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janeray1940
07-14-2014, 07:49 AM
This comment (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?98702-Oh-Straps-where-have-you-been-all-my-life&p=1551862#post1551862) and my response to it in another thread got me to thinking about what might be an interesting discussion, particularly for newbies: if you could go back in time and tell your beginning-ukulele-player self a few helpful bits of advice, what would they be?

A few that come to mind:

Never say never. You may be so sure that you will "never" play anything but a particular size or wood or brand, but needs change over time. For instance - when I started playing I thought I wanted only mahogany, soprano, and vintage. Fast forward five years and I'm all about koa, concert scale, and brand-spankin'-new.

Don't believe what you read. Always try it yourself and come to your own conclusions. Trust your instincts (and trust that they may change over time!).

Put a strap on it. Don't explain, don't justify, just do it :)

12 frets is not enough. (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?98742-if-you-knew-then-what-you-know-now&p=1551950#post1551950) The more, the better, and you want a 14-fret join if at all possible.

That's just for starters. Anyone else??

RichM
07-14-2014, 07:59 AM
After years of not liking mahogany guitars and really not liking mahogany mandolins, I just assumed I wouldn't like mahogany ukes, so I avoided them. Boy, was I wrong-- mahogany makes awesome ukes!

Icelander53
07-14-2014, 08:09 AM
Start forty years earlier

and yes put a strap on it.

BlueLatitude
07-14-2014, 08:11 AM
Don't buy too cheap. You probably ARE going to like playing it, so get something a little better than the cheapest thing you can find.

I was lucky, and found UU before I bought my first one, so I didn't fall into that trap, but I very nearly did.

janeray1940
07-14-2014, 08:22 AM
Start forty years earlier


LOL! I actually *did* start forty years earlier, so to that advice I'd add "and stick with it." :)

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
07-14-2014, 08:23 AM
Spend some time playing with the lights off. I don't care if it's musically correct, just experience and explore the finger board and really listen. Having a bit of a scientific and analytic mind I tend to try to understand things too deeply. When I started feeling the music my playing improved immensely.

katysax
07-14-2014, 08:24 AM
What ever I think now is almost certainly what I won't think a year from now.

Be very skeptical of forums. Beware that even the veterans have strong biases and reasons for those biases. A lot of people on the forums with strong opinions have not formed those opinions out of experience.

Hard cases are worth the investment.

Pay attention to humidity levels. A Vornado room humidifier is a great investment.

A cheap hobby store bead works as well as a bridge bone bead (and doesn't look so ridiculous).

An "expensive" custom or K brand uke bought used can usually be resold for something equal to or within a few $$ one way or the other of the purchase price. A cheap ukulele in most cases has little to no resale value.

janeray1940
07-14-2014, 08:27 AM
An "expensive" custom or K brand uke bought used can usually be resold for something equal to or within a few $$ one way or the other of the purchase price. A cheap ukulele in most cases has little to no resale value.

Oh good one! Although my experience has been that K brands hold their value far better than customs, and I can see at least one good reason: it's a known quantity, more or less, and fairly safe to buy sight unseen, whereas any one-off/custom is really best experienced in person.

Rick Turner
07-14-2014, 08:27 AM
What Chuck said.

And...I wish I'd learned piano and music theory in my teens. It would help especially now that I'm playing jazz arrangements of standards and such.

janeray1940
07-14-2014, 08:29 AM
Spend some time playing with the lights off. I don't care if it's musically correct, just experience and explore the finger board and really listen. Having a bit of a scientific and analytic mind I tend to try to understand things too deeply. When I started feeling the music my playing improved immensely.

I do something similar - I play with my eyes closed sometimes. I think it improves my listening ability (although I may be imagining it!).

wickedwahine11
07-14-2014, 08:31 AM
I wish I had retained the ability to read sheet music (I never did it well but used to be able to a little bit), and I wish I had retained music theory. I took piano and guitar lessons years ago, and learned both of these concepts with both instruments, but I have now forgotten most of all of it...to my chagrin. I think I would definitely be a better uke player if I had kept up with it, and probably should try to regain that knowledge.

janeray1940
07-14-2014, 08:31 AM
What Chuck said.

And...I wish I'd learned piano and music theory in my teens. It would help especially now that I'm playing jazz arrangements of standards and such.

Same here, but realistically when I look back, I'm certain I wasn't capable of it then. I did take piano in school, but I was far too impatient and just wanted to memorize and play songs rather than understand what I was actually doing. Now I'm the complete opposite - I really enjoy theory and could care less about memorizing. I'm far more capable of enjoying the journey than I ever would have been as a young person.

RichM
07-14-2014, 08:33 AM
Pay attention to humidity levels. A Vornado room humidifier is a great investment.



This is so true. I see a lot of people freak out about humidity management when they get their first solid wood instrument, but the truth is, humidity management really isn't that hard. A few relatively inexpensive tools, and the tenacity to keep up with it is all it takes.

janeray1940
07-14-2014, 08:33 AM
I wish I had retained the ability to read sheet music (I never did it well but used to be able to a little bit), and I wish I had retained music theory. I took piano and guitar lessons years ago, and learned both of these concepts with both instruments, but I have now forgotten most of all of it...to my chagrin. I think I would definitely be a better uke player if I had kept up with it, and probably should try to regain that knowledge.

