View Full Version : Learning to play as an adult

12-18-2008, 03:31 PM
This is something that has been on my mind alot lately. I played trombone for 3 or 4 years in my youth. I read music at the time and it is a skill I have yet to relearn. I also learned harmonica in my younger days. Teacher taught on trombone, self taught on harmonica. I would also from time to time try and take up guitar but for whatever reason I never connected to that instrument.

I'm firmly entrenched in middle age at this point. Why I picked up uke is irelevent to this discussion. For the first time in a long time I find myself passionate about learning a new skill. I LOVE my uke. I work on playing it almost every day. The days I don't are usualy because some work overtime cost me a nights sleep. I pull it out saying to myself "time to put in my 30 minutes practice" and end up putting it away 60 to 90 minutes later. I've been doing this about 7 months now and at this point I see my self doing this for years. Nothing I read on this or any other forum is going to change that.

Here's the thing.

I read posts on here all the time from people who seem to pick up a uke and 3days later can play 10 songs. At this point in time I would not say that I have mastered 1 song. I should say here that I am really hard on myself about what sounds good. Now don't get me wrong, I can close my eyes and strum lots of the main chords at will. Put a piece of music in front of me that has the chords I have mastered at the right spots and I will not embarass myself. The thing is, I have only recently gotten to this place in my uke playing. I'm getting better every day and looking forward to how I will play in a few years but those threads about picking up uke skills almost immediately still bug me a bit

So here is the point of this long winded thread...and it is largely aimed at those who took up this instrument after the age of twenty....well fifteen at least. Ehh scrub that, lets hear from everyone.

How hard was it for you to pick this instrument up and when did you start saying to yourself *I'm starting to get good at this".

12-18-2008, 03:40 PM
I first touched a uke this past November 4th, my twentieth birthday. I now can play Banana Pancakes fairly comfortably, and can make it through about 2 more songs. I have definitely noticed that learning songs is getting easier and easier with each one.

I only just now feel like I've surpassed the agonizingly frustrating "I can't do this phase" and moved into the mildly enraging "I can kind of do this but only very poorly" stage. It soothes me to know that since I am somewhat capable, it is only a matter of time and practice before I hone myself into something presentable.

I had no musical past, apart from a few weeks of plinking on a keyboard to try to understand basic theory, and about a month's worth of terrible harmonica squawking a few years back.

12-18-2008, 04:07 PM
When I was a kid I had some of the worst music teachers possible, and I hated music instruction so much that I swore never to take a musical instrument in my hands. Years later, when I was in the mid-twenties and I had gone half-way across the globe to go to school, I heard someone play an ukulele in front of the dorm I lived in. Now this person looked like someone you would not want to get into a bar fight with, buzzcut, tank top, tatoos and all...but completely at peace and playing some reggae tune.
Struck by the ease and beauty of the sound created, I obtained an old ukulele a number of years later from a flea market, but had no idea how to play it. Utube has not been invented back then, and people used the first versions of Netscape browsers. I found someone had put a scanned copy of an old 1914 ukulele instruction book online, and soon I found myself practicing the various chords shown...and figuring out its version of Aloha Oe. It took me about a year or so, and I think 10 years later, I have learned a couple more...Akaka Falls, Manuela Boy, El Condor Pasa, ...
But then, I still learn new stuff, and play the way I like...pick/strum melodies and ornamenting it with gusto...hammer-ons, slides, chimes, harmonics. I don't perform for anyone, just for myself ...make my own melodies as I go along.
It is never to late to learn Ukulele...enjoy many more years of ukulele

12-18-2008, 04:32 PM
I have had a very similar experince. I learned to play trumpet when I was younger and could read music pretty well. I cannot do it presently. I also tried guitar but gave it up rather quickly. I picked up the uke about a year ago. I can play some simple songs twinkle twinkle and such picking Rocky Top (I'm a UT Grad had to learn) Besides that I can play alot of chords and make up stum patterns that sound good to me. I have watched all Aldrines lessons and can play them to some extent but have problems singing and playing. I am my hardest critic, although I am not that good I am better than anyone I know (I have not knowingly met another uke player).

