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Freeda
09-12-2012, 05:48 AM
When you watch other people, like at jams and such, what do you see as being the big issues?

The jams I attend have people 1) playing along, 2) singing along, and 3) dancing.

I think the biggest problem for a lot of people is not having a steady tempo. If more people understood how many beats go in a bar and practiced with a metronome that would solve a lot of problems!

What do you see? What would make someone easier to play, sing, or dance along with?





(Ulterior motive: Hoping there's some tips for me in there somewhere!)

Lalz
09-12-2012, 05:52 AM
Most people I play with play way better than me lol
But something I sometimes see with beginners is that they fret with their fingers flat against the fretboard instead of perpendicular. Then they get buzz and they also have to press harder.

joeybug
09-12-2012, 06:13 AM
Most people I play with play way better than me lol
But something I sometimes see with beginners is that they fret with their fingers flat against the fretboard instead of perpendicular. Then they get buzz and they also have to press harder.

Ooo...this helps me, because I do that sometimes and have wondered why it doesn't sound as good! Thanks, I shall work on correcting it!

Lalz
09-12-2012, 06:42 AM
Ooo...this helps me, because I do that sometimes and have wondered why it doesn't sound as good! Thanks, I shall work on correcting it!

Always happy to help :) Works best with the nails cut short

janeray1940
09-12-2012, 06:48 AM
I think the biggest problem for a lot of people is not having a steady tempo. If more people understood how many beats go in a bar and practiced with a metronome that would solve a lot of problems!


Yep, this. In fact, directly from an email exchange with my uke instructor last night:

"Time is not easy...the hardest thing when playing with others."

hoosierhiver
09-12-2012, 07:09 AM
I think it helps a lot to watch the other players, stand up when you play and try to stand close to each other.

Captain_Lovehandles
09-12-2012, 07:24 AM
We do that, but my biggest problem is other ukers getting all up in my business. Sailor Jim is the worst.

Rubio MHS
09-12-2012, 07:28 AM
One thing that bugs me (yet I'm guilty of it, myself) is angling stringed instruments more toward yourself so that you can see the strings easier.

monsterjones
09-12-2012, 07:30 AM
It looks better when performing NOT to look at sheet music while you play.

bazmaz
09-12-2012, 07:46 AM
Interesting thread, so long as it doesn't get into people complaining about odd styles or technique. And on that point, if a player is making a good sound, tone, volume and nice music, who says anything is wrong, regardless of how it is held or played?

A player can strum with his toes if he likes so long as the music moves me

Sporin
09-12-2012, 07:50 AM
Our local uke club has everyone from beginners to near-pros so we all try hard to share tips and get everyone playing together. Ultimately, goal #1 is to enjoy yourself and go with the flow.

A monthly jam that I attend has a number of extremely talented guitar players but again, it's casual. Everyone just wants to sing and play and have a good time, so no one gets their nose out of joint if you hit a wrong chord or whatever.

That's my 2 pennies.

mds725
09-12-2012, 08:03 AM
This may sound a bit arcane and possibly even petty, but one of the issues I had recently reminded me of that saying, "when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail" -- sometimes people use the same strum for every song. Someone in a group I played with once liked to chunk, and she did it on every song. It's not that a given song sounds bad when chunked, and I appreciate that everyone might want to interpret each song in his or her own way, but I didn't like sitting near her because it made it difficult for me to hear myself strum, and I think part of developing as an ukulele player is to expand one's strum arsenal and to find a strum that best expresses the beat and character of the song; even if people disagree on what that strum might be for a particular song, not every song is best served by chunking.

stevepetergal
09-12-2012, 08:04 AM
I'll tell you what everybody's doing wrong!! THEY'RE PLAYING BETTER THAN I AM!!!

Freeda
09-12-2012, 08:04 AM
Interesting thread, so long as it doesn't get into people complaining about odd styles or technique. And on that point, if a player is making a good sound, tone, volume and nice music, who says anything is wrong, regardless of how it is held or played?

A player can strum with his toes if he likes so long as the music moves me
Fair enough. I'm thinking more of in a group setting, what makes it more difficult for people to play together. There are friends I enjoy listening to, but can't play with because their timing is so "individual". I want to learn to be a good jam partner. :)

Freeda
09-12-2012, 08:05 AM
This may sound a bit arcane and possibly even petty, but one of the issues I had recently reminded me of that saying, "when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail" -- sometimes people use the same strum for every song. Someone in a group I played with once liked to chunk, and she did it on every song. It's not that a given song sounds bad when chunked, and I appreciate that everyone might want to interpret each song in his or her own way, but I didn't like sitting near her because it made it difficult for me to hear myself strum, and I think part of developing as an ukulele player is to expand one's strum arsenal and to find a strum that best expresses the beat and character of the song; even if people disagree on what that strum might be for a particular song, not every song is best served by chunking.

I'm guilty of only really having one strum. Haha!

katysax
09-12-2012, 08:49 AM
I don't know about "wrong" but I see people doing things that make playing a lot harder for them. Most people I see make very little or no use of the pinky on the left hand. I guess because I started on guitar and couldn't play without it, I use my pinky heavily. It seems to me that not using the pinky in chords makes them harder and using the pinky regularly makes incorporating it more natural.

Another thing people do is attempt to play barre chords with just the top of the finger. You get a lot more leverage if you use the part closer to your hand.

One thing I did wrong for years is not to put the wrist around to the front of the fret board. I used to use my thumb on the left hand but found that my reach improved dramatically by moving my hand around.

Not understanding that learning to play fast involves first learning to play slowly but accurately and gradually speeding up is a mistake many people make.

