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View Full Version : Fingerpicking - how long does it take to master?



Helms
09-20-2013, 01:44 AM
Hey!

Sorry for the long post - I hope you'll take the time to answer :) Thanks

I have always wanted to be able to sit down and play music that was either my own or something I had learned to play by myself, by hearing songs.
I find myself limited to only tabs - only playing songs that others have been kind enough to write down in tabs. Problem is - when I've learned a song from a tab, I just don't know what to do with it afterwards.
Though it feels great to be able to play something new, I always know that I can't do more with the song then others that have also learned to play the same song.

I don't have too much trouble learning new songs and due to excessive practicing I often learn a complete song within a day or two - ranging from many of Jake's original songs to Beatles, Billy Joel etc. that has been tabbed (Big shoutout to Colin Tribe for excellent tabs!!)..

But I always find myself wanting more. I want to be the one writing tabs - I want to be able to share and express myself through the ukulele - if that makes any sense :)

I'm currently half way through the theory-class on UU+ and have learned quite a bit there. Although I am familiar with most of the music theory, having it specified to a ukulele is quite helpful and have been an eyeopener several times.

I keep coming back to HMS' youtubechannel. Hearing Corey Fujimoto playing is such an inspiration and is really what I want to be able to do.

It just all seems to far away and so difficult, compared to my abilities at the moment.
But the only reason I keep on going is knowing that I will never get there unless I do something about it.

So my question is - is it possible?
With dedicate training would something like this be achived within 1 year? 2, 3, 4 or 5 years?
I know it's hard to say - but how long did it take for you or are you still getting there?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGRnv5UBqxQ

Thanks guys!

Ukejenny
09-20-2013, 02:53 AM
You are way ahead of me, but I wanted to say that yes, it is totally possible and you are on the right path. Keep going.

Also, I wanted to ask how you got ahold of Colin Tribe's arrangements?

Morada
09-20-2013, 04:11 AM
If you want to write tabs - start writing tabs!

Can you listen to a song and figure out the chords? I think that would be the first step in learning to write tabs.

sukie
09-20-2013, 04:35 AM
Of course you can do it. How long will it take? That depends. That part is kind of up to you. Younger people learn faster than older people. People who practice pick it up quicker than those that ding around. I'm old(ish) and I'm in year 5. I have a long way to go. But what I study also has an influence on my progress.

You can do it. Just keep going.

PhilUSAFRet
09-20-2013, 04:53 AM
IMHO, it's a unique blend of aptitude and perseverance. It's a journey and even the best strive to be better, to keep learning, set goals, schedule practice time, etc. etc. It's good that you can actually see and hear what you are reaching for. Good luck with your journey.

janeray1940
09-20-2013, 05:07 AM
I know it's hard to say - but how long did it take for you or are you still getting there?


Just about to begin my fifth year of serious ukulele playing (two instructor, lessons at least once a week, playing every day) and I can say with absolute certainty I am still "getting there." But I've also progressed far beyond where I ever expected to be, so - the process of getting there is a good thing. One of my instructors likes to say "It's the journey, not the destination" and I have to agree.

I've been playing fingerstyle instrumentals from someone else's tab since nearly Day One, but my goal is to get off of paper entirely and make what I am playing mine instead of somebody else's - which sounds sort of like what you are hoping to accomplish. One exercise that has helped with this: when I want to learn a song, rather than finding a tab for it, my instructor will write out the chords for me. I'll add the melody and change the chords to different inversions, and it becomes this sort of living, growing thing that evolves as I progress. I'm just now about at the point where I can actually hear chord progressions and probably won't need to rely on my instructor for this - for me, this has been the hardest thing to learn (while melodies come easily to me, chords do not!).

The key for me has been ear training - something that I've found doesn't really happen on the Internet or out of books so much. What has made it all "click" has been attending jams, playing without paper in front of me, and especially playing with folks who play other instruments - it's far easier for me to hear a progression on bass or guitar than on uke. Even playing along with records will help with this.

blowery
09-20-2013, 05:11 AM
Of course you can do it. How long will it take? That depends. That part is kind of up to you. Younger people learn faster than older people. People who practice pick it up quicker than those that ding around. I'm old(ish) and I'm in year 5. I have a long way to go. But what I study also has an influence on my progress.

You can do it. Just keep going.

This sums it up pretty good. It basically depends on you and the time you are willing to put in practicing. I've played guitar for 20 years and uke for over 6 and can finger pick pretty easily. Almost preferring it now even on guitar rather than a pick. When I first started playing I would sometimes practice 6+ hours a day (before wife & kids lol) everyday. Thats obviously slowed down by far now, but I still pick it up everyday even for just a few minutes.