I play almost daily and learn new stuff often but I will probably never play at the level I want to play at, who will? I think I have figured I will play for my own enjoyment and if I please anyone around me great, my wife is my biggest fan. At this point I dont know what else to say. I love the ukulele and will play it for life.

Like I read somewhere(paraphrase), the ukulele is an instrument you can learn to play in hours, but it takes a lifetime to master. (or something like that).

Keep on Stumming no matter what.

My weekend has started and Bacardi has been chilling with me!

12-18-2008, 04:36 PM
I got my first real uke when I was 19, and the learning process has been nearly painless. Probably because the thing is so tiny that I can practice it anywhere. My Flea is usually on my lap when I'm on the computer, and my Kamaka is small enough to play laying in bed. It's hard NOT to practice. ;)

And watching Aldrine's lessons religiously doesn't hurt, either!

12-18-2008, 04:37 PM
Where to start?

I'm 39 and I started playing the uke at 39. (not a typo) I played the saxophone as a kid and about 8 eight years ago I took 3 months of guitar lessons and put it down shortly after that. I just recently got back into playing guitar.

...I read posts on here all the time from people who seem to pick up a uke and 3days later can play 10 songs.....
It's not a race. Some people learn faster than others. As long as you're having fun....

How hard was it for you to pick this instrument up and when did you start saying to yourself *I'm starting to get good at this".
I found it relatively easy to get started and make sounds that resemble songs. I have yet to say "I'm starting to get good at this".

12-18-2008, 04:52 PM
I read posts on here all the time from people who seem to pick up a uke and 3days later can play 10 songs.

these are usually people that have had years of guitar experience before. not starting from scratch.

12-18-2008, 04:59 PM
Comments from people like deach and russ (there are a lot of you out there) are always encouraging, well not always, deach (:D), but they mean well.

12-18-2008, 05:10 PM
I look at it this way, there's always someone younger that plays better then you. So if, someone learned 10 songs in 3 days, does that make him a better player? Do I care? Who wants to race with me? Bring it on.

I started playing the uke about 3-1/2 years ago, and I'm still learning. I'm never comfortable with where I'm at. Or should I say, never satisfied. And yes, I do tell myself I'm good at this, I love kidding myself, it keeps me going.

12-18-2008, 06:47 PM
these are usually people that have had years of guitar experience before. not starting from scratch.

I can say that this really helps, I played cello for ~10 years, violin for about as long and guitar for a while before I got my first ukulele.

The uke is the only one that I have enjoyed playing/practicing. I enjoyed performing with the others but not so much the other stuff, give me a uke and a new song that I like and I am happy. Before I would just rush through it to make sure that I could play and move on.

Age is less of a issue, the older players that I have helped have a interest in music theory and keeping bad habits at bay. The young guys do seem to jump from song to song.

12-18-2008, 08:00 PM
Picked up the uke 6 years ago, pratice at least 4 days/wk if not 7 days/wk. Had quite a bit of music education, 6 years vocal training in various choirs in High school and college, trumpet for 3 years in middle school, one semester of ukulele and recorder in 4th grade. I find I learn best with a sheet of music in front of me since that is what I am used to. Learned my most complicated songs with tabs arranged by UUers Seeso and Dominator. Still wishing I could pick melodies and improvise better, and I count on my voice carrying my strumming mostly. I Do best when playing with others and can harmonize while playing. Keep practicing and playing the songs you love most, that'll keep you interested.

12-18-2008, 08:17 PM
these are usually people that have had years of guitar experience before. not starting from scratch.

