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Thread: Calling all Self-Taughts

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Location
    Dundee, Scotland
    Posts
    7

    Default Calling all Self-Taughts

    I'd like to hear your thoughts on the best (easiest and quickest) way you've progressed when self taught. Do you:

    • Find songs you like and learn to play them?
    • Find an online course and follow that?
    • Find a ukulele group (not possible just now and not entirely self taught)?
    • Other?


    I've only been playing 6 weeks and wondering how I get to a next level beyond playing rhythm ukulele. I'm dabbling with the idea of signing up to James Hill's course but unsure whether I want to spend the money (I'm Scottish after all ) and would like to hear your opinions.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    MN metro area
    Posts
    1,715

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    I'm a self-taught and what's worked best for me is finding songs that I like and trying to learn them. Online video tutorials of songs that I like are very helpful. The problem I find with most lessons whether video or in print is that they use songs that I would never have chosen on my own and that I would never want to play. I lose interest very quickly. I understand that one needs to walk before they can run and that skills learned can be transferred and used on other songs but I seem to be driven to want to skip that step. If I'm going to put in the time I want to learn those skills on songs that I'd like or that I'd actually play.

    Finding a ukulele group might also be helpful. I participated in one for the first time this year before this whole quarantine thing started. Yes, I ended up playing a lot of songs I would never have chosen for myself but occasionally 1 or 2 turned out to be OK. I found that it kind of lit a spark in me. I wanted to improve my skills and learn new skills. I've been content with just strumming and singing for years.
    Last edited by mikelz777; 05-13-2020 at 03:44 AM.
    Money can't buy happiness but it can buy a uke which is basically the same thing.

    Ukes are a lot like potato chips. It's hard to stop with just one!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Posts
    244

    Default

    I'm self taught also. What works for me is just taking my time and learning all the basic chords and transitioning to different chords. After I do that, I practice finger-picking patterns to go along with the chords.

    That how I learned. Good luck!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Near Lake Okeechobee, Florida
    Posts
    520

    Default

    I'm not self-taught, but I'll chime in.

    Take 5 minutes/day to keep a practice journal. Reflect upon your progress and struggles and set some short-term and long-term goals. Structure your practice sessions to make inroads toward those goals. As you learn more about music and your instrument, your self-developed curricula will improve.

    If you'd prefer to avoid the constant revision that comes with under-informed independent study, enrollment in a professionally developed course grants access to a structured curriculum. Diligent practice can quickly yield results under these conditions, but a structured curriculum is easy to take for granted and can lead to complacency and procrastination. If you're considering a course, review the learning objectives and syllabus to discover your level of commitment.

    Music is communal, so you might find playing in a 'ukulele group cathartic. Most groups share their repertoire freely and are lead by someone who can teach basic strum patterns, chord fingerings, etc. Personally, I don't improve much playing in the average 'ukulele social club, but I do enjoy socializing with fellow 'ukulele enthusiasts and usually feel reinvigorated to hit the practice room after going to a uke circle.

    No one approach is inherently superior to the others. Regardless of the route you choose, keep a practice journal. That will help you decide what's best for your own progress.
    "Who hears music, feels his solitude Peopled at once -- for how count heart-beats plain / Unless a company, with hearts which beat, / Come close to the musician, seen or no?" - Robert Browning, "Balaustion's Adventure"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    West Virginia
    Posts
    1,920

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    First year of playing -

    I first found songs I knew really well and were basic and somewhat repetitive -same verse, same chorus - such as the Hokey Pokey and other kids songs, and Christmas carols like Jingle Bells. The other benefit to that was that I could practice while babysitting grandkids and they knew the songs, too.

    Then I moved on to songs I really liked and wanted to learn. I did a lot of Dr. Uke songs because he has a short clip of the songs to help me figure out the strum pattern, and many songs come in different keys.