If you keep at it, it will come back! When I started playing uke, I hadn't looked at a piece of sheet music in over 30 years. I still can't sight-read chords but have gotten back the ability to sight-read melody passably well - now I feel lost without standard notation.

greenie44
07-14-2014, 08:34 AM
I would second the advice to get a decent uke. I had a couple for years, but until I picked up my first 'real' uke, a 6-string tenor Lanikai, nothing clicked.

I would also say "Just play". Just make some musical sounding noise. And then again, and again. In a little while, things will start to fall into place.

Doc_J
07-14-2014, 08:43 AM
One way to improve is to record yourself playing, and listen critically to it.

If you can't honestly hear any need for improvement you're either a professional level player, or you really need an instructor. :)


I didn't realize when I started how bad my rhythm was until I recorded myself. I was awful. I'm now less awful. :)

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
07-14-2014, 08:53 AM
I didn't realize when I started how bad my rhythm was until I recorded myself. I was awful. I'm now less awful. :)

That's another good one. Buy a metronome or tap your feet but above everything else ALWAYS stay on the beat. A lot of sins can be overlooked if you do.

SailingUke
07-14-2014, 09:08 AM
Join a group and play with others, it is the fastest way for improvement.
Get you nose out of the book and listen to what you are playing.
Have fun keep playing and singing, every once in awhile you will find the right note.

The Big Kahuna
07-14-2014, 09:12 AM
I'd probably tell myself to bet 100,000 on Germany to beat Brazil 7-1. Then I'd spend the proceeds on Chuck's entire output for the next 20 years.

Ukejenny
07-14-2014, 09:20 AM
1. Rewind time and start playing ukulele at least 20 years sooner!!!

2. Star a ukulele club about 20 years sooner, too!

3. Opt for the concert size, because that is going to be your sweet spot!

chuck in ny
07-14-2014, 09:23 AM
i did learn one thing>> kamaka. this is not meant as general advice or wisdom. what it is with musical instruments and other manufacture, is that there are affinity groups of people who like things that play or perform in a certain way. we all don't eat asparagus you know.

janeray1940
07-14-2014, 09:23 AM
3. Opt for the concert size, because that is going to be your sweet spot!

I still remember buying my "starter" uke - I knew tenor was out due to my little hands, and was trying to decide between concert and soprano. I asked the guy at the shop what the difference was and his reply was that concert ukes are a little louder and usually have more frets. My reaction was along the lines of "Aren't 12 frets enough? And as a beginner won't I be better off QUIETER?"

Oh, how little we know :)

janeray1940
07-14-2014, 09:26 AM
i did learn one thing>> kamaka. this is not meant as general advice or wisdom. what it is with musical instruments and other manufacture, is that there are affinity groups of people who like things that play or perform in a certain way. we all don't eat asparagus you know.

Yeah, I'm with you on that. I was set on a vintage Martin when I first started, then a guy in my beginning uke class brought in a white label Kamaka and that changed everything. A bit more research pointed me to new rather than vintage, but the truth is, I've met few Kamakas that I didn't find really easy to play. Some may have looked or sounded better, but for the way I play they seem to be consistently right.

ericchico
07-14-2014, 09:29 AM
It would have to be that Ukes are a blast to play and they are not toys. Keep it simple and have fun, so what if you clip a little, you sing off key. Have another beer and keep doing what you like.
68989

KnowsPickin
07-14-2014, 09:34 AM
One way to improve is to record yourself playing, and listen critically to it.

If you can't honestly hear any need for improvement you're either a professional level player, or you really need an instructor. :)


I didn't realize when I started how bad my rhythm was until I recorded myself. I was awful. I'm now less awful. :)

When I first started playing uke, I really stunk. My playing is now up to being just a faint odor.

KnowsPickin
07-14-2014, 09:44 AM
When I first started learning to play in beginning marching band, I wish I'd taken up a treble clef instrument like sax or flute instead of trombone (which later lead me to tuba.) Bass clef instruments have two disadvantages.

#1: You are learning bass clef. I've never gotten comfortable with treble clef. I have to remind myself that that note is a C not an E. This is a big disadvantage playing Uke, mandolin or guitar.

#2: Trombone and particularly tuba tend to play parts that are rhythmically very simple. You see a LOT of dotted-quarter/8th-note patterns. I've never gotten very good at reading complex rhythms on a page. Reading for treble clef instruments is a lot more challenging. I'd have gotten good at it while I was young enough for it to stick.

And given my lack of reading skills anyway, I wish I'd learned earlier to trust my ears over my eyes. Reading music is very handy. But I've always made more progress using my ears as my final yardstick.

billten
07-14-2014, 10:03 AM
Play a lot of different ukes, buy as few as you can manage but when you find the one that really talks to you just buy it, don't care how much just buy it! Cures the UAS right up and you can't stop playing the thing which sure improves you as a player pretty quick.

