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tbeltrans
06-17-2014, 02:20 PM
Here is what I have done to get started playing ukulele. Since I am self-taught (through books and various learning materials - nobody learns in a vacuum), I know what issues I need to address and how to find solutions. Hopefully this is helpful to somebody here. I am not suggesting other people do it this way - always remember we are each unique and have different learning styles and approaches to problem solving. However, the thought process may be helpful to spur your own thinking in a problem-solving sort of manner to address the various issues starting a new venture presents and get moving forward.

Recently, I got two ukuleles, one from the builder with standard high G (re-entrant) tuning and one from the builder with low G tuning. As I looked around to see what was available for learning ukulele, it became clear to me that I would either be swapping out strings fairly frequently or I would need two ukuleles, so I chose the latter route.

The next issue for me was how to hold the ukulele. I have played fingerstyle guitar for many years and prefer using a strap so that, whether sitting or standing, my guitar is always in the same (classical type) position, with the fretboard pointing up toward my shoulder so the hands fall naturally on the instrument without twisting my wrists at uncomfortable angles and inviting tendonitis and other maladies that could shorten my playing experience. It was Steven King (the fingerstyle guitarist) who encouraged me to go that route and time has proven him right, at least for the styles of music I play.

So I decided to do likewise on the ukulele. Unfortunately, my ukuleles are rather expensive and do not have strap buttons, and I don't want to add any. So, looking around on these forums I discovered the Mobius strap by Tim Mullins. Since both my ukuleles are reasonably shaped like a miniature guitar (I don't know if that is traditional or not), this strap works well for either one. Problem solved!

The final piece of the puzzle for me is the direction I want to take in learning. I tend to do well working on my own by ear and via books and DVDs. I have had one of the ukuleles for two weeks now and have spent time figuring out melodies by ear (a great thing to do for anybody). Since I understand music theory (it really is rather simple, except in the hands of people who love to make simple things complicated as I saw all too frequently in the guitar forums), I was able to quickly teach myself the notes on the ukulele fretboard and then start building chords on my own.

However, watching videos of really good players on Youtube, it quickly became apparent to me that the ukulele is not to be taken too lightly. There is a lot of technique and information to be gleaned from an organized study of the instrument in addition to my own fooling around with it.

My interest is primarily solo fingerstyle playing (I don't and will not sing) and chord melody. I purchased a number of books on arranging and playing solo material on the ukulele. But to start with, I got a set of three books from Alfred Publishing that comprise the "Complete Ukulele Method". Each comes with a DVD with a couple of hours of instruction on each. These books combined take you from the very beginning through advanced arranging and playing. This seems a reasonable way to get off the ground.

So that is my early steps to playing ukulele. I hope these reflections are useful to somebody here.

Tony

CeeJay
06-17-2014, 03:07 PM
Well having read all through this tbeltrans you seem to have it all sussed out and I'm pleased for you....as one who does take the ukulele as a fairly light hearted instrument ...albeit one to be played musically you will probably understand that your post has both bemused and somewhat alienated me...I have no problem with people who wish to adapt the instrument to a guitar like status or as they see it elevate it beyond a strummed instrument and develop the scope and range of the instrument.

I myself enjoy picking the melody out of the chord and attempting a lead and rhythm type sound whilst strumming and picking...me ...I started with a very simple book. I think it was the Lew Stern method ....from about 1927 ......and have built on that by playing the thing......

However ..Good Luck.

bnolsen
06-17-2014, 03:17 PM
well you have done a ton of research so far. I came in from the opposite direction, wanting to have an instrument to supplement my singing. I've gone over to do some fingerpicking just because I like knowing a few basic island tunes and I really like renaissance medieval music.

But regardless, for basic chord progressions uncle rod's boot camp is still a greatset of warmup exercises to run. I've been playing through Mel Bay Fingerstyle Solos for Ukulele by Mark Kailana Nelson which contains mostly island music and also chord inversion exercises for working up the fretboard.

I have a fluke that's been tuned low-g for many months now. I'm personally not feeling the low-g and will probably turn it back to reentrant.

