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Ipcmlr
06-21-2013, 09:19 AM
Whats the best way for someone with zero experience to learn the ukulele?
Money is not really a concern.

Is getting a ukelele teacher the best way so I learn faster and not get into bad habits?

Or do I just read books, watch videos and strum away?

Thanks!

UkeKiddinMe
06-21-2013, 10:09 AM
If money is no object, then the answer is: both.
Get a teacher, and supplement it with your own work.

JuanNephrota
06-21-2013, 10:41 AM
Probably not the best way, but I've had decent success with the lessons from http://www.ukuleletricks.com/.

PhilUSAFRet
06-21-2013, 10:52 AM
Don't know where you live. My uke club has beginners lessons. Many "uke instructors" are guitar players that "play a little uke." A good basic program is the eMedia Ukulele DVD to get you through the basics. Then you can make enough sense of it to progress more quickly on your own. Many tutorials on YouTube. Just search
Ukulele how to (fill in the blank) Tune a uke, restring a uke, hold a uke, strum a uke, finger chords, etc. etc. Ralph Shaw a delightful teacher.

http://www.emediamusic.com/dvdrsc.html

Ipcmlr
06-21-2013, 11:30 AM
Thanks. Appreciate all you suggestions.
I live in Maryland close to DC.
I'll probably get a uke teacher plus do uncle rod's boot camp as exercises.

Sounds good? no?

Raygf
06-21-2013, 11:41 AM
Thanks. Appreciate all you suggestions.
I live in Maryland close to DC.
I'll probably get a uke teacher plus do uncle rod's boot camp as exercises.

Sounds good? no?
Sounds good. Yes!

Louis0815
06-21-2013, 11:51 AM
whatever you decide to go for, keep a few things in mind:
- have fun practicing/playing. stop when it hurts.
- slow down, esp. in the beginning. Your fingers will need time to get used to it.
- do not only concentrate on practice. put in some theory (notes, chords, naming conventions, ...) every now and then
- have fun

OldePhart
06-21-2013, 01:00 PM
Actually, learning is a very individual thing. Live lessons from a good teacher can be a great help to almost anyone, though. Notice I said good teacher. The ability to play well does not always translate to the ability to teach well! Likewise, the ability to teach guitar doesn't necessarily translate well to teaching ukulele unless the teacher also plays ukulele. I mention that last bit because there are a lot of "ukulele teachers" who have never really played - they are guitar teachers who figured since the uke is popular and it's "just a little guitar" they can teach it, too.

Edit: One quick trick to spot these guys is ask them to play you a George Formby piece - if you get the "deer in the headlights" stare or a lot of hemming and hawing find another teacher. It's not necessarily that every ukulele teacher should necessarily be able to play Formby style well - but they should certainly know what you're talking about and be able to demonstrate some fast triple strums even if they don't use Formby's exact technique.

There is some overlap between ukulele and guitar but presumably you are attracted to the ukulele in its own right and in that case you want to learn the techniques that make ukulele music sound the way it does, not just practice guitar techniques on a smaller instrument!

John

SailingUke
06-21-2013, 01:18 PM
I really encourage beginners to take a class.
When you are brand new a private class can be a little intense and overwhelming.
Also in a class you might meet some folks who want to get together and practice.
I believe the best way to learn is playing with others.
Attending a ukulele club is also a great way to learn. Most clubs are friendly to beginners.
In my group we get folks who know 2 or 3 chords, they play what they can. Some of them that stick with it get up to speed very quickly.
Another advantage of a class is you might be able to drag some other students to a ukulele gathering and you can all over cover for each other.
Don't wait until you are "good enough" to go to a group, you will never get there.

UkeKiddinMe
06-21-2013, 02:12 PM
I'm about to blaspheme, but - I'm not a big fan of the Boot Camp material available.

Simple - it's not enough fun. It's downright - monotonous.

People need to learn - with actual songs - and there are Plenty of songs out there to correspond to the level of the learning player.

Just my humble opinion.

Get that teacher, stick close to the teacher, and then explore a Variety of other materials out there.

You'll be fine.

Sparkle
06-21-2013, 02:30 PM
All of the above, plus some things:

1. Always work on something that excites you, in addition to theory & practice. Don't learn "Hot Cross Buns" if you really want to learn Hank Williams, Sr. or Justin Bieber, jump in and try for something that's a little more challenging. (See point #2)

2. Challenge yourself. Example: I have tons of theory knowledge, but it's 20 years old and a jumble of things I didn't get when I did piano. Playing uke I put stuff together that my slowness in learning piano prevented me from understanding. Tonight, I worked out the chords for key of Am on paper so I could write a sad song. That challenged all of my knowledge and leaned heavily on the things I did master (notes as legos), plus some refresher research.