Steveperrywriter
07-14-2014, 10:05 AM
Only been sixteen months, but pretty much, I'd likely say, Just keep on truckin'.

I got a great starter instrument, which I needed to do so I could see what I really wanted, and have had outstanding success with handmade ukuleles since. Met some fine folks, online and in person, learned a whole lot of stuff I didn't know, and I don't see how I could have progressed much faster. Even wrote a short book about my experiences.

Paraphrasing Joe Walsh: Uke's been good to me so far ...

mds725
07-14-2014, 10:15 AM
> Your hands will learn to think for themselves.

When I first started playing, I had to focus so hard on getting my hands to do what I wanted them to do (first the fretting hand while I used the most basic strum there was) and later the strumming hand, when I could fret without having to look so much at the fretboard). Fretting becomes easier with lots and lots of practice, but the big revelation for me was when one day I realized that I was translating the rhythm I was hearing in my head to my strumming hand without even having to think about it.

> Immerse yourself in the language of music.

I started playing the clarinet in third grade, and I really liked it, but it's a one-note-at-a-time instrument, so one has to go out of one's way to learn abourt chords and other elements of music theory. I wish I'd learned more about, for lacjk of a better term, the grammar and usage of music, nots, and chords. I now play music with some people whose use of their instruments is as effortless as it is for most of the rest of us to speak, and I envy them.

BlackBearUkes
07-14-2014, 10:26 AM
Keep your uke in tune and learn to tune it without the aid of an electronic device. Please don't convince yourself you can't play a soprano uke because the fingerboard is too small and you Have to have a wider fingerboard. Practice and you will get it.

janeray1940
07-14-2014, 10:31 AM
learn to tune it without the aid of an electronic device.

I'm curious as to why you believe this is important - even the pros I know use tuners.

I can always tell if I've gone out of tune, but since I keep a mini tuner clipped to the headstock I've never once even tried to tune without looking at it. Going to give it a try tonight and see how close or far off I am!

kohanmike
07-14-2014, 10:32 AM
After a year of ukulele (and almost 50 years dabbling at the guitar), I'm finally starting to delve into theory. When it comes to UAS, I'm thoroughly immersed in it, have gone through 12 ukes in the last year, have two more coming this week, and I've enjoyed every minute of the road. I gave away or sold some, traded in three of my dull sounding ukes for a nice Kala, but at the same time, changed the strings and lowered the action on my others, which improved the sound of them discernibly.

Pueo
07-14-2014, 11:39 AM
Memorize the fingerboard.

sukie
07-14-2014, 12:27 PM
Memorize the fingerboard.

Yep. I'm into my 6th year and still learning it. It's kinda holding me back, too.
I wouldn't change much, if anything -- except the fretboard knowledge -- about my ukulele journey. Gee, it's fun.

tbeltrans
07-14-2014, 12:36 PM
I'm curious as to why you believe this is important - even the pros I know use tuners.

I can always tell if I've gone out of tune, but since I keep a mini tuner clipped to the headstock I've never once even tried to tune without looking at it. Going to give it a try tonight and see how close or far off I am!

Rather than taking sides on this one, I just want to mention the Jim D'Ville strongly advocates tuning your ukulele by ear in his DVD/video seminar series on playing be ear. I have seen this opinion on some other videos too. I think it is really a matter of personal choice, but there do seem to be vocal adherents on both sides of this issue, and doubt there is a right or wrong choice in the matter.

In Jim D'Ville's videos, he uses a tuning fork to get the sound of 'A' into your ear and then tune the 'A' string of the ukulele to that, and then the other strings to the 'A' string, using the appropriate fret on each string, much as we used to tune our guitars before electronic tuners came along. Jim's take on it is becoming dependent on your ear as quickly and completely as possible.

Personally, I can go either way, though currently I do tune mostly by ear, probably because I am working with Jim's "by ear" videos.

Tony

Icelander53
07-14-2014, 12:48 PM
Spend some time playing with the lights off. I don't care if it's musically correct, just experience and explore the finger board and really listen. Having a bit of a scientific and analytic mind I tend to try to understand things too deeply. When I started feeling the music my playing improved immensely.

What a very cool idea. Thanks.

janeray1940
07-14-2014, 12:52 PM
Rather than taking sides on this one, I just want to mention the Jim D'Ville strongly advocates tuning your ukulele by ear in his DVD/video seminar series on playing be ear. I have seen this opinion on some other videos too. I think it is really a matter of personal choice, but there do seem to be vocal adherents on both sides of this issue, and doubt there is a right or wrong choice in the matter.

In Jim D'Ville's videos, he uses a tuning fork to get the sound of 'A' into your ear and then tune the 'A' string of the ukulele to that, and then the other strings to the 'A' string, using the appropriate fret on each string, much as we used to tune our guitars before electronic tuners came along. Jim's take on it is becoming dependent on your ear as quickly and completely as possible.

Personally, I can go either way, though currently I do tune mostly by ear, probably because I am working with Jim's "by ear" videos.

