the past I spent far more time watching others play it than actually playing it myself. So when I am asked "What do you do?" I always ask for clarification in return - do you want to know how I pay the bills? Or what really matters to me? Because even though I spend 40-60 hours a week as an information architect, when the workday is done, I'm a lot of other things as well.


My passion is music and I am a musician.

Well said!


I'm definitely not an entertainer, except maybe to my cat.


Ha, same here :) Although he tends to leave the room when the uke comes out of the case...


I'm a musician, a musician that loooooooves to play ukulele.

Yes. This!!!


I would feel comfortable calling myself a musician if I had a fairly solid understanding of music theory OR had the amazing ability of playing by ear. Both of those are disciplines that people spend a lifetime developing but I'm talking about just having a basic ability to jam with people or create music using theory or ear. I'm hoping to work on both of these things over the next couple years because I've always wanted to be able to legitimately call myself a musician... So to me, being a musician has nothing to do with earning money - it's more of a level of understanding and ability... Are you still reading this? That's impressive because I'm beginning to bore myself. Sorry about the long post.

LOL that wasn't long at all, and yes, I read it. And I pretty much agree - now that I'm finally coming to that understanding and ability, I'm more comfortable with the label.


Sorta like way back then, the ukulele was not accepted as an solo instrument...is it or isn't it?? it is....and so you are musician and a ukulele player...

Good point Stan! Once can certainly be both.


I don't know... calling yourself a musician seems a little pretentious. Like saying "I'm an athlete" instead of "I'm a runner."

In conversation - take for example the "What do you do?" cocktail-party icebreaker - I say "I play music" rather than "I'm a musician" precisely because of the pretentious thing. Maybe it's all the same, but it sounds less... serious? More casual? at least that's my intention.


I am an ukulele player, and proud of it. It is the only instrument I play and I am serious about it. But while some might call me a musician, it sounds so serious. Ultimately I do this for fun and peace of mind.

Same here, although we all may have different interpretations of fun and peace of mind :) My idea of fun may be getting lost in a John King arrangement for hours, which *does* give me a sort of peace of mind in a focused, meditative sort of way. Another UUer might find that sounds like absolute torture to them, while strumming a three-chord song in first position and singing their heart our might be their preferred way.


good question Jane, I've debated this one in my own mind too...

Thing is, if you just began 5 minutes ago as a uker, you are a musician technically, because you are involved in the act of playing an instrument...After that it's all semantics as to how we choose to qualify and quantify it...

My advice to anyone just starting is to cultivate a positive self attitude to your playing, because that's where the rubber hits the road. :)

Excellent points. And sadly... this is a bit of a digression, but just this morning I was talking about it with a couple of other musicians... sometimes the positive self attitude gets lost!

janeray1940
09-08-2012, 12:16 PM
If someone asked me, "Do you play an instrument?" I would answer "Yes. I play the ukulele."

If someone asked me, "Are you a musician?", I would answer "Yes. I play the ukulele."

If the response to that answer was "Huh. Just a ukulele? You're not a musician", I would just smile, and think, "Your loss".


When I first started this thread, I wasn't even thinking of the "just a ukulele" implication, but there's that too. I don't run into it so much, I think in part because there's a pretty strong ukulele scene where I am and, fortunately, people generally tend to think beyond Tiny Tim.



But when I'm making music with Michael Eck, one of our local Pro Musicians/Journalists, I think of him as a musician, and me as a ukulele player.

He tells me I'm a musician.


Ha, this is me with my uke instructor. Who refers to me as a musician too.



It is all perception. I just like playing the uke.


I do too. But if I had a piano, I'm pretty sure I'd like playing that too :)

janeray1940
09-08-2012, 12:24 PM
Part of what got me to pondering this is the implication that, as a "ukulele player," one eats, breathes, sleeps ukulele in a one-dimensional way, whereas to me, "musician" seems to have less of this sort of cult status attached to it. Or am I wrong - are guitarists expected to love everything guitar, and only guitar? What about drummers? Flautists??

Although I love playing ukulele, I don't love it just for the sake of being ukulele. I don't love, say, Amanda Palmer or Danielle Ate the Sandwich just because they play ukuleles - in fact, I don't understand either of them at all. I don't love the idea of ukulele festivals where eight different groups perform eight different renditions of "I'm Yours." I don't love the idea of being in a ukulele workshop just for the sake of it being a ukulele workshop.

And people seem really shocked to hear this but it's true. When I listen to music, I don't seek out ukulele music per se. I do often find myself hearing a song and thinking how it would sound as a uke instrumental... but that's because it's a good song to begin with, and not a "ukulele song."

So, yeah, there you have it. I play music :)

Thanks for listening to the rambling here, and please keep the responses coming!

luluwrites
09-08-2012, 12:52 PM
Totally OT, but as for the "artists and writers for that matter" and it does have something to do with the topic.

I'm a writer, I've had my books published, therefore I am a writer, an author, whatever, but I don't make enough to support myself, therefore it is not technically my "profession" though I would say I was a professional...tying it to the musician/ukulele player/entertainer, I still wouldn't consider myself anything other than amateur even if I was paid. I have an icon on my blog, that states I am a "writer/student/musician" even though technically speaking professionally, I am unemployed/medically retired/unable to work due to illness...

Hope that all makes sense, my pain level is high and my brain foggy!

I only know a couple of authors who really make a living with their writing -- the rest is all speakers fees and hard-working spouses. I'd say your a professional Joey.

To the question: I try to play the ukulele. What I do with it can not really be called music. Mostly, I'm just a strummer having a very good time.

savagehenry
09-08-2012, 12:59 PM
Ukusician maybe?

weerpool
09-08-2012, 01:00 PM
i dont consider myself a musician, just a person who really loves music. Ukulele is more of a happy drug than an instrument. kind of like a cross between Xanax and classic coc-cola

janeray1940
09-08-2012, 01:04 PM
Ukusician maybe?


i dont consider myself a musician, just a person who really loves music. Ukulele is more of a happy drug than an instrument. kind of like a cross between Xanax and classic coc-cola

Doesn't this sort of bring us back into "the uke isn't a real instrument" territory though? I mean, to each their own, but - there's this (http://www.youtube.com/user/NaluMusic/videos). And this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsOhmN2mpHI).

savagehenry
09-08-2012, 01:15 PM
Ukusician was just a joke. John King and James Hill are no joke. The ukulele is an real instrument! I consider myself a musician and a ukulele player.

Plainsong
09-08-2012, 01:38 PM
I only know a couple of authors who really make a living with their writing -- the rest is all speakers fees and hard-working spouses. I'd say your a professional Joey.

To the question: I try to play the ukulele. What I do with it can not really be called music. Mostly, I'm just a strummer having a very good time.

Yeah, if anyone here reads her books, they'll see that she's a professional writer. I even say that as her red-pen-of-death editor. :D Sometimes there's what pays the bills, and there's what defines you.

I also agree with Janeray. I don't really get into uke as a novelty, and many UU friends do and that's great for them, but it doesn't work for me. To me it's about how a piece speaks to me, and if that was an ukulele playing it, then great. If not, also great.

I consider myself a musician. Maybe not a good one, but I went through the mill and tried my hardest, and put in my time. I've been paid for it in the past, but while not anymore, that doesn't make music mean any less. I don't really understand the "uke isn't an instrument" thing, and I never ran into such BS until picking up the uke. If someone has only played and will only play the ukulele, never read a note of music, never had a lesson, never sat in a theory class... if they want to call themselves musicians then they can and should.

It's not like a black belt. You're not a musician 3rd degree. Nah, it's about the love and commitment to it. If someone wants to get into a skill battle, then you can show off the chops, but until then... don't let anyone ever say you're not a musician because you play ukulele. That's just their own insecurity. :)

ukuleledaveey
09-08-2012, 01:39 PM
Great thread,yep the ukulele is a amazing instrument as said John King, James Hill, etc, etc.I am Uke obsessed but something has to float my gravy to like it, i wont just automatically like it just because it is "Ukulele"
I would like to one day call myself a musician, but realise i am just someone learning and loving and playing the uke, so i am a low level uke player. But it makes me happy,makes me forget about the world when i play, which is more important to me than any label i or others put upon me. I just wish i had picked it up years ago.
For me afterfinding and marrying my wife it is the greatest gift i have been given,the pleasure in the music and conversing with the wonderful people on here.
I guess you will get a multiple of answers to musician/player, depending on ability,confidence in ones self,ego,self belief.
I think i may have waffled a bit here lol :)

janeray1940
09-08-2012, 04:07 PM
I also agree with Janeray. I don't really get into uke as a novelty, and many UU friends do and that's great for them, but it doesn't work for me. To me it's about how a piece speaks to me, and if that was an ukulele playing it, then great. If not, also great.

I consider myself a musician. Maybe not a good one, but I went through the mill and tried my hardest, and put in my time. I've been paid for it in the past, but while not anymore, that doesn't make music mean any less. I don't really understand the "uke isn't an instrument" thing, and I never ran into such BS until picking up the uke. If someone has only played and will only play the ukulele, never read a note of music, never had a lesson, never sat in a theory class... if they want to call themselves musicians then they can and should.

It's not like a black belt. You're not a musician 3rd degree. Nah, it's about the love and commitment to it. If someone wants to get into a skill battle, then you can show off the chops, but until then... don't let anyone ever say you're not a musician because you play ukulele. That's just their own insecurity. :)

That was nicely said, Plainsong.


Great thread,yep the ukulele is a amazing instrument as said John King, James Hill, etc, etc.I am Uke obsessed but something has to float my gravy to like it, i wont just automatically like it just because it is "Ukulele"
I would like to one day call myself a musician, but realise i am just someone learning and loving and playing the uke, so i am a low level uke player. But it makes me happy,makes me forget about the world when i play, which is more important to me than any label i or others put upon me. I just wish i had picked it up years ago.
For me afterfinding and marrying my wife it is the greatest gift i have been given,the pleasure in the music and conversing with the wonderful people on here.
I guess you will get a multiple of answers to musician/player, depending on ability,confidence in ones self,ego,self belief.
I think i may have waffled a bit here lol :)

Also nicely said, and I think per the previous post, you can consider yourself a... musician! :)

And I wish I had picked it up years ago as well. Well, I suppose technically I did, since I got my first uke for my 7th birthday; I wish I had stuck with it rather than waiting almost 40 years before picking one up again!

uke4ia
09-08-2012, 05:51 PM
Part of what got me to pondering this is the implication that, as a "ukulele player," one eats, breathes, sleeps ukulele in a one-dimensional way, whereas to me, "musician" seems to have less of this sort of cult status attached to it. Or am I wrong - are guitarists expected to love everything guitar, and only guitar? What about drummers? Flautists??

