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Thread: Is this a common problem?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
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    Flint, Michigan USA
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    build your muscle memory(spinal cord neuronal connections) through practice. You will get it with time. You can even practice silently during commercials without strumming. Use songs that only have 2 or 3 chords in it so the process is easier. keep at it. I believe in you!
    Ukulele player since November 2013 and started playing toy piano in July of 2019. Lover of electric ukulele!

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  2. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    363

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    The younger you are the easier it is to learn many tasks. Enjoyment is uttermost. Slow accurate repetition builds muscle memory. Your subconscious mind can help.I try to practice a new sequence or progression before sleep at night and while drifting off, imagine you are playing that tune, then again play through on awakening in the morning.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    Canada
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    36

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    Thank everyone.

    The reason I haven't practiced for a few days is that the issues with forming chords turned me off.

    I should have no problem practicing for even just 15 minutes a day, as my life is not that eventful. I'll need to as well just to get the strings stretched to the point that they will hold tune.

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Northern Illinois
    Posts
    27

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    Twiggy-

    Make sure that the uke is immediately within reach (on a stand or hanger) from where you usually sit. When it's always available, you'll unconciously grab it often and 'practice.' I usually do 3-5 minutes spurts... I'll just say 'many' times a day. This keeps me from getting frustrated. When I'm just not getting it, I put it back on the stand and pick it up again later.

    Keep a chord chart visable at all times, so you can look at it in an instant. Limit yourself to trying only few keys. Ignore the rest.

    Get a strap and "wear" the uke when noodling around on the internet. This enables both hands to be free as you 'multitask.' I hope this helps.

    Extra credit:

    Try to learn I-IV-V major chords from a few keys.
    Examples: C-F-G D-G-A G-C-D

    Print out a Circle of 5ths and learn the relative minor chord that goes with each major.
    Examples: C's is Am, D's is Bm, G's is Em

    Add other Minors an 7ths as necessary when learning songs.

    It really is fun.

    -Wiggy
    Last edited by Wiggy; 02-09-2020 at 09:11 AM.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Honolulu
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    I can't address the OP's problem remotely, but I have a few observations. In my beginning 'ukulele and guitar courses at Leeward Community College I've been helping aspiring musicians for decades and haven't met a student unable to learn to play. Yes, each individual is different in their learning ability and prior experiences but the most crucial factor in success is having a regular practice schedule and a lot of patience. We all hit walls and bounce off a few dozen times whenever trying something new.

    There's a large man in one of my classes with hands made perfectly for bass guitar! And he came with a soprano 'ukulele and had a heck of a time forming chords. It was impossible to place his fingers without muffling the adjacent string. I let him try an old Takamine tenor with 1.5" nut and suddenly he was in business chord-wise. String instruments need to fit the player and finding the right one can make a big difference.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    36

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    Peter,

    I do have hands on the larger side, I mean I do wear large or sometimes even XL gloves. My Uke is a Soprano too, so maybe that could be an issue, maybe not, at this stage I'm not sure.

    I guess try a little more, and if there's still no progress, maybe consider a larger Uke?

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    Durham, UK
    Posts
    167

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    I have never played a Flight travel uke myself, but I was under the impression that the nut is a bit roomier than other sopranos. I would advise you to invest more time in playing this one first. Hold your soprano whilst you are watching tv or even reading a book. Forget about the right hand and just do the drill changing from C to G or C to G7.

    There are some short cuts:
    Leave your middle finger on the 2d fret of the A string behind your ring finger on the 3rd fret on the A string. This middle finger is your anchor or pivot when changing to the G.
    For the change from C to G7 glide your finger.
    Moving from G to Em is easy once your pinky is strong enough to be added onto your G shape. Keep the G and add your little finger on string 3, fret 4.
    Going from Am to E7 is easy if you already have your index (pointer) finger on the first fret of the 4th string, with your middle finger on the 2nd fret (where it is supposed to be). This is another example of having a pivot or anchor point.
    Find out how you can change chords economically (limit movements of your fingers up and down the frets on the neck, but move your fingers up and down the strings instead).

    I find that if you go for a certain size and you build up that routine you will make big improvements on that instrument. It might be hard to notice it in the beginning or even after a fortnight or so. However, if you build up a regular practice and then would try out a different kind of neck, where the frets are larger and the strings potentially spaced differently (closer together or further apart) you would definitely notice the difference.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    Corvallis, Oregon
    Posts
    610

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    Twiggy,

    A couple of things to keep in mind...

    (1) The ability to move a finger independent from the others is something that needs to be developed. We just don’t do that kind of thing much in our regular life. The lack of individual dexterity generally doesn’t become an issue until we decide to take up a musical instrument. :-) Improving individual finger flexibility may, in fact, be more important than developing overall strength. Another thing that will help is to keep your hand and wrist relaxed. When your fingers are tense and stiff, developing flexibility and individual dexterity becomes a lot more challenging. Practice playing a chord and then completely relaxing your fingers before moving on to the next chord. Play, relax, play, relax. Rinse and repeat. The good news is that the more you do it, the easier it will get, and eventually the relaxation will become automatic. Making chord shapes easily with your fingers requires muscle memory. Muscle memory can only be developed through repetition.

    (2) If, after a suitable period of trying, you decide to move up to a larger scale ukulele (like a concert or tenor), I highly recommend you hang on to your Flight soprano. Many of us have found that when we became a bit more proficient at playing another size uke, we later found the soprano scale much easier to play than we did during our beginner days. The Flight is such a great ‘take anywhere, no worries’ instrument. At some point, you will be glad you kept it.

    And yes, as others have stated, playing 10 minutes a day is better than one 70 minute session a week.

    Good luck!
    Jan
    KoAloha KCM-00 (koa concert)
    KoAloha Opio KCO-10 (acacia concert)
    Thormahlen Yew-kulele (yew concert)
    Kala KA-SLNG (long neck soprano)
    Flight TUS35 (blue soprano)

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    1,887

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    Twiggy, When I started learning to play the ukulele my fingers would get stiff after I practiced. Plus, I couldn't stretch to reach some of the chords.

    I found two things that really helped.
    1. I practiced every day. If I didn't, my fingers weren't as responsive as they were the last time I practiced.
    2. I started to stretch my fingers and hands before I practiced. Mostly bending my fingers back to stretch and then down to stretch the back of the hand. Also preading your fingers as wide as you can to increase your reach.
    Here is a link to exercise tips from LiveUkulele. Similar exercises are recommended by many other sites and in books:
    https://liveukulele.com/lessons/inte...d=IwAR0BXS__Tz

    Think of it as being similar to stretching before doing something athletic. Before you go running, or play tennis, or swimming. You want to loosen up your muscles before you do something strenuous. And muscles will get stiff if you make them work doing something they aren't used to doing.

    It gets much better as you continue. But don't worry, it's a common thing we all have gone through.
    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 don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Yorkshire
    Posts
    832

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcy View Post
    Turn on Karate Kid, grab your instrument, and: Chord on... Chord off... Chord on... Chord off...
    Lol! Yes Sensei!

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