I played over 10 songs the first day I picked up a guitar, Russ. Granted, they weren't chart toppers but my classmates thought I was the king! LOL! The same method I learned in that book can be applied to the uke. I use this method to teach adults to play their first song in less than 5 minutes. To give you the gist of how it lays the foundation, it starts out strumming the top 3 strings using only your index finger to fret one string to play a chord. The book is loaded with traditional songs that many are familiar withlike Camptown Ladies, Red River Valley, Clementine, ETC... and builds on that foundation. This is copied from a reply in the guitar section, in reply to a new member that stated people cannot be self-taught to play guitar:

Some may not learn on their own. Others do. I started playing the guitar in the 1960's. It took me exactly 14 minutes (I timed it. The newstand <that's what we called bookstore's back in the day> owner told me he would refund me the price of the book if I could not play a song in 30 minutes) to play my first song! A week later I was playing guitar and singing in my school and was instantly "cool". I still have that book. It was written by the former guitarist of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. I did play clarinet and sang in school bands and choirs, prior to that, so I understood music and music theory.

I'm not trying to discount the value of a teacher. It will accelerate the learning curve for most. Why can't a teacher be teaching in a YouTube video, for example. You would be amazed at some of the world's best guitarists that are self taught.

Here's the book:


12-18-2008, 09:16 PM
Thank god, another middle aged uke player, I'm 47.....I played flute from age 10-18 in school and retained most of my knowledge. I was never a great flute player. Came from a family of 5 multi-instrument players....except for me. Tried guitar several times, it just never clicked. Last January, I went to a beginning uke class, left there bought a $100 uke and never looked back. I now own 11, all four of my kids play, I play 3 days a week with different uke groups and am in a tropical rock band that actually has paying gigs. That amazing little instrument has radically changed my life. My biggest fear is cutting or burning a finger when cooking or having my predestined arthritis set in so I can't finger properly. I play no song perfectly, but I play a thousand okay. I love to play. I will play anywhere and everywhere. I even have ukes in my car for playing at stop lights.

Those few that know 10 songs in three days come from 3 different categories.
1. Guitar players that uke playing comes natural to.
2. Young players whose brains are not full of mundane things like going to work everyday, raising a family, paying bills, and trying to feed kids without going broke.
3. Those talented few that pick something up and naturally play.

The rest of us that can't be categorized here must learn to play for the joy of
playing. I believe my band mates are all much more accomplished musicians, I am blessed they allow me to play with them. I hope my enthusiasm makes up for my mediocre musicianship.

Just play because you love it.

12-18-2008, 11:43 PM
Im also a guitar player who made the transition to ukulele. I've been playing guitar for about 10 years, and as soon as I picked up the ukulele it just felt like I was holding a tiny guitar, and i was playing and fingerpicking instantly since the chord shapes are the same as playing on the last 4 strings of a guitar with a capo at the 5th fret. I always make it known whenever I play for somebody or show videos that I have guitar playing experience. I dont think its right to try and fool people into thinking your a ukulele prodigy and discourage them. Just like when I started on guitar it takes practice and time. The longer you hold the instrument, the more it just becomes second nature.

12-19-2008, 05:03 AM
Another player rapidly approaching middle age. (and I've got the bifocals and cholesterol to prove it)
I've got several decades of guitar behind me. (And first picked up a ukulele around the second week of February.) The fundamentals of guitar carried me over really well to uke, but the ukulele enables me to take a few things I never did well on guitar to a different level. But even so, I think I'll only be as good on uke as I was on guitar, which I always thought of as "above average" and that much I attributed mostly to the hours I put into it. As someone put it in another thread, playing is as much about muscle memory as anything else.

There's also that thing about needing to invest 10K hours (http://geniuscatalyst.com/geniusblog/?p=127) into something to attain mastery. Which puts you at about three hours a day for a decade. Give it time.

As with a lot of threads on this forum, the operative word is Practice. It gets easier and if you're experience is going to be anything like mine, you'll find that you'll work and work and work forever and seem to hit a complete dead end until suddenly one day for no apparent reason you find yourself playing at another level.
It'll be a constant cycle of stagnation and frustration and sudden epiphanies. Enjoy the ride and challenge yourself.

