10 things that hold people back from progressing

For some people a Number 11 could be learning to read music. Reading standard notation shows the rhythm and the length of time notes are supposed to be held far better than TABs (even the very best TABs, such as French/English lute tablature). TABs only show the "starting" of notes, not how long those notes should be held and connected to subsequent notes. Some people are fortunate to have a really good "ear" for music and instinctively hold notes for their full duration. Some people aren't so fortunate. For them, standard notation can help.
 
For some people a Number 11 could be learning to read music. Reading standard notation shows the rhythm and the length of time notes are supposed to be held far better than TABs (even the very best TABs, such as French/English lute tablature). TABs only show the "starting" of notes, not how long those notes should be held and connected to subsequent notes. Some people are fortunate to have a really good "ear" for music and instinctively hold notes for their full duration. Some people aren't so fortunate. For them, standard notation can help.
Good point! Kind of similar to the music theory point. Learning a little bit can help you a long way as just learning to read the rhythm of the notes and not necessarily a great sight reading ability is a huge help.
 
I've had a look at your video. At 2x speed, which makes the bits about rhythm hilarious!

Here are some bits where I agree with you, followed by the bits I disagree with, followed by my own. Use them as you wish, (or not - I won't judge!).

Definitely agree with the bits about poor form though. The number of people I come across who say that certain basic stuff like fingering is impossible to them when it's glaringly obvious their form sucks is quite depressing. Also, playing to a metronome.

I really fundamentally disagree with the idea of a syllabus. As a formally diagnosed neurodivergent (team ADHD!), I can tell you that if the ukulele hadn't rewarded me when I tried to follow someone else's syllabus I would have given up years ago.

Also, with regards to music theory - I think you need to be a little more specific. It's a very nebulous term. There's lots of music theory which will not be useful to you. At all. Yes, your nashville numbers and realising the idea that music is in specific keys. You can go a long way with that.

For some people a Number 11 could be learning to read music.

This is an interesting one, as recently I have started playing with a lot of classical musicians - most recent project is with a former opera singer and I have an ongoing thing with classical piano teacher and a cello player. I can see the advantages of playing with a score now, as it takes me far longer to explain what I'm doing to them than it takes them to explain things to other people.

I don't think it necessarily is useful to be able to play exactly what someone else has written. Before I started to learn to read music, I thought it would be more useful. But now I play with the pianist (who has spent 40-odd years playing scores for stage schools 9 hours a day and can sit down and knock out most stuff by sight), I realise that a lot of the music you see written down simply isn't in the recording you're copying. All written down music is a shortcut that requires interpretation by the musician. It's a bit like telling someone how to trim a hedge over the phone.

I think there are six things that really hold people back that you miss in that video.