3. If you practice a technique, show it off (in every song you work on) until its yours. :-) Not only will you get the technique into your muscle memory, you'll learn when and where it works best for you.

I love classes, workshops, uke clubs, work jams. Try everything until you find what really works for you. Any place you can play and be around musicians who are better than you, you will likely learn something. Even when they don't play uke. Theory is theory. Sometimes guitar techniques apply. You can learn awesome harmony ideas from singers and impressive fingerstyle techniques from guitarists.

Re finding a teacher: I love the idea of asking about Formby, and I think it might be enlightening to ask what their ratio of guitar to uke students are if you are in a big enough area. I would also ask them what instrument they primarily spend their time with as a musician (performing or composing), how much training they have themselves on their instrument(s).

Shastastan
06-22-2013, 08:21 AM
After a year, I'm still a rookie. Why? Because I don't practice enough. Take everything said above into account, particularly the advice about teachers. I wish there were some good ones where I live.

From my own limited experience, not developing bad habits is important. I'm still learning the right hand position (for me) to strum with my index finger. I've been strumming with my thumb. I read a lot of posts on here that said that's okay and to just have fun. I can't argue with that but we are all different and I'm sorry now that I have to go back and learn to strum with my index finger even though I like the sound made using the thumb a lot more. I can't play as fast as I would like with my thumb. I know now that strumming with the index finger will give me a lot more versatility. I would think that a good teacher would have caught this right away. I know now that I have to have my uke in a certain "o'clock" position for my index finger to strum squarely on both the nail and flesh sides. I'm sort of bummed out with myself for not started out using my index finger. Of course there are some who say being a trumpet player is a handicap :) because I place such high importance on tone quality. I guess that's a reason that I started with the thumb. My point is that, if I had a good teacher, they would have got me started with my hands and uke in a good position for my anatomy. Yes, you would think that I could figure that out for myself, but for me, it's sort of like a golf swing---you can see what others are doing wrong, but can't correct your own mistakes. I started out with guitar and looking back I see now that the teachers didn't correct these simple things either. If they had, maybe I'd still be learning guitar and never have come to the uke. Serendipitious?

Ipcmlr
06-22-2013, 09:54 AM
Thanks for all the input!
I checked out the uke teacher here.
Yes he is a guitar player but he's a pretty good uke and mandolin player as well so he does know all sorts of strumming.
We shall see if he is any good:D
He did graduate from berkelee so he does know all his music theory as well.

As for uncle rods being monotonous. I actually like it that way. I can see if I'm making progress or not since it is all repetition.

Thanks for all the feedback!

Lime
06-22-2013, 11:53 AM
I'm a beginner and I'm teaching my daughter (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?82136-Teaching-Kids). We went the route of a learning method that teaches notes and melody first and strumming later. I prefer to learn this way. It somehow makes the whole instrument make more sense to me to understand each string and fret first. I think it's a more complete foundation as well. The book series (Ukulele in the Classroom) is also very comprehensive, which is very good since we don't have a teacher. It's for kids, but it works on adults, too.

There was one ukulele teacher advertising in my area. When I contacted him, he kept emphasizing that his lessons would be really easy and we would only learn a few chords, and essentially, not to worry because we weren't going to do any serious playing. So... basically, he was telling me that his lessons were a waste of time and money. He also let slip that he was turning to ukulele because he couldn't get any work as a guitar teacher and noticed that there weren't any ukulele teachers in the area. No thanks!

ukemunga
06-22-2013, 12:16 PM
And... don't necessarily be in a hurry unless there's some kind of deadline reason you need to hustle.

Enjoy the journey and have fun. It's not a contest. Not saying you feel that way. Just needed to say it.

Lime
06-22-2013, 12:17 PM
It's not a contest.
Unless you've entered a contest. Have you entered a contest?

Flyinby
06-22-2013, 06:42 PM
I'm a beginner and I'm teaching my daughter (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?82136-Teaching-Kids). We went the route of a learning method that teaches notes and melody first and strumming later. I prefer to learn this way. It somehow makes the whole instrument make more sense to me to understand each string and fret first. I think it's a more complete foundation as well. The book series (Ukulele in the Classroom) is also very comprehensive, which is very good since we don't have a teacher. It's for kids, but it works on adults, too.