Tony

Thanks Tony - this makes sense from an ear-training perspective. And also when thinking back to before electronic tuners were cheaply and readily available!

Dan Uke
07-14-2014, 01:14 PM
I think I wasted too much time worrying about being in tune and constantly checked the tuner at the 12th fret. I had intonation problems due to my lack of playing skills. As I improved, my ear got better and my technique improved.

Besides that, I'm happy with my ukulele journey. Yeah, I could have saved money and know more chords and theory but I still have many years to learn it. Actually I'm not too interested in learning chords and theory. ;)

tbeltrans
07-14-2014, 01:35 PM
Yep. I'm into my 6th year and still learning it. It's kinda holding me back, too.
I wouldn't change much, if anything -- except the fretboard knowledge -- about my ukulele journey. Gee, it's fun.

This is the method of learning the fretboard that I got from a guitar book "Chord Chemistry" (Ted Greene) -

Every day, pick ONE note at random just by looking away from the fretboard and plopping a finger down anywhere. Identify that note and find it along each string in succession, going up each string to the highest location of that note on the top string and then retrace your steps back down to the lowest note.

We know the following that help the process:

1. Between the open and 12th frets, each note occurs once, and each string has the 12 chromatic notes of the Western scale, each occurring only once. At the 12th fret, the open string note occurs an octave higher and the process continues up from there again.
2. If you tune your ukulele by ear, you probably know where all the 'A' notes occur.

Knowing these facts, you can count up or down in half steps from where you originally plopped your finger down to identify the note you picked. On each string, you can do similar to find that note.

This is a painless exercise, doing only one note per day, and eventually you will begin to see the fretboard as clearly as one can see the keys on a piano. It only takes a few minutes a day and gets faster as you gain familiarity. From there, you can start spelling chords, finding scales, etc. - all in good time, just let it unfold a day at a time with no need to rush or stress about it.

Edit: Because this exercise is relative to your fretboard, it really doesn't matter what tuning you are using on your ukulele, or which size ukulele you have - or even how many strings it has. The exercise works equally well on guitar in any tuning too. Also, since the difference between low G and high G tuning is simply the octave in which the G occurs, the notes on the low and high G fretboards for the purposes of this exercise are identical. I have two ukuleles, one in low G and one in high G, and can use either interchangeably.

Tony

tbeltrans
07-14-2014, 01:39 PM
Thanks Tony - this makes sense from an ear-training perspective. And also when thinking back to before electronic tuners were cheaply and readily available!

Glad I could help, janeray - since you have been incredibly helpful to me since I have been here. :)

Tony

Nickie
07-14-2014, 01:51 PM
Wish I'd started 10 years earlier! And wish I'd bought my 1st uke from Mim, so I'd be started on the right track.

Teek
07-14-2014, 02:20 PM
I'd say stick with that classical guitar! You will need that knowledge later and it will be worth it!

I'd also want to emphasize understanding action and how it affects playing, since a proper setup can make a huge difference. Change strings even if they sound good if it's been around 6 months of regular play time. Also try a different brand of string if not really happy with your uke and wait for them to settle in. Setup and strings are probably partly responsible for UAS, they are that important to comfort and sound.

Also be careful taking a uke in for repair to a guitar snob luthier, because it might come back beat to crap, like my poor vintage Kamaka... :(

AND don't let nasty people rain on your parade!

NewKid
07-14-2014, 02:56 PM
A year and a half ago at Music Folk in St Louis I had a vintage Martin Style 1 soprano in my hands that made my whole body quiver with a few strums. Deep, rich sound that you could feel! It had the magic. I recognized it, but I didn't buy it thinking I would have more chances. I have been chasing that feeling ever since.

srpompon
07-14-2014, 03:40 PM
my advice, keep only (2 two) ukes at same time, if you want a new one... SELL ONE OF THE TWO UKES, and later buy the uke.....

2 ukes, no 2 sopranos + 2 tenors + 2 concerts NO NO NO ONLY 2 UKES

i hate my UAS (but love the ukes)

tbeltrans
07-14-2014, 03:59 PM
my advice, keep only (2 two) ukes at same time, if you want a new one... SELL ONE OF THE TWO UKES, and later buy the uke.....

2 ukes, no 2 sopranos + 2 tenors + 2 concerts NO NO NO ONLY 2 UKES

i hate my UAS (but love the ukes)

Just out of curiosity, why specifically two ukuleles? I have two very nice ukuleles and expect to stay that way, but I have to admit, I just started playing so have not yet had the history and experience to really get into UAS...yet.

Thanks,

Tony

aquadan
07-14-2014, 04:22 PM
Take better care of your wrists. I wish I had 20 years ago when a was a computer game playing fool.

PereBourik
07-14-2014, 04:54 PM
If I could have a do-over I'd say stay close to Norm. He was a musician and uke player at my church 45 years ago. He had a mahogany tenor, don't know what brand. I could have been playing all these years.

More realistically, I wish I'd gotten with my teacher about nine months earlier than I did. Every lesson it seems I have to unlearn as much as I have to learn.