  1. Not actually listening to music. I'm astonished at how many wannabe ukulele players and guitarists don't actually listen to music in their own time. Listen to as much as you can, and play the stuff that you listen to. Copy the bits you like.
  2. Connect with musicians who are better than you. Everyone has their own voice, but some people are at a different stage of the journey to you and if you feel threatened by that it is just insecurity. Sit next to those people - musicians are a really friendly bunch on the whole. This is why I post on the invitationals (and watch them all!), and play with others whenever I can. Listen to what they have to say, even if they don't sound as good as you and you don't pay any attention. You shouldn't be rude, but constructive feedback is far more useful than nebulous praise. I always welcome criticism if it comes to me, even if it hurts.
  3. Realise that you get good at music by doing it. Not just practice, like you said, but by joining in - online if you have to, but it's better to go to an open mic. One of my best friends is at least as good as me and he desperately wants to play with other people but in all the years I've known him he's always wanted to reach "the next level" before he feels he can do it. There will be a lick that needs better timing, or some chord is slightly out. I try to get him out to open mics and invite him round for dinner and to jam out to an album in my front room partly because (a) I like him, (b) he's lonely and (c) because the truth is you get good at music by playing with other people. The time to join in never comes if you listen to the inner critic too much. The world is really missing his talent (and it is a talent, believe me) because he hasn't got enough confidence to get out there. In some respects, he'll forever be fundamentally limited as a player if he doesn't spend any time playing in public, no matter how good his technique becomes.
  4. Learn songs all the way through. Not just lots of bits of songs. You realise that they all have the same building blocks and people don't want to hear little bits of songs. Besides, six songs is a gig!
  5. Ear training. Play Ukulele by Ear would have saved me years. I think learning chords is more useful than learning notes, which is not how most ear training courses go. Try the 3 chord club on Play Ukulele by Ear as the perfect start - I got my version of that from a friend who I played with which is better, but if you can't do that do the 3 chord club. And finally, the big one -
  6. Getting hung up on equipment and what other people percieve as "good" when it comes to instruments. This is a biggie. UAS makes most people unhappy, ultimately. Owning fancier ukes doesn't make you better at playing. To me, the problem with collecting (as with other kinds of addiction) is the things that bring you pleasure start getting smaller and harder to find. You need one decent ukulele that plays in tune, and that's enough. Maybe if you play in lots of different keys a couple, or maybe you need one for a proper acoustic reason (for example, when I play with a piano or outdoors I play my resonator or cumbus). If you feel you're "held back" by your factory instrument that plays in tune and doesn't have terrible action, you're spending too much time shopping and reading reviews (and this forum!) and not enough time playing or listening. Especially if you only started a year ago. Buying a shiny uke gives you a little rush of dopamine that lasts for a certain amount of time, and then you start to lose interest. The number of people that join this forum, post avidly for six months then lose interest is there to see if you spend any time on this forum. UAS on its own will not sustain you if you are trying to learn to play.
 
Last edited:
I've had a look at your video. At 2x speed, which makes the bits about rhythm hilarious!

Here are some bits where I agree with you, followed by the bits I disagree with, followed by my own. Use them as you wish, (or not - I won't judge!).

Definitely agree with the bits about poor form though. The number of people I come across who say that certain basic stuff like fingering is impossible to them when it's glaringly obvious their form sucks is quite depressing. Also, playing to a metronome.

I really fundamentally disagree with the idea of a syllabus. As a formally diagnosed neurodivergent (team ADHD!), I can tell you that if the ukulele hadn't rewarded me when I tried to follow someone else's syllabus I would have given up years ago.

Also, with regards to music theory - I think you need to be a little more specific. It's a very nebulous term. There's lots of music theory which will not be useful to you. At all. Yes, your nashville numbers and realising the idea that music is in specific keys. You can go a long way with that.



This is an interesting one, as recently I have started playing with a lot of classical musicians - most recent project is with a former opera singer and I have an ongoing thing with classical piano teacher and a cello player. I can see the advantages of playing with a score now, as it takes me far longer to explain what I'm doing to them than it takes them to explain things to other people.

I don't think it necessarily is useful to be able to play exactly what someone else has written. Before I started to learn to read music, I thought it would be more useful. But now I play with the pianist (who has spent 40-odd years playing scores for stage schools 9 hours a day and can sit down and knock out most stuff by sight), I realise that a lot of the music you see written down simply isn't in the recording you're copying. All written down music is a shortcut that requires interpretation by the musician. It's a bit like telling someone how to trim a hedge over the phone.

I think there are six things that really hold people back that you miss in that video.

