Guitar teachers teaching uke... Good or Bad?

Chap

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When I lived in Chicago, I went to uke classes at the Old Town School, and the teacher played uke and drums, and that was it.

I moved out to Washington (state!) and suffered some really annoying financial difficulties, but in the last couple months, I've recovered enough to start looking for instruction.

Both in Chicago, and here, I've noticed that there seems to be a lot of guitar teachers suddenly teaching ukulele. Apparently, they've noticed the popularity and added it to their list of instruments they teach.

I mention this, because I've found a local guy who's done this, has years and years of guitar and bass teaching experience, but seems to have just added ukulele to his list.

So, it leaves me a bit leery. I still firmly count myself as a beginner, so I have no doubt I could learn some things from him, but should I skip it and keep looking for someone who's more uke-focused?

Or should I just ask him if he knows who Cliff Edwards is, and go from there? :)
 

anthonyg

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What style do you wan't to play? I'm sure the guitar teachers can teach the basics of music on a ukulele perfectly well. They may not be particularly good teaching Hawaiian style though. Mind you. Its probably good to know the basics first. Depends on where you are in your playing and where you wan't to go.

Anthony
 

sukie

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I sort of agree with the above.

I took lessons for 2 years locally. From a guitar player and mandolin player. One year from each. Then I started lessons with an honest to god ukulele teacher. There is a HUGE difference. He pushed me much harder and has taught me ukulele stuff. I have improved A LOT.

But, yes, the local teachers can teach basic things and theory things. I think they are fine for basics, but if you want to grow with the ukulele I commend an ukulele teacher.
 

hoosierhiver

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Depends on the teacher and if they know their way around the fretboard. I got a guitar playing neighbor hooked on uke and he showed me a few good tricks.
 
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I've been playing guitar for 35 years+, and I find I can apply all the techniques I've learned over the years to the Uke. Yeah, there are Uke-specific techniques, but it never hurts to learn some new chops.
 

BlueLatitude

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And if you get a guitar teacher who is open to learning new styles and techniques and undertands that the uke is not just a baby guitar, then yes, I'd say they could make a pretty good teacher.

You can get a really good player who can't teach what they're doing because they "just do it" and that's no help either.
 

Wicked

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Look, I know that my opinion is going to raise some hackles within our merry band of ukulele players, but....

The ukulele is just a box with strings and a fingerboard. There is nothing magical about it. It is not imbued with mystical pixie powers making it so special that only a wise Ukulele Guru on the top of a mountain can instruct you in your path to enlightenment. It is a musical instrument. It is nothing more than a tool used to create music.

I know that we spend a lot of time here trying to convince ourselves that a ukulele is not a little guitar... well, it very much is. Conversely, I can also say that a guitar is a big ukulele. If you are an accomplished guitar player, you can absolutely play the ukulele. If you are an accomplished ukulele player, then you can also play the guitar (fear not those other two strings). The main differences between the two are their RANGE (obviously) - but more importantly, their TIMBRE. (That specific sound that allows you to recognise a ukulele/guitar/banjo/mandolin when you here it.)

Every technique used on a(n) ukulele has been used on other stringed instruments. They are completely interchangeable. So, can a good guitar teacher instruct you in playing ukulele? Absolutely... but notice that I qualified the teacher as “good.” There are a hell of a lot of really bad guitar teachers out there, but the sheer number of guitar teachers available makes it far more probable that you will find a really good guitar teacher well before you will find even a mediocre “ukulele only” teacher.

I guess what I am saying is.... do not restrict your search unnecessarily. Find a good MUSIC teacher.
 

dkpianoman21

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I think a good music teacher is hard to find. It doesn't really matter what instrument they teach from, if someone is a good music teacher they can help you improve whether they play the ukulele or the guitar as their main instrument. From my own experience, many people who are intermediate/advanced guitar players want to make a quick buck so they advertise guitar lessons, and to capitalize on the ukulele's rise in popularity, they buy themselves an ukulele and put that on their resume as well. In all fairness, it isn't very hard for a guitar player to transition to ukulele with some practice. However, being able to teach music effectively is a much more difficult task that many teachers out there are not well-equipped to do. Just my opinion.
 

FairyGodmartyr

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My teacher is primarily a guitar teacher. Of course, he is also a ukulele player to the extent that he plays it at his gigs, too. He tends to grab whichever instrument is closest to him during my lessons, and he'll occasionally say the wrong name for a chord, but I am learning a ton from him, so I don't mind. So much of what he is teaching me has to do with applying music theory, which is the same regardless of if you are playing the guitar, ukulele, piano, harmonica...if the teacher can play the uke significantly better than you can and is able to give you the foundation to truly understand how to make music, who cares if they are able to do that for guitar students, too? Now, if they can't play the uke worth a darn, that is a different story. But there is a lot to be said for someone who is competent with multiple instruments.
 

mds725

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Look, I know that my opinion is going to raise some hackles within our merry band of ukulele players, but....

The ukulele is just a box with strings and a fingerboard. There is nothing magical about it. It is not imbued with mystical pixie powers making it so special that only a wise Ukulele Guru on the top of a mountain can instruct you in your path to enlightenment. It is a musical instrument. It is nothing more than a tool used to create music.

I know that we spend a lot of time here trying to convince ourselves that a ukulele is not a little guitar... well, it very much is. Conversely, I can also say that a guitar is a big ukulele. If you are an accomplished guitar player, you can absolutely play the ukulele. If you are an accomplished ukulele player, then you can also play the guitar (fear not those other two strings). The main differences between the two are their RANGE (obviously) - but more importantly, their TIMBRE. (That specific sound that allows you to recognise a ukulele/guitar/banjo/mandolin when you here it.)