If you know the ukulele is going to stick for you, then get a teacher.

I also wish I had shopped around before buying my first ukulele. Guitar Center only had a few options and I jumped at the "cool one." Cool and good are two different things.

Slow Eddie
07-14-2014, 05:04 PM
With regard to ukuleke purchases:

1.) play before you pay;
2.) your first uke should be the nicest laminate 4-string you can afford. Never sell it. It will serve as your loaner, your beater, your car/beach/travel/office/family member uke for as long as you have it, and every time you pick it up, you will remember fumbling through your first few chords. A little humility and perspective never hurt nobody.
3.) quality trumps quantity, any day of the week and twice on Sundays (especially Pineapple Sundays).

Of course, that's just me. YMMV.

coolkayaker1
07-14-2014, 05:05 PM
If you want a ukulele now that you cannot afford, wait a year and you will either be able to afford it or you'll not want it any longer.

Ukejenny
07-14-2014, 05:38 PM
Memorize the fingerboard.

But I would amend it to, "don't have a cow, Jenn, you will eventually get familiar the fingerboard, and you'll learn it." I think that might go for several things - don't sweat it right now... it will all come in due time. Keep playing. I wanted to get it all down at the very beginning and it was frustrating.

Ukejenny
07-14-2014, 05:40 PM
A year and a half ago at Music Folk in St Louis I had a vintage Martin Style 1 soprano in my hands that made my whole body quiver with a few strums. Deep, rich sound that you could feel! It had the magic. I recognized it, but I didn't buy it thinking I would have more chances. I have been chasing that feeling ever since.

(((hugs on that one))) Don't give up. You'll find it again.

Ukejenny
07-14-2014, 05:43 PM
If you want a ukulele now that you cannot afford, wait a year and you will either be able to afford it or you'll not want it any longer.

Now, that sage advice goes for a lot more than just ukuleles!!! Yes, and yes.

Loggerhead
07-14-2014, 11:21 PM
I would have always carried a photocopy or copy of a blank ukulele fretboard and write in the notes at the appropriate fret........and least if it did not sink in then I would have had a crib sheet.........

(I learned the Stradella Bass Button system of the Piano Accordion this way.Before I even purchased my instrument.)

tbeltrans
07-14-2014, 11:48 PM
Could this thread be a candidate for a "sticky" thread? This is great stuff!

Tony

cantsing
07-15-2014, 01:06 AM
Spend less time on the computer reading about ukuleles and more time playing.

Justalogin
07-15-2014, 01:29 AM
Spend less time on the computer reading about ukuleles and more time playing.

100% agreed.

Also, think as little about gear as possible. Completely unimportant. All you need is a ukulele that is "good enough." Once you have a ukulele that is good enough, forget what model it is, forget the brand of strings, forget what woods its made of, forget how much it costs... but instead spend time learning SONGS.

Loggerhead
07-15-2014, 02:38 AM
100% agreed.

Also, think as little about gear as possible. Completely unimportant. All you need is a ukulele that is "good enough." Once you have a ukulele that is good enough, forget what model it is, forget the brand of strings, forget what woods its made of, forget how much it costs... but instead spend time learning SONGS.

Crikey, good ideas too.

bborzell
07-15-2014, 03:18 AM
Don't delude yourself into thinking that playing the uke while watching TV is actually practicing. Also, another vote for playing in the dark (but not while watching TV). Yes, there is a pattern here.

vanflynn
07-15-2014, 04:01 AM
Play with other instruments as much as possible.

It forced me out of my comfort zone, got me to play barre chords more and play songs/styles that I might not ever try

mds725
07-15-2014, 06:04 AM
Don't delude yourself into thinking that playing the uke while watching TV is actually practicing. Also, another vote for playing in the dark (but not while watching TV). Yes, there is a pattern here.

One of my instructors actually told us to try playing while watching TV (or while trying to talk to someone else, etc.). I don't know if doing that was practicing or not, but the idea behind it was to acclimate one's brain to doing something else while strumming and fretting. Everyone learns differently, I guess.

janeray1940
07-15-2014, 06:13 AM
One of my instructors actually told us to try playing while watching TV (or while trying to talk to someone else, etc.).

I've heard a lot of instructors and group leaders say this - not mine, but then he knows that I've never owned a TV :)

The whole "play while doing something else" concept escapes me. First, I'm terrible at multi-tasking - for me, doing more than one thing at a time means NONE of those things will be done at all well. And second, I enjoy playing so much that I don't *want* to do anything else.

RichM
07-15-2014, 06:49 AM
I've heard a lot of instructors and group leaders say this - not mine, but then he knows that I've never owned a TV :)

The whole "play while doing something else" concept escapes me. First, I'm terrible at multi-tasking - for me, doing more than one thing at a time means NONE of those things will be done at all well. And second, I enjoy playing so much that I don't *want* to do anything else.

