View Full Version : Teacher needed?

12-20-2008, 06:39 PM
Does getting actual lessons from a ukulele teacher help much? Or is there such a wealth of information on-line (such as this forum) that one can pretty much get the same results by being self-taught?

12-20-2008, 08:19 PM
You can get the same help on forums as you can from an instructor, but there are a few upsides to getting personal lessons. For one, an instructor will probably get to know your style, what you're good at and can learn easily and vise versa, so h/she can help you there. Also he/she can show you what you might be doing wrong.(of course, people can help you with these on forums, but it's easier to understand and fix your mistake if someone's showing you up front) It's also good to be self-taught. It will improve your musical ear and understanding. It's really up to how you think you can learn better.

12-21-2008, 12:55 AM
Does getting actual lessons from a ukulele teacher help much? Or is there such a wealth of information on-line (such as this forum) that one can pretty much get the same results by being self-taught?

It definitely helps to have lessons. Self-teaching is excellent but as the second poster says it has its limits. There are certain things you just can't teach yourself, or at least don't notice you're doing without a teacher's input.

Having someone who knows what they're doing tell you how to hold the uke properly and how to sit correctly really helps. Once you have these basics self-teaching is pretty much all you need. I have a lesson once a week and it helps just to get feedback on my playing and technique etc.

12-21-2008, 04:06 AM
I think it depends. Ukulele stylings are incredibly different and if your instructor is someone who thinks that the only way to play the uke is to just strum the crap out of it really fast, you will miss out.

Guitar instructors tend to specialize into stylings, yet many are convinced that they can teach uke too even though they don't spend the time to learn more about the instrument, the whole string thing, stylings, etc. Just like finding a guitar instructor who leans towards flamenco, classical, blues, fingerpicking (travis style otherwise), you should talk to your potential instructor and have them play a range of music to get a sense of their style.

The instructors (2) where I live are nice enough, one is considered a Uke authority but when I took ONE class from him I realized he knew less than I did. And trust me that's not saying much. He knew his 1920's hula songs and strummed them at 78rpm and wore a hawaiian shirt. The other guy is a guitar teacher who focuses on old country, blues, and travis picking who recently scratched ukulele onto his card after seeing the other guy taking on a ton of clients. Muting and chunking? unheard of. Rotating strings from 1234 to 1423? never heard of such silliness. Fingerpicking? a fad. Different tunings? Nah, it's all stardard now. You get the picture.

12-21-2008, 05:04 AM
I think you can master the basics on your own.Once you know the chords,can play some songs and are ready for some fancier stuff,then that is a great time to have someone show you some tricks one on one.

12-21-2008, 07:44 AM
Everyone here is giving good advice. I only recommend an instructor because I had a good experience with them.(go Roy Sakuma's!!) And like I said, it's totally up to your learning style.

12-21-2008, 09:41 AM
i think there is always a wall that every self taught musician will hit and will need some kind of inspiration or teacher to help him/her get to the next level. whether it be learning music theory or how to finger pick or just a whole new style of playing, you're going to need something to boost you up to a better ability.

thats what i think at least...

12-21-2008, 04:48 PM
As someone who takes lessons -- I think having a teacher is fabulous. My teacher can help with any problems I may be having -- fingerings, strums, theory, picking patterns, you name it. She can also point out any bad habits I'm starting before they get too bad. Sometimes I think she is too into guitar teaching-type stuff, but when I pay attention to her suggestions I find I improve much more quickly. Of course you can learn on your own, it's just a bit slower.

12-21-2008, 07:22 PM
there is a difference from being self taught and learning the real aspect of music and putting it to the ukulele...thts a big step. learning music theory helps a lot. you can learn all the songs in the world but putting together your own song right from mind/improvising is different. improvising is where music came from, i say.

12-22-2008, 11:54 AM
As a beginner ukulele player myself... I am taking private lessons too and I take lessons once or twice a week. Having a teacher really helps because you get to have the one on one personalized attention and he (my teacher) can point out what I am doing right and wrong. I been taking lessons for less than a month...

12-22-2008, 02:34 PM
If people can get an online Masters Degree, then people can learn the Ukulele online w/out an instructor! A wise man once said, "HEY TEACHER, LEAVE THE KID ALONE!"

12-22-2008, 02:52 PM
If people can get an online Masters Degree, then people can learn the Ukulele online w/out an instructor! A wise man once said, "HEY TEACHER, LEAVE THE KID ALONE!"

It sounds as if you mean "screw instructors!". the whole online masters/learning uke online is true, but you can't knock it before you try it. I'm sure glad I didn't.

12-22-2008, 03:20 PM
Playing an instrument is a physical skill. There are subtleties involved that are often not apparent to someone who is unskilled watching someone who is skilled. This is not to say that you cannot learn Uke without a teacher. The person who put up this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvbBaj4hb8w claims to be self taught. OK, it's guitar and not uke but the guy can PLAY. The thing is, that you can pick up some bad habits teaching yourself and never realize it while watching videos on Youtube. A good instructor on the other hand will watch you for about 5 seconds, stop you, and correct you.

From what I've read around here about instructors on this forum, there are a lot of them that you should stay away from, so that is a nudge in the dirrection of "Teach yourself". My personal experience is a bit different. I lucked into someone who really know's his way around a uke. He never tries to teach me the one true way of playing. One of the first questions he asked when I me him was "Where do you want to go with this instrument?" He still asks me that on a regular basis.

Minor side story. I had read on this forum about the "chunk" strum. I asked my instructor about it and explained what it was suposed to do. Based on what I told him, he could not duplicate it but he did show me other techniques that would give you the same effect. Through trial and error, I finaly figured out how to do it. I showed my teacher and he said something along the lines of "Oh yeah, I use that but I call it ****" I forget what he called it. The point of the minor side story is that he indeed knew how to do it but he did not call it a "Chunk strum". Language changes drastically based on geography.

All that aside, whether or not you take lessons should depend on the quality of the poeple giving lessons in the location you are willing to travel to. Some things that should raise a red flag -

They insist that the way they teach is "THE WAY".

You know you have your Uke tuned correctly but they insist you tune it differently.

You ask them a question about something you have seen demonstrated on Youtube and can duplicate yourself and they dismiss it as unimportant.

I'm sure there are others but I'm hoping you get the idea.

I'm glad I found an excellent teacher and if you find one as good as mine I would highly recomend taking the lessons. If you cannot find someone who is willing to teach you what you want to learn but instead insists that the only way is for you to learn what they want to teach, I would recomend you learn what you can on your own.

12-22-2008, 05:09 PM
That's a very important point I forgot to mention; yes, I was lucky enough to be assigned to a great teacher,(a great teacher as described by waterguy ) but not all instructors are like that.