GaryC1968
09-12-2012, 08:59 AM
This may sound a bit arcane and possibly even petty, but one of the issues I had recently reminded me of that saying, "when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail" -- sometimes people use the same strum for every song. Someone in a group I played with once liked to chunk, and she did it on every song. It's not that a given song sounds bad when chunked, and I appreciate that everyone might want to interpret each song in his or her own way, but I didn't like sitting near her because it made it difficult for me to hear myself strum, and I think part of developing as an ukulele player is to expand one's strum arsenal and to find a strum that best expresses the beat and character of the song; even if people disagree on what that strum might be for a particular song, not every song is best served by chunking.

You can never have too much chunking, just as you can never have too much cowbell. :D

Lalz
09-12-2012, 08:59 AM
I don't know about "wrong" but I see people doing things that make playing a lot harder for them. Most people I see make very little or no use of the pinky on the left hand. I guess because I started on guitar and couldn't play without it, I use my pinky heavily. It seems to me that not using the pinky in chords makes them harder and using the pinky regularly makes incorporating it more natural.

Another thing people do is attempt to play barre chords with just the top of the finger. You get a lot more leverage if you use the part closer to your hand.

One thing I did wrong for years is not to put the wrist around to the front of the fret board. I used to use my thumb on the left hand but found that my reach improved dramatically by moving my hand around.

Not understanding that learning to play fast involves first learning to play slowly but accurately and gradually speeding up is a mistake many people make.

True. Some ergonomic mistakes people do make it harder for them to play and might strain their hands in the long run. Beware of Carpel Tunnel!
Otherwise as long as you play in time, in tune, and not 100 times louder than anyone else, as far as I'm concerned it's anything goes.

Sporin
09-12-2012, 11:20 AM
Honestly, the "worst" thing I notice from time to time is when people stand behind you to read music over your shoulder and they are playing RIGHT into your ear. Makes it impossible to play or sing correctly imo. I just politely ask them to move to the side and move my music so everyone can see it better. :D

Hippie Dribble
09-12-2012, 11:29 AM
There are friends I enjoy listening to, but can't play with because their timing is so "individual". I want to learn to be a good jam partner. :)

^^^ I think this sums it up totally.

Timing is everything! Whether you're all using the same pattern or some variations within, timing is everything. When you have up and down strums a few split seconds apart it is a bit cacophonic, kind of like hands clapping randomly. As a solo player you can take more liberties with phrasing, timing and tempo variation but you all gotta be so tight playing in a group. I know because I ran one for awhile and we were ugly. :o

Freeda
09-12-2012, 11:45 AM
Honestly, the "worst" thing I notice from time to time is when people stand behind you to read music over your shoulder and they are playing RIGHT into your ear. Makes it impossible to play or sing correctly imo. I just politely ask them to move to the side and move my music so everyone can see it better. :D

Whoops. I have probably done that.

Steedy
09-12-2012, 11:49 AM
Playing left-handed, that's just all wrong! :)

Sporin
09-12-2012, 12:14 PM
Playing left-handed, that's just all wrong! :)

I have a buddy that plays left handed and upside down! NOT the guy to look to for chord guidance. :) He's actually quite good.

bazmaz
09-12-2012, 12:19 PM
Actually still disagree. Yes, in a group where players don't gel, that can be annoying, but is it wrong?

In my group we gel on some stuff, we don't on others, but that is because we all bring different things to the party. I like all our players and would never tell them their style was "wrong"

As I said, if you are making music that moves you, how can it be wrong. It the music is not grooving, there may be countless issues why.

weerpool
09-12-2012, 12:24 PM
the ones who yap more about the uke and everything in between than the actual playing. i also cant stand the ones who brings more %&$## than actually needed at an impromptu jam sessions( Ipad stands, music sheets, lawn chairs, mini fridge , portable light stands and instant ramen, stories about her daughter's girls cout cookie sales) .for me, the uke is the go-anywhere anytime instrument. theres nothing wrong with music sheets but i just cant stand them at a jam.

1931jim
09-12-2012, 12:27 PM
Freeda asked......""What do you see? What would make someone easier to play, sing, or dance along with? ""
I don't like dancing with girls who don't wear shoes. My stepping on their toes doesn't help getting to know them better. haha!

janeray1940
09-12-2012, 12:59 PM
the ones who yap more about the uke and everything in between than the actual playing.

Oh yeah. I've been around my fair share of those!

DaveVisi
09-12-2012, 01:01 PM
People who pause to change chords. It might work soloing, but definitely messes with timing when done in a group. Even worse if they're the one looking over your shoulder reading your music and playing in your ear.

Dan Uke
09-12-2012, 01:43 PM
the ones who yap more about the uke and everything in between than the actual playing. i also cant stand the ones who brings more %&$## than actually needed at an impromptu jam sessions( Ipad stands, music sheets, lawn chairs, mini fridge , portable light stands and instant ramen, stories about her daughter's girls cout cookie sales) .for me, the uke is the go-anywhere anytime instrument. theres nothing wrong with music sheets but i just cant stand them at a jam.

I've seen your videos and you got some serious skills so you can just jam. The rest of us need help with music sheets. If I had a better grasp on music theory and actually memorized some chords, I wouldn't rely on all that other stuff but definitely like the fridge and ramen! No gathering is complete without food!! LOL

haole
09-12-2012, 01:55 PM
Not practicing or taking the time to learn anything outside of a uke event, so the same people need to be taught C, F, and G every time you see them.

Hippie Dribble
09-12-2012, 02:10 PM
Not practicing or taking the time to learn anything outside of a uke event, so the same people need to be taught C, F, and G every time you see them.

you must have been at my uke group haole. That was exactly what happened....same thing every week...was just like starting over and progress almost impossible!

chrimess
09-12-2012, 02:23 PM
Introspection: whatever own deficiencies nag you about yourself tend to be particularly annoying when you observe them in others.

Hippie Dribble
09-12-2012, 02:28 PM
Introspection: whatever own deficiencies nag you about yourself tend to be particularly annoying when you observe them in others.

aaah, a noble interjection Dr M....you taking appointments at all mate???? I need your couch...