I think it depends a lot on where you are in your development. For those who are still working on the basics of feel and comfort, I think any time spent with the ukulele in your hands is good time. It builds familiarity with the instrument. When I was first learning three finger style 5-string banjo, I had a lot of trouble developing my 3-finger roll, one of the most basic techniques of the style. I kept the banjo with me all the time, constantly practicing that roll until it was second nature and fell under my finger without thinking. It definitely sped up the process of learning basic technique and let me move on the tougher stuff more quickly.

Gary52
07-15-2014, 07:03 AM
One of my instructors actually told us to try playing while watching TV (or while trying to talk to someone else, etc.).

I recently played at the local Boys & Girls Club for a group of (mostly) elementary school kids. On a couple songs we let them "accompany" us on percussion instruments. Most of them were not on the beat, so we had to tune them out in order to maintain the beat ourselves. I think practicing in a distracting environment, such as in front of the TV, would be great practice for performing in an uncontrolled environment.

dirtiestkidever
07-15-2014, 07:05 AM
1. Sopranos are not too small, quiet, or plinky. They are an absolute blast to play. I still don't know if they are my favorite size or not but they do have a fun factor that exceeds the other sizes.

2. There is not one perfect ukulele. There are lot's of perfect ukuleles. When you buy a new one thinking that you will compare it to another one that you already have and sell the one you like less, you will end up keeping both at least 50% of the time. Because they both sound great just in different ways.

3. For the love of god do not let the repair guy at a very reputable instrument repair shop talk you into replacing the stock tuners on your pre '53 Favilla baritone with geared stick out tuners. They will work fine but look hideous and you will regret it every time you pick up the instrument.

If there was only one thing I could tell my former self it would be #3.

sukie
07-15-2014, 07:19 AM
I love the whole journey. Mistakes and all. That's how I learn. And I've learned some good tips in here. Thanks.

Loggerhead
07-15-2014, 08:06 AM
I recently played at the local Boys & Girls Club for a group of (mostly) elementary school kids. On a couple songs we let them "accompany" us on percussion instruments. Most of them were not on the beat, so we had to tune them out in order to maintain the beat ourselves. I think practicing in a distracting environment, such as in front of the TV, would be great practice for performing in an uncontrolled environment.

I predict a riot !!

cantsing
07-15-2014, 04:40 PM
100% agreed.

Also, think as little about gear as possible. Completely unimportant. All you need is a ukulele that is "good enough." Once you have a ukulele that is good enough, forget what model it is, forget the brand of strings, forget what woods its made of, forget how much it costs... but instead spend time learning SONGS.

Actually, when I said I wished I'd spent less time reading about ukuleles and more time playing, I didn't mean to say that things like strings, wood, etc are unimportant. I think it's good to know about these things. I was speaking more about priorities and time management.

I've gotten a lot out of this forum, and I think this is a great community. What I meant was this: over the years, when I had a few spare minutes, I tended to check this forum instead of picking up my ukulele. And then suddenly I would discover that the day had passed and I hadn't played my uke. Lately I've been trying to pick up my ukulele first and then check the forum when/if I have the time.

Steveperrywriter
07-15-2014, 04:56 PM
Mindful practice is generally better, but now and then, I will try to play along with the theme music on the tube, figure out what the key is, pick out a lead or chords. Every little bit helps ...

Tootler
07-15-2014, 10:13 PM
They don't all have to be tuned GCEA. Leaving aside open tunings etc., simply tuning to a different key can bring out the latent qualities of a ukulele. Tune a soprano up to ADF#B or a tenor down to FBbGD or even EAC#F# and see what effect it has. A concert can also benefit from Bb tuning.

I don't do anything fancy, I simply sing to a simple strummed or finger picked accompaniment and having different tunings gives me plenty of choices for matching the accompaniment to the song.

drbekken
07-15-2014, 10:19 PM
Spend some time playing with the lights off. I don't care if it's musically correct, just experience and explore the finger board and really listen. Having a bit of a scientific and analytic mind I tend to try to understand things too deeply. When I started feeling the music my playing improved immensely.

This is a wonderful piece of advice. If you play in total darkness, you have to trust your ears and the feel of the instrument. I sometimes practise piano in the dark, and it helps me avoid a visual approach. Try for yourselves.

tbeltrans
07-16-2014, 04:27 AM
Actually, when I said I wished I'd spent less time reading about ukuleles and more time playing, I didn't mean to say that things like strings, wood, etc are unimportant. I think it's good to know about these things. I was speaking more about priorities and time management.

I've gotten a lot out of this forum, and I think this is a great community. What I meant was this: over the years, when I had a few spare minutes, I tended to check this forum instead of picking up my ukulele. And then suddenly I would discover that the day had passed and I hadn't played my uke. Lately I've been trying to pick up my ukulele first and then check the forum when/if I have the time.

This is a very common rut to fall into. Before the internet, if we were learning to play ukulele or guitar or whatever, we might hang out with friends who were likewise learning. But in the process of hanging out, we would be playing, motivating each other to learn something another person could do that intrigued us, and in general, helping motivate each other to continue through the rough spots just by our mutual interest and doing the thing together. On the net, all we can do is read, post, and maybe put up a video or MP3. The personal real time interaction and interactive doing is not there.

