Am I Just Too Uncoordinated to Do This?

Kenn2018

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If you have ever tried to learn how to juggle, you have a period of continuous failure until suddenly an epiphany happens and you can do it! Juggle three bean bags!

If you drive a car, when you first started out you had to think about everything. Using your feet to operate the gas peddle, the brake the clutch, plus steering and using your turn signals and the other controls. But after a while you no longer have to consciously think about your hands and feet, it's pretty much instinctual. Due to muscle memory and knowing how it all works together.

The same happened with the calypso strum. It seemed like I would never get it right. But I practiced it slowly. Over and over. Then combine it with chord changes. Now, I don't have think about it to do both.

In this case, can you change the chords without looking at the fingerboard? Or do you have to look at your left hand and place your fingers in the correct places? Those tiny hesitations or pauses will affect the timing of your other fingers.

One of the things I did to get my right hand fingers was to do the pattern on my leg while watching TV, reading, riding in a car. Just to get the pattern down. Build the muscle memory.

I had to practice chord changes over and over to get them to be smooth. There are still some that I have problems with. Doing chord progressions for different Keys helps a lot.

It takes time, but it will happen.

Don't forget to mix in stuff that you can do now to keep playing fun.
 

VegasGeorge

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I've read that "real" Travis Picking requires the bass movement from the tonic note of the chord to the dominant note of the chord. As is, C, G, C, G, etc. On the Ukulele we just don't have that option on the low end with every chord. So, the best we can do is to approximate Travis Picking, and the most important thing seems to be keeping that thumb busy while other notes are being played over it.
 

Ila

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If you have ever tried to learn how to juggle, you have a period of continuous failure until suddenly an epiphany happens and you can do it! Juggle three bean bags!

If you drive a car, when you first started out you had to think about everything. Using your feet to operate the gas peddle, the brake the clutch, plus steering and using your turn signals and the other controls. But after a while you no longer have to consciously think about your hands and feet, it's pretty much instinctual. Due to muscle memory and knowing how it all works together.

The same happened with the calypso strum. It seemed like I would never get it right. But I practiced it slowly. Over and over. Then combine it with chord changes. Now, I don't have think about it to do both.

In this case, can you change the chords without looking at the fingerboard? Or do you have to look at your left hand and place your fingers in the correct places? Those tiny hesitations or pauses will affect the timing of your other fingers.

One of the things I did to get my right hand fingers was to do the pattern on my leg while watching TV, reading, riding in a car. Just to get the pattern down. Build the muscle memory.

I had to practice chord changes over and over to get them to be smooth. There are still some that I have problems with. Doing chord progressions for different Keys helps a lot.

It takes time, but it will happen.

Don't forget to mix in stuff that you can do now to keep playing fun.
What you say makes so much sense. The bottom line is that learning takes time, and I'm impatient. I have to learn to slow down and enjoy the process, not get frustrated at the result.
 

Ila

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I've read that "real" Travis Picking requires the bass movement from the tonic note of the chord to the dominant note of the chord. As is, C, G, C, G, etc. On the Ukulele we just don't have that option on the low end with every chord. So, the best we can do is to approximate Travis Picking, and the most important thing seems to be keeping that thumb busy while other notes are being played over it.
I suppose that Travis picking is a misnomer for what I'm doing. I guess "pattern picking" would be more in line with what is occurring. But no matter what I call it, it's darned frustrating right now. I gave it a try for my entry into SOTU 530:
 

Tin Ear

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I can't seem to get it, either. I wonder if fellow UU'r Wooville might do a tutorial on country picking. He can really make it drive.

Example:
This video with Hop is great ! I'd give 5 likes if I could for this post. Thanks for sharing Wiggy. The finger picking is first rate - but so is the song and the singing.

Shout out to Hop. Enjoyed your piece. (y)
 

ripock

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I suppose that Travis picking is a misnomer for what I'm doing. I guess "pattern picking" would be more in line with what is occurring. But no matter what I call it, it's darned frustrating right now. I gave it a try for my entry into SOTU 530:
Yeah, don't get hung up on the labels. I also call it pattern picking whether I am doing the ukulele version of travis picking, or Carter scratching, or Cotten picking, etc. This way the haters can't hate (although they'll probably find a way). I distinguish pattern picking from what I do normally which is finger picking notes based on a scale or mode. I have found the basic principle is to make a chord and then pluck the two outside strings and then the two inside strings or you can reverse it and pluck inside and then outside and of course you can alter which of the two inside or outside strings that you pluck first. That's a good way to get started: don't worry about the left hand; just make one chord and then focus on the right hand.
 