12-19-2008, 05:06 AM
I played over 10 songs the first day I picked up a guitar, Russ.

a thousand pardons ric. i will recant my statement and provide this new one:

aside from child prodigies, these are usually people that have had years of guitar experience before.:D

my point was to the OP. don't be discouraged by others that claim to learn to play ukulele overnight. everybody learns at their own pace. learning to play an instrument should be fun and not frustrating. like deach said, "it's not a race".

12-19-2008, 05:36 AM
50s, played guitar on and off for years, not very good but at least I could finger chords and pick. Access to tabs on the internet is what got me started back playing guitar on a regular basis, then picked up the uke about a year later. Guitar background made playing the uke alot easier. Wife started uking from scratch at the same time. Biggest breakthough was learning the songs and not looking at the music when we play. Started that 18 months ago and now know 50-60 songs by heart. When looking at the music I could only play 1 or 2 by heart. My wife summarized it best, it has to be fun. Definately not a race. As a side I've met alot of really nice people as a result of playing the uke. It's never too late to start, trying the Bass now, hey it's four strings right?

12-19-2008, 06:15 AM
Guitar (or any other stringed instrument) skills definitely help. The first time I played a uke, I miraculously knew a bunch of songs just by playing familiar chord shapes and strum patterns. So in a way, that's cheating. ;) And friction pegs didn't scare me because of 8 years of violin playing. Don't be intimidated by people who can shred on the uke after two days; they're mostly guitarists.

I imagine it's much more difficult when the ukulele is your first instrument, although brass/woodwind/piano/percussion skills don't carry over easily. However, one advantage to this is that you'll be more inclined to think like a uke player than a guitarist who happens to have a uke. I'm trying to get myself into the ukulele mindset now, but every so often I cave in and bust out some guitar riffs.

On a side note, the techniques that Aldrine teaches in lessons and uke minutes translate well to the guitar. Music theory is the same wherever you go, and the 4- and 5-finger rolls will add new dimensions to any strummy instrument.

12-19-2008, 07:44 AM
I'm 51, and when I was in elementary school I had the traditional music education. Fast-forward to my mid-forties; I decided to learn an instrument, and began playing the hammered dulcimer. I don't sight read music, which made it a bit more challenging, but I enjoy playing.

About three weeks ago, I purchased a Kala KA-MT tenor uke from MGM. I love it! An advantages of the uke over the dulcimer is that the uke is much more portable. (The size of my dulcimer is about 4 ft x 2 ft x 4 in.) So, I can carry the uke with me and practice just about anywhere. I'm working on "Over the Rainbow" using Aldrine's video and pdf and still have a way to go. But I'm enjoying myself, so who cares about my learning speed?

Hang in there, and as someone else commented, just have fun!

12-19-2008, 07:53 AM
i totally second on the guitar experience. I found the idea of strumming on ukulele really simple!!!!

since the strumming was all good for me it was easier for me to focus on the notes and finger placements.

I can also comment that I will probably never be an awesome guitar/ukulele picker but strumming is a-OK with me.

Music has no boundaries whether you are 3 or 103 years old!!!!
I really like dom's signature of "Practice makes practice perfect"....

have fun and remember UU is always here to help out!!

12-19-2008, 10:08 AM
Same here coming from a background of guitar really did help me as well. I've played guitar for about 4 or 5 years, I've played clarinet for 6, sadly I had to put that down last year due to me moving. I also have sung, played bass and am now starting ukulele which I am SURE will be a lifetime obsession. And as for age, I'm 16.

12-19-2008, 10:57 AM
45yo started playing the Uke 15 Jun 08.
Played Trombone all thru High School and messed around with the Congas off and on for years.

I play the Uke a couple hours a day and can play alot of songs "if I am looking at the books" mostly strumming chords but I am starting to figure out the finger picking and improv thing too, 6 months of lessons later.