Although I love playing ukulele, I don't love it just for the sake of being ukulele. I don't love, say, Amanda Palmer or Danielle Ate the Sandwich just because they play ukuleles - in fact, I don't understand either of them at all. I don't love the idea of ukulele festivals where eight different groups perform eight different renditions of "I'm Yours." I don't love the idea of being in a ukulele workshop just for the sake of it being a ukulele workshop.

There are plenty of guitarists who get rapturous about albums of acoustic guitar instrumentals that all sound pretty much the same to me. They're thinking about how hard it is to play the piece, but I'm thinking about whether I care to listen to it.

You don't have to live in a gated ukulele-only community to be a ukulele player. Personally, I hardly listen to any uke music except for videos by fellow UU members. I own around 1,000 albums, and I can think of 10 that might be called ukulele albums. That includes 4 Ed's Redeeming Qualities albums and 2 EPs by friends of mine. I'm not particularly interested in the music of the '20s and '30s, or in Hawaiian music. As far as uke instrumentals like Jake or Aldrine play, I like them okay when I hear them, but I don't buy albums of that style because I know I wouldn't listen to them.

janeray1940
09-08-2012, 06:07 PM
You don't have to live in a gated ukulele-only community to be a ukulele player.

LOL, and if you did live in one, you'd probably have to listen to 20 different renditions of Tiptoe through the Tulips! :)

I hear you... while I like 20s/30s music, and I like Hawaiian music, I also like a whole lot more. And much of what I play/aspire to play falls into the "whole lot more" category.

As for the Jake generation... when his Bohemian Rhapsody video was first out, every. single. day. someone I know must have emailed it to me with a "hey this is cool, have you seen this?!" message. The funny part to me was that I didn't even know the song - when the Queen version was on the airwaves, I was both living in another country where I never heard it played, and in the midst of my teenage obsession with jazz standards, so the whole thing was entirely lost on me.

MisterRios
09-08-2012, 11:09 PM
I think it makes sense, this goes into a whole other level of self-identity that I wasn't even thinking of when I first posted. I had a recent conversation with friends about the question of "What do you do?" which is a question I hate since I don't have one single, strong self-identity. Over my almost half-century on this planet, I've gotten paid to write, take pictures, model, cook, and all sorts of other stuff having to do with computers - yet I never identified as a writer, photographer, model, chef, or even my current profession, information architect. And while I suppose that while supporting myself with those activities I was (and am) indeed a "professional," when the workday was over and done, what was my passion? Music, even though in the past I spent far more time watching others play it than actually playing it myself. So when I am asked "What do you do?" I always ask for clarification in return - do you want to know how I pay the bills? Or what really matters to me? Because even though I spend 40-60 hours a week as an information architect, when the workday is done, I'm a lot of other things as well.

First this. When people ask me what I do, I usually answer- "I bake bread". (pause) "But not for money". which confuses people but does stimulate more conversation and avoids the whole categorization of someone based on their profession. I don't really work at something exciting, and when I do explain it, I sort of get glazed looks. The bread baking thing was actually my biggest obsession pre-ukulele, and something I've been doing for over 14 years.

For me, music is a language, just like any other, and in order to call myself a musician, I need to know how to "communicate" in the language. I can't play by ear, and I can't read music, but the other day I was able to follow along with some other people in my group by watching their fingers. It was pretty amazing to be able to do that. However, I wouldn't call myself a musician until I can either solo when playing with others, or write my own songs (which is even harder than regular writing). There's a lot of great musicians at my meet-up, and until I can follow along with them, I won't dare call myself a musician. So, for now, it's Ukulele player.

joeybug
09-09-2012, 12:11 AM
First this. When people ask me what I do, I usually answer- "I bake bread". (pause) "But not for money". which confuses people but does stimulate more conversation and avoids the whole categorization of someone based on their profession. I don't really work at something exciting, and when I do explain it, I sort of get glazed looks. The bread baking thing was actually my biggest obsession pre-ukulele, and something I've been doing for over 14 years.

For me, music is a language, just like any other, and in order to call myself a musician, I need to know how to "communicate" in the language. I can't play by ear, and I can't read music, but the other day I was able to follow along with some other people in my group by watching their fingers. It was pretty amazing to be able to do that. However, I wouldn't call myself a musician until I can either solo when playing with others, or write my own songs (which is even harder than regular writing). There's a lot of great musicians at my meet-up, and until I can follow along with them, I won't dare call myself a musician. So, for now, it's Ukulele player.

I can understand that, again, although I will say musician over Ukulele player (it really does depend on who I'm talking with - like on my LJ, I'm a musician, but here I'm just another Ukulele player) thinking about the way you described it as a language makes sense. I can read music, but I can't play by ear, I also can't really work out what others are playing just by looking at their fingers - tried it once and was okay, but nowhere near good enough to call it a skill. However, I have also studied some minimal music theory and so know some of that part of the language, but not enough to say I'm proficient in it. I can write songs and sometimes put the right chords to them - as plainsong will attest - but sometimes it's just about the words to me and the music comes later, but then again, my main "skill" is writing books so that links into that somewhat.

I think those who have said it's about not saying the Ukulele isn't a real instrument and therefore not calling yourself a musician seems to validate that claim, have a point. I do, however, think it is all about personal preference. Going back to where I said I am professional writer, but do not make the money to call it my "day job". I think a lot of ukulele players (and other instruments too) worry that they are somehow insulting the professional musicians that we all know and love by saying that we too are musicians, when that is anything but the case. We all make music, therefore we are all musicians, no matter what our skill.

Hope that all helps, on the morphine again today and foggy too! If it doesn't make sense, I apologise!

Ukeval
09-09-2012, 02:06 AM
Probably someone already said that, but...
What are you doing with your ukulele ? Playing music, so you are a musician.

Freeda
09-09-2012, 03:42 AM
Definitely a culturally defining question. In some places it is "what do you do" and in others "who are your people".

My position is that I am not a (noun). I am someone who (verb). I do all sorts of things but they don't define me.

I am not a musician but I love making music. I am not a ukulele player but I love playing uke. I am not a singer but I love to sing.

Part of that is probably from my job. Person-first language, like "She is a young lady with autism" is preferred over "she is autistic".

PhilUSAFRet
09-09-2012, 03:50 AM
Sounds like a variation of the old "mom, am I pretty" saga. Sometimes people doubt it no matter what mom said. A uke is a musical instrument which is played by a "musician." No prerequisite that you be a "great" musician, or even a "good one."
The two are not mutually exclusive. I think less of myself as a "fraud" because a uke is my instrumnt than of the other musician is a "snob." My two cents.

ScooterD35
09-09-2012, 04:03 AM
musician |myo͞oˈziSHən|
noun
a person who plays a musical instrument


Is there any doubt whatsoever in anyone's mind that the ukulele is a musical instrument?

No?

Then we are all musicians, regardless of our individual skill levels.


Scooter

tigersister
09-09-2012, 04:21 AM
A musician in my mind is someone who is knowledgeable and skillful in musicianship. I'm not there yet, so for now I think of myself as a person having fun playing the ukulele. I guess that makes me a ukulele player, but even that feels like a stretch at this point.

tigersister
09-09-2012, 04:30 AM
Definitely a culturally defining question. In some places it is "what do you do" and in others "who are your people".

My position is that I am not a (noun). I am someone who (verb). I do all sorts of things but they don't define me.

I am not a musician but I love making music. I am not a ukulele player but I love playing uke. I am not a singer but I love to sing.

Part of that is probably from my job. Person-first language, like "She is a young lady with autism" is preferred over "she is autistic".


Freeda, I like that. I can see how it wouldn't limit how we define ourselves and others, which I think contributes to the us vs. them mentality of our society.

joeybug
09-09-2012, 04:55 AM
Definitely a culturally defining question. In some places it is "what do you do" and in others "who are your people".

My position is that I am not a (noun). I am someone who (verb). I do all sorts of things but they don't define me.

I am not a musician but I love making music. I am not a ukulele player but I love playing uke. I am not a singer but I love to sing.

Part of that is probably from my job. Person-first language, like "She is a young lady with autism" is preferred over "she is autistic".

I like the way you've explained this, so I'm just going to say :agree:

Excus mistakes, in a lot of pain right now - thank goodness for spellchsk

fitncrafty
09-09-2012, 05:05 AM
I am a wanna be musician that plays ukulele . I have a serious hangup about my singing which makes me not think I couldn't ever be a musician... keeps me away from uke gatherings and lessons...very few people have heard me sing or play...sigh...its still fun and that mmatters most to me.

janeray1940
09-09-2012, 06:29 AM
Probably someone already said that, but...
What are you doing with your ukulele ? Playing music, so you are a musician.

This is my favorite answer yet! I think it's true on many levels.


musician |myo͞oˈziSHən|
noun
a person who plays a musical instrument


Is there any doubt whatsoever in anyone's mind that the ukulele is a musical instrument?

No?

Then we are all musicians, regardless of our individual skill levels.


Scooter

Which only confirms what Val wrote :)


I am a wanna be musician that plays ukulele . I have a serious hangup about my singing which makes me not think I couldn't ever be a musician... keeps me away from uke gatherings and lessons...very few people have heard me sing or play...sigh...its still fun and that matters most to me.

