View Full Version : Help me get back to the ukulele

08-25-2014, 01:24 AM
Aloha everyone!

It's been quite a while since I regularly checked this forum for advices, tutorials and just general ukulele conversations.

I previously posted a thread thanking the ukulele and this lovely community for getting me through the hard times I was going through.
To follow up, as some may know, back in febraury I was diagnosed with a rare form of testicle cancer, that had spread to several parts inside my body.
Luckily, after 5 months of chemotherapy I was diagnosed cancer free and am feeling better then ever now!
While undergoing treatment I was left with a lot of sparetime, as I was too weak to do anything really, except playing video games, hanging out with visiting friends and playing the ukulele.
Playing the ukulele was a great distraction - until I hit the wall.

Like so many before me I plateaued. For the past month or so I've really wanted to get into music again, but each time I sit down with the ukulele, I find myself playing the same things over and over, getting annoyed and quickly find something else to do.

I searched for ukulele lessons in my area, but none to be found. Ukuleles in Denmark still has a long way to go I'm afraid.

What do you guys do when you plateau?
Each time I try and learn myself some more music theory I find myself a few weeks later annoyed by my slow progress and the fact that I can't seem to put the newly learned theory to any use.

EDIT: Perhaps I should mention my skill level. I'd consider myself slightly advanced ukulele player. I love a great challenging tab and each time I come across a tab for a song like 'The Unknown' by Kalei Gamiao or a tutorial/tab for a song by Corey Fujimoto, I can't put the uke down till I can play the piece.
But only slightly advanced ukulele player in the sense that I still can't figure out songs by ear or figure out which chords to play.

08-25-2014, 01:34 AM
Congrats on your remission. Glad you are feeling better. Here are a few sites that may help. Also, I greatly expanded my strumming repertoire by learning some Formby techniques. These playalongs next best thing to playing in a group. Good luck.

http://www.ukuleleplayalong.nl/# - make sure you choose your tuning on this one

08-25-2014, 01:40 AM
I'm glad to hear you are feeling better...........

In the 1980's I found myself plateaued in my guitar playing. I had read that taking up another instrument helps to liberate your mind musically (I think it was in the old "Frets" magazine).

Anyway, I took up the mandolin, and it helped my guitar playing. I now play guitar, mandolin and ukulele. If you don't feel like a radical departure from the ukulele, maybe a guilele would help stimulate the musical side of your mind.......

Anyway, that's my 2 cents.....

Stay healthy!!!

08-25-2014, 01:45 AM
Sign up for UU+ right here. It is a great resource with piles of content. It can be as engaging and challenging as you like. The play alongs are excellent. The beauty is two fold, you are supporting this great site and it is as easy as sitting down in front of your computer any time of day or night.

08-25-2014, 01:45 AM
Congrats on recovery. You'll be having a case of UAS in no time. What I suggest you do is to take a song that you already know well and take it to the next level. Play it using different inversions of chords or adding a little chord and melody to it. Even a simple song sounds great played that way. Also, see if you can find some other players to meet with and see if you can do a little jamming........Happy Strummin.........

08-25-2014, 03:29 AM
Wonderful news about your remission- keep up the good work! Have you ever thought about starting to do your own arrangements of songs and tabbing them out? I do that for both soprano & baritone uke & it's a blast-and it does have it's challenging moments....and it's sounding like you need a little challenge to spur you over the hump,as it were. And it strikes me you'd make a good ukulele teacher-ever thought about teaching beginning uke in person or online? (I use Skype online & it's wonderful and free!) Sharing know how with others,watching them grow & learn can be very inspiring. :)

Down Up Dick
08-25-2014, 03:33 AM
When I get bogged down with my music, I quit for a while and do somethin' else. I'll read a coupla good books, maybe play some chess, or maybe go for walks if you can. I think reading or doing puzzles is best. Oh yeah, I also like to noodle with one of my mouth harps. It's easy, and one can do it for quite a while by ear. :old:

Uncle Rod Higuchi
08-25-2014, 05:39 AM
not sure if you've already gone through the Ukulele Boot Camp (link in signature below), but if not,
it might introduce you to some new chords and chord progressions that may prove helpful as you
endeavore to work out melodies by ear :)

keep uke'in',

08-25-2014, 05:47 AM
Just play what you like and have fun! Challenge yourself with a new tune once in a while.

Ukulele Eddie
08-25-2014, 05:55 AM
Congrats on your recovery. There are quite a few uke teachers who provide online lessons. A few include Aaron (owns Hawaii Music School but also manages at HMS), Craig Chee, Lil' Rev, etc.

08-25-2014, 06:08 AM
I have a friend, yes it can happen, and we get together every 2 weeks for a beer or 6 and some uke or gutiar playing. It keeps me on track to learn a song for our next session. Good to hear you are doing better.

08-25-2014, 06:13 AM
Congrats on slaying the dragon! These two may be of some use:
Fretboard Roadmap http://www.amazon.com/Fretboard-Roadmaps-Ukulele-Essential-Patterns/dp/B00CAYQOR2/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1408982209&sr=8-2&keywords=fretboard+roadmaps+-+ukulele is great for learning more barre chording and the Ukulele Exercises for Dummys has different strum pattern and fingerpicking styles.
Good luck!

08-25-2014, 07:10 AM
You are a survivor! Don't let this frustrate you. Your level sounds more than slightly advanced to me. I'll second UU+ as it's a super resource, and go check out the advanced Master Classes.

08-25-2014, 09:06 AM
Thanks everyone for the kind words and advices!
I have actually been subscribed to UU+ twice and learned a lot from it.