Every technique used on a(n) ukulele has been used on other stringed instruments. They are completely interchangeable. So, can a good guitar teacher instruct you in playing ukulele? Absolutely... but notice that I qualified the teacher as “good.” There are a hell of a lot of really bad guitar teachers out there, but the sheer number of guitar teachers available makes it far more probable that you will find a really good guitar teacher well before you will find even a mediocre “ukulele only” teacher.

I guess what I am saying is.... do not restrict your search unnecessarily. Find a good MUSIC teacher.

I don't want to take issue with you, but I'd like to point out that when I bought a guitar instruction book in order to teach myself how to play a requinto (six-string instrument) that was tuned like a guitar, I discovered that in playing guitar chords, the player often skips strumming all of the strings or mutes a string (or maybe two). While this technique can be useful in playing the ukulele, it doesn't come up as a matter of course, so the differences in the instruments do sometimes indicate different techniques. A guitar is not routinely strummed with one's index finger, so for all I know a guitar player who's new to the ukulele may want to strum with a pick, or with his thumb. I believe I can learn valuable techniques from anyone who plays any sort of guitar-like instrument, but I don't want to lose sight of the fact that each instrument generates its own techniques that can be used on other guitar-like instruments but may not necessarily be strong or developed in someone trying to teach an instrument different from the guitar-like instrument he or she has mastered.

In all fairness, it isn't very hard for a guitar player to transition to ukulele with some practice. However, being able to teach music effectively is a much more difficult task that many teachers out there are not well-equipped to do. Just my opinion.

I think this is an important and overlooked point. I'd rather learn from someone who is skilled at teaching and perhaps less skilled at ukulele playing than someone who's an absolute ukulele master but has difficulty conveying his or her knowledge to others, especially those less skilled than he/she is.
 
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Nickie

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Good thread. I once had a chance to learn fiddle from a pretty gifted old proffeser who used to yell at students and rap them on the knuckles with his bow...I decided to bide my time, look around, wound up in Nahsville with a less gifted gal, who was very sweet and patient...I was never worth a damn with the fiddle, but she and I became fast friends...she introduced me to some of the best fiddlers in hte country, including Kenny Baker and Vasser Clements...it's all in what you need, and personality is a big plus in a teacher...
I've found an amzing ukulele teacher...he's full of personality, loves people, and is a former guitar player...after months of being at an annoying impasse, I've begun to progress again...
 

Wicked

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I don't want to take issue with you, but I'd like to point out that when I bought a guitar instruction book in order to teach myself how to play a requinto (six-string instrument) that was tuned like a guitar, I discovered that in playing guitar chords, the player often skips strumming all of the strings or mutes a string (or maybe two). While this technique can be useful in playing the ukulele, it doesn't come up as a matter of course, so the differences in the instruments do sometimes indicate different techniques. A guitar is not routinely strummed with one's index finger, so for all I know a guitar player who's new to the ukulele may want to strum with a pick, or with his thumb. I believe I can learn valuable techniques from anyone who plays any sort of guitar-like instrument, but I don't want to lose sight of the fact that each instrument generates its own techniques that can be used on other guitar-like instruments but may not necessarily be strong or developed in someone trying to teach an instrument different from the guitar-like instrument he or she has mastered.

Understood, but the differences in technique are dictated by musical style - not by the physical instrument. You could play delta blues on a requinto or bluegrass on a Cuban tres, just as easily as you could play a tumbao or Travis pick a ukulele.
 

Wicked

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Another point that I should probably make is that teachers will often be good for you only during certain phases of your musical journey. Some teachers are great at getting you started on an instrument, but may not be able to take you to an advanced level. Other teachers may not be good with beginners, but can really bring out the best in a more advanced student. Most ukulele instructors that I have come across seem to fit in the former category, but there is far less demand for the later group.
 

mds725

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Understood, but the differences in technique are dictated by musical style - not by the physical instrument. You could play delta blues on a requinto or bluegrass on a Cuban tres, just as easily as you could play a tumbao or Travis pick a ukulele.

That's true, but it's not what I meant. Regardless of musical styles, learning to "skip" one or more strings is necessary to make many chords on a guitar, but it isn't necessary on an ukulele, although it can be done. And the ukulele instruction books (as well as videos on this website) all say to play a basic strum with the index finger on an ukulele, something you generally would not do on a guitar.
 

Wicked

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The best teacher you can find is the one that is there for you, no matter what instrument they play. There are not enough music teachers around and a piano teacher who is willing to help you learn ukulele is better than no teacher at all.

Exactly. My motto is, "the best way to become a better ukulele player is to become a better musician"
 

TheCraftedCow

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I agree with what WICKED has said. The ukulele is a part of a guitar. Any guitar player who get above the Nashville first five knows that the closer harmony chords cannot be made on all six strings, so they move over to one through four. If that's not playing in Uke Country, I don't know what is. If you listen to some of the songs from the islands, or even some of the instrumentals, you hear guitars. To say no Hawaiian plays a guitar is absurd. As a professional educator, I have seen my peers with higher degrees unable to relate their knowledge to learners. They have not been successful as classroom teachers. I have also had students tell me they can't do something and I turn around and walk away. When they ask if I'm not going to help them, I reply,"No, you have already told me you cannot do it. If you tell me that you have yet to be able to do it, then you give yourself permission to improve, and you give me permission to possibly help you." There is a huge difference between "I can't" and "I have yet to" You can have a fantastic teacher, and have a crummy attitude, and you will reach your expectation. One may take a while while the other is instantaneous. Some of us speak two or more languages. when we speak one we think in that language, we don't successfully converse when we think in one and speak in the other and have to add that translation lag. Same thing applies from guitar to uke or uke to bass or bass to mandolin. Before one can change how they act/function/perform, they have to change how they think.

Thank you WICKED for your boldness to think outside of the box.
 
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