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Thread: Playing A Newbie's Uke Without Discouraging Her?

  1. #1
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    Default Playing A Newbie's Uke Without Discouraging Her?

    I work for my local township in a building that houses a Senior Center. Part of my gig involves assisting a very casual senior chorus with their music, their props, etc. This week, they started rehearsing for their 2019 holiday concert in which one of the members - a small, delicate woman probably in her late 70's - is going to be featured on her brand new ukulele.

    She has taken two lessons so far and, (forgive me for saying this, but...) if her uke playing is anything like her singing, she probably just doesn't have the chops to get a whole lot out of it.

    My problem is that, when I told her after last week's rehearsal that I play the uke, she replied (sort of hesitantly) that maybe I can "show her a few things" before the next rehearsal. I could sense that she probably isn't ready to be upstaged by someone who has played a few years, so now I'm wondering how to handle the situation in a way that encourages - rather than discourages her to practice and get better at the instrument.

    I know you might be thinking "If she's already in her 70's, she probably has no ego invested in her ukulele playing," but this woman (like many of the seniors in this club) is of a rare breed who goof around and pretend to be singing just for fun, but actually think they've got some talent.

    So, should I just try to suck when I play for her, or do you think there's any value in trying to show her what a little practice can accomplish? (PS: I'm no ukulele virtuoso, but my 50 years as a drummer just sort of enables me to sound a lot better on the uke than I actually am!)

  2. #2
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    Jul 2018
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    Quote Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
    I work for my local township in a building that houses a Senior Center. Part of my gig involves assisting a very casual senior chorus with their music, their props, etc. This week, they started rehearsing for their 2019 holiday concert in which one of the members - a small, delicate woman probably in her late 70's - is going to be featured on her brand new ukulele.

    She has taken two lessons so far and, (forgive me for saying this, but...) if her uke playing is anything like her singing, she probably just doesn't have the chops to get a whole lot out of it.

    My problem is that, when I told her after last week's rehearsal that I play the uke, she replied (sort of hesitantly) that maybe I can "show her a few things" before the next rehearsal. I could sense that she probably isn't ready to be upstaged by someone who has played a few years, so now I'm wondering how to handle the situation in a way that encourages - rather than discourages her to practice and get better at the instrument.

    I know you might be thinking "If she's already in her 70's, she probably has no ego invested in her ukulele playing," but this woman (like many of the seniors in this club) is of a rare breed who goof around and pretend to be singing just for fun, but actually think they've got some talent.

    So, should I just try to suck when I play for her, or do you think there's any value in trying to show her what a little practice can accomplish? (PS: I'm no ukulele virtuoso, but my 50 years as a drummer just sort of enables me to sound a lot better on the uke than I actually am!)
    If she asked you if "you could show her a few things", I doubt she's asking for a psrformance. If you have any tips or a mini lesson on something that she is ready for, she would probably be appreciative. It isn't necessary to show off in order to oblige. It also is not necessarh to suck in order not to show off.

  3. #3
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    No, don't try to suck. "Show her a few things" is about right - start where she is and show her what she needs to practice to get a little better. If you have the target sound picked out, go over the chords or notes she is going to need to play.
    Ukulele:
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    !Flukutronic!

  4. #4
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    I don't think anyone should ever intentionally suck when teaching a student of any level. It sounds like you might not have a lot to work with so try and imagine the best that she could possibly achieve in the time allowed and play to her at that level. I'm imagining something easy like just doing 4 down strokes per measure on a 4/4 song for example. You don't have to give her more than she asked for.
    Ohana CK-42R - all-solid concert, sinker redwood top, rosewood body, maple binding, Ltd. Edition
    Kala KA-FMCG- solid/lam concert, spruce top, spalted flame maple body, mahogany binding
    Ohana CK-120G - all-solid concert, 5A acacia top sides and back, mahogany binding, Limited Edition
    Ohana SK-30M - all-solid mahogany long neck soprano (concert scale)
    Romero ST - solid/lam concert, spruce top, mahogany body

  5. #5
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    Show her some things that will make changing chords easier for her. And anything else that will make playing easier in general. Then step away. It's her performance. Her holiday show to be in.

    If she wants more help, she will ask for it.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you donít begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    óLou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  6. #6
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    All great advice. I am not actually there to coach her or give her lessons, and she didn't ask for that. It was more like "Show me what you got, Junior!" I suppose part of the challenge is that these people think I'm the bee's knees when it comes to everything I do (blush, blush), so (in sort of an immature way) I feel like I need to pull out my best "fooled 'em again" licks when I pick up her instrument to play.

    This will be a good exercise in applying how I'd handle this same situation with a young child. In the former case, there's no question my own ego would take a back seat to boosting the child's ego.

    There you go. SOLVED! Thank you, everybody!

  7. #7
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    Why donít you offer to strum chords to a song that she can sing? So she can show off also. Tell her, you need her vocal help

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
    All great advice. I am not actually there to coach her or give her lessons, and she didn't ask for that. It was more like "Show me what you got, Junior!" I suppose part of the challenge is that these people think I'm the bee's knees when it comes to everything I do (blush, blush), so (in sort of an immature way) I feel like I need to pull out my best "fooled 'em again" licks when I pick up her instrument to play.

    This will be a good exercise in applying how I'd handle this same situation with a young child. In the former case, there's no question my own ego would take a back seat to boosting the child's ego.

    There you go. SOLVED! Thank you, everybody!
    Well done Tom, encouragement is the key, helping to ignite the ukulele flame in others is a great gift to share!
    Happy just to be a Newbie +, Penny

  9. #9
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    Help her with the song she is going to play for her performance. Show her easy ways to make chords, if necessary - if possible.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  10. #10
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    Thats the way to go, there is no ego involved just the action of a mentor helping someone expand their musical capabilities.

    If the Township could invest in a few Ukes for use within the centre you never know a Supergroup could be born.
    Col.
    From the UK with a bad case of MIAS.
    Korg PA700, Korg Kross 2, Gibson LP, Fender Jazz Bass,
    + Amps, PA, Boss GT100, mixer.
    Ukes - Kala KA-TEME and Risa ST electric solid body.
    Uke wish list, a Bass, make and model yet to be determined

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