I've got to say I don't think singing has anything to do with it - instrumentalists are musicians! I don't sing - not because I can't; I took voice lessons for years as a child and in doing so, proved that I could sing, but only if I worked really, really hard at it. But I am not at all naturally gifted that way - my natural range encompasses all of five notes, anything beyond that is a struggle, and I can't breathe correctly if my life depended on it. So - as a musician, I choose not to sing. I'd rather put that time and energy into playing. But I play an instrument, I read music, I understand theory, and I'm learning to do my own arrangements - all of which makes me think I qualify even if I never sing a note in my life!

I don't think a "musician" has to be gifted at all aspects of music, not by any means. I mean, all those musicians throughout history who couldn't read music... Irving Berlin, who allegedly could only play piano in the single key of F sharp... Ringo Starr, an amazing rhythm machine but whose gifts as a singer are rather questionable... etc :)



For me, music is a language, just like any other, and in order to call myself a musician, I need to know how to "communicate" in the language. I can't play by ear, and I can't read music, but the other day I was able to follow along with some other people in my group by watching their fingers. It was pretty amazing to be able to do that. However, I wouldn't call myself a musician until I can either solo when playing with others, or write my own songs (which is even harder than regular writing). There's a lot of great musicians at my meet-up, and until I can follow along with them, I won't dare call myself a musician. So, for now, it's Ukulele player.

When I first started playing I felt similarly, although my definitions were a bit different. I don't sing, so I could care less if I ever write songs; to me, that's a whole other skill set. But being able to follow along with other musicians is a big part of it for me - in my opinion, as long as I'm carrying around a binder of sheet music (which I've been doing all along) every time my uke leaves the house with me, I'm not 100% comfortable with the "musician" label. Three years into my uke playing journey, I'm only now beginning to be able to do this.



Definitely a culturally defining question. In some places it is "what do you do" and in others "who are your people".

My position is that I am not a (noun). I am someone who (verb). I do all sorts of things but they don't define me.



The cultural aspect is a big part of this question, particularly for me - culture meaning not just one's region but one's social circle. I grew up in Southern California and since my teens, my circle of friends has included a number of extremely talented, often professional musicians who play at skill levels that I'll never expect to achieve in my lifetime - folks who have been playing, consistently, since they were maybe 7 or 8 years old. Even though I've played something or another on and off since I was 7 as well, I've never been dedicated to it and never done it well until I returned to uke at 44 years old! Which makes it difficult for me to classify myself as one of their people :)

And maybe "what defines you" is the critical question here. Is it ukulele specifically, or music in a more general sense? For me, the latter.


Sounds like a variation of the old "mom, am I pretty" saga. Sometimes people doubt it no matter what mom said. A uke is a musical instrument which is played by a "musician." No prerequisite that you be a "great" musician, or even a "good one."
The two are not mutually exclusive. I think less of myself as a "fraud" because a uke is my instrumnt than of the other musician is a "snob." My two cents.

It's almost as if culturally, we tend to associate virtuosity and/or acclaim with certain terms - musician, artist, writer perhaps - whereas other terms don't necessarily imply skill level. Runner, yogi, hiker, fisherman, waitress, teacher, you name it.


A musician in my mind is someone who is knowledgeable and skillful in musicianship. I'm not there yet, so for now I think of myself as a person having fun playing the ukulele. I guess that makes me a ukulele player, but even that feels like a stretch at this point.

There have been a lot of responses here implying the "I'm not there yet" belief. For the first couple years that I was playing, I definitely put myself into that category. Now that's starting to change :)

drbekken
09-09-2012, 07:24 AM
I am a musician. Pure and simple. It does not matter in any way whatsoever what instrument you play. If you play, you are a musician. Then there is always the discussion of whether you are a professional or not...which is not really interesting. 'Good' vs 'bad' is another. The main thing is that you play an instrument. Be proud of what you play!

Plainsong
09-09-2012, 09:44 AM
I am a wanna be musician that plays ukulele . I have a serious hangup about my singing which makes me not think I couldn't ever be a musician... keeps me away from uke gatherings and lessons...very few people have heard me sing or play...sigh...its still fun and that mmatters most to me.

Yeah I gotta agree with what Janeray said, what does singing have to do with musicianship? Voice is one instrument of many. I'm classically trained and all that. Today, my husband was recording the bass line to a song we're working on with Joey. I had to sing the song so that he didn't get lost. This song is in chest voice, of which I know nothing. I messed up, I laughed, my intonation went South... And ya know what? We kept going. :)

Not everything is going to be performance gold standard. Things will go wrong. It's ok. I guess I just mean that you shouldn't be afraid to jam with people just because you might mess up. Also, what drbekken said. Don't be afraid to be a musician. :D

janeray1940
09-09-2012, 09:53 AM
Don't be afraid to be a musician. :D

I think I need to get that printed up on a sticker for my case. And while I'm at it, hand one out to every ukulele player I know!

ksiegel
09-09-2012, 10:25 AM
Part of what got me to pondering this is the implication that, as a "ukulele player," one eats, breathes, sleeps ukulele in a one-dimensional way, whereas to me, "musician" seems to have less of this sort of cult status attached to it. Or am I wrong - are guitarists expected to love everything guitar, and only guitar? What about drummers? Flautists??

Although I love playing ukulele, I don't love it just for the sake of being ukulele. I don't love, say, Amanda Palmer or Danielle Ate the Sandwich just because they play ukuleles - in fact, I don't understand either of them at all. I don't love the idea of ukulele festivals where eight different groups perform eight different renditions of "I'm Yours." I don't love the idea of being in a ukulele workshop just for the sake of it being a ukulele workshop.

And people seem really shocked to hear this but it's true. When I listen to music, I don't seek out ukulele music per se. I do often find myself hearing a song and thinking how it would sound as a uke instrumental... but that's because it's a good song to begin with, and not a "ukulele song."

So, yeah, there you have it. I play music :)

Thanks for listening to the rambling here, and please keep the responses coming!

This makes much sense to me. I started playing ukulele, fortuitously, because a) I have great difficulty and pain playing the guitar after an arm injury, and b) my late father-in-law gave me his Old Harmony that he hadn't played in over 30 years. [I'd say "no strings attached", but they were, and I tuned it by ear, and played it, and was suddenly very, very happy].

I don't hunt down music played solely on the ukulele - I pretty much started out playing - and continue to to play - the same music I used to play on guitar and banjo. However, my horizons have broadened with this instrument, and I'm playing things I never would have thought I had the ability to play on guitar. And understanding what I'm doing better than I understood what I was doing on guitar.

So what do I play on the Uke?


Whatever I can coax out of it.



-Kurt

ksiegel
09-09-2012, 10:32 AM
I am a wanna be musician that plays ukulele . I have a serious hangup about my singing which makes me not think I couldn't ever be a musician... keeps me away from uke gatherings and lessons...very few people have heard me sing or play...sigh...its still fun and that mmatters most to me.

Carrie sings just fine. Really.

And there are things she plays that I cannot even fathom.

She's a musician who doesn't believe she's a musician. But I believe she is.



-Kurt

cantsing
09-09-2012, 11:04 AM
When I read the first post, I thought, "Maybe someday I'll think of myself as ukulele player, but I will never be a musician."

After following this thread for a while, I'm starting to reconsider. Thanks to all for your thoughtful comments.

pulelehua
09-09-2012, 11:52 AM
I think there's this sense among some people, maybe even many people, that in the endless jog which is learning music, there is some chalky line scrawled upon some pavement far in the distance, upon which is etched the word "musician". And that, after learning that last critical thing: that Db is, in fact, C# (usually); or that if you take that idea up three frets, it will work in the new key; or that if you relax your thumb a bit more, the fan strum is actually humanly possible, then(!) at last you will cross that imaginary line, where some heretofore unseen official will hand you your diploma, wrapped neatly with a little gold ribbon, teach you the secret handshake, and you will be welcomed into the family of musicians with open arms.

It ain't like that. There is no there there. To steal, music is a journey, not a destination.

Identity is about what you want to be, and having the confidence to be it.

ukegirl
09-09-2012, 12:45 PM
I consider myself a musician....I do get paid on occasion (tho not a ton) to play my Uke in a band for the public...that makes me a professional musician who"s instrument is the uke...I do take a bit a garbage from musicians in the other band I play in, which focuses on bluegrass, and they look down their nose a bit at the Uke...except that a couple of them have also discovered the joys of our little instrument and now they will actually talk to me in polite company about my Ukes and Uke music....that said, thanks to those who went before us, esp. folks who fought the good fight like May Singhi Breen, I am a proud, Ukulele playing, serious musician with no shame when I walk into a gig with my diminutive little case and pull out my Uke...

kaizersoza
09-09-2012, 01:08 PM
i consider myself a musician, the thing is i am still learning and will probably still be learning for the rest of my life, i believe that you are a musician if you are prepared to give time and dedication to practice even when sometimes you just don't feel like it, i believe you are a musician whether you play privately or publicly, i am also a ukulele player, a tin whisle player and melodica player, when i first started playing i used to love everything ukulele, but as time has passed i am a lot more selective with what i read

ScooterD35
09-09-2012, 02:06 PM
In his excellent book "Zen Guitar" Philip Toshio Sudo explains the following:

"Your purposes why you picked guitar could be anything, but in the "Dojo", we all are here with same purpose.

We are here to create a sound."

The same applies, of course, to ukulele and I highly recommend the book (and path) to anyone that plays any instrument.




Scooter

janeray1940
09-09-2012, 04:49 PM
This makes much sense to me. I started playing ukulele, fortuitously, because a) I have great difficulty and pain playing the guitar after an arm injury, and b) my late father-in-law gave me his Old Harmony that he hadn't played in over 30 years. [I'd say "no strings attached", but they were, and I tuned it by ear, and played it, and was suddenly very, very happy]...

I don't hunt down music played solely on the ukulele...

So what do I play on the Uke?

Whatever I can coax out of it.


-Kurt

I started playing ukulele as a little kid because I was too small for a guitar. I came back to it as an adult because guitars still seem enormous to me (yeah, yeah, no need for anybody to link to the little Korean kids playing classical guitar (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSedE5sU3uc), I'm aware it can be done). It was completely coincidental that it happened at the same time as Jake going viral, and the explosion of geeky girls with glasses who play ukulele, and the whole hipster thing - I was actually surprised to find that it was trendy at all. It never was ukulele for ukulele's sake - it was an instrument with a sound and size that appealed to me, that I already had some familiarity with. If I didn't live in a 250-square-foot apartment, I might just as likely have taken up piano again :)


When I read the first post, I thought, "Maybe someday I'll think of myself as ukulele player, but I will never be a musician."