So I think that wanting to hang out with like-minded people is a normal human thing to do, but unfortunately the internet does serve as a diversion, rather than providing the environment that "real life" (i.e. in person) interaction does. Maybe hanging out on Skype or something might suffice. So, yes, limiting our forum activity in favor of really playing is not a bad idea at all.

I just retired and am learning how to handle all this free time. In a sense, it is like winning the lottery and suddenly having a seemingly endless supply of money at hand. Such a person will either have to learn to manage it or lose it. It is the same with time. We all will eventually get too old with the ensuing health problems (for some, that may well be past the age of 100, while for many of us, it will be sooner), and will wish we had spent more time DOING things rather than TALKING about doing them as we do in the forums. I need to address this in my own life, and have been giving that some serious thought. The result will be less involvement here, but my involvement will be more meaningful because I will come back when I have something to show people, much as we might have done with our friends before the internet - "Hey! Look at this cool thing I learned" rather than constantly writing about the cool thing I intend to learn if I ever get away from my computer long enough to learn it. :)

Please don't get me wrong. I think the forums are a great place to meet people and exchange ideas, but unfortunately, they are also mutually exclusive to hands-on time with the ukulele. So it is a matter of balance rather than one is bad and the other good.

Tony

janeray1940
07-19-2014, 06:00 PM
I think the forums are a great place to meet people and exchange ideas, but unfortunately, they are also mutually exclusive to hands-on time with the ukulele. So it is a matter of balance rather than one is bad and the other good.


When I first joined UU, I was hesitant because at the time I was still on Facebook and other social media, and for me, whole point of picking up the uke nearly 40 years after I had last set one down was to get the heck off the Interwebs! :) Took me a while to get my priorities straight but I ended up closing most of my other social media accounts and just keeping this one - which at one point I almost axed as well, but one of the mods talked me out of it.

Most of the time I spend on here is downtime at work when I couldn't be playing anyway, but I can see where that could be problematic for those in other situations. And while spending time here has, on occasion, taken away from playing time, it has also been really helpful in doing research when buying a new uke, considering a string change, etc. - while UU for some tends to encourage UAS, I think the pre-purchase research I've done here has actually helped keep my UAS to a minimum.

And UU has led to numerous "in real life" contacts - most of us who formed Westside Ukulele Ensemble (http://www.westsideukes.com/) connected here first, and I've been able to refer a number of new players to my local shop for lessons via UU.

But as with just about everything - finding the right balance can be tricky.

Yukon Cornelius
07-19-2014, 06:17 PM
This comment (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?98702-Oh-Straps-where-have-you-been-all-my-life&p=1551862#post1551862) and my response to it in another thread got me to thinking about what might be an interesting discussion, particularly for newbies: if you could go back in time and tell your beginning-ukulele-player self a few helpful bits of advice, what would they be?

A few that come to mind:

Never say never. You may be so sure that you will "never" play anything but a particular size or wood or brand, but needs change over time. For instance - when I started playing I thought I wanted only mahogany, soprano, and vintage. Fast forward five years and I'm all about koa, concert scale, and brand-spankin'-new.

Don't believe what you read. Always try it yourself and come to your own conclusions. Trust your instincts (and trust that they may change over time!).

Put a strap on it. Don't explain, don't justify, just do it :)

12 frets is not enough. (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?98742-if-you-knew-then-what-you-know-now&p=1551950#post1551950) The more, the better, and you want a 14-fret join if at all possible.

That's just for starters. Anyone else??

I still don't want a strap.

As far as telling my old self advise. It'd be save up for that nice uke.

Newportlocal
07-19-2014, 07:19 PM
I still don't want a strap.

As far as telling my old self advise. It'd be save up for that nice uke.

Ditto.....
I wanted a ukulele a year ago, and I am still saving.
:D

Also, I wish I could go back and remember how to read music like I did in grade school for recorder, and that I had wanted to play piano when my mom sent me to lessons as a child. I begged her to let me stop. Ukulele has given me back a love of playing music. So many wonderful people on this thread with great advice.

Freeda
07-19-2014, 08:11 PM
Buying a book doesn't make you learn the skills.

Chatting online doesn't make you learn the skills.

Buying new instruments and strings doesn't make you learn the skills.

Focus. Persevere. Woodshed more.

bborzell
07-20-2014, 02:55 AM
One of my instructors actually told us to try playing while watching TV (or while trying to talk to someone else, etc.). I don't know if doing that was practicing or not, but the idea behind it was to acclimate one's brain to doing something else while strumming and fretting. Everyone learns differently, I guess.

Pretty much every instructor I have either interacted with or read has been clear regarding what constitutes effective learning. Repetition, as in regular and frequent practice sessions, use of a metronome, defining and focusing on the task at hand and not watering down the learning experience by distraction are important distinctions between learning/perfecting new skills and simply noodling.

To be clear, noodling (as in while watching your favorite TV show) can be relaxing and fun. It just ain't effective practice or learning. Music is more demanding than to be taken as an afterthought.

Icelander53
07-20-2014, 03:14 AM
Buying a book doesn't make you learn the skills.