There was one ukulele teacher advertising in my area. When I contacted him, he kept emphasizing that his lessons would be really easy and we would only learn a few chords, and essentially, not to worry because we weren't going to do any serious playing. So... basically, he was telling me that his lessons were a waste of time and money. He also let slip that he was turning to ukulele because he couldn't get any work as a guitar teacher and noticed that there weren't any ukulele teachers in the area. No thanks!

It may depend a lot on the individual, but I'd watch to see if your daughter keeps her interest. A strict, structured approach may not work for everyone.

I got a guitar at around age 8, along with some basic "old-style" formal instruction where you learn to read the music, play simple melodies with single notes, etc., and it eventually went and stayed in the closet. At about 20, I bought a cheap guitar, a chord book, and a couple of books of popular songs I liked that showed chords, not necessarily just simple 3-4 chord songs but both simple and more complicated ones. After that, I had a great time, learning songs I LIKED playing, and soon was jamming with friends and at a local coffee gallery and thoroughly enjoying myself.

Now, 40+ years later, I still don't play a lot of lead, but it really doesn't matter, and I still love playing, though it's been uke instead of guitar in the past couple of years.

Got a U-Bass a while back, and thought I'd get a book to help figure out a few things more quickly, beyond the basic 1-5 boom-boom, and unfortunately it was one of "those" books that insisted you read music from the (bass) staff and was no fun at all. Never mind, I'll wait until I find a better book, or figure it out myself.

My son learned the same way, and does well and loves playing, and despite starting with chords, plays a nice lead now.

A year ago I started teaching my grandson the uke, in the only way I really feel comfortable with...pick a few songs he likes, show him the chords, write them down, and have him listen to the song a few times, and let him go. He strummed too hard and loud, but I figured rather than discourage him by being overly picky, give him a little hint of strumming a bit softer, keeping rhythm, etc., let him play, and when he hears himself later, he'll figure it out. A year later he's good enough that I don't think I'll have much to teach him much longer. He plays well, sings along, and is not afraid of an audience, even a large one. I think this because, from day one, he enjoyed it, played music he liked, and wasn't overly nitpicked about detail or bad habits (habits aren't so hard to change, when it's time). At his age (10), I had lost interest in guitar.

Remember, few of us will ever be great musicians, but we can play well and have fun, and that's what it's all about unless one hopes to make a career of it. The teacher you talked to may have the right idea, so if your daughter's interest wanes, you might consider giving it a shot.

ukemunga
06-22-2013, 06:54 PM
Unless you've entered a contest. Have you entered a contest?

Nooo... I'm unworthy! But having a helluva lotta fun! :cheers:

BIGDB
06-22-2013, 07:49 PM
What I did was take lessons (guitar lessons before I knew about the ukulele) just to get the basics down then I learned on youtube and for theory I did the UU+ lessons. This is probably one of my favorite videos what he says is fantastic http://youtu.be/3yRMbH36HRE a lot of what he says can help you figure out how to learn any instrument. I love how he says "when we were learning to speak we were allowed to jam with professionals " so when you play your ukulele, or any instrument, you should play with other people that are better then you

Lime
06-22-2013, 08:46 PM
It may depend a lot on the individual, but I'd watch to see if your daughter keeps her interest. A strict, structured approach may not work for everyone.

I got a guitar at around age 8, along with some basic "old-style" formal instruction where you learn to read the music, play simple melodies with single notes, etc., and it eventually went and stayed in the closet. At about 20, I bought a cheap guitar, a chord book, and a couple of books of popular songs I liked that showed chords, not necessarily just simple 3-4 chord songs but both simple and more complicated ones. After that, I had a great time, learning songs I LIKED playing, and soon was jamming with friends and at a local coffee gallery and thoroughly enjoying myself.

Now, 40+ years later, I still don't play a lot of lead, but it really doesn't matter, and I still love playing, though it's been uke instead of guitar in the past couple of years.

Got a U-Bass a while back, and thought I'd get a book to help figure out a few things more quickly, beyond the basic 1-5 boom-boom, and unfortunately it was one of "those" books that insisted you read music from the (bass) staff and was no fun at all. Never mind, I'll wait until I find a better book, or figure it out myself.

My son learned the same way, and does well and loves playing, and despite starting with chords, plays a nice lead now.

A year ago I started teaching my grandson the uke, in the only way I really feel comfortable with...pick a few songs he likes, show him the chords, write them down, and have him listen to the song a few times, and let him go. He strummed too hard and loud, but I figured rather than discourage him by being overly picky, give him a little hint of strumming a bit softer, keeping rhythm, etc., let him play, and when he hears himself later, he'll figure it out. A year later he's good enough that I don't think I'll have much to teach him much longer. He plays well, sings along, and is not afraid of an audience, even a large one. I think this because, from day one, he enjoyed it, played music he liked, and wasn't overly nitpicked about detail or bad habits (habits aren't so hard to change, when it's time). At his age (10), I had lost interest in guitar.