After following this thread for a while, I'm starting to reconsider. Thanks to all for your thoughtful comments.

I'm hoping this thread makes several people reconsider. I'm more and more convinced that we are all musicians here.


I think there's this sense among some people, maybe even many people, that in the endless jog which is learning music, there is some chalky line scrawled upon some pavement far in the distance, upon which is etched the word "musician"...

It ain't like that. There is no there there. To steal, music is a journey, not a destination.

Identity is about what you want to be, and having the confidence to be it.

Very true. Sometimes I'm certain that it all comes down to confidence, and skill is sometimes secondary.


I consider myself a musician....I do get paid on occasion (tho not a ton) to play my Uke in a band for the public...that makes me a professional musician who"s instrument is the uke...I do take a bit a garbage from musicians in the other band I play in, which focuses on bluegrass, and they look down their nose a bit at the Uke...except that a couple of them have also discovered the joys of our little instrument and now they will actually talk to me in polite company about my Ukes and Uke music....that said, thanks to those who went before us, esp. folks who fought the good fight like May Singhi Breen, I am a proud, Ukulele playing, serious musician with no shame when I walk into a gig with my diminutive little case and pull out my Uke...

Interesting that I haven't run into the whole snobbery-toward-the-uke thing, probably because there are several really skilled ukulele players (well, multi-instrumentalists really) among the musicians I spend time with. I did take a bit of ribbing from a few musician friends when I first started playing, but I think it was more aimed toward my long history of abandoning everything that I couldn't immediately become good at, rather than at my instrument of choice.


as time has passed i am a lot more selective

Same here. Because time spent reading about/watching videos of/etc. uke stuff is time that could be spent actually playing!



"Your purposes why you picked guitar could be anything, but in the "Dojo", we all are here with same purpose.

We are here to create a sound."


Really nice. Thanks for that, I plan to see if my library has this because it sounds like a good read.

Aldrine Guerrero
09-09-2012, 06:45 PM
This ones easy, the answer is (obviously) cake.

Hippie Dribble
09-09-2012, 07:00 PM
This ones easy, the answer is (obviously) cake.

mmmm....a cream filled one with passionfruit icing :drool:

mds725
09-09-2012, 07:50 PM
Great thread! A lot of this discussion reminds me of the scene in The Wizard of Oz where the Wizard tells each them that they actually already have the thing they think they're missing, they just don't have any external acknowledgement of it. Several posts have suggested a tension between how the poster sees himself or herself and how the poster thinks he or she might be seen by others. I have a former friend who went through the Iowa Writing Workshop, which is one of the more prestigious graduate writing programs in the US. She has repeatedly to acknowledge that I am a writer, even though I'm 275 pages into a novel I've been writing for the last few years and even had a story published in a local paper, because she "has one thing I haven't got" (to quote the Wizard) -- two years in a prestigious graduate writing program. I consider myself a writer because I write. Am I as successful as John Grisham or Stephen King? No, but when I sit at the computer to work on my novel, I like to think my experience of the process is similar to theirs, even if what I write isn't as good as what they write and the stakes aren't as high for me because my livelihood doesn't depend on a successful outcome to that process.

I played the clarinet from third grade through high school, and I was good enough to become the concertmaster of my high school concert band (first clarinet, first chair) my senior year. I stopped playing in college (there was no concert band, and the two or three clarinetists the orchestra needed were music majors who were much better clarinetists than I was) and made music only sporadically until I bought my first ukulele in October 2009. (Janeray - like you, I had no idea when I bought my first uke who Jake Shimabukuro was or that I was surfing an oncoming wave of ukulele popularity. The timing was coincidental. In fact, I went into the shop where I bought my first uke to look at mandolins!) I consider myself an ukulele player because I play an ukulele. But I also think of myself as a musician because I think my process is similar, even if my talent level and the outcome of that process are very different and obviously not anywhere near as high as the outcome of those who are professional musicians. I perform publicly, which requires me to not only learn the pieces being performed but also to inject an interpretation into those pieces when I play. I write music, which requires me to search for aesthetically pleasing chord progressions and melodies that work together. And I study the music I play and the music I listen to and, frankly, I listen to music differently now that I'm playing it again. So I think of myself as both an ukulele player and a musician, even if I don't have CDs or appearances on late night shows or payment for playing or any other of the things we think of as external acknowledgement of "who I am."

ricdoug
09-09-2012, 08:08 PM
This ones easy, the answer is (obviously) cake.

Every member of this forum, registered or not, is a musician. There are awesome musicians like Aldrine Guerrero, Ryan Esaki, Aaron Nakamura and Danyo Cummings (part of the foundation of the Ukulele Undeground) who selflessly lead the march. If you play, sing or sing along, you are definately a musician. If you are striving to learn or are just learning, you are also a musician.

I'm a professional musician. Vocals are my main instrument. I play ukulele, guitar and drums along with my vocals. While I seldom play for pay, I help charities like the Johnathon Tarr Foundation http://jonathantarrfoundation.org/ and Encinitas Kiwanis (child literacy, food, blood and health care) http://encinitaskiwanis.org/

I recently spent countless hours with a friend and promoter of the San Diego Ukulele Festival educating him on the phenominom of the Ukulele Underground and Aldrine Guerrero. I've been doing this for the past several years and now he understands. The UU rocks! Ric

janeray1940
09-09-2012, 08:14 PM
Great thread! A lot of this discussion reminds me of the scene in The Wizard of Oz where the Wizard tells each them that they actually already have the thing they think they're missing, they just don't have any external acknowledgement of it.

Funny that you should think of that movie - this evening I've been working on a solo uke arrangement of "If I Only Had a Brain" :)


I like to think my experience of the process is similar to theirs, even if what I write isn't as good as what they write and the stakes aren't as high for me because my livelihood doesn't depend on a successful outcome to that process.

When it comes to music, I think the turning point for me may have been when I started working out my own arrangements. When I was just playing what someone else had written, I just couldn't take myself seriously as a "musician" because I didn't believe my process was that of a musician - mainly because I didn't fully grasp the process itself... if that makes sense.


I bought my first ukulele in October 2009. (Janeray - like you, I had no idea when I bought my first uke who Jake Shimabukuro was or that I was surfing an oncoming wave of ukulele popularity. The timing was coincidental. In fact, I went into the shop where I bought my first uke to look at mandolins!)


You were exactly one month ahead of me. And I had been drawn to mandolin as well, but decided to stick with something more familiar. At McCabe's the non-uke instructors are always joking around with me about when I'm going to take on guitar or banjo, and I always respond by saying if I did learn a second instrument, I think it would be mandolin!


And I study the music I play and the music I listen to and, frankly, I listen to music differently now that I play it as well.


I do too; one thing I've noticed a lot since I started playing is that sometimes I tune out the lyrics to a song entirely and just try to figure out what's going on in the melody. It's moments like that when I start feeling comfortable with the "musician" label.

ChrisRCovington
09-10-2012, 05:54 AM
I don't understand music theory, I can't read music anymore (I could when I played in band in middle school), I can't really sing or play well. I certainly can't compose anything and I can barely read tabs. I don't know my scales and most of the techniques that have fancy names I can't do. That being said I love playing the ukulele. It brings joy to me and I've even been told by a few people I sound pretty good when I play. I can play a few songs on tin whistles, ocarinas, guitars, and even a harmonica but I don't have much if any passion for those instruments. I don't care what people call me and I don't give it much thought about what I'd call myself as long as I can keep strumming on my ukuleles :)

Over in the luthier lounge a few months ago I remember reading people asking if they were luthiers or ukulele builders and I think there was similar debate/conversation. At the end of the day if what you do makes you happy, who cares?

Wooville
09-10-2012, 06:08 AM
For the longest time, I never thought of myself as a musician. Having started playing music at the tender age of 42, I thought I'd be a beginner forever. With dedication and practice, I slowly moved along...first playing upright bass, then guitar, and then anything I could lay my hands on, dobro, clawhammer banjo, harmonica, and finally ukulele. I've been lucky enough to have good pickers around me and when one of them called me a musician, I was shocked! I have done a few paying gigs in the past and now I've had (1) paying gig on the Uke with a friends wedding and now another wedding next year. Am I a professional...naw, I don't think so, but i'm having alot of fun with all of it.

peewee
09-10-2012, 06:19 AM
At a 6 year old's birthday party yesterday, his grandma, who is not known for tactfulness, asked me why I didn't play an instrument that was "you know more serious like an orchestral instrument".
I pointed out that she doesn't play any instrument at all, and I jokingly told her I was already bored of playing triangle.

The truth is there would never be dads hacking around on bassoons at a birthday party.

I think you're a musician if you approach playing like a musician. For me that's when I go beyond playing what's on the sheet like a trained monkey and start experimenting and listening.

I'm reminded of non-svelte Baseball Player John Kruk who said something like "Lady, I'm not an athlete, I'm a ball player"

PoiDog
09-10-2012, 06:22 AM
Aloha all... something I've been pondering a bit as of lately that I thought I'd put out there: Do you think of yourself as a ukulele player, or as a musician who just happens to play ukulele? Or perhaps both?

Interesting question.

I suppose given the fact that (like you) I came to playing instruments very late in the game and am (unlike you) still in the early part of my learning curve, I would really feel awkward self-applying the term "musician". I mean, I have a hard time even calling myself a player, although I suppose that fits in the broader definition.

To me, a musician is someone who not only understands more than the most basic concepts of music, but one who can pick up an instrument and do a passable copy of a piece they just heard because they recognize how everything fits, and have the comfort to improvise without first trying to orient themselves according to notes & so forth.

In any case, I think being a player is more than adequate.