Chatting online doesn't make you learn the skills.

Buying new instruments and strings doesn't make you learn the skills.

Focus. Persevere. Woodshed more.

Totally agree with you here. To play music well is extremely challenging. I started this at 60 and thank god I've had some realistic expectations for myself. I have no desire to try to master this instrument and that constantly focused practice would be very frustrating for me considering my physical limitations. I noodle most of the time and I practice intently for very short periods. Were I in my early years with more possibilities it would be different MAYBE. I'll be strumming my songs imperfectly to the end. With a tiny bit of picking thrown in for a challenge. And that, as they say, is that.

haole
07-20-2014, 06:06 AM
If I could rewind time, I would:

-Get on xanax sooner to control my nerves and anxiety so I'd be able to make more videos and perform live
-Play with as many people as possible
-Order a Moore Bettah back when they were $1500 :B

tbeltrans
07-20-2014, 07:27 AM
When I first joined UU, I was hesitant because at the time I was still on Facebook and other social media, and for me, whole point of picking up the uke nearly 40 years after I had last set one down was to get the heck off the Interwebs! :) Took me a while to get my priorities straight but I ended up closing most of my other social media accounts and just keeping this one - which at one point I almost axed as well, but one of the mods talked me out of it.

Most of the time I spend on here is downtime at work when I couldn't be playing anyway, but I can see where that could be problematic for those in other situations. And while spending time here has, on occasion, taken away from playing time, it has also been really helpful in doing research when buying a new uke, considering a string change, etc. - while UU for some tends to encourage UAS, I think the pre-purchase research I've done here has actually helped keep my UAS to a minimum.

And UU has led to numerous "in real life" contacts - most of us who formed Westside Ukulele Ensemble (http://www.westsideukes.com/) connected here first, and I've been able to refer a number of new players to my local shop for lessons via UU.

But as with just about everything - finding the right balance can be tricky.

janeray -

Thanks for the perspective. When I was working, I would not have had time to participate in non-work related online activities, but you make a good point. It would be interesting to have some online contacts translate into face to face interactions, and maybe that will happen for me some day. What I am doing now is limiting my online time so it does not detract from time doing other things such as playing.

I spent some serious time going back through the UkeTalk archives, and learned a lot. As a result, I learned what resources to purchase to help me progress in the areas of playing that interest me. I learned about ukulele straps, and most importantly, that mandolin straps serve as ukulele straps quite nicely. There is definitely a wealth of information here, and hopefully, over time I can add to it as I learn new things that might be useful - or remind people of things posted long ago that are now far back in the archives.

Though the ukulele is related to the guitar in that it is a stringed instrument, I am finding the process of arranging tunes to be more creative in certain ways, largely to account for fewer strings and note choices at any given point in the tune. This is refreshing and fascinating, but I really don't know how to translate what I am doing into words to post about it. Hopefully, as I progress, a video or two might be better for that.

Tony

Kimosabe
07-20-2014, 07:49 AM
A different twist on responding to this thread:

If I knew what I know now: I do know what I know now and I'm happy I know it. I worked hard to get here and I'm continuing to work hard. I started late, at 55, and I'm now 63. If I die today or tomorrow, after the Honolulu Uke Fest, I can die with a smile. I may have not reached advanced level but I was getting up there in intermediate. I worked hard at it and enjoyed it. Yes, I made mistakes, but I also did somethings very right. I did more than I expected or even dreamed of.

janeray1940
07-20-2014, 07:49 AM
I am finding the process of arranging tunes to be more creative in certain ways, largely to account for fewer strings and note choices at any given point in the tune. This is refreshing and fascinating, but I really don't know how to translate what I am doing into words to post about it. Hopefully, as I progress, a video or two might be better for that.


Definitely looking forward to a video or two! And I think I understand what you're saying here - although the ukulele may at first seem more limited with fewer strings and note choices, it actually becomes a creative challenge to work within those limitations. I think this is what got me hooked on it - learning that one can play classical on uke, one can take advantage of the bass on a low G uke, and so on. As someone who generally appreciates minimalism and simplicity in just about everything, this fits right in for me.

tbeltrans
07-20-2014, 08:03 AM
Definitely looking forward to a video or two! And I think I understand what you're saying here - although the ukulele may at first seem more limited with fewer strings and note choices, it actually becomes a creative challenge to work within those limitations. I think this is what got me hooked on it - learning that one can play classical on uke, one can take advantage of the bass on a low G uke, and so on. As someone who generally appreciates minimalism and simplicity in just about everything, this fits right in for me.

I could not have said it better. :)

Tony

NewKid
07-21-2014, 06:13 AM
I would give the ukes I acquired a longer time to develop. I feel like I short-changed some great instruments (and myself) due to impatience and my own immaturity, and sent them off too quickly.

Dan Uke
07-21-2014, 06:56 AM
I would give the ukes I acquired a longer time to develop. I feel like I short-changed some great instruments (and myself) due to impatience and my own immaturity, and sent them off too quickly.

but it led to your current staple, which are keepers. ;)