Ila

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Yeah, don't get hung up on the labels. I also call it pattern picking whether I am doing the ukulele version of travis picking, or Carter scratching, or Cotten picking, etc. This way the haters can't hate (although they'll probably find a way). I distinguish pattern picking from what I do normally which is finger picking notes based on a scale or mode. I have found the basic principle is to make a chord and then pluck the two outside strings and then the two inside strings or you can reverse it and pluck inside and then outside and of course you can alter which of the two inside or outside strings that you pluck first. That's a good way to get started: don't worry about the left hand; just make one chord and then focus on the right hand.
On the vid, I pick g, E, C, A. One of the online teachers called picking every other one like this "Travis" picking. I don't care what it's called as long as I can do it properly.
 

ripock

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On the vid, I pick g, E, C, A. One of the online teachers called picking every other one like this "Travis" picking. I don't care what it's called as long as I can do it properly.
precisely. Success is the best revenge. If you can do your "travis picking" with two or three chords (e.g., C7, F, and A minor) people will think you're awesome--especially if you can put a little bit of swing/syncopation into the picking. You are actually very close; it will just take a bit more patience.
 
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Voran

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It's normal. Try reverting to something super easy and simple.

You should have seen the amount of explosive rages and swearing when I was younger and learning to play the guitar...
 

Kenn2018

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Very nice singing and playing your pattern in the video. The elements are all there. It's a matter of making it smooth and speeding it up.
The haters and trollers are absolutely unimportant. Constructive help, well you take what makes sense for you and disregard the rest.

Believe me, you'll get there. You are already well on your way. A year from now, you'll watch this video of your playing and marvel at how much you have improved and grown.

g, E, C, A is just "A Pattern". I've seen several different descriptions and videos about "Travis Picking" and all of them were different.

Do your exercises and drills. Every day. The Late Ukulele Mike suggested that you do certain short exercises every time you pick up your ukulele. (After checking the tuning of course.) To build up hand strength and finger independence.

While watching TV, you can finger and change chords without strumming or picking. Mute the strings with your right hand and change the chords in 4/4 time or 3/4. Start out slow and as it gets easier, speed up. Tapping your foot to the beat.

If you have trouble making and changing certain chords, like a Bb. Practice changing it to other chords. And then from those other chords to the Bb.

Then, mute the strings with your left hand, and practice a picking pattern with your right. (Or, strumming pattern.) Do it lightly so as to not annoy others watching the program with you.

I have a RISA tenor stick that I take when we travel. It's a solid electric uke that is small enough I can pack it in my suitcase. It's very quiet when I play it un-amplified. I can practice with it in bed and not disturb my sleeping wife next to me—or the people in the adjacent hotel room.

But don't forget to have fun. Strum something fast and loud. Sing and play a silly song. Find a favorite song and practice it every day. So you can pull it out and play it from memory when someone asks you to play something. (I'm still working on this.)
 

Ila

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But don't forget to have fun. Strum something fast and loud. Sing and play a silly song. Find a favorite song and practice it every day. So you can pull it out and play it from memory when someone asks you to play something.
FANTASTIC advice. Thank you. I genuinely love this.
 

robinboyd

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As another uncoordinated person, this resonates with me. I was about where you are after 7 months. Just make sure you play a bit every day. Don't worry about whether you are improving or whether you are better or worse than anyone else. Just play. Make it fun. You might not realise it, but you will gradually improve. Eventually, you might even get good!
 

Voran

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Honestly the most important thing here is probably just don't be too hard on yourself. Being a beginner at anything is HARD. I used to botch even my simplest easiest songs when I first started. Even 'Go To The High Tower No More', which is mostly just plucking the same arpeggiated chord ad nauseum for most of the song.
 

Ila

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As another uncoordinated person, this resonates with me. I was about where you are after 7 months. Just make sure you play a bit every day. Don't worry about whether you are improving or whether you are better or worse than anyone else. Just play. Make it fun. You might not realise it, but you will gradually improve. Eventually, you might even get good!
Thanks. I hope so.
 

Ila

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Honestly the most important thing here is probably just don't be too hard on yourself. Being a beginner at anything is HARD. I used to botch even my simplest easiest songs when I first started. Even 'Go To The High Tower No More', which is mostly just plucking the same arpeggiated chord ad nauseum for most of the song.
Thank you, Voran. I’ll try to be more patient with myself.
 

merlin666

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Without a tab it's hard to say what the issue is. But I am surprised that no one has mentioned the basic tool of counting. If coordinating left and right hands is a challenge then this may be that there is no fundamental count to coordinate them. So first practice counting and when on the counts the chord changes of left hand need to happen, for example along with simple downstrums on each count. Then practice the right hand pattern on open strings without left hand with the same count until it flows along with the count. Then when both hands can do it independently bring the together while counting out loud.
 

Nickie

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Becoming proficient at a new instrument can take years, even with previous musical experience. Your previous experience will help with your learning curve, but think about how long it took you to learn to play the piano. I very much doubt you were able to play a complete Debussy or Tchaikovsky piece after only seven months of beginner lessons. :) So unless you have a gig at Carnegie Hall coming up, there’s no reason to rush the process. Think less about accomplishing your goal, and more about enjoying the process. Best of luck on your ukulele journey, Ila. You will get to where you want to be ... eventually. Just try not to postpone the joy along the way. :)
Like she says, Never forget to have fun. That's why we're here.
 

Nickie

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It's normal. Try reverting to something super easy and simple.

You should have seen the amount of explosive rages and swearing when I was younger and learning to play the guitar...
I bet I cussed and cried over the fiddle more than you did.