Newportlocal
09-10-2012, 07:12 AM
A ukulele player. I used to play a lot of harmonica and was around a lot of professional musicians and Hollywood types in life. I never wanted the lifestyle. That being said perhaps one day I will consider myself a musician on the ukulele. For myself it would be a term I use for proficiency. Right now I am just playing for fun. Musicians are guys like Jake,Sungha,Aldrine,etc. that have achieved a proficiency level and can certainly be considered musicians. I have become very proficient in the past with work,sportfishing,pool,etc. Remaining teachable,humble,surrounding yourself with the right people I believe a high level of proficiency is possible in anything you love. The important thing is to love what you are doing. Outliers has a 10,000 hour rule for proficiency. I think if you do what you love and it makes you happy you will get there.

janeray1940
09-10-2012, 07:37 AM
At the end of the day if what you do makes you happy, who cares?

Of course, this is the right answer to the more general question. Maybe I didn't articulate it all that well, but what I was really getting at was the self-identification with music in general, or ukulele specifically, although I'm actually equally interested in the more general "musician v. player" direction this thread has gone in.

Unlike a lot of folks on this forum, I am fortunate to know a lot of ukulele players. A LOT! And one thing I've noticed is that there are... subcultures? within the greater "ukulele player" culture itself. A lot of folks I know are open to anything and everything ukulele - advanced players who go to newbie workshops *just* because they will be around other ukulele players, the folks who go to ukulele camps/retreats/festivals, the folks who can equally see the value in John King *and* Amanda Palmer. While I admire this all-embracing attitude, that's not me. And sometimes it seems like when it comes to the uke, I'm a bit of an oddity in this respect. Additionally there seems to be an undercurrent of self-deprecation among (many, not all) uke players that I know - it's as if they themselves can't take themselves seriously as musicians, and thus limit themselves to all-uke, all-the-time, all the while emphasizing that they aren't very good. These are observations, not accusations.


With dedication and practice, I slowly moved along...first playing upright bass, then guitar, and then anything I could lay my hands on, dobro, clawhammer banjo, harmonica, and finally ukulele. I've been lucky enough to have good pickers around me and when one of them called me a musician, I was shocked! I have done a few paying gigs in the past and now I've had (1) paying gig on the Uke with a friends wedding and now another wedding next year. Am I a professional...naw, I don't think so, but i'm having alot of fun with all of it.

Whoa, impressive! You most certainly are a musician. I've been pondering whether or not I should check out other instruments at this point as well; this inspires me.


At a 6 year old's birthday party yesterday, his grandma, who is not known for tactfulness, asked me why I didn't play an instrument that was "you know more serious like an orchestral instrument".
I pointed out that she doesn't play any instrument at all, and I jokingly told her I was already bored of playing triangle.

The truth is there would never be dads hacking around on bassoons at a birthday party.

I think you're a musician if you approach playing like a musician. For me that's when I go beyond playing what's on the sheet like a trained monkey and start experimenting and listening.

I'm reminded of non-svelte Baseball Player John Kruk who said something like "Lady, I'm not an athlete, I'm a ball player"

Said it before and saying it again - I've learned more "serious" theory from 3 years of playing ukulele than I did in an entire childhood and adolescence of voice and piano. It's a serious instrument. And hey, a serious orchestral instrument, when you play in a ukulele orchestra :)

And yeah, the trained-monkey thing - now that I'm finally, finally breaking that barrier, I'm starting to self-identify as a musician. Who plays ukulele. But who listens to everything. Well... except what's on the radio!


I mean, I have a hard time even calling myself a player, although I suppose that fits in the broader definition...

In any case, I think being a player is more than adequate.

You play an instrument, you're a player. You play music on that instrument, you're a musician. At least that seems to be the general takeaway here.


Outliers has a 10,000 hour rule for proficiency. I think if you do what you love and it makes you happy you will get there.

One of the guys I play with has brought up the 10,000 hour rule a few times. I think we've concluded that I've put in roughly 3000 hours at this point. While I'm not in favor of "rules" in general, I've set a bit of a freeform goal of 1000 hours a year, which means hopefully I will live long enough to see proficiency!

PoiDog
09-10-2012, 08:08 AM
You play an instrument, you're a player. You play music on that instrument, you're a musician. At least that seems to be the general takeaway here.



Well, I would never dare question the collective conclusion of a group :)

Still, I'm just quite happy to be a guy who plays the uke and (to a lesser extent) guitar. When I play I feel happy. When I play well, others are happy.

That works for me.

janeray1940
09-10-2012, 08:12 AM
When I play I feel happy. When I play well, others are happy.


I'd totally agree with that, but to the second statement I'd have to add, "...except my cat. Who is only happy when I'm *not* playing!" :)

GaryC1968
09-10-2012, 08:18 AM
I'm a strummer and a singer (don't do either with great proficiency), so that would make me a stringer. Since I just picked up playing the ukulele a couple of years ago, I really hesitate to refer to myself as a musician.

Garydavkra
09-10-2012, 08:44 AM
I don't really consider myself either one. I've only been playing the ukulele for four months now and never really thought about it. I also play guitar and have done so for years but, again, I never really thought about it. Perhaps it's because, it's an interest or hobby for me. I love music in general, however.

On another note, I am a professional artist. Some people call themselves painters but, I call myself an artist because, I work in more than one medium, I teach, sell my work, etc. So, I suppose I would lean more towards musician since, I play guitar and ukulele. I have also written my own music. Musician seems to cover a broader spectrum to me just like artist covers a broader spectrum.

janeray1940
09-10-2012, 08:50 AM
Musician seems to cover a broader spectrum to me just like artist covers a broader spectrum.

That makes a lot of sense, and also speaks to the broader/music aspect rather than the narrower/uke-only-and-all-things-uke aspect that I've been referring to.

MisterRios
09-10-2012, 09:59 AM
A ukulele player. I used to play a lot of harmonica and was around a lot of professional musicians and Hollywood types in life. I never wanted the lifestyle. That being said perhaps one day I will consider myself a musician on the ukulele. For myself it would be a term I use for proficiency. Right now I am just playing for fun. Musicians are guys like Jake,Sungha,Aldrine,etc. that have achieved a proficiency level and can certainly be considered musicians. I have become very proficient in the past with work,sportfishing,pool,etc. Remaining teachable,humble,surrounding yourself with the right people I believe a high level of proficiency is possible in anything you love. The important thing is to love what you are doing. Outliers has a 10,000 hour rule for proficiency. I think if you do what you love and it makes you happy you will get there.

To compare this with baking- I've baked a lot. I've been pretty much doing it off and on in spurts for the last 14 or so years. In the last three or so years I've baked a 2kg sourdough loaf basically every week (except after the baby was born)- I can tell you what I did wrong and what I did right on every loaf. I can even look at other loaves and tell you about them. I think if you include the rise time of the bread (including when I was asleep) then maybe I've hit 10,000 hours. But you've hit the nail on the head. Do what you love and what makes you happy. I bake because I love eating my bread, even though you can get amazing bread here. I love transforming flour, water, water and salt into this hot crusty round.

In the same way, I love plucking the strings and hearing something that I've summoned into being. Even if it is just in tuning. I love the sound, and I love the action of creating. Maybe for me I think that if I become a musician, it will mean that the creation will become work. Much like if I become a professional baker I will lose the love for the act of creation. Maybe I'm afraid that if I one day become an actual musician, I will stop loving what I do. So maybe for me, I'd want to remain ukulele player for as long as I can.

The problem, though, is that I love to learn, and I'm not only learning as much as I can about the uke, I'm also delving into music theory. Maybe I should spend more time practicing instead!

janeray1940
09-10-2012, 10:04 AM
Maybe I'm afraid that if I one day become an actual musician, I will stop loving what I do. So maybe for me, I'd want to remain ukulele player for as long as I can.

The thing I've learned over the years is that the minute remuneration becomes a part of the equation, I stop loving what I do. Without fail. So the key for me is to... never accept money for playing ukulele! I don't think that's going to be a problem :)


The problem, though, is that I love to learn, and I'm not only learning as much as I can about the uke, I'm also delving into music theory. Maybe I should spend more time practicing instead!

Hmmm... I dunno MisterRios, you're delving into music theory? I'd say you're well on your way to being a musician...

weerpool
09-10-2012, 10:23 AM
we should plan a UU SOCAL meet-up jam. that would be awesome. we're all msuicians by the way :)

janeray1940
09-10-2012, 10:33 AM
we should plan a UU SOCAL meet-up jam. that would be awesome. we're all msuicians by the way :)

Hey weerpool, tried to PM you with some SoCal uke happenings but your mailbox is full. Not sure where in SoCal you might be, but if you're anywhere near the west side of Los Angeles, there are a few things going on that I can tell you about.

UncleElvis
09-10-2012, 11:17 AM
I now occasionally make a living at this and, while I understand where you're coming from, I'm LOVING that I can pay the bills by playing the ukulele!

bombbuddy
09-10-2012, 11:24 AM
I consider my self a musician because i don't just play the ukulele. I also play the guitar, harmonica, and any percussion instrument that i can get my hands on. :)

fitncrafty
09-10-2012, 11:24 AM
I hate to hijack a thread. However thanks to you all for your feedback.. I am very shy about my playing and singing and glad to know that all is not lost because I can't sing well..
I am loving this thread and getting a lot out of it.
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and insights!

janeray1940
09-10-2012, 11:28 AM
pay the bills by playing the ukulele!

If I could consistently do that, I'd probably love it as well. Most of the "professional" musicians I know can't really make that claim, so good for you!

Newportlocal
09-10-2012, 11:39 AM
A SoCal meet up would be fun.
As mentioned above about music theory I think that it is a necessary part, and helps a lot.
The professional musicians comment was true. Most (not all) the professional musicians i know aren't making much. They have real jobs and gig on weekends.There are however exceptions and I am always happy for anyone's success.
I think we all enjoy music or we wouldn't be here. Hope I learn steel drums at some point just for kicks.

janeray1940
09-10-2012, 11:49 AM
Most (not all) the professional musicians i know aren't making much.