:old:

1937Scott
09-12-2012, 02:49 PM
'Wrong'? Har!!

That's why I play ukulele!! AND it's why I keep my Kala Pocket uke tuned GCEA, 'cause almost everyone on UU say's it's 'wrong.' HAW!

As far as rhythm and temp go, that's not a ukulele problem, that's a rhythm and tempo problem. Have someone play base (stand-up, Kala U-Bass, somethin') in your group to try and help keep the beat. And if you have people that show up every single week and need to be re-taught 'C,' 'F' and such, I have one question; Do they show up and ask, "Do I come here often?"

Scott

Freeda
09-12-2012, 03:46 PM
I am picking up as much as I can to be a better, more productive jam partner. Thanks for your input everyone! I have a few things to work on...

wendellfiddler
09-12-2012, 04:00 PM
the ones who yap more about the uke and everything in between than the actual playing. i also cant stand the ones who brings more %&$## than actually needed at an impromptu jam sessions( Ipad stands, music sheets, lawn chairs, mini fridge , portable light stands and instant ramen, stories about her daughter's girls cout cookie sales) .for me, the uke is the go-anywhere anytime instrument. theres nothing wrong with music sheets but i just cant stand them at a jam.

I just wonder though - if you don't use sheet music at all aren't you kind of locking the group into ultra simple tunes? I guess you don't play jazz and pop standards then? I know there are some folks who can wing it even on jazz or more complex pop stuff, but even really good chord players need charts now and then. Now, that said, I would pass on the mini fridge but wouldn't mind a discussion about girl scout cookies if someone is sharing a box :)

Doug

wendellfiddler
09-12-2012, 04:05 PM
My pet peeve - someone who plays really loud and doesn't leave sonic space for anyone else. I'm an experienced band musician and it drives me nuts when a person in a jam doesn't stop to listen now and then. The band musician's creed should be " if you aren't making it better, you're making it worse - if you're making it worse - stop and listen for while". Doug

robbocx
09-12-2012, 04:08 PM
OK I have played in small 'jams' just a few and then in larger groups 50+ and keeping everyone in time is IMHO the biggest problem.

This can be from new to uke players changing chords to old hands playing at impossible speeds or just the loudness of some players.

Many time we would have people starting and playing behind or in front of the rest of the group.

What we have done to make keeping in time at our Friday jams (40+ people) is bring in the PA.

Whoever is leading the song stands at the end of the room with a mic (we set up two dynamic mics) so everyone can see them and they can set the tempo of the song.

We use two speakers one around 5 meters away from the mics and another around 10 meters from the mics, that way the whole room can hear and keep with the tempo.

Strum soon.

Hippie Dribble
09-12-2012, 04:24 PM
OK I have played in small 'jams' just a few and then in larger groups 50+ and keeping everyone in time is IMHO the biggest problem.

This can be from new to uke players changing chords to old hands playing at impossible speeds or just the loudness of some players.

Many time we would have people starting and playing behind or in front of the rest of the group.

What we have done to make keeping in time at our Friday jams (40+ people) is bring in the PA.

Whoever is leading the song stands at the end of the room with a mic (we set up two dynamic mics) so everyone can see them and they can set the tempo of the song.

We use two speakers one around 5 meters away from the mics and another around 10 meters from the mics, that way the whole room can hear and keep with the tempo.

Strum soon.

great idea, makes a lot of sense.

joekulele
09-12-2012, 04:27 PM
My friend and I lead our monthly jam and keeping everyone together can be a problem. We have added a fine bass player and he has helped tremendously. Another thing we learned is to not just jump right into the song, but to strum the starting chord longer than you normally would to set the tempo for the whole room. Also, the way the chairs are set up in the room has an impact on how well the group stays together. Keeping the seating in the room from being too wide has helped. That way the two sides of the room arent as prone to being off tempo. We have also made sure the PA volume is sufficient for the crowd to hear the "leaders." Your jam leaders need to be confident and practiced enough to do the actual leading. October will be our seventh month leading our jam and we are constantly going over what worked and what needs work. Our goal is for everybody to have fun. It is all a learning process. So far we have averaged about 75 players per month.

patico
09-12-2012, 05:14 PM
i come from flamenco guitar.... and studied very technical aspects of right hand techniques.
i often see videos where a lot of the playing could be improved very fast if following certaid technical aspects of right hand.

1.- develop strenght in the fingers. this allows a better control in overall volume. while playing alone or in band, it gives you dynamics.
2.- study different strums, people tend to play similar patterns. The more different strumings, the wider the posibbilities.
3.- order your fingers. while doing arpegios or scale runs (picados) try almost always NOT to repeat a finger....this is basic to improve speed.
4.-use a metronome, all the reasons are stated before
5.-study theory

hope it helps.
if some needs tips for left hand, just ask

southcoastukes
09-12-2012, 05:53 PM
i come from flamenco guitar.... studied very technical aspects of right hand techniques.
...if some needs tips for left hand, just ask

Am asking - left hand too, please (if you haven't heard him play, advice from Francisco is well worth listening to).

UncleElvis
09-12-2012, 05:58 PM
The only think I see folks doing wrong is walking around without a ukulele in their life...

seeso
09-12-2012, 06:05 PM
Without a doubt, the most frustrating thing for me is trying to follow someone with messed up time, ie. measures having different amounts of beats, etc.


My pet peeve - someone who plays really loud and doesn't leave sonic space for anyone else. I'm an experienced band musician and it drives me nuts when a person in a jam doesn't stop to listen now and then. The band musician's creed should be " if you aren't making it better, you're making it worse - if you're making it worse - stop and listen for while". Doug

Also this. ^^

mds725
09-12-2012, 07:03 PM
I am picking up as much as I can to be a better, more productive jam partner. Thanks for your input everyone! I have a few things to work on...