Its still hard to learn a new song even if I have heard it and I know the chords just figuring out the chord and strum pattern is the hardest, even if its the same chords as another song I can already play.

Play for yourself and have fun...

Now for those singing lessons!!!!!

Howlin Hobbit
12-19-2008, 11:17 AM
45yo started playing the Uke 15 Jun 08.
Hmmm... that's the day I turned 50. That must put me firmly in the middle-aged ukers category.

My biggest fear is . . . having my predestined arthritis set in so I can't finger properly.
Mine has definitely kicked in this winter. I'm taking Glucosamine regularly now and it's helped a lot (and faster than I was told it would).

I believe my band mates are all much more accomplished musicians, I am blessed they allow me to play with them. I hope my enthusiasm makes up for my mediocre musicianship.
I know my bandmates are more accomplished musicians than me. Perhaps yours, like mine, appreciate you for what you bring to the sound and don't fret themselves over who's "the best."

The fundamentals of guitar carried me over really well to uke, but the ukulele enables me to take a few things I never did well on guitar to a different level.
That's my case too. I find the stuff I enjoy playing the most is so much easier to accomplish on the ukulele than on the guitar. And it's easier to carry too.

As to the main point in this thread, somebody has already said "it's not a race" and I couldn't agree more. In fact, some of the stuff I've found the hardest (and therefore, slowest) to learn has been the most personally rewarding.

Keep on strummin'...

12-19-2008, 11:44 AM
I'm 33 and I finally picked up the ukulele and started playing this summer. Began taking private lessons in 11/08 and been playing for less than a month but I am improving everyday. I am learning how to finger pick and that is hard. I have a great ukulele teacher!

12-19-2008, 12:24 PM
a thousand pardons ric. i will recant my statement and provide this new one:

aside from child prodigies, these are usually people that have had years of guitar experience before.:D

my point was to the OP. don't be discouraged by others that claim to learn to play ukulele overnight. everybody learns at their own pace. learning to play an instrument should be fun and not frustrating. like deach said, "it's not a race".

I completely agree with Russ! I started playing ukulele at the age of 30 -- to be exact, this past November. It was easy for me because I have been playing bass and guitar for more than 17 years now, and I have studied music in Europe and the US. Because of hard training, stringed instruments lay wonderfully in my hands and I have the technique and the understanding. But as Russ wrote, everyone learns at his/her own pace. Daniel, a dear friend of mine is 36 and just started playing the ukulele. He has not had any musical training before. I taught him how to play Jason Mraz's I'm yours and after 3 hours he was barely able to strum those four chords, but he didn't care at all. Daniel was happy to actually know where to press and how to strum at the same time. It will take him weeks before he can actually play a song, but that's okay for him.

Don't look too much left and right. Just have a vision of your own - just know where you want to go with the ukulele and work on that at your own pace. I'm sure you will succeed!

12-19-2008, 02:20 PM
I am 37 and started playing just about 2 years ago. Aside from a very foggy memory of some 4th grade clarinet, I have never had musical instruction. Throughout college I of course tried to teach myself guitar, enjoyed a brief period in which I felt perhaps if I acquired more guitars I would get better, then more or less walked away from it.

Picking up the Ukulele has been an incredible experience for me. I find that I am able to get through practicing without getting (overly) frustrated. I have gone through periods where I am totally stalled out, just banging on the same three chords. Then of course someone points out that there are like 3 billion songs with the three chords.

As far as breakthrough moment, I'm preparing myself for that. In all honesty I have friends whom I consider great musicians, and if you ask them you will find that they are still trying to master their art.