  1. Not actually listening to music. I'm astonished at how many wannabe ukulele players and guitarists don't actually listen to music in their own time. Listen to as much as you can, and play the stuff that you listen to. Copy the bits you like.
  2. Connect with musicians who are better than you. Everyone has their own voice, but some people are at a different stage of the journey to you and if you feel threatened by that it is just insecurity. Sit next to those people - musicians are a really friendly bunch on the whole. This is why I post on the invitationals (and watch them all!), and play with others whenever I can. Listen to what they have to say, even if they don't sound as good as you and you don't pay any attention. You shouldn't be rude, but constructive feedback is far more useful than nebulous praise. I always welcome criticism if it comes to me, even if it hurts.
  3. Realise that you get good at music by doing it. Not just practice, like you said, but by joining in - online if you have to, but it's better to go to an open mic. One of my best friends is at least as good as me and he desperately wants to play with other people but in all the years I've known him he's always wanted to reach "the next level" before he feels he can do it. There will be a lick that needs better timing, or some chord is slightly out. I try to get him out to open mics and invite him round for dinner and to jam out to an album in my front room partly because (a) I like him, (b) he's lonely and (c) because the truth is you get good at music by playing with other people. The time to join in never comes if you listen to the inner critic too much. The world is really missing his talent (and it is a talent, believe me) because he hasn't got enough confidence to get out there. In some respects, he'll forever be fundamentally limited as a player if he doesn't spend any time playing in public, no matter how good his technique becomes.
  4. Learn songs all the way through. Not just lots of bits of songs. You realise that they all have the same building blocks and people don't want to hear little bits of songs. Besides, six songs is a gig!
  5. Ear training. Play Ukulele by Ear would have saved me years. I think learning chords is more useful than learning notes, which is not how most ear training courses go. Try the 3 chord club on Play Ukulele by Ear as the perfect start - I got my version of that from a friend who I played with which is better, but if you can't do that do the 3 chord club. And finally, the big one -
  6. Getting hung up on equipment and what other people percieve as "good" when it comes to instruments. This is a biggie. UAS makes most people unhappy, ultimately. Owning fancier ukes doesn't make you better at playing. To me, the problem with collecting (as with other kinds of addiction) is the things that bring you pleasure start getting smaller and harder to find. You need one decent ukulele that plays in tune, and that's enough. Maybe if you play in lots of different keys a couple, or maybe you need one for a proper acoustic reason (for example, when I play with a piano or outdoors I play my resonator or cumbus). If you feel you're "held back" by your factory instrument that plays in tune and doesn't have terrible action, you're spending too much time shopping and reading reviews (and this forum!) and not enough time playing or listening. Especially if you only started a year ago. Buying a shiny uke gives you a little rush of dopamine that lasts for a certain amount of time, and then you start to lose interest. The number of people that join this forum, post avidly for six months then lose interest is there to see if you spend any time on this forum. UAS on its own will not sustain you if you are trying to learn to play.
You raise some really interesting points! I agree on the getting hung up on equipment part. The line between collection and addiction seems to be quite thin.

It’s interesting that you don’t agree about following something systematic for learning. I also have ADHD and find that a systematic curriculum is very helpful or I end up doing random things and going in circles. I still learn other random songs and learn bits and pieces from various other resources, but having the structure of a well done course or book that I’m working my way through helps me a LOT.
 
Hey, neurodivergent homie!

I wish I could follow a curriculum. I've never managed it!

Have you ever been involved with ADHD UK? They have drop-in workshops online and one of them is for learning a musical instrument. I have a ticket but I am ironically playing with some people when the event is on:


I'd be very interested to hear about it if you manage to go!
 
Hey, neurodivergent homie!

I wish I could follow a curriculum. I've never managed it!

Have you ever been involved with ADHD UK? They have drop-in workshops online and one of them is for learning a musical instrument. I have a ticket but I am ironically playing with some people when the event is on:


I'd be very interested to hear about it if you manage to go!
Nope, haven’t heard of them but I’ll have to check them out 👍
 
Here are 10 things that I think hold people back from progressing on the uke. I’m interested to hear people’s comments and thoughts on the list and what they would add or change based upon their experience! 🤙
My feedback: Currently I am overwhelmed by videos and media. I have tried to play your video twice, and cannot due to my attention span.

What would help are visuals (even in the notes under the youtube video) with the points and an associated timestamp showing each of the points so that I do not have to watch 13 minutes of video to see if I agree of not. Even after reading this thread to this point, I have no idea what these 10 things are...
 