As Allen Iverson famously put it...We talkin' bout practice!

Find a pattern to fingerpick. Choose a chord...C and just keep repeating that pattern and change chords, String 1,4,2,3 as an example. Repeat it at a speed you can do easily and using the same fingers. Switch to an F chord and do the same thing.
People fingerpick or clawhammer different ways so find a way that works for you and practice it. It will really help getting your fingers used to picking individual strings and then there are lots of options/styles to go from there.

vanflynn
09-20-2013, 06:43 AM
Uke Exercises for Dummies http://www.dummies.com/store/product/Ukulele-Exercises-For-Dummies.productCd-1118506855.html addresses fingerpicking patterns like rolls and picking individual notes.
That might be of help

Helms
09-20-2013, 09:23 AM
Also, I wanted to ask how you got ahold of Colin Tribe's arrangements?

Through his website. Just mail him and he'll give you all the details :)

Thanks guys. Guess that was the answer I was expecting.
I could have made myself a bit clearer though and chosen a more fitting title for the thread.
The issue is not fingerpicking in itself. I have no problem fingerpicking whatsoever - the problem is using it for more then just tabs by other. I want to play by ear and to make my own arrangements. :)

But thanks guys - these were the answers I was expecting and hoping for. Guess I'll just have to get back to practicing! :)

AndrewKuker
09-20-2013, 09:29 AM
This shows a few patterns- you may have seen already but.. right hand stuff to practice


http://youtu.be/wCLJ-RhZaGs

When you learn the scales and how the chord shapes relate to them you can take a progression and expand melodies around each chord easier. Aaron teaches the CAGED theory at the site or you can learn in the fretboard logic or roadmap books. This is the most logical way from what I have seen.
I've seen Corey practice the same thing for hours and hours. Your ability to do that is a big part of your "talent". Sounds like you have that gift so keep up the good work.
Composing is something Corey just started doing. Mastering the skill of playing music has always been more important to him than the pride of creation. Something to consider.

UkeKiddinMe
09-20-2013, 09:33 AM
Time to get to an advanced level - which I personally will never reach - is inversely proportional to
passion and Time you put into it. There's no way to estimate the time. It's absolutely inversely proportional
to what you put into it. You can get there fast or slow. It's up to you.

NewKid
09-20-2013, 09:47 AM
Accelerate your progress by taking lessons from players you admire. I'm studying chord melody jazz with Sarah Maisel and she's great. I just wrote my first tab - my own version of "Pure Imagination". It's simple compared to what Sarah can do but it was a very satisfying beginning for me. I'm at a new level of fun!

Good luck!
Don

HBolte
09-20-2013, 12:02 PM
Pretty much any song can be played by finger picking. I just use the chords for a song and make up my own fingerpicking. They sound nice and if I can do it anyone can. :)

HBolte
09-20-2013, 12:08 PM
This shows a few patterns- you may have seen already but.. right hand stuff to practice


When you learn the scales and how the chord shapes relate to them you can take a progression and expand melodies around each chord easier. Aaron teaches the CAGED theory at the site or you can learn in the fretboard logic or roadmap books. This is the most logical way from what I have seen.
I've seen Corey practice the same thing for hours and hours. Your ability to do that is a big part of your "talent". Sounds like you have that gift so keep up the good work.
Composing is something Corey just started doing. Mastering the skill of playing music has always been more important to him than the pride of creation. Something to consider.

You're right Andrew, it's all about practice. Thanks for sharing this video...bookmarked.

Steveperrywriter
09-20-2013, 12:48 PM
Well, Dr. Anders Ericsson's research says that to get world-class, you are looking at (more or less, depending) ten thousand hours. Though you could probably be a pretty good player with only a couple thousand ...

Steve

hmgberg
09-20-2013, 01:14 PM
Just about to begin my fifth year of serious ukulele playing (two instructor, lessons at least once a week, playing every day) and I can say with absolute certainty I am still "getting there." But I've also progressed far beyond where I ever expected to be, so - the process of getting there is a good thing. One of my instructors likes to say "It's the journey, not the destination" and I have to agree.

I've been playing fingerstyle instrumentals from someone else's tab since nearly Day One, but my goal is to get off of paper entirely and make what I am playing mine instead of somebody else's - which sounds sort of like what you are hoping to accomplish. One exercise that has helped with this: when I want to learn a song, rather than finding a tab for it, my instructor will write out the chords for me. I'll add the melody and change the chords to different inversions, and it becomes this sort of living, growing thing that evolves as I progress. I'm just now about at the point where I can actually hear chord progressions and probably won't need to rely on my instructor for this - for me, this has been the hardest thing to learn (while melodies come easily to me, chords do not!).