I am currently in a phase where I am feeling great about my progress. I don't have a songbook of tunes I can play, but here is what I think has helped push me past my last stalled out bit:

1. This site- Do the lessons, all of them. Even the songs you have no desire to learn. Aldrine is a great teacher and in each there has been a nugget that I notice myself using in "freeplay"

2. Freeplay. Don't try and nail down a song. Essentially write your own. Try different strums, or different chord combinations. I had tried for example, to learn various combinations that work. Instead, I play several and let my ear figure it out. I make up patterns. I couldnt tell you what they are, it is all just muscle memory for me. I have NO musical background remember!

3. Learning/trying a few strum patterns. This was so huge for me. When I stalled out playing just three chords, I was pretty discouraged. I realized that one of the reasons I stalled on the chords was that I could make those few chord changes really well, and was afraid of the other changes. So by changing up the strums, I had so many new "songs" using what I already knew. This eventually gave me a new thing to be confident about and now I am excited about practicing.

4. If you can, grab up an additional instrument, even a really inexpensive one. I keep one in my office and find I can knock around on it throughout the day here and there. Also, here in NYC we have a ridiculous system wher we have to move our cars from one side of the street to the other and then are stuck there for 1.5 hours, twice a week. I sit in the car and have great practices. Its like singing in the shower.

5. Playing a lot, and sometimes just hold the instrument. Alternatively, if I have been really trying to learn a song, I have to stop after about a half hour. I find when I start again, I am miles ahead of where I was when I paused. Give your brain time to wire itself.

Good luck

12-19-2008, 02:38 PM
I started playing about 4 years ago, on a little hilo soprano. Terrible strings, out of tune, just a mess. But I did buy a book with it, and it taught me a lot of songs actually. It taught me how to read notes, and from already being in a music backround, I picked up on it pretty quickly. Then as the hilo uke, just wasnt do anything for me, i asked my parents if i could get a better uke. They said sure, and since my birthday was coming up I got a lanikai tenor. I played for a while after that and in that time I found UU(praise the lord) and I started learning more and more and finally got down summer breeze. lol. kind of. It was passable and it was fun, so that was fine by me. Then I just stopped playing my uke. for about 3 months i had just cut cold turkey from the uke, i dont even know why i did but it happened. As I got back into it, about a year ago now, I learned more and more and more and more from everything youtube video i could find. I found dominator's Something lesson on youtube and I got hooked on that. about a month after that i got it down and was jamming away. and now im just doing the same thing, searching youtube for whatever lesson i cant find, learning new chords, and different stuff i can do with the uke. I think though, that ive reached the point where i cant learn much more without a teacher. so here i am, wasting away your time with this huge essay, and that is my uke story? yeah i think that about covers it.

12-19-2008, 04:44 PM
I knew I was not alone before I put this post up but all the replys are a bit hartwarming. One minor thing. Some of you seem to have focused on this part of my original thread "people who seem to pick up a uke and 3 days later can play 10 songs".

But they seem to ignore this part of the thread "I pull it out saying to myself "time to put in my 30 minutes practice" and end up putting it away 60 to 90 minutes later. I've been doing this about 7 months now and at this point I see my self doing this for years. Nothing I read on this or any other forum is going to change that."

The uke is officialy a part of my life. I get that learning it is a journey and not a race.

I really apreciate all the support but my question was all about the experience people had learning this instrument as an adult. The responce overwhelmed me. It seems I've touched on something that affects many of us.

I thank all of you for your responces and I hope you keep them coming. This much responce indicates to me that this is a subject that many readers of this forum are pondering.

BTW, I am not unhappy with where I am with the uke at this point. I have made huge progress since I first picked it up and I have had lots of fun making that progress. I just put up the thread because the idea of learning to play an instrument as an adult had me pondering. There seem to be 2 thoughts on the matter from what I have seen. The first is from the majority of adults and it seems to be that learning anything that complex and new is to hard and not worth the effort.

I know way to many poeple with that mindset

The second is that you are never to old and in fact your life experiance might actualy bring something to the table.

I get a bit of teasing from some of the poeple I know when they find out I have taken up learning to play an instrument at my age, especialy when they find out it's a uke. I know they are wrong, but I cannot tell you all how much it means to me that a place like this exists. The support you all give to anyone who asks is no small thing.