I think there is the whole concept of "progress" that is a bit nebulous and mainly makes sense if tied to a systematic and progressive syllabus. Without that there is likely a lot of disagreement on criteria to identify progress. Like is it progress to go from 3 chord ability to 5 chord ability, or to go from playing 3 chords like a robot to playing 3 chords with expression and feeling?
 
My feedback: Currently I am overwhelmed by videos and media. I have tried to play your video twice, and cannot due to my attention span.

What would help are visuals (even in the notes under the youtube video) with the points and an associated timestamp showing each of the points so that I do not have to watch 13 minutes of video to see if I agree of not. Even after reading this thread to this point, I have no idea what these 10 things are...
Agree, I rarely watch videos as I don't have attention span. Prefer succinct bullets.
 
Agree, I rarely watch videos as I don't have attention span. Prefer succinct bullets.
I often have a hard time sitting through videos too. 2x playback helps me sometimes. Like Baz's reviews, I read those, and then skip to the sound samples in his videos.

I am not at the point to be able to necessarily agree or disagree on any of your points, because I've got a long, long way to go. I do recognize that playing with people (regardless of what style or genre of music you play) REALLY helps to develop your inner musician. Those moments of synchronicity when all the parts flow together is magic, and not doable on your own.

I have personally found benefit in regular practice, in having someone be my teacher to bring my attention to something that I don't notice, and in trying to stretch out of my comfort zone (whatever that looks like in that moment).
 
My feedback: Currently I am overwhelmed by videos and media. I have tried to play your video twice, and cannot due to my attention span.

What would help are visuals (even in the notes under the youtube video) with the points and an associated timestamp showing each of the points so that I do not have to watch 13 minutes of video to see if I agree of not. Even after reading this thread to this point, I have no idea what these 10 things are...
Yeah, I should add in the timestamps for the different sections. It’s interesting because recently YT started doing this to my videos automatically, with pretty startling accuracy (I assume they use AI to scan through the text transcript and break it up into sections) but they didn’t do it to this one for some reason. Looks like I just need to add it in myself.
 
I think there is the whole concept of "progress" that is a bit nebulous and mainly makes sense if tied to a systematic and progressive syllabus. Without that there is likely a lot of disagreement on criteria to identify progress. Like is it progress to go from 3 chord ability to 5 chord ability, or to go from playing 3 chords like a robot to playing 3 chords with expression and feeling?
Although I agree that progress is nebulous, it’s pretty clear one has made progress when they go from struggling with open chords to effortlessly switching between bar chords fluently. Or painfully trying to do a single note melody to playing an intricate chord melody/fingerstyle piece. Being able to play more difficult material, with fewer mistakes, being able to jam and create your own music, etc. There are obviously many different ways to gauge progress but I don’t think that means it’s so nebulous that we can’t even discuss it or see whether we’ve made any…
 
I agree that the video is too long for me to watch, but let me just say the #1 reason that I think people are not progressing is that they spend too much time playing and not enough time practicing. Playing means having fun. Practicing means working on specific skills to achieve specific goals. You can decide what skills and goals interest you for yourself. There are a lot of different bigger and smaller skills and goals that you can have and the list for you will depend on what type of music you want to be able to play at some point in the foreseeable future.
 
Here are 10 things that I think hold people back from progressing on the uke. I’m interested to hear people’s comments and thoughts on the list and what they would add or change based upon their experience! 🤙


I agree with a lot of what you spoke of.
One that might be an issue that wasn't touched on is using an instrument of some quality.
The $29 plastic uke with no set up available or bowed neck will make it a joy killer and you may never pick up the instrument again.
save a little more money and check out used instruments of a known manufacturer.

The biggest killer pf progress, in my opinion and you stated it, is lack of practice.
wanna get good at tennis? Get out there and play a LOT of tennis.
Wanna get good at Ukulele? Play a LOT of ukulele.
 
I've had a look at your video. At 2x speed, which makes the bits about rhythm hilarious!