    During all this, I did the Uncle Rod Bootcamp and practiced that every day.
    - Laura

    Martin, KoAloha, Brueko, Mele, Mainland, Outdoor, Kala, Enya, Harmony, Tempo, Globe, Vega, Silvertone, Kay, Luna, Vorson, Zither Heaven, First Act

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Ames, Iowa
    Posts
    4,184

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    Self taught. I started out not really very serious about it. I learned a few chords and played around with it one summer at our neighborhood weekly bon fire where we sit around drinking and singing sixties and seventies songs. It just grew from there. I still don't take it very seriously, so if I did I might take some kind of lessons. I play with a couple groups and I pick up a lot there. Once you get some basics festivals are a really good place to learn some good practical and usable techniques in a weekend. If and when we have festivals again.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...tective+Agency

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    370

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    After lockdown, if normality returns, join a group or ukulele club. That is the fastest way to learn rythmn, timing and songs.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Capital District, New York
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    3,770

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    I played guitar (i was very mediocre, at best) for about 40 years - self taught. I learned chords from chord diagrams in Alfred's Basic Guitar Course Book 1, and then started buying songbooks with the words and chord charts for songs I knew (Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, etc.). I had always been good at recognizing melodies and progressions (I played "Name That Tune" in the car with my parents before the show was ever on TV), so I applied that to playing.

    The first song I ever figured out on my own was "American Pie", and I'd been playing it for years before I ever saw sheet music for it - I had actually gotten the chords right! But I have been a miserable failure at trying to read tablature or notation... I can follow notation ( notes go up, notes go down, that's flat, that's sharp) but couldn't tap out a rhythm based on time signature ( other than 4/4 and 3/4) to save my life. (I'd been kicked out of drum lessons after 6 months because I couldn't do a 1/4 note roll, the most basic of rhythms.)

    I came to ukulele after arm surgery for a torn tendon and ligament made playing guitar painful. 2 years after giving up guitar, my father-in-law gave me an old Harmony uke that hadn't been touched in over 20 years. I tuned it, and played it, (and retuned, and retuned... stupid friction tuners!) and bought a better uke. And another, and another, and another...

    I don't pay attention to strum patterns. For one thing, I have problems with my right arm and shoulder now, and I can't strum as fast as some of them want you to. But mostly, if I can't hear it in my head, I can't play it. I can't hear most strum patterns, and "down-up-down-down-up-down-up" goes into my head like Charlie Brown's teacher. (wah, wah, wahhhh...)

    But play it, don't say it? if it isn't too fast, I can do it. (Think of "Lookin' Out My Back Door", by CCR...)

    Finger picking started out totally random on the guitar. Then, while in college, I watched a guy at the Heritage Arts Festival in Salem, WV play "Tennessee Stud" on a classical guitar. I'd already been listening to Doc Watson flat pick it, and kept getting lost. Watching someone use multiple fingers play the song... I learned how to finger pick it, THEN learned to flat pick it.

    I've learned over the years to trust my ears, and how the sound translates into my mind. If I can hear it, I can generally make something sound similar. That has really paid off when playing with others, especially on songs I don't know. And everything I learned on the guitar has translated to the Uke, only I'm much better at uke.

    That's another point: The best way to get better at somethings, be it music, theater, or some sports, is to interact with people who are a) better than you, b) willing to give advice, and c) not so blown away by their own awesomeness that they reject you out of hand.

    Watch the Seasons, here on UU. There are some folks who are incredible! And then there are those of us who may not be that phenomenal, but have fun anyway.

    And no one on this thread has given you bad advice. Use those parts that work for you, and enjoy!

    -Kurt
    Last edited by ksiegel; 05-13-2020 at 11:18 AM.
    Banjo Ukes: Southern Cross, Firefly, Stella
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    ...Maybe?...

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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Posts
    1,083

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by KiltedUke View Post
    I'd like to hear your thoughts on the best (easiest and quickest) way you've progressed when self taught. Do you:

    • Find songs you like and learn to play them?
    • Find an online course and follow that?
    • Find a ukulele group (not possible just now and not entirely self taught)?
    • Other?


    I've only been playing 6 weeks and wondering how I get to a next level beyond playing rhythm ukulele. I'm dabbling with the idea of signing up to James Hill's course but unsure whether I want to spend the money (I'm Scottish after all ) and would like to hear your opinions.
    I am definitely in the "other" category. I never play other people's music; that's what my CD player is for. I practice scales and certain chord qualities in all keys. I browse the internet for chord progressions and then play them my own way. Occasionally I will also skim over jazz guitar websites and glean whatever I can apply to the ukulele. Since I am a bit older, I had music in school. So I've been reading music since I was a kid. Accordingly, if I hear a riff that interests me, I'll get the sheet music and learn the riff and then use it for my own music.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
    Posts
    6,492

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    First off, pick a tune you like, & get to know the fretboard.

    Then learn the basic chords, & a song or two that you like .

    Then it's just down to practising, as much or as little as suits you, just make it enjoyable.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

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