12-20-2008, 06:29 AM
I find playing the ukulele terribly frustrating. But -- I love it anyway. I played piano from grade 2 to 11. Played the clarinet in grades 5 to 7. Played flute in grades 8 to 11, and in 12th grade I got to play the bassoon -- best instrument next to the ukulele. I graduated from high school in 1974. That's when my music "career" stopped. Last February I picked up the ukulele and haven't put it down yet. As a 51 -- almost 52 -- year old it's much harder to learn an instrument. I've been taking lessons since March. I can tell I'm a better player when I look at the music I started with in Feb. But then I watch videos on you tube and think I'll never be a good ukulele player. My friends hounded me for months to play for them so I did. It was a disaster and they -- including my husband -- were not kind. I don't care. Well, I do but I just decided not to play for them anymore. I try to practice for an hour a day and often find that it's been longer. It now feels weird to miss a day. The questions I keep asking myself are: If I only play by and for myself, why do I take lessons to get better? Why do I practice if I'm never going to play for other people? The answer I keep getting is because it's fun. Age has nothing to do with it. My body may be 51 and some days it feels a lot older (dang!) but I for sure don't have a 51-yr old mind. You only understand this when you get older. Think Grandma Moses. She didn't start painting until her 70's I think. I get teasing too but only until I play a Jake CD for them. Then they understand. Even my mother-in-law, who is an excellent trained musician said she didn't know that the ukulele could be a serious instrument.

Bottom line -- yes, it's harder as a more mature adult to learn now stuff; but that's no reason not to try.

12-20-2008, 02:12 PM
I meant to add one more thing too-

I recently read about a study that showed that learning an instrument, especially at an older age, helps exercise the mind and may even help prevent Alzheimers. Ukulele as cure for old age. Not a bad reason to keep on keepin on.

01-20-2009, 01:59 AM
Howz it go'in man,, I'm 32, i got my first guitar for my 29 birthday, i could play a metallica riff (enter sandman) as a kid but nothing real special,, anyway i got this guitar and strted getting into Jack Johnson stuff,, learnt most of his songs over a 6-8 mth preiod,,could play most pretty good, but always a bit ruff,,
i tried learn'n the slide part in "Flake",, which opened a whole new world to me of playing the guitar,,
I got my first uke about 4-5 mths ago,, dont really play the guitar anymore
My point is,,, if you really enjoy what you are doing,, learning is ezy,,you obviously enjoy what you are doing so the problem is not that,,
Practise,practise,practice,, is the key,, and rather than sometimes everyday for an hr or so,, maybe every 2nd-3rd day for 2-3 hrs or so,,
Studying the fundamentals of music also helps, gives you an understanding of how music flows,,
But practise mainly,, i have spent many hours play'n and sounding absolutely s@#t house, so dont sweat it brother every body strts somewhere!!

01-20-2009, 05:05 AM
I am 40 years old and just started. And like you, I am smitten. And I also suck. Right now I am quite terrible, but I know from experience that in about two years time I will be good. (Not Jake guitar crying good, but, ‘Hey, that’s cool!’ good.) One hour a day, every day, of truly focused and smart practice and in two years you can be accomplished at an instrument as per the average person’s ears.

Generally I am skeptical of non-guitar playing ukuers who report they can play 20 songs after one week. I suspect they play 20 songs quite poorly.

The ukulele is a wonderful instrument in that it does provide you immediate compensation even after only a few weeks. (I think just strumming the open strings sounds quite beautiful.) But as far as I can tell really performing sophisticated music on the uke is just as challenging as with any other instrument; it takes a while – as in years of development.

From my experience I actually do not think that younger people have an easier time learning a new instrument. I actually suspect the opposite as few young people have the discipline to actually stay focused on an instrument at least one hour a day for several months / years to get over the initial development hump during which most people just stop. ( I know that when I was a teenager I never would have had the patience to learn an instrument. I was way too busy chasing skirts!)