This may help:
http://www.amazon.com/Play-Others-Musicians-Guide-Jamming/dp/0974360635/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1347512341&sr=8-2&keywords=how+to+jam+ukulele
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=42874&d=1347512545 This may help....

barefootgypsy
09-12-2012, 11:32 PM
I don't like dancing with girls who don't wear shoes. He-he........:D

barefootgypsy
09-12-2012, 11:32 PM
The only think I see folks doing wrong is walking around without a ukulele in their life...What he said. Absolutely.

MisterRios
09-12-2012, 11:34 PM
Again one on timing, but a little different. Sometimes my group plays songs only a handful of us know. Coming from different musical backgrounds, it's hard to tell what songs a majority knows. Which means we sometimes get stuck doing least common denominator songs in the key of C. But that's another story.

What peeves me the most is when someone thinks they know a song, but they don't. For example, when someone starts singing a measure too early instead of waiting after an extra strum. I can't really describe it, but it just seems to rush the whole song.

Which has led to many unfortunate occurrences of me leading the group and singing the song to get the timing down. Not a pretty sight because I can't sing very well. However, one of my friends later told me my singing is terrible, but my timing is awesome. And I thought I had no rhythm. (Actually, I still can't dance on the beat, so maybe it's my great song memory, rather than my actual timing/rhythm)

~dave~~wave~
09-13-2012, 03:04 AM
Freeda, I'm so glad you started this thread.
Since I proudly display my hometown in my posts, I won't say anything here I wouldn't say directly to the folks in our club.

I'm hoping for help from this forum in making my "criticisms" constructive and positive, with strategies for what we could try without hurting anybody's feelings.


...when people stand behind you to read music over your shoulder and they are playing RIGHT into your ear....
First off, I'll point the finger at myself, I'm guilty of this.
I try to be aware of it, back up and strum softer, I'm sure I could do better.

********************


I think the biggest problem for a lot of people is not having a steady tempo. If more people understood how many beats go in a bar and practiced with a metronome that would solve a lot of problems!


We have a tendency to speed up.
I think this is human nature in a way, I notice myself doing it.

We have a bass player, that helps, but our beloved leader who plays and sings the loudest will sometimes race ahead of him, with the rest of us hanging on for dear life. ;)

What I have observed is if he knows the song well, he can speed up like a truck rolling down a mountain.
If the song is new or unfamiliar, the tempo is steadier.

Do I dare suggest trying a metronome or drum machine for a song or two?
I'm sure it would be met with groans and howls.

Is there away to make it non-threatening to the proudly self-taught folks who disdain any formality?

Skrik
09-13-2012, 03:13 AM
We have a tendency to speed up.
I think this is human nature in a way, I notice myself doing it.

[...]

Do I dare suggest trying a metronome or drum machine for a song or two?
I'm sure it would be met with groans and howls.

Is there away to make it non-threatening to the proudly self-taught folks who disdain any formality?

Try playing follow the leader, with a different leader marking time each time. It trains people to take the lead, as well as follow.

Huckleberry
09-13-2012, 08:35 AM
Well, you got me. Yeah, it's me, the guy that plays too loud.
Can't help it. I just get so excited I get carried away.
Will try to tone it down. Excellent thread.

weerpool
09-13-2012, 08:46 AM
i am a mlti-instrumentalist and started out with classical jazz, thats why i dislike sheet music in the first place. its too limiting.once i get the feel of the structure im off to my own thing. i have ADD ( figuratively) and i get bored with alot of things fast. but not with the UKe.
I just wonder though - if you don't use sheet music at all aren't you kind of locking the group into ultra simple tunes? I guess you don't play jazz and pop standards then? I know there are some folks who can wing it even on jazz or more complex pop stuff, but even really good chord players need charts now and then. Now, that said, I would pass on the mini fridge but wouldn't mind a discussion about girl scout cookies if someone is sharing a box :)

Doug

Uncle Rod Higuchi
09-13-2012, 10:14 AM
with regard to timing, esp if it's the leader, sometimes we'll just have to grin and bear it as best we can.

I was just at a kanikapila/song circle and the rule was that whoever led the song, leads the song and everyone
has to follow the leader... no matter what. we did have a leader who did not have a sense of timing, but we
all got through the song, applauded, then went on to the next 'leader'. All in good fun.

sometimes, if there's an enforced 'rule/policy' that everyone buys into, it can make for smoother interpersonal
relations :)

As to clueing in the unclued, it really depends on their level of defensiveness and openness. Most if not all
the above (and below) posters appear to be very open to giving and taking advice, even criticism. That bodes
well for a thread like this.

When defensiveness becomes intense, then there's a circling of one's wagons to protect the injured ego and
helpful lessons are never learned, much less even heard... sorry to say.

keep uke'in',

chrimess
09-13-2012, 10:24 AM
anytime, my friend, ours is IKEA, if that is OK.


aaah, a noble interjection Dr M....you taking appointments at all mate???? I need your couch...

:old:

SailingUke
09-13-2012, 11:09 AM
The biggest thing all players can do is listen to themselves and the group and play ALONG.
Sometimes it is difficult if your nose is buried in your songbook.
Most of us can't read, sing, play and LISTEN all at the same time.

Freeda
09-13-2012, 11:20 AM
This may help:
http://www.amazon.com/Play-Others-Musicians-Guide-Jamming/dp/0974360635/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1347512341&sr=8-2&keywords=how+to+jam+ukulele
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=42874&d=1347512545 This may help....
It is in my shopping cart!

kaizersoza
09-13-2012, 11:18 PM
in our band we had terrible trouble with timing, we also had new members joining us every week and this posed a giant headache for us, we got around it by having someone lead us into a song and then we just followed their tempo, not ideal but everyone enjoyed, if we were to fast or too slow with a particular song we claimed 'artistic license' and everyone was happy,
what i find with our band is that when we initially started it was for a bit of fun, now some of the guys think we are U2 or someone lol, as Bazmaz pointed out as long as everyone is enjoying the experience where's the problem,
what does tend to really grind my gears is when you have a song, it sounds great, then someone decides to change it in some way, a lot of the time to be honest the changes do improve the song, but when you are going to be playing it live within a couple of days, GGGGRRRR does that wind me up

Ben_H
09-14-2012, 02:20 AM
We've been having a few issues about artistic license, extra or missing beats in bars/measures, extra bars and consistency. As a newcomer to the group I have tried to be tactful in my objections but have now resorted just to intervening with "Oi! Where did that come from!". I feel it particularly badly as a former drummer and percussionist. We are also getting quite a lot of new players coming through at the moment and the looks of incomprehension on their faces is quite obvious.