Remember, few of us will ever be great musicians, but we can play well and have fun, and that's what it's all about unless one hopes to make a career of it. The teacher you talked to may have the right idea, so if your daughter's interest wanes, you might consider giving it a shot.
Well, I actually like the structure because it gives me my bearings. To just start playing songs with chords - it feels like jumping into a lake with my eyes closed or something. I don't know, that sounds weird, but that's how I prefer to approach stringed instruments. The first time I picked up a guitar, I was trying to figure out how to do scales on it. If the strings and notes are a mystery, then it weirds me out. I don't want to play an instrument without knowing it first.

I should clarify, though, we're not exclusively sticking to the books. We're doing chords, too, but most beginner methods seem to focus exclusively on chords. I just thought I'd point out that there are more than just chords and that's not the only way to learn, and in fact, if you're like me you may not prefer to learn that way. My comments were mostly focused on my personal learning (not my daughter's); I thought I'd point out that there are people (like me) who prefer not to start by learning chords, or at least, not chords exclusively. I'm not a great musician, and I don't suppose I ever will be. As for the teacher I contacted, I really don't think he has anything to offer me. He's not really a ukulele player and he's not offering me anything I can't get from YouTube.

As for my daughter, she's way different from me. She's a strummer, for sure. She bobs her head and sings and she wants to play ukulele because it's cool. That's why her first instrument is a bright pink Dolphin instead of a cello (there were parent/child cello lessons at the university - it was suggested more than once). She's also only five, so our book learning is extremely brief. I mean, it could take us five years to get through book 1 at this pace. So, yes, I'm keeping it fun for her, it's rule #1 and we're not in a hurry. The structure is there to help me teach her and to have some kind of anchor so we don't end up in a rut. I mean, I've never done this before, and those books are a proven method. However, any more comments specifically about teaching children should probably go over to the thread I linked to in my first comment about teaching children, as this thread is about self-teaching.

Although, if you know the chords for Anything is Possible by Cherry Jam, please let me know. My daughter is begging to play that song.

armchair_spaceman
06-22-2013, 08:50 PM
I'm only a few months in...I found the "Uke Buddy" online series a fun and easy way to get something started. I worked through them quickly and now that I've learned a few enough things to be dangerous I've moved on to the UU+ stuff and working through that but mixing it up with a few other exercises, Uncle Rod's Boot Camp, some songs that I like, depending on what I feel like on the day. It's a recreation/relaxation thing for me right now so I'm not approaching it in a very structured or disciplined way yet, just having a lot of fun with it.

Lime
06-22-2013, 08:51 PM
Nooo... I'm unworthy! But having a helluva lotta fun! :cheers:
If I entered a contest, it would be for comic relief or to make other people feel better. :p

Tootler
06-23-2013, 03:17 AM
Learning is a very individual thing. Everyone has their own needs.

A class can be very useful both for complete beginners and "improvers". Individual lessons work well for others but can work out expensive. They can be particularly useful if you want to work on specific aspects of technique.

You Tube and other online resources are very useful. Be critical, though, they will be very variable in quality.

Many folk swear by Uncle Rod's boot camp as a resource for practicing. I'm not so keen myself, though. I prefer to practice by learning and playing songs.

I started out by going to a complete beginners workshop. From there I'm essentially self taught. I go to workshops when they are available. I use the Internet and I find this forum very useful. I have picked up quite a number of tips from here.

Aldrine's "Uke Minutes" on You Tube I find very useful. Each video deals with one specific topic and provides a manageable chunk of learning. They are of excellent quality and very clearly presented. I'm surprised they don't get recommended more often here. Aldrine is, after all, one of the founders of UU.

byjimini
06-23-2013, 03:19 AM
Pick a song you like, learn the chords, pick another song with similar chords.