What does matter, a lot, is not your age, but how you practice. I am not an accomplished uker at all – yet- but I know how to practice well from my other instruments.

Some people practice by playing what they know well. They’ll repeat the same songs, or even just the bit of the songs the like. And other people intentionally practice what they suck at. The piece of the song that always sounds bad, or the technique that leaves them frustrated. Or practicing scales over and over to they sing. It’s the players who always focus on their shortcomings that tend to improve. The others remain stagnant.

One of the best home-grown performers I ever encountered was someone who started an instrument at the age of 50. He was a very focused, very intense guy who spent three hours a day really working and sweating on his instrument. After about three years he sounded truly awesome – quite better than any teenager I had ever heard.

I suspect the fallacy that only young people can learn an instrument comes from the fact that it is mostly young people who have the free time to spend on an instrument. Besides all that free time, I would take a disciplined focused middle aged mind over a wild turkey teenager mind any day. Basically: take ten middle aged bald guys, and ten teenagers, give ‘em all ukes and I am sure on average the old guys will kick the young guys asses. The middle aged guys will have methodically advanced their skills and the young pups would have spent all their time playing guitar hero.

01-20-2009, 05:54 AM
No musical background at all for me. I tried to self-learn guitar a couple of times but I just couldn't do it, too hard on my poor ole back among other things.
I picked up a uke a little less than a year ago and found the instrument for me. As some others have said I get some funny looks from time to time when people find out that I'm trying to learn ukulele at 50. I don't much care though. I'm playing it because I enjoy it. I'm still not what I would call "good" at any song but I can make my way through about a half dozen now. I still have trouble with some of the chord shapes even on the first songs I learned and being able to finger style like some of the folks here just ain't gonna happen. But again, I don't much care. I play because I enjoy it.
My ukulele just seems to brighten up the day. And, I also pick it up sometimes and when I put it down I find that an hour has gone by.

Ukulele JJ
01-20-2009, 10:53 AM
Generally I am skeptical of non-guitar playing ukuers who report they can play 20 songs after one week. I suspect they play 20 songs quite poorly.

Oh, I don't know. In a week, you can learn three chords and get to the point where you're playing them fairly well.

And once you've got three chords, there are 20 gazillion songs you can suddenly play! :music:


01-21-2009, 04:16 AM
i'm 37 and started a little over a year ago, with limited previous experience with other instruments (trumpet in 7th and 8th grade, a bit of self-taught piano). i can probably "play" several dozen songs, but that's with the changes written out in front of me, stopping and starting in fits. there are a few songs i could probably get through in a respectable manner in front of others with out any cheats in front of me, but that isn't what my playing is about. what i have come to realize over the last year, is that i really just play for my own enjoyment. if someone else happens to hear me and they like it, that's cool too, but i generally am not playing for anyone else (except this one time, and that *was* pretty cool). i won't start gigging anytime soon, i am way too busy for that even if i was good enough. i play for my own entertainment, and so if that's slogging through tune after tune and never mastering any of them but getting a kick out of it, so be it.

01-21-2009, 06:38 PM
well im 15... have been playing for about 2 and a half months. I've mastered about 4 songs and and crap load of memorable riffs. It took me about a month to realize that i was getting good and that i could learn songs a lot more easily. Just like you i feel like im gonna being playing for a long time.:D

01-21-2009, 06:44 PM
Okay, I am not an adult, but I am in the last few days of my teenage years and this is the first muical instrument I have been serious about playing.

While I can sample a lot of songs after only a few weeks, I am not very musically inclined. At reaching to two months, I have not mastered any songs, though I can play a few poorly. However, I have gotten A LOT better, and I am starting to tell people that I play now, and more confidently.

I find it hard to believe that people can play complete songs after a few days. I am pretty sure their definition of 'mastering' a song means that they can play the gist of it, but probably not very well.