I do however struggle to explain it to others as my internal understanding is faster than my ability put it into words. I will have to make an apology next week as I know I explained a "lead - in" count wrongly.

We have had a few amusing occasions where the leader has said "After three then. A One, Two, Strum, strum,strum". This led to howls of indignation and laughter as you can imagine.

I'm sure I annoy people by muttering under my breath when I'm not singing. This has become a lot worse since taking up the baritone and trying to transpose soprano chords on the fly. :)

barefootgypsy
09-14-2012, 02:42 AM
Sorry to go off-thread slightly, but - Ben_H, I love your "Makala Dolphin Emergency Holiday aquisition"! I hate going Uke cold-turkey......:D

wconley
09-14-2012, 09:23 AM
I play too loud but make up for it by playing faster than everyone else...

acmespaceship
09-14-2012, 10:29 AM
Some things that seem to help with a large group:

A bass player, drummer, or guitarist who can set a steady beat. Or a leader with a banjo uke or a resonator uke -- something loud enough for everyone to hear.

Playing songs more than once through. Play it, talk about how to fix the trouble spots ("let's strum the G four times before starting the chorus and repeat the chorus at the end") and play it again. I hate it when groups play a song just once and then always move on to a different song -- there's no opportunity to improve. And there's nothing like the fun of really nailing a song!

Strum an intro before starting to sing -- this greatly improves the odds that everyone will start on the same key.

LOOK UP! Get your nose out of the songbook and look at the other players. Of course, this is easier when people know the songs... or they're easy songs... or the songs have lots of verses so people can begin to memorize the chords/words and don't have to refer constantly to the paper.

While I'm on the subject: Dear God in heaven, would it kill us to play "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" without paper? The chords are C-F-C-G7 and the only lyric you really need is "wimoweh." I mean honestly?

The bigger the group, the easier the songs, at least to start. A great rendition of "You Are My Sunshine" beats a complex jazz number that gets all bollixed up.

Zen. Lose yourself in the group and go with the flow. Yes, I normally use a latin strum for "Blue Bayou" but there are 20 other people playing a flat 4/4 strum and so I will go along with them, not fight them. And if they say they need paper for "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" then I will take a deep breath and let it go.

If the group starts off with a song they already know, where people can look up from the paper and see each other -- a song they can really nail -- then the rest of the night will go better.

Otherwise you're doing it wrong ;-)

Ben_H
09-14-2012, 11:04 AM
Sorry to go off-thread slightly, but - Ben_H, I love your "Makala Dolphin Emergency Holiday aquisition"! I hate going Uke cold-turkey......:D

I have yet to download the photos but have a picture of me playing in next to Derwent Water in the Lake District. Yes, I am wearing waterproofs! Just before we went away there was a thread about places you had taken your uke to so I was trying to join in. Must sort that out :)

webby
09-14-2012, 02:24 PM
People who pause to change chords.

Amen to that, take some lessons and practice heaps before trying to "jam" with anyone.
People who can play half decently don't really enjoy what should be essentially a music making experience actually being a free beginners lesson.

Plainsong
09-14-2012, 02:32 PM
I used to jam with a group where the leader kept chords as state-guarded secrets. You couldn't see his fingers clearly enough, and he didn't share, just expected everyone to know it. It's kinda a bad-director type problem isn't it? You're leading the group but you have to clue them in on what to do.

robbocx
09-14-2012, 02:36 PM
People who can play half decently don't really enjoy what should be essentially a music making experience actually being a free beginners lesson.

Ouch, I think that having people play with us is the best way of bring them along.

Our group is happy for anyone who has a few chords (we will show you them if we need to) to join in and play along.

We try an split up the newbies between a few players who can show them the ropes.

A good structure will make it enjoyable for all concerned.

Nickie
09-14-2012, 04:58 PM
The worst things I see are:

1. Eating and playing without washing your hands first (before eating OR playing)

2. Picking up someone else's uke without asking first, especially when doing #1.

Hippie Dribble
09-14-2012, 05:45 PM
Amen to that, take some lessons and practice heaps before trying to "jam" with anyone.
People who can play half decently don't really enjoy what should be essentially a music making experience actually being a free beginners lesson.
that's a harsh call mate. But I guess you're talking more about an established group of players rather than a diverse club, where the objective is to encourage others, be patient and help them learn. Kinda comes down to what you want to get out of it. You probably just need to jam with a few of your mates who are already at your level on the off days, then get along to the bigger uke meet-up each time it's on and be a kind of teacher/mentor...they'd probably really appreciate it, and in the end, you'd have a whole new bunch of jamin partners. Everyone wins.

itsme
09-14-2012, 06:04 PM
As a formally trained classical guitarist, I cringe whenever I see someone cradling the neck between their thumb and index fingers and wrapping the thumb around the neck to fret. :p

mailman
09-15-2012, 07:14 AM
As a formally trained classical guitarist, I cringe whenever I see someone cradling the neck between their thumb and index fingers and wrapping the thumb around the neck to fret. :p

I must admit that this bugs me, too. It makes me feels snobbish to says so, but it does.:o

The thing I see people doing "wrong" most at groups is players being overly assertive. I think a good jam partner will make suggestions, but go with the flow rather than insist on their own way. People can be pushy musically, too. A banjo-uke, played clawhammer style, on the Beatles' Yesterday? Really?