I tend to agree with above poster in that ukulele isn't a typical choice when it comes to serious study. However I do have to agree that having something portable, easy to handle and generally "available" are great reasons to have a ukulele or 2 around.

tbeltrans
06-17-2014, 03:23 PM
Well having read all through this tbeltrans you seem to have it all sussed out and I'm pleased for you....as one who does take the ukulele as a fairly light hearted instrument ...albeit one to be played musically you will probably understand that your post has both bemused and somewhat alienated me...I have no problem with people who wish to adapt the instrument to a guitar like status or as they see it elevate it beyond a strummed instrument and develop the scope and range of the instrument.

I myself enjoy picking the melody out of the chord and attempting a lead and rhythm type sound whilst strumming and picking...me ...I started with a very simple book. I think it was the Lew Stern method ....from about 1927 ......and have built on that by playing the thing......

However ..Good Luck.

"Alienated" seems a bit strong and I am not at all sure how to respond to that except to say that I am sorry that you feel that way. I thought I made it clear that my way does not have to be anybody else's way. I only posted my thought process as ONE perspective.

I am sorry I posted.

Tony

tbeltrans
06-17-2014, 03:25 PM
bnolsen:

It sounds like you are having fun and I am glad for you. I don't detect any of the strangeness I have seen elsewhere in this thread, so I assume you are more willing to accept that we can have different approaches and enjoy our own musical paths. I appreciate that.

Thanks,

Tony

bnolsen
06-17-2014, 03:31 PM
its the internet. don't take anything too seriously. it'll be interesting to see what happens as you advance in playing.

high numbers of ukulele players start out because they bought one on a whim and then decide they like to play.

CeeJay
06-17-2014, 03:52 PM
bnolsen:

It sounds like you are having fun and I am glad for you. I don't detect any of the strangeness I have seen elsewhere in this thread, so I assume you are more willing to accept that we can have different approaches and enjoy our own musical paths. I appreciate that.

Thanks,

Tony

Oh dear....I've done it again....Strangeness....oh well at least you did not call it "hate":rolleyes:.......

Right, first off , I love the Uke ....I have returned to it after about ooooh a 20 to 25 year lay off....things have changed ....people get "serious" about it. and they play these BIG things called Tenor or Baritone...to me ...small guitars (which I do not have a problem with )

I don't see it as a "serious" instrument. But then Ukulele to me means soprano (and just lately concert...I did not want to ...I just fell for it in the shop)sized uke and ukebanjo(do not cringe !!!)

Which does not mean that I do not take it seriously as a strummed instrument ........and I mean strummed .....Triple,Fan, double finger, synchronous pulloff, hammer on (LH) blah blah...and more ....a lot of fingerstyle guita....ukelele players dismiss the skills required to make an effective strum .......

but my uke playing is as a strumming and syncopating instrument...........so perhaps I get a bit defensive when people say that they are going to play it "fingerstyle" there are those who say that as though strumming is somehow the work of the inane and mentally feeble. So "Alienate" ..okay "differentiate" is better and more friendly sounding.

So no harm no foul...(bugger me the more I write on this forum the more American I sound..read ..whatever..)

Musically ...I do play just about anything ....or have a fair stab ........even the piano and the lesser regarded relative, the piano accordion. So what do I know ?

No offence intended though clearly given.......it is 3 am here ...I should be toddling off to the wooden hill....

tbeltrans
06-17-2014, 04:10 PM
its the internet. don't take anything too seriously. it'll be interesting to see what happens as you advance in playing.

high numbers of ukulele players start out because they bought one on a whim and then decide they like to play.

Thanks bnolsen. I appreciate your supportive comments. I only hoped for discussion among others starting out with the ukulele regardless of their particular approach. I respect that we all have different approaches and didn't realize my approach would not necessarily be treated in kind.

Anyway, the players that have really impressed me have been Daniel Ho and Jake Shimurakuro, and I am becoming aware of several other players with similar skills. That is how I want to learn to play. What anybody else wants to do with their ukuleles is all good too.

