Am I Just Too Uncoordinated to Do This?

Cadia

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
1,239
Points
113
You are doing wonderfully well! Just keep practicing the picking pattern, until it becomes automatic. I wouldn't try to focus on singing while you're practicing, though I find humming along helps to keep my timing. Go at a slow, steady beat. The suggestions made above, like practicing the picking pattern while watching tv, and even standing in line shopping, are good ones. You'll find that it will become muscle memory, and then you can focus on your singing.
 

ElvishParsley

Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2022
Messages
43
Points
18
I find Travis pick (and related patterns) easier on the guitar than the ukulele. And much easier on ukuleles that aren't re-entrant tuned - on high G instruments, picking the C string at the start of the bar feels really awkward.

Might help to concentrate on the thumb at first: just get it rocking rhythmically back and forth between the two lowest strings. Then add the cross-rhythms on the higher strings.

There are a lot of variants on Travis pick, and some of them might be easier to start with. Playing all the high notes off the beat, for example: hitting the strings in the order 4 1 3 2, 4 1 3 2 ... (or 3 1 4 2, 3 1 4 2 on a high G instrument)
 

Nickie

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Messages
10,362
Points
113
I used to throw stuff across the room. I'm rather more chilled these days.
My fiddles and mandolins were about the only thing I didn't throw. Too expensive to fix. I have not thrown an ukulele either, too expensive to fix.
 

Voran

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 3, 2021
Messages
1,410
Points
113
My fiddles and mandolins were about the only thing I didn't throw. Too expensive to fix. I have not thrown an ukulele either, too expensive to fix.
I've punched a dent in a car door as well as 3 computer screens. In hindsight I think young me probably had some endocrine problems. My voice dropped oddly at puberty, almost like a boy's.
 

Nickie

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Messages
10,362
Points
113
I've punched a dent in a car door as well as 3 computer screens. In hindsight I think young me probably had some endocrine problems. My voice dropped oddly at puberty, almost like a boy's.
An overload of testosterone will do that!
 

Wiggy

UU VIP
UU VIP
Joined
Dec 12, 2011
Messages
1,031
Points
113
In lieu of 'Travis' type picking, I thumb pick/strum on strings 1&2 and pick with I-M-R on 1,2&3. Pinkie is my anchor.

For getting 'the rhythm' while chording, thumb on (both) 3-4, then Index on (both) 1-2. Try rock'n it that way.
 

Voran

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 3, 2021
Messages
1,410
Points
113
An overload of testosterone will do that!
I have suspicions mine was high. Girls do not normally go from speaking like a normal 13 year old female to being able to sing a baritone's low Bb. I'm still a bit bitter about how my voice cracked and gave out in ways normally only seen in boys and men. So humiliating. Female puberty was hard enough without being forced to go through elements of male puberty as well...

But anyway, back to Ila's troubles with finger coordination...honestly, being a beginner at anything is frickin' hard. It's normal to struggle. I know it's easier said than done but try and stop being hard on yourself and just play for fun right now.
 

Nickie

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Messages
10,362
Points
113
I have suspicions mine was high. Girls do not normally go from speaking like a normal 13 year old female to being able to sing a baritone's low Bb. I'm still a bit bitter about how my voice cracked and gave out in ways normally only seen in boys and men. So humiliating. Female puberty was hard enough without being forced to go through elements of male puberty as well...

But anyway, back to Ila's troubles with finger coordination...honestly, being a beginner at anything is frickin' hard. It's normal to struggle. I know it's easier said than done but try and stop being hard on yourself and just play for fun right now.
I isn't normal to struggle. That means we're doing something wrong. The stuff you are playing now will get easy. But you'll find more challenging stuff to learn, so it never does get easy, but we don't have to struggle.
 