The online lessons interests me though. Without having done too much research in the matter, does anyone know the average price per lesson?

08-26-2014, 08:36 AM
If you want to improve your ear and learn some theory in a way that's easy to apply, try Jim D'Ville:
He also offers Skype lessons worldwide, but I don't have pricing info.

And I second Ukulele Exercises for Dummies, great book with many techniques to change up songs you already know.

For that matter, so are the Uke Minutes videos. I've learned lots of cool strumming patterns from those.

Yet I think the key is to play. It's easy, and gets to be a habit, to ask for advice, but can also become a strategy to avoid actually playing. Ask me how I know this! So play the uke. Oh, and try some relaxation/simple breathing exercises, see the Dummies book I think too. These are freeing and keep the annoyance and frustration down to a dull hum. :o

Glad you're feeling better! Your health has improved; this will, too!

08-26-2014, 09:27 AM
I'm not at your level, I'm only playing a year, have not yet hit any plateaus, so feel free to ignore me if you like.

That said, people have been telling me since the beginning that I've been learning surprisingly fast, I've been having a fabulous time, and I wrote up some stuff about my approach (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?92956-Any-Baritone-Uke-Players-have- Suggestions-for-Beginner&p=1477258#post1477258) that I think might be of some use to you.

I wrote it primarily for beginners, but I suspect the same suggestions can be applied to get over a plateau.

Bottom line:

1) Follow your heart and do what's fun. Don't do anything that isn't fun.

2) Participate in the Seasons of the Ukulele (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/forumdisplay.php?47-Seasons-of-the-Ukulele), right here on UU. Every single week. I'm pretty sure there's no more fun, supportive community, or a better way to give yourself a new fun challenge every week than to come hang with us over there.

3) Play out live with others whenever possible. I prefer mixed groups to all-ukulele groups personally, and they're probably easier to find. Try www.meetup.com, try Google. If you can't find a jam or regular music party in your area, start one yourself. Get together with a friend or three and start a band. Something. I do as many different such things as possible.

And then participate fully. If I don't know a song, I try to play along. That has helped my ear training immensely. I play by ear, I learn to read guitar fingers, I ask the key and the chords, I look for a chart of the song ... in other words, I use all the different methods available to me - different ones at different times - and allow all those skills to develop in their own time however they do ... by simply trying them out and not shying away from anything.

I just play. In the sense of fun. Like kids play. The skill development just kinda happens by itself while I'm having fun.

The full article is here. (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?92956-Any-Baritone-Uke-Players-have- Suggestions-for-Beginner&p=1477258#post1477258)

Hope that helps.

08-26-2014, 09:30 AM
Thanks everyone for the kind words and advices!
I have actually been subscribed to UU+ twice and learned a lot from it.

The online lessons interests me though. Without having done too much research in the matter, does anyone know the average price per lesson?

PMing you.

08-26-2014, 09:40 AM
My sister is a violin teacher and she said something really interesting recently. She says that there is evidence that a lot of advancement in musical ability comes from reviewing pieces you already know. That doesn't mean you shouldn't learn anything new, just that you should take some time to play things that you know well, and concentrate on playing them better. This may help with a plateau in ability. A plateau in desire to play is different.

The thing that keeps me playing is playing with others. I play at my church (mostly for the kids division) and I've helped start a ukulele club at my kids school.

08-26-2014, 10:30 AM
Congrats on your remission. That is great. News.

I myself had prostate surgery 5 weeks ago and am recovering slowly.

For me the biggest priority has been to relax and rest so I have not played much Uke but am itching to get back to it as things return to normal.

Here is a quick video I made 3 days after my surgery. I was feeling great, but since then I kind of crashed and realized I needed to go slow.lll I'm now walking 4 miles a day and finally see some progress.

I wish you a full and speedy recover. And victory over this nasty dragon.


08-26-2014, 12:47 PM
Helms, I'm so glad to hear that you've bean back the beast! Way to go! My advice is to do something different, fun, wild, and something that is a departure from your usual style of music learning. Try something new. You may love it and go that new route for a while, or you may hate it and come back to what you've been doing and feel renewed.

08-26-2014, 12:48 PM
And hugs to you, Olarte. I hope your recovery continues to progress. Glad you are taking it at a good pace!

Joyful Uke
08-26-2014, 02:54 PM
It's wonderful that you are cancer free! Congratulations.

I find a lot of the articles by Dr. Noa Kageyama to be interesting. Here is one that seems related to what you're experiencing:


For those of us doing this as a hobby and not a profession, I think that having fun is the most important thing. After all you've been through with your illness, you have certainly earned the right to have some fun, and not necessarily worry about making progress, (though making progress sure is fun.) I think that we often are making more progress than we realize, anyway. Do you have any way to track your progress?

It sounds like if you found the tab for a song that you'd really like to learn that you'd find yourself having a hard time putting the ukulele down. Maybe someone could help you track down a tab you'd like?

08-27-2014, 08:39 AM
Thanks again everyone!

I really appreciate all the posts! It's a great help and a great insight into what I can continue to practice.
I realized that my biggest weakness on the uke is chords. When I first received my uke, I jumped straight ahead into instrumentals (I had a lot of experience from guitar) and completely overlooked chords.
Found an old dusty song book that I've begun using daily now, learning new songs and different chords positions for several chords in each song!

Anyway, thanks again for all the help!
Currently checking out all the links you all sent!

I've been looking at some chord books and The Daily Ukulele books seems very intriguing! Can anyone recommend them or any other chord book?