Our group often has folks bring songs to share. Bringing a song that no one else has ever heard is not helpful. This, and the point about assertiveness above, point out the fact that the jam isn't about the individual, it's about the group. Jammimg, in my opinion, should be more about the common enjoyment of the music and less about ego....

jimmybookout
09-15-2012, 07:49 AM
Playing left-handed, that's just all wrong! :)

FWIW, my long time playing partner says that he finds it easier to watch me (I'm lefty) when we are playing (on guitars) as I am a mirror image of him.

Jimmy

pulelehua
09-15-2012, 08:27 AM
As a formally trained classical guitarist, I cringe whenever I see someone cradling the neck between their thumb and index fingers and wrapping the thumb around the neck to fret. :p

Jimi Hendrix would sometimes wrap his thumb around his guitar to add F# to his D chords.

All right by Jimi, all right by me.

Wicked
09-15-2012, 02:18 PM
Amen to that, take some lessons and practice heaps before trying to "jam" with anyone.
People who can play half decently don't really enjoy what should be essentially a music making experience actually being a free beginners lesson.

The most effective and efficient way to learn music is to make music with more advanced musicians. Yet, we expect everyone to "pay their dues" and spend a lot of time "in the woodshed" before we deem them worthy of joining in. It is illogical.

Vic Wooten makes the argument more eloquently than I.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yRMbH36HRE&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Plainsong
09-15-2012, 03:07 PM
I agree with him. There are those of us who came up through the system, and there are those who learned it themselves, and if you say that group who are self-taught are not musicians, full-stop (and there are too many in this thread who have inadvertently in their own self-modesty done this) - then you are taking thousands of well-respected, idolized musicians, and saying they can't play. They aren't musicians. It makes my brain explode.

And this guy, love him to bits.

Freeda
09-15-2012, 06:17 PM
Today I noticed something I do. I am not good with a lull. I always want to be playing and I don't allow time for socializing. I need to allow time to get to know people.

estreya
09-15-2012, 08:21 PM
~ shrug ~

I'm still among those who occasionally struggles with a lesser known chord change. I generally just "air strum" the first beat of the pattern while my fingers get in place. This way, i'm not slowing down the song.

arpie
09-16-2012, 02:43 PM
Great thread. As others have said ......there's probably not that much 'wrong' - just stuff 'needed to learn' & that usually comes with practise!?

.....the same people need to be taught C, F, and G every time you see them..... Oh dear - I have one like that (and maybe 2 others not quite as bad & who are more recent attendees.) She has been coming to 'lessons' for over 12 months now & still can't remember C, F & G ..... but she is in her 80s and has really bad arthritis with gnarled fingers, so has difficulty playing ANY chord without buzzing the other strings ........ so on her Mainland Banjo Uke, I slid the G string off, so that she could play 3 strings WELL, rather than 4 strings badly & it has made a big difference to her playing and her confidence ........ but she still has difficulty remembering C,F & G! :confused: She will never progress from the 'beginners' group, methinks!!

....Buzzing on strings..... With lots of beginners using the pad of their fingers rather than the actual fingertip to form chords ........ buzzing is always the result. :( I try & show my beginners (right from the start) that it is better if they keep their left hand fingernails short to facilitate better chord control & I also suggest that they place their fingers on the fret board like 'spider legs'! So I get them to sort of arch their hands a bit to try & encourage making the chords with their fingertips, to prevent the touching the other strings. So instead of their fingers being 'flat' on the frets, they are a bit 'raised'.

Chord control ...... some folk grip the neck of the uke with their thumb like they are hanging on grimly ..... I try to encourage them to just hold it loosely - just balanced in the fork of the thumb & forefinger, as they need to move the neck around the base of the thumb in order to facilitate some of the chords.

Timing ....... when I am leading songs - I always play a few bars as 'intro' - usually the last line of the main verse, which automatically leads into the start of the song - so that our players have the correct note to come in on & also the tempo.

Metronome ..... I tried using this with the group early on - but we found it to be TOO precise! :o We tend to speed up a little & the metronome was getting 'played over'!! Quite funny, really!

Hey! So long as everyone is enjoying themselves - that is the main thing. I don't want our mob thinking they HAVE to go home & PRACTISE HARD ....... but I hope they do! :)

Roberta

fitncrafty
09-16-2012, 03:11 PM
Great thread. As others have said ......there's probably not that much 'wrong' - just stuff 'needed to learn' & that usually comes with practise!?

.....the same people need to be taught C, F, and G every time you see them..... Oh dear - I have one like that (and maybe 2 others not quite as bad & who are more recent attendees.) She has been coming to 'lessons' for over 12 months now & still can't remember C, F & G ..... but she is in her 80s and has really bad arthritis with gnarled fingers, so has difficulty playing ANY chord without buzzing the other strings ........ so on her Mainland Banjo Uke, I slid the G string off, so that she could play 3 strings WELL, rather than 4 strings badly & it has made a big difference to her playing and her confidence ........ but she still has difficulty remembering C,F & G! :confused: She will never progress from the 'beginners' group, methinks!!

....Buzzing on strings..... With lots of beginners using the pad of their fingers rather than the actual fingertip to form chords ........ buzzing is always the result. :( I try & show my beginners (right from the start) that they need to keep their left hand fingernails short to facilitate better chord control & I also get them to place their fingers on the fret board like 'spider legs'! So I get them to sort of arch their hands a bit to try & encourage making the chords with their fingertips, to prevent the touching the other strings. So instead of their fingers being 'flat' on the frets, they are a bit 'raised'.

Chord control ...... some folk grip the neck of the uke with their thumb like they are hanging on grimly ..... I try to encourage them to just hold it loosely - just balanced in the fork of the thumb & forefinger, as they need to move the neck around the base of the thumb in order to facilitate some of the chords.