Voran

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 3, 2021
Messages
1,410
Points
113
I isn't normal to struggle. That means we're doing something wrong. The stuff you are playing now will get easy. But you'll find more challenging stuff to learn, so it never does get easy, but we don't have to struggle.
I mean it's normal to find it hard and to take a while to master something. I used to botch even my simplest songs, now I play them on autopilot.
 

ploverwing

UU VIP
UU VIP
Joined
Apr 24, 2022
Messages
899
Points
93
All of these much more experienced players have provided great suggestions and feedback; I'll add my (very) beginner's voice, for what it's worth. I found a very simple piece in 3/4 time with enough chord changes to be interesting but not horrible (obviously, your choice of piece might be more advanced than what I can play at this point, but would still be "simple" to you). I then use various 3/4 rhythm picking patterns and use it as a warm up exercise but also to help develop familiarity with the picking patterns. I no longer have to learn the chord progressions on this piece; I'm now just practicing the different fingerpicking patterns. I have the same for a simple 4/4 piece. This just echos what everyone else has mentioned; I'm sure that you've figured that out on your own. I'm adding this comment probably more for other beginner-beginners out there that may read this thread.
 

EDW

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 6, 2010
Messages
3,200
Points
113
There are certainly lots of good suggestions here. A couple of thoughts-
Break things down into smaller pieces, whether it be separating the motion of each hand and mastering each before putting it together, or doing one measure or chord at a time. Try to master one measure, chord, pattern or whatever. Don't add more until you have that one piece down. Figure out what motion or spot is giving you trouble and only work on that. Then build around that.

Each day look to make SOME progress, no matter how seemingly insignificant. It may not even be adding more, but just feeling comfortable with what you have learned so far. Sometimes we hear stories of someone who walked across the country. If you only walked 5 miles, you are 5 miles closer to your destination. Don't focus on how much further you have to go.

Be patient. Having taught people at all levels and ages, I sometimes find that the older people are much harder than young beginners because they know what is possible and are frustrated because they are not there. The young player is just happy to have made some improvement and learned 2 notes. It is like watching some master musician or athlete who makes things look SO easy and then wondering why we cannot do it.
 

captain-janeway

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 8, 2015
Messages
1,138
Points
63
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.
How are you doing your version of Carter scratch? Yeah missing those extra strings makes it kind of impossible, but I'm looking for a passable approximation. Thanks
 

Nickie

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Messages
10,362
Points
113
Oh yeah; bowing and fingering, yoikes! Why I'm doing ukulele now, lol!
Yep, I was starting to be decent on slow stuff, like waltzes, you know. Then I almost cut my left forefinger off with a chainsaw. When that had mended, I tried playing again, then was in an auto accident that separated my right shoulder.. After surgery and 6 weeks with that arm in a sling, I could no longer get my bowing arm high enough to play on the low strings. I never developed any speed with accuracy. So i gave the fiddle and bows away.
I hope that 'splains things.
 

ploverwing

UU VIP
UU VIP
Joined
Apr 24, 2022
Messages
899
Points
93
Yep, I was starting to be decent on slow stuff, like waltzes, you know. Then I almost cut my left forefinger off with a chainsaw. When that had mended, I tried playing again, then was in an auto accident that separated my right shoulder.. After surgery and 6 weeks with that arm in a sling, I could no longer get my bowing arm high enough to play on the low strings. I never developed any speed with accuracy. So i gave the fiddle and bows away.
I hope that 'splains things.
ow
 

ripock

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 27, 2017
Messages
2,686
Points
113
How are you doing your version of Carter scratch? Yeah missing those extra strings makes it kind of impossible, but I'm looking for a passable approximation. Thanks
My goodness! that was about 2 if not 3 years ago for me. I gravitated away from the folk music because I found the techniques were good for playing folk music but not so good for making my own music. At the time, I was looking at Aaron Keim's books and I went to youtube and found this video, for example,
 

captain-janeway

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 8, 2015
Messages
1,138
Points
63
My goodness! that was about 2 if not 3 years ago for me. I gravitated away from the folk music because I found the techniques were good for playing folk music but not so good for making my own music. At the time, I was looking at Aaron Keim's books and I went to youtube and found this video, for example,
Thanks. Found this one, but always looking for another. You writing your own stuff? Great!