Thanks,

Tony

tbeltrans
06-17-2014, 04:12 PM
Oh dear....I've done it again....Strangeness....oh well at least you did not call it "hate":rolleyes:.......

Right, first off , I love the Uke ....I have returned to it after about ooooh a 20 to 25 year lay off....things have changed ....people get "serious" about it. and they play these BIG things called Tenor or Baritone...to me ...small guitars (which I do not have a problem with )

I don't see it as a "serious" instrument. But then Ukulele to me means soprano (and just lately concert...I did not want to ...I just fell for it in the shop)sized uke and ukebanjo(do not cringe !!!)

Which does not mean that I do not take it seriously as a strummed instrument ........and I mean strummed .....Triple,Fan, double finger, synchronous pulloff, hammer on (LH) blah blah...and more ....a lot of fingerstyle guita....ukelele players dismiss the skills required to make an effective strum .......

but my uke playing is as a strumming and syncopating instrument...........so perhaps I get a bit defensive when people say that they are going to play it "fingerstyle" there are those who say that as though strumming is somehow the work of the inane and mentally feeble. So "Alienate" ..okay "differentiate" is better and more friendly sounding.

So no harm no foul...(bugger me the more I write on this forum the more American I sound..read ..whatever..)

Musically ...I do play just about anything ....or have a fair stab ........even the piano and the lesser regarded relative, the piano accordion. So what do I know ?

No offence intended though clearly given.......it is 3 am here ...I should be toddling off to the wooden hill....

My goodness! I NEVER said anything negative about anything anybody else is doing with their ukuleles. You must have mistaken me for somebody else. As I said, in your case, I am sorry I posted and really don't know what else to say to you. I think you and I should give it a rest and move on. I can only apologize that my post had this effect on you. Best to just let it go and move on now.

Tony

CeeJay
06-17-2014, 09:09 PM
My goodness! I NEVER said anything negative about anything anybody else is doing with their ukuleles. You must have mistaken me for somebody else. As I said, in your case, I am sorry I posted and really don't know what else to say to you. I think you and I should give it a rest and move on. I can only apologize that my post had this effect on you. Best to just let it go and move on now.

Tony

You are not reading it as it was wrote, which is always a problem with forums and the written word .....I ended by writing "no offence intended...."...tho' clearly I have upset you ...that was not my intent.................
It was early in the morning and I was probably being a bit cranky...and a bit english....I didn't mean to imply that YOU had written anything negative...but that there were those on the forum who regarded a certain style of playing as somehow superior to others....

My second post was by way of an olive branch ..........an oddly worded one albeit...but that's just me....!!
CJ

tbeltrans
06-18-2014, 01:04 AM
You are not reading it as it was wrote, which is always a problem with forums and the written word .....I ended by writing "no offence intended...."...tho' clearly I have upset you ...that was not my intent.................
It was early in the morning and I was probably being a bit cranky...and a bit english....I didn't mean to imply that YOU had written anything negative...but that there were those on the forum who regarded a certain style of playing as somehow superior to others....

My second post was by way of an olive branch ..........an oddly worded one albeit...but that's just me....!!
CJ

I really am at a loss on this one. I think we can just get past it and possibly go on with whatever discussion we might want to have about our respective approaches to the ukulele.

My approach comes from a couple of things, by way of clarification. I never paid much attention to the ukulele until I heard a local person playing standards in a solo fingerstyle manner on the instrument. We all have different musical tastes, and that seems to be one of mine. Then, I got Daniel Ho's CD Polani, which is all his own solo fingerstyle ukulele compositions. This music rivals anything I have heard on any instrument in its simple beauty. So, for me, in order to play the music I really enjoy hearing on the ukulele, I will need to develop the skillset to do so. That has absolutely no reflection on what other people choose to do with their ukuleles.