Timing ....... when I am leading songs - I always play a few bars as 'intro' - usually the last line of the main verse, which automatically leads into the start of the song - so that our players have the correct note to come in on & also the tempo.

Metronome ..... I tried using this with the group early on - but we found it to be TOO precise! :o We tend to speed up a little & the metronome was getting 'played over'!! Quite funny, really!

Hey! So long as everyone is enjoying themselves - that is the main thing. I don't want our mob thinking they HAVE to go home & PRACTISE HARD ....... but I hope they do! :)

Roberta

Thank you for this great information.. I fear what others think and pretty much just play alone...

mm stan
09-16-2012, 04:05 PM
Group sessions could be good and bad for the new uker as they maybe sensitive to critique in front of everyone..depends on group, circumstances and the individual
Yes a newcomer may be embarassed or overwhelmed by the more experienced and established players and the groups current pace....it is hard for the newbies to
catch up while the old times don't want to get stuck in the old beginners stuff.....maybe a soulation is to have sub groups within the group for both for respect...

arpie
09-16-2012, 04:45 PM
...... I fear what others think and pretty much just play alone........ Don't be afraid to join a uke group - you will be amazed at how quickly you will become a better player & make a whole bunch of new buddies at the same time!

Definitely, as Stan says - find a group that has at least a 'starter' level & a more advanced level. You will know when you are ready to move up! :)

In my beginners group, as people feel confident enough to join the 'slightly better' group - they do & usually really have a good time - as it pushes themselves a little more.

I try not to be too pedantic about timing & strum patterns too much - tho work harder at it if we are performing somewhere.

What I said above was really just personal observations that I have made in the last 12 months since getting back into uke playing and in my role as helping newbies to get into playing confidently.

.... I don't want our mob thinking they HAVE to go home & PRACTISE HARD ....... but I hope they do!.... he, he - I am one of the ones that doesn't practise too much! :o

cheers

Roberta

mm stan
09-16-2012, 05:12 PM
Aloha Roberta,
Most Groups and stuff.. the old timers are in a click....and many newcomers get shut out...sad but true.....
even beginner groups advance too...new and miss a few meet ups and you're lost...just like school I guess...LOL:)

fitncrafty
09-16-2012, 05:16 PM
...... I fear what others think and pretty much just play alone........ Don't be afraid to join a uke group - you will be amazed at how quickly you will become a better player & make a whole bunch of new buddies at the same time!

Definitely, as Stan says - find a group that has at least a 'starter' level & a more advanced level. You will know when you are ready to move up! :)

In my beginners group, as people feel confident enough to join the 'slightly better' group - they do & usually really have a good time - as it pushes themselves a little more.

I try not to be too pedantic about timing & strum patterns too much - tho work harder at it if we are performing somewhere.

What I said above was really just personal observations that I have made in the last 12 months since getting back into uke playing and in my role as helping newbies to get into playing confidently.

.... I don't want our mob thinking they HAVE to go home & PRACTISE HARD ....... but I hope they do!.... he, he - I am one of the ones that doesn't practise too much! :o

cheers

Roberta

THanks Roberta for your feedback. I am so sensitive and get frustrated so easily. THe members of my group are long experienced musicians many professionals and teach music. They want to play and not teach at uke night...I hope to meet some new people at the uke fest we are having next weekend.. I need a teacher too but haven't foud one locally...

itsme
09-16-2012, 06:27 PM
This is how I did it when I took up mandolin and was drafted into a mando orchestra when I didn't even know how to play.

Play the first chord or note in a measure, look ahead and find the first chord/note in the next measure. Don't worry about picking or strumming patterns. As long as you can hit the first chord/note in a measure correctly, you are golden. You don't have to play all the notes, just try not to play any wrong ones. :)

Eventually, you'll be able to pick up the pace to every other chord, etc.

janeray1940
09-16-2012, 06:36 PM
Metronome ..... I tried using this with the group early on - but we found it to be TOO precise! :o We tend to speed up a little & the metronome was getting 'played over'!! Quite funny, really!


We tried that too, with similar results. We've now found a bass player, which seems to work a little bit better. The tendency to speed up is still there, but hopefully when we speed up we will at least be doing so together!

It's hard sometimes to get a good balance between "having fun" and "getting it right." Sometimes you just have to let it be what it is!

Sporin
09-17-2012, 12:57 AM
Amen to that, take some lessons and practice heaps before trying to "jam" with anyone.
People who can play half decently don't really enjoy what should be essentially a music making experience actually being a free beginners lesson.

I disagree.

I get the impression from UU that most community uke clubs are just like the one I attend (http://www.uvukeclub.com/home), a mix of beginners and better players. Our flyers specifically invite people who are beginners in fact... it's how we grow our ukulele community.

While folks shouldn't come expecting everyone else to spend their evening giving you a free lesson, there's no reason to hide at home either. A good attitude and a willingness to go with the flow and take instruction are all that should be necessary for everyone to have a good time.

We have some weeks where we have a group of more experienced players and some weeks where we have a bunch of new people. Our club leader has binders of all our music so everyone can follow along. The more experienced players we have, the more difficult the song selection that is.

Ultimately, the #1 goal is still for everyone to have fun.

Attending uke club, and then later an invite-only jam with lots of guitar players, I can tell you that the best thing that helped me progress quickly from beginner to competent player is playing WITH others and in particular, others who are much more talented than I.

fitncrafty
09-17-2012, 01:01 AM
I disagree.

I get the impression from UU that most community uke clubs are just like the one I attend (http://www.uvukeclub.com/home), a mix of beginners and better players. Our flyers specifically invite people who are beginners in fact... it's how we grow our ukulele community.

While folks shouldn't come expecting everyone else to spend their evening giving you a free lesson, there's no reason to hide at home either. A good attitude and a willingness to go with the flow and take instruction are all that should be necessary for everyone to have a good time.

We have some weeks where we have a group of more experienced players and some weeks where we have a bunch of new people. Our club leader has binders of all our music so everyone can follow along. The more experienced players we have, the more difficult the song selection that is.