Same here. Most of the ones I know make their living by teaching, or else have day jobs that are entirely unrelated to music.

wendellfiddler
09-10-2012, 12:47 PM
I think this is a really good question that reaches far into the depths of people's identities and communities. Being a person who has been a part of many musical communities, some of which are instrument focused and some of which are musical style focused, I've seen a lot of attitudes go by me. For example: Banjo player, bluegrass xxx, chromatic harmonica xxx, etc, old-timey xxxx, jazz xxxx, and Ukulele xxx. Some people relate to themselves as musicians playing different instruments and styles (like me), others identify with the community (sometimes I do). But I will say that when it comes to playing music in a group or forming a band, I prefer to play with musicians who are playing on a variety of instruments rather than folks who are mainly identified with one instrument as a community or a specific style. I find the former to be a bit more flexible & usually better educated in music. Not that there's anything wrong with identifying with a community or an instrument. I'm a fan of Lyle Ritz and Toots Thielemans (the great chromatic harmonica player) - both of whom are musical giants on their respective instruments - are multi-instrumentalists as well - and have made successful "forays" into a wide variety of musical styles with a wide variety of band mates. My idea of life well-spent.

Doug Tanner

Newportlocal
09-10-2012, 02:29 PM
I agree with a lot of your views. Sonny Boy Williamson is my muse for harmonica.

joeybug
09-10-2012, 09:11 PM
I posed this question to another community I am apart of and the general consensus was split:

A) You're a musician/artist/writer professionally when you reach the level that people are paying you for your goods, that you have reached recognition in your field and that you make some money - be that enough to live off or not.

And

B) You're a musician/artist/writer professional when you make enough from your chosen path to live off, otherwise it's just a hobby..

Basically, I agree more with A. That may be because I do consider myself a professional writer (prefer that term over author though it doesn't denote as much professional as I'd like) because my books are published and people but them. However, I make NO WHERE near enough to call it my main paying job. Bringing it back to the Ukulele, I still firmly believe that we are musicians because we make music. Some of us are better than others, and some of us are more skilled in many areas of music (other instruments, music theory, song writing etc) but that doesn't change the fact that the majority of us here (I would say all, but you always get one!) buy and play our Ukuleles with one main aim - to make music, and have fun doing it. Therefore, we are musicians, some of us are able to put "professional" before that and others not, but it does not take away from the fact that we are MUSICIANS and anything less does us no favours in how we are perceived by others.

I actually experienced my first time of "Ukuleles aren't real instruments" when I posted this question elsewhere, and for those people calling ourselves anything but musicians gives fuel to their fire, at least in my opinion it does.

Really interesting thread, janeray, glad to have been a part of this discussion!

Skrik
09-10-2012, 09:16 PM
I think of myself as me. I can't control what other people say.

wendellfiddler
09-11-2012, 05:18 AM
Hmm - Van Gogh never sold a painting in his lifetime, Wes Montgomery didn't "make it" until he was in his mid thirties or so (if I remember right) and until then worked full time at the post office. Given the current climate in terms of paid gigs for musicians, being a "professional" musician seems like a rather difficult road to hoe - kind of like the odds of a college basketball player making it to the NBA, which is about 1 in 400 (there are approximately 20,000 NCAA Bball players and maybe 50 a year make the NBA). I know someone who teaches at Berklee who estimates that maybe 2 out of 200 students might make a decent living performing - of course there is teaching, etc. If making a living at it is the standard for being a musician there sure won't be very many of us in the future. Been to a wedding where they hire a DJ lately?

PoiDog
09-11-2012, 05:29 AM
It's interesting to see how often the concept of getting paid is what defines whether someone is a musician or not. Myself, I couldn't agree less. There are plenty of people in the music business who make a lot of money that I (personally) wouldn't consider anything near a musician.

For me, it's about proficiency, ability, talent, and depth of understanding. And since I really have none of those qualities when it comes to music, I would never consider myself a musician. However, since I can pick up an 'ukulele or guitar and strum out some songs, I do consider myself a player. If it were a Venn diagram, then player would be the much larger circle, with musician as a smaller one within it.

Ultimately, though, the question seems more about one's own perception and personal beliefs than any sort of objective application of the term. After all, if someone self-labels themself a musician, who am I to disagree with them, even if I do, in fact, disagree?

Coconut Willie
09-11-2012, 05:29 AM
Just a ukulele player!

janeray1940
09-11-2012, 05:33 AM
I posed this question to another community I am apart of and the general consensus was split:

A) You're a musician/artist/writer professionally when you reach the level that people are paying you for your goods, that you have reached recognition in your field and that you make some money - be that enough to live off or not.

And

B) You're a musician/artist/writer professional when you make enough from your chosen path to live off, otherwise it's just a hobby..


Both definitions address the idea of "profession," which I believe has come to imply remunerative employment... that's a whole other aspect to this discussion, I think. If you actually look at dictionary definitions of "profession" though, this isn't what it originally meant - the emphasis was on higher education with an objective of serving others, and originally applied to medicine, law, and clergy. Interesting to look at it from the higher education perspective - among the arts/music/writing types I know, many of the best are self-taught and have never set foot in a university of any kind. And many of those that did never finished their degrees.


Given the current climate in terms of paid gigs for musicians, being a "professional" musician seems like a rather difficult road to hoe

Sad but true in our cheaper-is-always-better world.

For the purposes of this discussion, I'm not sure that the word "professional" adds much because by either definition - meaning a postgrad music degree, or getting paid to do it - it only applies to a fortunate few of us here. I wasn't thinking about either - education or money - when I began this thread, and I tend to think that neither a piece of paper on the wall nor a paycheck in the bank makes one a better "musician."

Chris Tarman
09-11-2012, 05:49 AM
I know what you mean about feeling like a fraud when referring to yourself as a musician.... I'm a bass player! When I was in high school, a guitarist friend, a piano player friend and I entered the school talent contest (with a lounge-jazz rendition of "Winnie the Pooh", sort of in the style of Bill Murray's lounge act character... All just to be silly). We had billed ourselves as "Three Guys Who Are Musicians", which I came up with. Unbeknownst to me, my friends INSTANTLY changed it to "Two Guys Who Are Musicians And A Guy With A Bass" (a MUCH funnier name), and that's how we were introduced as the curtain opened. And that's been my legacy for my 32 years as a bassist. I'm okay with that!
I DO consider myself a musician, and I think I'm a pretty good (if totally untrained) bassist.
As far as "professional" goes, I like to call myself a "part-time professional" musician. I almost always get paid when I play bass, but don't play nearly often enough to make it my actual job. I've yet to have a real paid ukulele gig, although I've played it at a couple of paid bass gigs.
I've dabbled with acoustic guitar for nearly as long as I've played bass, but not really at all since I picked up the uke. Ukulele is more fun for me, and there was never much chance that I was ever going to be all that good on guitar... Plus, vintage Martin ukuleles are more affordable than vintage Martin guitars!

Tootler
09-11-2012, 06:00 AM
If you aspire to a reasonable level of proficiency either playing an instrument or singing, then you are a musician. At least that's how I see it.

More specifically, I consider myself an amateur musician as I perform my music mostly without pay, though I do belong to a folk band who get a few paid gigs a year. Other groups I belong to are strictly amateur, though. They do give concerts but the money raised is either used to help band or choir finances or is for charity.

Whether giving performances is what makes you a musician or not I don't know, but I am certainly clear that you don't have to be a professional and someone who belongs to an organised amateur musical group is quite legitimately described as a musician.

If your ukulele group showcases itself a couple of times a year in a local shopping centre or you perform either solo or with a group in a local village hall concert, then during the time you are performing at least, you are a musician even if you don't see yourself as one for the rest of the time.

Being paid or not has nothing to do with it, in my opinion. It's the fact that you make music that makes you a musician.

pulelehua
09-11-2012, 09:01 AM
I ended up thinking about this thread while at work today. I teach music, which in England is compulsory until the equivalent of American high school. At that point, it becomes an option. The curriculum is very different, and is actually quite broad, so it attracts all sorts. In years past, my predecessors tried to encourage enrolment among students who were going to do well. When I took over, my attitude was, "I'll take anyone who's a musician".

Which I think is an interesting idea, and one I had never questioned. I know who I mean. But it's a sort of metaphysical thing. The boys I don't turn away are the ones who have music in them. In their veins. Somehow, I feel like I can spot them, after having taught them for 2 years.

It's odd, because a 13 year-old boy who has only been playing for a while defies most descriptions in this thread, but I can talk to that boy, and know he's a musician.

(BTW, I teach at a boys school. No sexist bias here. ;) )

SailingUke
09-11-2012, 09:47 AM
I am a musician, and have the bank account to prove it !!

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
09-11-2012, 09:59 AM
Great thread, everyone. So many different, valid approaches to these questions. Lots of food for thought.

When I was younger, I didn't identify as a musician. The funny thing is, I played more music back then. Instead I'd say, "I play drums in (insert name of obscure 90s indie rock band here)." or "I play guitar in (still more obscure 90s indie rock band)."

But in response to the OP, I immediately identified myself as a musician. I don't remember when and how I started to identify myself as a "musician" rather than a "player". Hmm...

janeray1940
09-11-2012, 10:06 AM
Great thread, everyone. So many different, valid approaches to these questions. Lots of food for thought.

When I was younger, I didn't identify as a musician. The funny thing is, I played more music back then. Instead I'd say, "I play drums in (insert name of obscure 90s indie rock band here)." or "I play guitar in (still more obscure 90s indie rock band)."

But in response to the OP, I immediately identified myself as a musician. I don't remember when and how I started to identify myself as a "musician" rather than a "player". Hmm...

Do you play in a band now? My first reaction upon reading this was that when you were younger, you identified with the obscure 90s indie rock scene and emphasized that, but perhaps you don't as much now.

And to reiterate - it's not the player-vs.-musician aspect of this that made me question it in the first place, but the ukulele-player-vs.-musician aspect. Which sort of is similar to the indie-rock-vs.-musician comparison Ralf made, in identifying with the scene rather than musicianship in general.

pulelehua
09-11-2012, 10:40 AM
I don't actually think of myself as a ukulele player, so much as a ukulele advocate. Which is a different thing. Different outlook. Different goals.

janeray1940
09-11-2012, 10:53 AM
I don't actually think of myself as a ukulele player, so much as a ukulele advocate. Which is a different thing. Different outlook. Different goals.