Each to their own though.

addicted2myuke
06-23-2013, 04:32 AM
If you do decide to take private lessons, be sure to ask pertenant questions, like does this person teach ukulele specifically or is he a guitar teacher that thinks that the uke is just smaller? Do not discount youtube. There are literally hundreds of tutorials on youtube. You have the convenience of stopping the video and replaying as many times as you need to. I consider myself a decent player and well beyond the beginner stage and I owe it mainly to youtube. Yes, I have books and cds, but none compare to seeing it done and then practicing it 500 times. It's not complicated. See it...practice it. Repeat as needed. Good luck.

phil hague
06-23-2013, 05:46 AM
Join a Uke Club, it does great thing for your confidence.

insula
06-23-2013, 07:17 AM
Many of your questions and concerns are answered in a great book, suitable for all instruments, not just ukulele:

Making Music for the Joy of It, by Stephanie Judy - subtitle is "A Guide for Adult Beginning and Amateur Musicians", Tarcher/Putnam, 1990 - I believe it is still in print and/or available used on Amazon.

Great tips for learning yourself, sharing music learning with your family, joining a group, theory vs. playing for fun - a world of encouragement for people just starting out and think they're "too old", returning to making music after bad or uninspiring experiences as children, switching to a new instrument, you name it.

Flyinby
06-23-2013, 11:10 AM
Well, I actually like the structure because it gives me my bearings. To just start playing songs with chords - it feels like jumping into a lake with my eyes closed or something. I don't know, that sounds weird, but that's how I prefer to approach stringed instruments. The first time I picked up a guitar, I was trying to figure out how to do scales on it. If the strings and notes are a mystery, then it weirds me out. I don't want to play an instrument without knowing it first.

I should clarify, though, we're not exclusively sticking to the books. We're doing chords, too, but most beginner methods seem to focus exclusively on chords. I just thought I'd point out that there are more than just chords and that's not the only way to learn, and in fact, if you're like me you may not prefer to learn that way. My comments were mostly focused on my personal learning (not my daughter's); I thought I'd point out that there are people (like me) who prefer not to start by learning chords, or at least, not chords exclusively. I'm not a great musician, and I don't suppose I ever will be. As for the teacher I contacted, I really don't think he has anything to offer me. He's not really a ukulele player and he's not offering me anything I can't get from YouTube.

As for my daughter, she's way different from me. She's a strummer, for sure. She bobs her head and sings and she wants to play ukulele because it's cool. That's why her first instrument is a bright pink Dolphin instead of a cello (there were parent/child cello lessons at the university - it was suggested more than once). She's also only five, so our book learning is extremely brief. I mean, it could take us five years to get through book 1 at this pace. So, yes, I'm keeping it fun for her, it's rule #1 and we're not in a hurry. The structure is there to help me teach her and to have some kind of anchor so we don't end up in a rut. I mean, I've never done this before, and those books are a proven method. However, any more comments specifically about teaching children should probably go over to the thread I linked to in my first comment about teaching children, as this thread is about self-teaching.

Although, if you know the chords for Anything is Possible by Cherry Jam, please let me know. My daughter is begging to play that song.

As long as she's enthusiastic, that's the main thing. Whether one learns music theory, then single note songs, and adds chords later, or starts with chords and fills in with breaks, riffs, and leads later is less important than keeping her happy so she picks it up and plays just because she enjoys it.

Understanding scales, how chords are made, and their relation to each other is important, but can come as the need arises (they find the chords to a song they like but can't sing that low/high, for example). The same with lead and breaks etc., they can be filled in as their abilities improve and they want to sound better.

Anyway, I looked at the song you mentioned on YouTube as I'd never heard of it, and unfortunately it's played in a bad key for most anything...F#, but if you have a capo you can capo the first fret and she should be able to learn it in F. Or, I suppose you can tune the uke up a half tone instead, but it puts a bit of extra strain on it.

It's mostly 4 chords...F, Dm (the easy one without the little finger), Bb and C or C7 (assuming, if she's playing with the music, the capo is on the first fret). F is a good key for playing it, the hardest chord will probably be Bb. I don't have time to write out the whole song for you right now, and it's possible there might be other chords that can be added, but that might give you a place to start. After she learns it and doesn't need to play along with the music, you can probably lose the capo and just play it in normal F.

Just to confuse things, you could tune the uke down a half tone, which is safer, and play it in G, for which the chords would be G, Em, C, and D/D7 instead of the ones above. But I think the basic F chords sound better with the song.

Shastastan
06-23-2013, 12:02 PM
.....snip..... . I love how he says "when we were learning to speak we were allowed to jam with professionals " so when you play your ukulele, or any instrument, you should play with other people that are better then you

This a great point and one that's not mentioned that often. It has helped me, as a musician, long before I ever played the uke, too. It really surprises me how much better I do when playing with other players better than me. Sure, you try harder to avoid embarrassment, but you also just seem to gravitate to a higher ability level without even thinking about it. Pretty fun, actually.