Ultimately, the #1 goal is still for everyone to have fun.

Attending uke club, and then later an invite-only jam with lots of guitar players, I can tell you that the best thing that helped me progress quickly from beginner to competent player is playing WITH others and in particular, others who are much more talented than I.

How far is Windsor from Albany? Sound like a club worth attending...

vanflynn
09-17-2012, 03:35 AM
Great thread. Some of the stuff identified I am finding myself doing. If the song is out of my vocal range I tend to lose tempo. I find quietly humming to myself helps a lot.

Sporin
09-17-2012, 03:59 AM
How far is Windsor from Albany? Sound like a club worth attending...

Thanks :) the Club meets in Hanover, NH which is a good 3 hours from you, a long way for sure.

mailman
09-17-2012, 06:51 AM
THanks Roberta for your feedback. I am so sensitive and get frustrated so easily. THe members of my group are long experienced musicians many professionals and teach music. They want to play and not teach at uke night...I hope to meet some new people at the uke fest we are having next weekend.. I need a teacher too but haven't foud one locally...

I'm still hoping to make that festival. We'll see what the better half says....

RichM
09-17-2012, 07:41 AM
I disagree.

I get the impression from UU that most community uke clubs are just like the one I attend (http://www.uvukeclub.com/home), a mix of beginners and better players. Our flyers specifically invite people who are beginners in fact... it's how we grow our ukulele community.


The club I attend is structured like that. We have a mix from fairly experienced players to absolute beginners. It's not just a social club-- our meetings last around 3 hours, and except for a break in the middle for snacks and drinks, we're playing the whole time. In the ~4 months I've been attending, I've seen some of the beginners really find their feet, and some of the advanced beginners become really good players.

We play relatively simple songs (although not beginner songs), and we play them slower than I would like sometimes. Sometimes we'll play them 2 or 3 times, until we feel like everyone's got it.

I'm a more experienced player than many in the group, some of whom have no musical background at all. On the other hand, a few members are proficient musicians, with skills that would put me to shame. That's the beauty of a community; everyone brings something to the table.

I've played separately with folks from the jams I attend, where we can get more "serious" and focus on really making the tunes tight. To me, a group jam is about having fun and being part of a community; it's easy enough to find the musicians you resonate with and have a more focused jam later on.

Playing music with other people is one of life's great joys. One of the reasons I like this thread is that it's all about how we can all have a good time playing together.

fitncrafty
09-17-2012, 08:29 AM
I'm still hoping to make that festival. We'll see what the better half says....

Nice..sure hope to see you there. Would be fun to meet other uu members in person. It will be small but fun...

SailingUke
09-17-2012, 08:34 AM
Group sessions could be good and bad for the new uker as they maybe sensitive to critique in front of everyone..depends on group, circumstances and the individual
Yes a newcomer may be embarassed or overwhelmed by the more experienced and established players and the groups current pace....it is hard for the newbies to
catch up while the old times don't want to get stuck in the old beginners stuff.....maybe a soulation is to have sub groups within the group for both for respect...

This thread seems to have wandered a little.
When advanced players go to a "mixed group" I believe they need to fit in, relax, have fun and be encouraging to beginners.
I belong to several groups where beginners are encouraged to join. Some of the advanced players meet at other times and jam/play.
I often throw a party and invite beginners so we can work on a few songs at a learning pace so when we are in the "group" they feel more comfortable.

One wrong thing (IMHO) some better players do is to try and entertain at a group gathering.
There are enough open mic settings where you can strut your stuff.

~dave~~wave~
09-24-2012, 10:35 AM
Ten pages of comments have given me insight into the social aspects of group play, thanks everybody.

My biggest frustration is "dumbing down" both material and performance in the name of beginner friendliness.
I'm not talking about singing a little off key, or flubbing the odd chord.

Children raggedly singing juvenile songs get a pass because they're cute.
Adults doing the same tunes sloppily hold little interest for me just because ukes are involved.

I hope folks don't think I'm rude for rallying the group to find the first singing note, set a tempo and stick to it, etc.

When a toddler is learning to talk, we encourage him by jabbering back in "baby talk." But parents who don't encourage progression and set an example deliver a child to kindergarten with the verbal skills of a 3-year-old.

vanflynn
09-24-2012, 04:30 PM
Hi Dave. There is the rub with groups. Balancing social with learning is one thing. Another is if lesser skilled hamper your learning or if better players intimidate and frustrate you. Your expectations will never be the same as anyone in the group.

Personally, I have just decided to make it a social event, have fun even if we go to the very basics, I will still learn something.

Dwjkerr
09-24-2012, 05:45 PM
Entertaining thread.

So, if I were to join a group, I should be able to play at least as well as they can and have their play list well practiced and memorized before I get there. Those requirements would seem to work for the only uke club, that I know of, in my area.

Going by their ad, though, they do promise to give newbies lessons if the newbie is willing to commit to joining their band.

Wicked
09-25-2012, 03:31 AM
Many tunes lend themselves to a "layered" approach. The beginners can play a simplified foundation, and the more advanced members add more complex rhythm and/or harmony on top. It takes a bit of forethought, and someone needs to provide enough discipline to keep people going too far off the rails, but you end up with a more satisfying result.

Plainsong
09-25-2012, 05:18 AM
I think what would rub me the wrong way would be, as has been talked about already, people not trying and not giving a damn how they sound. It doesn't matter how awesome you are, or you think you are, or if you think you're the worst player. It's not really about skill level for me. It's .... do you even care? Are you even trying? I don't really have time to play with people who don't give a damn... just because it happens to be uke.

I want to state again this isn't about skill level. You can mess up all you need to mess up. It's more about the attitude. I want to have a good time, have a laugh, but I also want to play with people who are trying to make music. We may not succeed in the making music, but not even trying is such a waste IMO.