This puts an interesting spin on things! Ukulele advocate... I like that. I have a friend who we call the Ukulele Ambassador, because she makes a point of talking uke with anybody who will listen.

But then let me ask... as a ukulele advocate, does this make you only interested in musical things as they relate to ukulele? For instance, would you buy a CD just because a ukulele was being played on it? Or attend an event just because ukulele players would be there?

pulelehua
09-11-2012, 11:14 AM
Fortunately, I have a 2 year-old and a 4 year-old, so buying things not related to children and attending events not related to children pretty much doesn't happen. Hence my role of ukulele advocate is left to occupy the space at work, some bandwidth online, and what time I have to play and compose in the evenings. When I remember to bring my ukulele home.

I suppose my role as a ukulele advocate is a long-term mission. Would I buy something just because a ukulele was on it? No. Because, actually, that would undermine my advocacy. Ukuleles are capable of beautiful, wonderful, complicated, sublime things. Buying a CD where ukuleles are bounced off the lid of a piano for musical effect probably wouldn't jive with my philosophy. I don't like seeing ukuleles denegrated.

All that being said, I'm not all that far down this road, and there are people here who have done much more for the ukulele than me and my few, humble efforts.

(Actually, the piano lid thing might catch my interest. A CD with all of Slayer's hits played on ukulele is more the sort of thing I loathe.)

janeray1940
09-11-2012, 11:41 AM
Fortunately, I have a 2 year-old and a 4 year-old, so buying things not related to children and attending events not related to children pretty much doesn't happen. Hence my role of ukulele advocate is left to occupy the space at work, some bandwidth online, and what time I have to play and compose in the evenings. When I remember to bring my ukulele home.

I suppose my role as a ukulele advocate is a long-term mission. Would I buy something just because a ukulele was on it? No. Because, actually, that would undermine my advocacy. Ukuleles are capable of beautiful, wonderful, complicated, sublime things. Buying a CD where ukuleles are bounced off the lid of a piano for musical effect probably wouldn't jive with my philosophy. I don't like seeing ukuleles denegrated.

All that being said, I'm not all that far down this road, and there are people here who have done much more for the ukulele than me and my few, humble efforts.

(Actually, the piano lid thing might catch my interest. A CD with all of Slayer's hits played on ukulele is more the sort of thing I loathe.)

Well, give those kids a couple of ukuleles! :)

I hear you, and agree completely; that's the kind of thing I would loathe as well. Although I'm not sure that I'd recognize one of Slayer's hits no matter what it was played on...

Newportlocal
09-11-2012, 01:22 PM
[QUOTE=janeray1940;1042802]Well, give those kids a couple of ukuleles! :)

Lol I have always bought sacrificial ukuleles for my kids. 9,7,5,3 years old and then i can play mine. Working very hard to teach them proper respect of them as they are growing older.

wendellfiddler
09-11-2012, 03:18 PM
I know what you mean about feeling like a fraud when referring to yourself as a musician.... I'm a bass player! When I was in high school, a guitarist friend, a piano player friend and I entered the school talent contest (with a lounge-jazz rendition of "Winnie the Pooh", sort of in the style of Bill Murray's lounge act character... All just to be silly). We had billed ourselves as "Three Guys Who Are Musicians", which I came up with. Unbeknownst to me, my friends INSTANTLY changed it to "Two Guys Who Are Musicians And A Guy With A Bass" (a MUCH funnier name), and that's how we were introduced as the curtain opened. And that's been my legacy for my 32 years as a bassist. I'm okay with that!
I DO consider myself a musician, and I think I'm a pretty good (if totally untrained) bassist.
As far as "professional" goes, I like to call myself a "part-time professional" musician. I almost always get paid when I play bass, but don't play nearly often enough to make it my actual job. I've yet to have a real paid ukulele gig, although I've played it at a couple of paid bass gigs.
I've dabbled with acoustic guitar for nearly as long as I've played bass, but not really at all since I picked up the uke. Ukulele is more fun for me, and there was never much chance that I was ever going to be all that good on guitar... Plus, vintage Martin ukuleles are more affordable than vintage Martin guitars!

Oh my gosh, some of the best and most respected musicians I know are bass players. And besides that they're often the ones with the most work and often have skills in the greatest varieties of styles. We lead players LOVE bass players....... It's like the quarterback and the offensive line - without them the guy out there on his own really is on his own ......

Plainsong
09-11-2012, 09:42 PM
Amen! The bass players catch such crap, we must fight for our 4 string brothers and sisters!

My husband plays piano, guitar, and drums, but he prefers the bass and he's great at it. He's also totally untrained, but raised on jazz, he's prepared now to play pretty much anything he wants to play. Even without a lick of training, his ear is better than anyone in any of my ear training classes, and he's very much a musician.

Know who else had no training? Louis Armstrong. Anyone care to say he couldn't play trumpet or wasn't a musician? ;)

mds725
09-11-2012, 09:52 PM
If I meet a single woman I'm interested in, I'll tell her I play the ukulele. I'm afraid that if I tell her I'm a musician she'll think that all I want from her is to sleep on her couch for months at a time while I'm "between gigs."

(I kid my fellow musicians.)

Tootler
09-12-2012, 01:59 AM
Do you play in a band now? My first reaction upon reading this was that when you were younger, you identified with the obscure 90s indie rock scene and emphasized that, but perhaps you don't as much now.

And to reiterate - it's not the player-vs.-musician aspect of this that made me question it in the first place, but the ukulele-player-vs.-musician aspect. Which sort of is similar to the indie-rock-vs.-musician comparison Ralf made, in identifying with the scene rather than musicianship in general.

I see myself as musican because of my wider musical activities. As far as ukulele goes, I am a singer who uses ukulele for accompaniment. My ukulele playing skills are not that great but are sufficient for my purposes for the most part. That's not to say that I don't seek to improve, but I will work on new things as I need them.

savagehenry
09-12-2012, 02:38 AM
I come from a guitar background and I'm not sure why, but I 've always thought of myself as a musician. In my mind,being a "guitar player" or "ukulele player" denotes a fairly proficient player. I have many instruments, the old player of many, master of none addage. I understand that someone who plays ukulele is a ukulele player, but I've always reserved the title of "player" for someone who is very talented on a particular instrument. No logical reasoning, just my gut feeling.

Roselynne
09-12-2012, 04:12 AM
The ukulele may labor under some image issues, but it's a serious musical instrument. So to me, yes, ukulele players are musicians.

Personally, right now I'd have to call myself "neither," since what I do on guitar and ukulele can't really be called playing. Yet.

I was going to call myself a "wannabe." But, on second thought, to me that describes somebody who's got an instrument or two stuffed in the back of a closet. Or who dreams about it, but never gets around to owning an instrument at all.

So I guess I'll wait 'til (at least) a few more months have passed before I try to define myself.

Newportlocal
09-12-2012, 07:07 AM
Actually, I have another way to delineate musician vs ukelele player. No one is offering me a badge to the NAMM convention down the street from me. When I was more in the scene I was asked by people if I wanted to go to it.
Alas, family became my priority, but it would be nice to go see the new ukuleles.

Uke Whisperer
09-12-2012, 07:08 AM
If asked, I would (and have) said: "Well, I retired. Then I decided to become a musician. I play the Ukulele."

Then to answer their next question, I would (and have) said: "Yes, I am as far as I am concerned and that's all that matters to me".

Freeda
09-12-2012, 07:14 AM
If I had to really commit to a label.. (I've been reading this thread with great interest)

it would have to be that I'm a singer who self-accompanies on the uke. I'm a very basic open chord strummer, nothing fancy. And it turns out I'm a decent singer, enough to the point where people comment on my singing not on the instrument as much.

I find this very surprising. In my family my sister was the singer. So it's weird, as I have never thought of myself that way. When I started playing uke, I thought my singing would be secondary to the playing.

Anyone else have a much easier time referring to themselves as a player than a singer?

Rubio MHS
09-12-2012, 07:15 AM
I remember when I got my harp about six years ago. I posted about it on some message board, and one of my friends said he was really getting into the ukulele, that he loved its simplicity, but that he had massive gear envy. Who would have figured that six years later, my harp would be collecting dust, and I'd be playing my ukuleles every day?

I always got flack for not being a musician because my first instruments were the drums and orchestral percussion (I played in the band for four years in college). A big Bronx cheer to anyone who has instrument snobbery. I know recorder players that are serious musicians.

janeray1940
09-12-2012, 07:23 AM
Anyone else have a much easier time referring to themselves as a player than a singer?

Well, me for sure, since I only play instrumentals and don't bother with singing at all.

This brings up *yet another* common misperception about the uke: that's it's an instrument intended as accompaniment for singing. I get this occasionally - sometimes on first learning that I play, people expect that I'm one of the nerdy-singer-songwriter girls who play ukulele - you all know the type I'm sure.

Um, I'm not... and when they learn this, I always sense some disappointment.

Eh, to each their own :)


A big Bronx cheer to anyone who has instrument snobbery. I know recorder players that are serious musicians.

Yet another instrument that doesn't get taken seriously! I loved playing recorder when I was a little kid... like uke, there's something about its simplicity that I find really charming.

Uke Whisperer
09-12-2012, 07:24 AM
If I had to really commit to a label.. (I've been reading this thread with great interest)

it would have to be that I'm a singer who self-accompanies on the uke. I'm a very basic open chord strummer, nothing fancy. And it turns out I'm a decent singer, enough to the point where people comment on my singing not on the instrument as much.

I find this very surprising. In my family my sister was the singer. So it's weird, as I have never thought of myself that way. When I started playing uke, I thought my singing would be secondary to the playing.

Anyone else have a much easier time referring to themselves as a player than a singer?

Oh, I wish I could sing! I can't (at all), that's why I whisper.

Sporin
09-12-2012, 08:41 AM
I don't describe myself as a "musician" because I don't read music, know music theory, and can't play much of anything by ear or without sheet music.

But I'm a modestly competent ukulele strummer and singer and have had very positive feedback from jams, open mics, and even a half hour live set I did with a partner at a local street fair.