I have a real interest in helping other adults learn to enjoy playing music, whether on the keyboard or guitar, and in time, the ukulele. I have taught adults individually and in classes for free, and even wrote a simple booklet that I provided free in some of those classes, showing people how to create simple solo arrangements for fingerstyle guitar. I have heard so many adults express regret at not having learned to play an instrument. To me, it seems ANYONE can learn to play in whatever manner they wish. All they need is a solid plan to follow, whether it is noodling to find their own musical voice or a structured approach to develop a variety of skills - it doesn't matter to me. The idea is for each person to do what they enjoy. I am retiring at the end of next week and wish to begin my real learning how to play ukulele, so I did my own preliminary work ahead of that. If it isn't too controversial here, I would really enjoy dialog with others who are also learning in their own way as we each progress. I fully respect ANY approach to the instrument and honestly do not wish to tangle with anybody about this. My own view is that we can all learn from each other, and that can keep each of us out of ruts we may otherwise find ourselves in. I guess time will tell whether that idea is shared by anybody else here. Based on what I have read so far, it seems this situation we find ourselves in is an anomaly rather than the norm, thankfully.

David Sudnow, in his piano course on playing standards by ear and from a fakebook, introduced me to the "problem solving" approach that I used in my first post in this thread. When I posted, I was simply showing my own approach, based on what I have learned from others over the years. In forums such as this, my attitude is "take what you need and leave the rest". What I mean is that not everything is suitable for everybody's particular needs. But if we come away with some kernel of an idea that helps us, then it was all worthwhile. I have read a lot in these forums and simply wanted to show up with some of my own ideas which may be applicable to some and maybe not to others.

Thanks,

Tony

Andy Chen
06-20-2014, 03:07 AM
Hi Tony! Nice to see you over here after having encountered you on the MacNichol forum.

I'm with you on this: When I picked up the ukulele from the guitar, I soon realised it is not just a fun instrument. I have guitar-playing friends who disagree (politely) with me and are a bit snobby towards the uke, but hey, I can live with differing opinions.

bnolsen
06-20-2014, 03:41 AM
if they made guitars with the same string spacing as my martin or fluke I would be noodling with one. Actually though ukulele is absolutely great for being able to do rhythm stuff and not have to worry or bother with muting any strings or needing to chop your fingers into raw meat.

PineappleUkulelist
06-24-2014, 01:57 PM
Hi, I just got my ukulele half an hour ago and am having trouble tuning the C string. I have a snark tuner. It recognizes all other strings and notes but skips from D# right to B. Help!

CeeJay
06-24-2014, 02:01 PM
What ukulele do you have ?

Is it a re-entrant (high G thin string) then C thick E thinner A thinnest or a low G then etc ....Soprano,Concert Tenor .....or a Baritone ?

tbeltrans
06-24-2014, 04:07 PM
Hi Tony! Nice to see you over here after having encountered you on the MacNichol forum.

I'm with you on this: When I picked up the ukulele from the guitar, I soon realised it is not just a fun instrument. I have guitar-playing friends who disagree (politely) with me and are a bit snobby towards the uke, but hey, I can live with differing opinions.

Nice to see you Andy. I see we both like to play a number of instruments. You seem to have a healthy attitude about other people's attitudes. I figure I will just lay low until I can play well enough to let the ukulele speak for itself.

Tony

Ukejenny
06-25-2014, 07:38 AM
Hello Tony, your first post was interesting. I will be checking out those Alfred Publishing ukulele books. I think any instrument can be anything you want it to be. I came to ukulele from the wind instrument family. Learning the notes on the fretboard is what I'm working on now. No matter how you go about it, music is fun in all it's varied forms. You can pick up a lot of great information from the folks here at UU. What kind of ukuleles do you own?

tbeltrans
06-25-2014, 02:53 PM
Hello Tony, your first post was interesting. I will be checking out those Alfred Publishing ukulele books. I think any instrument can be anything you want it to be. I came to ukulele from the wind instrument family. Learning the notes on the fretboard is what I'm working on now. No matter how you go about it, music is fun in all it's varied forms. You can pick up a lot of great information from the folks here at UU. What kind of ukuleles do you own?