The key for me has been ear training - something that I've found doesn't really happen on the Internet or out of books so much. What has made it all "click" has been attending jams, playing without paper in front of me, and especially playing with folks who play other instruments - it's far easier for me to hear a progression on bass or guitar than on uke. Even playing along with records will help with this.

This is wonderful advice. All of it. Immersing yourself in music through a greater variety of approaches (ear training, playing with others who play different instruments, etc.) is most helpful. I would also reiterate the bit about the journey being most significant. It is something I tell my art students all the time. If you can embrace the journey, you will always be positive about learning, about allowing for all possibilities and surprises that come along.

The good news (something I also tell students) is that if you don't have aptitude for something, the desire to do it eventually wanes. Therefore, if you have been at it for a while, it most likely means you have a lot of potential for growth.

If I were you, I would stop playing from tabs right now. NOW! If what you want to do is make your own arrangements or compose yourself, repeatedly playing other people's tabs is in your way. It exacerbated by the fact that, as you describe it, it comes easy and you're good at it. In other words, if you get frustrated working out your own material, if it isn't sounding so fantastic or is a struggle, the temptation is that much greater to return to the tabs.

I realized from almost the first moment that I picked up an ukulele that I wanted to do my own arrangements and develop my own musical voice. I started right away. It is important to note that I have now background in theory. Everything I do I mess around with until I get the sound and feeling I want. My playing and musical sensibilities have come a long way, but I realize I have a long way to go, thankfully. That is what embracing the journey is all about.

Helms
09-20-2013, 02:24 PM
The good news (something I also tell students) is that if you don't have aptitude for something, the desire to do it eventually wanes. Therefore, if you have been at it for a while, it most likely means you have a lot of potential for growth.

If I were you, I would stop playing from tabs right now. NOW! If what you want to do is make your own arrangements or compose yourself, repeatedly playing other people's tabs is in your way. It exacerbated by the fact that, as you describe it, it comes easy and you're good at it. In other words, if you get frustrated working out your own material, if it isn't sounding so fantastic or is a struggle, the temptation is that much greater to return to the tabs.

I realized from almost the first moment that I picked up an ukulele that I wanted to do my own arrangements and develop my own musical voice. I started right away. It is important to note that I have now background in theory. Everything I do I mess around with until I get the sound and feeling I want. My playing and musical sensibilities have come a long way, but I realize I have a long way to go, thankfully. That is what embracing the journey is all about.

Wise words :)
Thank you. I have never thought of it like that. And you're right. I'll be putting tabs away for a while and focus only on moving forward :)

And the nice thing about the journey is when you know you've made progress. That is a feeling of huge accomplishement, that no tab can make you feel. Guess I have to appreciate the journey and enjoy the small improvements more rather then ignoring them and focus on all the things I can't do yet.

bunnyf
09-20-2013, 02:30 PM
I'm with Phil, I think it's a combination of aptitude and perseverance, but with perseverance being primary. I've only been playing for a couple of years and have made what I consider to be good progress ( I'm pretty sure it's not .aptitude, never did well on any other instrument). But I practice like crazy, and that certainly counts for something( but I'm old and have limited memory and dexterity). I admire your desire to achieve more. Go for it!

Nickie
09-20-2013, 03:14 PM
I've read over and over again that it takes about 10,000 hours to master anything....maybe someday I'll master reading that...

hmgberg
09-20-2013, 10:10 PM
I've read over and over again that it takes about 10,000 hours to master anything....maybe someday I'll master reading that...

Fantastic, Nickie!

I should have mastered sleeping by now, given this adage, but it's 4:00 AM and I can't do it.

pulelehua
09-20-2013, 10:25 PM
When you ask people how long they've been playing, they always tell you in years. Which tells you just about nothing. As someone mentioned, you need 10,000 hours to become a "master". That's obviously an artificial number, but what's important is that it says it in hours. That many hours can take 8 years, it can take 35. So, don't think that you've practised 1 week. Think that you've practised 2 hours. And even hours can be misleading. An hour playing what you know, while watching reality TV, doesn't really count for too much. Practice should involve focus, and trying some new things.

I don't mean to put you off. But I think you need to know what to focus on, and how to do it. If you want to compose, which you seem to, theory helps loads. Because then you know that Cm-Ab-G7-Cm is going to sound good. You just spend less time reinventing the wheel, and when you break the rules, you know you're doing it.

I would say, look at chords and melodies that you like, and try to work out what's going on. Steal ideas that work for you. All great composers steal, and always have. There are lots of videos and books about theory and composing. But at the end of the day, it takes time. You're going to write some rubbish. All great composers do.

Step out, knowing that you're going to fall on your face. Knowing that you're going to get up. Knowing that you'll get better. Writing music is like walking.

:)

John