So, in my mind at least, that makes me... proudly... a Ukulele player. :D

myrnaukelele
09-12-2012, 06:49 PM
The ukulele may labor under some image issues, but it's a serious musical instrument. So to me, yes, ukulele players are musicians.
.
I absolutely agree.

peaceweaver3
09-30-2012, 10:12 AM
Coming in late, but great thread!
I feel (and tell people) I'm a singer/songwriter, and when they ask what I play, I proudly proclaim, "Ukulele!" Then it's the, "Oh... that's... interesting..." LOL And I gladly demonstrate that though the uke is lots of fun, it's also "real>" Or maybe it's real b/c it's fun!
As for all things uke, I like to hear about them, but don't necessarily like them. Even re. uke music, I'm selective, b/c I go more on lyrics, style, melody etc than ok it has a uke so it must be awesome! But I'll listen, b/c that's the only way to know whether I'll truly like something or not.
That's my $.02.5.

peaceweaver3
09-30-2012, 10:22 AM
(snip...)My advice to anyone just starting is to cultivate a positive self attitude to your playing, because that's where the rubber hits the road. :)
Couldn't have said it better - this is true in music and everything else.

CasanovaGuy
10-02-2012, 12:31 AM
Musician! I think it's because I'm taking the ukulele pretty seriously now ahaa

Tootler
10-02-2012, 12:35 PM
Well, me for sure, since I only play instrumentals and don't bother with singing at all.

This brings up *yet another* common misperception about the uke: that's it's an instrument intended as accompaniment for singing. I get this occasionally - sometimes on first learning that I play, people expect that I'm one of the nerdy-singer-songwriter girls who play ukulele - you all know the type I'm sure.

Um, I'm not... and when they learn this, I always sense some disappointment.

Eh, to each their own :)

I can understand that reaction but the uke is capable of much more than just accompanying singing, even if that's what I use mine for. Every now and again I take a little tour round You Tube listening to uke instrumentals and there are some amazing players out there.



(Recorder) Yet another instrument that doesn't get taken seriously! I loved playing recorder when I was a little kid... like uke, there's something about its simplicity that I find really charming.

I still play recorder. In fact my recorder collection is bigger than my uke collection and my better recorders cost more than any of my ukes. I agree with you that its simplicity is part of its appeal.


If I had to really commit to a label.. (I've been reading this thread with great interest)

it would have to be that I'm a singer who self-accompanies on the uke. I'm a very basic open chord strummer, nothing fancy. And it turns out I'm a decent singer, enough to the point where people comment on my singing not on the instrument as much.

I find this very surprising. In my family my sister was the singer. So it's weird, as I have never thought of myself that way. When I started playing uke, I thought my singing would be secondary to the playing.

Anyone else have a much easier time referring to themselves as a player than a singer?

I bought the uke to accompany singing and your description of your playing pretty much sums up my playing. I'm quite happy with being a first position strummer. I am quite happy to keep it simple and I keep ukes in different tunings to make it easy to play in a variety of different keys so I can match the song to my voice.

sillymonky
10-02-2012, 02:36 PM
I don't describe myself as a "musician" because I don't read music, know music theory, and can't play much of anything by ear or without sheet music....

While I'm not down on this overall comment, my bf is a "musician", and according to him, I am not. This discussion has come up a lot (pre-uke) - I'm a singer, but I don't read music and I don't know theory, so I can't have the title. However, over time I think we've both come to realize that I may not be a musician in the traditional "technical" sense, but I know music in my own way and I can hear lots of interesting potential variations. Sure, I can't write that down, but I can sing it to you. And I can dance it for you. Why do I need the ability to write it down?

Now that I'm playing uke, he says it's interesting to be able to hear the music that's always been in my brain, and he's started to pick up his guitar more (he's inspired!). I also tend to come up with musical suggestions that work, but that he's never considered. And when he talks theory, I need him to play what he's saying, and then I get it. Sure, I maybe didn't know what "that" was called, but I know it, I know how it works, and I can replicate it with the instrument I know (my voice), and I'm slowly getting there with the new one (the uke).

I think we get too stuck on defining what musicianship is. Some say that the music is always out there - we only channel it. Sure, the better technical ability you have, the more you're able to express what you're channelling (or hear everything trying to be channeled). But, I think the music is in you (or out there...and in you...meh...it gets complicated). But if you know that - you're a musician. If you don't, but you're awesome - you're a musical technician. The best players are a combination of both. :D

26tiki
10-02-2012, 04:21 PM
Hey all! My two cents... My musical self started piano lessons when I was 7 for eight years, lots of music theory, exams etc. I then moved on to guitar and have 'been learning' it ever since. I've never considered myself a musician, it sounded way too grand and I also thought people would expect more from me if I was. However, since I have become a Uker, I am very proud to announce that I am definately a musician! its just that it took me a while to find my perfect instrument (I've spent 30 years downsizing haha).
I'm not jaw-droppingly good, I aint half bad but I'm ALWAYS learning. But I don't think being able to read music or any of that is a pre-requisite for being a musician - I think its passion, plain and simple.

Skrik
10-02-2012, 09:41 PM
While I'm not down on this overall comment, my bf is a "musician", and according to him, I am not. This discussion has come up a lot (pre-uke) - I'm a singer, but I don't read music and I don't know theory, so I can't have the title. However, over time I think we've both come to realize that I may not be a musician in the traditional "technical" sense, but I know music in my own way and I can hear lots of interesting potential variations. Sure, I can't write that down, but I can sing it to you. And I can dance it for you. Why do I need the ability to write it down?

Now that I'm playing uke, he says it's interesting to be able to hear the music that's always been in my brain, and he's started to pick up his guitar more (he's inspired!). I also tend to come up with musical suggestions that work, but that he's never considered. And when he talks theory, I need him to play what he's saying, and then I get it. Sure, I maybe didn't know what "that" was called, but I know it, I know how it works, and I can replicate it with the instrument I know (my voice), and I'm slowly getting there with the new one (the uke).

I think we get too stuck on defining what musicianship is. Some say that the music is always out there - we only channel it. Sure, the better technical ability you have, the more you're able to express what you're channelling (or hear everything trying to be channeled). But, I think the music is in you (or out there...and in you...meh...it gets complicated). But if you know that - you're a musician. If you don't, but you're awesome - you're a musical technician. The best players are a combination of both. :D

Might I respectfully suggest that your boyfriend needs the broomstick extracting from his rear end?

Pundabaya
10-02-2012, 11:05 PM
People get hung up on the 'I can't read notation, I don't know much theory, I can't be a musician'... Thing. Notation and theory were invented to share tunes and ideas with other people. I'm guessing that over the entire history of music it's only a tiny subset of players who could read music, and an even tinier subset knew or cared about theory.

Notation is 'that works! I need to write it down for others'

Theory is 'that works! why does that work, and how can apply it elsewhere?'

The important bit is 'that works!'.

Me? I'm someone who makes some nice sounds that make me smile after a hard day's work.

Pundabaya
10-02-2012, 11:24 PM
Another point on music theory, it would be a whole lot easier to learn some if it wasn't so counterintuitive on what things are called. A major third is 4 semitones? Really?

'okay, so you have 12 notes in your scale, and you want to give them 7 names? You're an Art Major aren't you?'

sillymonky
10-03-2012, 07:28 AM
Might I respectfully suggest that your boyfriend needs the broomstick extracting from his rear end?

LOL!! There are days.... He's just...passionate (aka overly opinionated!).

Plainsong
10-04-2012, 01:04 AM
Another point on music theory, it would be a whole lot easier to learn some if it wasn't so counterintuitive on what things are called. A major third is 4 semitones? Really?

'okay, so you have 12 notes in your scale, and you want to give them 7 names? You're an Art Major aren't you?'

Huh?

Anyway, it's what I've been saying - that the idea that you can't be a musician just because you don't read music is bullpuckey. When you say that, you're saying a lot of the great musicians past and present.... weren't musicians.

Plainsong
10-04-2012, 01:08 AM
While I'm not down on this overall comment, my bf is a "musician", and according to him, I am not. This discussion has come up a lot (pre-uke) - I'm a singer, but I don't read music and I don't know theory, so I can't have the title. However, over time I think we've both come to realize that I may not be a musician in the traditional "technical" sense, but I know music in my own way and I can hear lots of interesting potential variations. Sure, I can't write that down, but I can sing it to you. And I can dance it for you. Why do I need the ability to write it down?

Now that I'm playing uke, he says it's interesting to be able to hear the music that's always been in my brain, and he's started to pick up his guitar more (he's inspired!). I also tend to come up with musical suggestions that work, but that he's never considered. And when he talks theory, I need him to play what he's saying, and then I get it. Sure, I maybe didn't know what "that" was called, but I know it, I know how it works, and I can replicate it with the instrument I know (my voice), and I'm slowly getting there with the new one (the uke).

I think we get too stuck on defining what musicianship is. Some say that the music is always out there - we only channel it. Sure, the better technical ability you have, the more you're able to express what you're channelling (or hear everything trying to be channeled). But, I think the music is in you (or out there...and in you...meh...it gets complicated). But if you know that - you're a musician. If you don't, but you're awesome - you're a musical technician. The best players are a combination of both. :D

You're boyfriend is 1000% wrong. If voice isn't an instrument and you therefore cannot be a musician, then why do university music programs offer voice as a major? Would you like to walk up to an opera singer and tell them they are not musicians? Having been a voice major myself, I guess I wouldn't have gotten past the first date with him.

ukulele64
10-08-2012, 05:00 AM
I love this thread!!

To take another spin on this, I believe our intention colors our moniker of either ukulele player or musician. I'm always shooting for being musical and have varying degrees of success from note to note, measure to measure, song to song and day to day. But, for me, the ukulele is the tool and music is the goal. There is a lot of crap projected into the term "musician" that seems to have the intention of excluding, segregating and ultimately creating boundaries between people. To me, that is not the proper etiquette for a "musician". We serve the music for the benefit of others and seek ways to cross, blur and remove boundaries. Being a better ukulele player is certainly a daily goal, but, making quality music is the over-aching theme.

Uke on my brothers and sisters of strum!