Thanks Ukejenny!

I have two ukuleles: a Ko'olau tenor that is very customized and a Kamaka Ohta-San with a tenor neck. The Kamaka is apparently somewhere between a concert and a tenor in body size and the tenor neck is a custom upcharge.

Here is how I taught myself the notes on the guitar fretboard, and am doing the same with equal success on my ukulele (I am sure glad that high G and low G differences are only the octave of the G string):

Every day do this with ONE note - just give it time to soak in over a couple of weeks by doing only one note a day:

1. Pick a note at random on the fretboard - stare off into space or whatever and just plop down a finger anywhere on the fretboard. Determine the name of that note. There are many ways to do this - you know the matching tones when tuning your ukulele and the fact that the note at the 12th fret (do all ukuleles have at least 12 frets - both of mine do?) are an octave higher than the open string.
2. Find that note all along the string closest to you and then on each successive string, and then do the same retracing your steps going back down.

It is helpful to note that on any given string, between the open string and the 12th fret an octave higher, all the chromatic notes occur once on each string (EVERY string) (the set of all notes available in Western music).

When you start to really see the notes on the fretboard after a few weeks of this simple exercise, you can also start easily picking out any scale (major, minors, etc.) anywhere, as well as any chord. If you know how scales and chords are spelled, the entire fretboard is yours once you start to see it via this exercise - no need for books on this stuff. Books are good for learning technique, songs, arranging, etc. But the foundation of music can be self-taught as described here.

This exercise only takes a few minutes and I do it every time I pick up my guitar or ukulele to keep it fresh in my mind.

I have a very simple, logical approach to music theory because all the esoteric stuff that (at least guitar players) tend to spout off about in forums is a complete waste of time for most of us. Simple diatonic theory can be explained in under 10 minutes, and that is all we use to play most popular music. I can make a post on that if anyone is interested. It really is far more simple than many people make it out to be.

Tony

bnolsen
06-25-2014, 05:42 PM
if you can its good to do exercises to learn the general chord shapes and their inversions up the fretboard. i know my mel bay fingerstyle solos for ukulele has a section for the major, major 7ths, minors and minor 7ths. no real need to mute strings on a uke!

tbeltrans
06-26-2014, 09:01 AM
if you can its good to do exercises to learn the general chord shapes and their inversions up the fretboard. i know my mel bay fingerstyle solos for ukulele has a section for the major, major 7ths, minors and minor 7ths. no real need to mute strings on a uke!

bnolsen - thanks for the tip. I am definitely interested in what other people have done to improve, and will give this a serious try. I can certainly see the value in it.

Tony

amadeo00
06-28-2014, 02:31 AM
Hi every one, Is it an age limit for learning how to play this instrument ? My sweet grandma after a trip to Hawaii just does't want to give up playing !
Thanks

tbeltrans
06-29-2014, 01:33 PM
Hi every one, Is it an age limit for learning how to play this instrument ? My sweet grandma after a trip to Hawaii just does't want to give up playing !
Thanks

Being a newcomer to the ukulele, I cannot answer specifically to the instrument. However, I can offer this. David Sudnow created a self-teaching piano course. He would give weekend seminars to provide instruction on how to teach yourself. His focus was on playing in a cocktail style from fakebooks (chords + melody) in such a way that you could expand on that yourself as you got immersed in it. He spent much of his time teaching retired (older) adults, and much of the seminar was helping them get past what he called "myths" of music regarding any sort of age barrier and whether "talent" (or lack of) was a barrier to even trying.

I personally saw older people learn to play well enough to play the tunes they knew. There was a local "Sudnow group" that I participated in for several years while teaching myself. Age was NOT a factor. Since the piano is a musical instrument, and likewise the ukulele is a musical instrument, I see no reason to think there would be any sort of barrier to learning to play ukulele either.

Some people will compare instruments in terms of one being more difficult than another. To me all instruments present their own unique challenges and are therefore equally deserving of the caring that it takes to master the instrument (or at least go as far as an individual wants to take it).

Tony