Here are some bits where I agree with you, followed by the bits I disagree with, followed by my own. Use them as you wish, (or not - I won't judge!).

Definitely agree with the bits about poor form though. The number of people I come across who say that certain basic stuff like fingering is impossible to them when it's glaringly obvious their form sucks is quite depressing. Also, playing to a metronome.

I really fundamentally disagree with the idea of a syllabus. As a formally diagnosed neurodivergent (team ADHD!), I can tell you that if the ukulele hadn't rewarded me when I tried to follow someone else's syllabus I would have given up years ago.

Also, with regards to music theory - I think you need to be a little more specific. It's a very nebulous term. There's lots of music theory which will not be useful to you. At all. Yes, your nashville numbers and realising the idea that music is in specific keys. You can go a long way with that.



This is an interesting one, as recently I have started playing with a lot of classical musicians - most recent project is with a former opera singer and I have an ongoing thing with classical piano teacher and a cello player. I can see the advantages of playing with a score now, as it takes me far longer to explain what I'm doing to them than it takes them to explain things to other people.

I don't think it necessarily is useful to be able to play exactly what someone else has written. Before I started to learn to read music, I thought it would be more useful. But now I play with the pianist (who has spent 40-odd years playing scores for stage schools 9 hours a day and can sit down and knock out most stuff by sight), I realise that a lot of the music you see written down simply isn't in the recording you're copying. All written down music is a shortcut that requires interpretation by the musician. It's a bit like telling someone how to trim a hedge over the phone.

I think there are six things that really hold people back that you miss in that video.

  1. Not actually listening to music. I'm astonished at how many wannabe ukulele players and guitarists don't actually listen to music in their own time. Listen to as much as you can, and play the stuff that you listen to. Copy the bits you like.
  2. Connect with musicians who are better than you. Everyone has their own voice, but some people are at a different stage of the journey to you and if you feel threatened by that it is just insecurity. Sit next to those people - musicians are a really friendly bunch on the whole. This is why I post on the invitationals (and watch them all!), and play with others whenever I can. Listen to what they have to say, even if they don't sound as good as you and you don't pay any attention. You shouldn't be rude, but constructive feedback is far more useful than nebulous praise. I always welcome criticism if it comes to me, even if it hurts.
  3. Realise that you get good at music by doing it. Not just practice, like you said, but by joining in - online if you have to, but it's better to go to an open mic. One of my best friends is at least as good as me and he desperately wants to play with other people but in all the years I've known him he's always wanted to reach "the next level" before he feels he can do it. There will be a lick that needs better timing, or some chord is slightly out. I try to get him out to open mics and invite him round for dinner and to jam out to an album in my front room partly because (a) I like him, (b) he's lonely and (c) because the truth is you get good at music by playing with other people. The time to join in never comes if you listen to the inner critic too much. The world is really missing his talent (and it is a talent, believe me) because he hasn't got enough confidence to get out there. In some respects, he'll forever be fundamentally limited as a player if he doesn't spend any time playing in public, no matter how good his technique becomes.
  4. Learn songs all the way through. Not just lots of bits of songs. You realise that they all have the same building blocks and people don't want to hear little bits of songs. Besides, six songs is a gig!
  5. Ear training. Play Ukulele by Ear would have saved me years. I think learning chords is more useful than learning notes, which is not how most ear training courses go. Try the 3 chord club on Play Ukulele by Ear as the perfect start - I got my version of that from a friend who I played with which is better, but if you can't do that do the 3 chord club. And finally, the big one -
  6. Getting hung up on equipment and what other people percieve as "good" when it comes to instruments. This is a biggie. UAS makes most people unhappy, ultimately. Owning fancier ukes doesn't make you better at playing. To me, the problem with collecting (as with other kinds of addiction) is the things that bring you pleasure start getting smaller and harder to find. You need one decent ukulele that plays in tune, and that's enough. Maybe if you play in lots of different keys a couple, or maybe you need one for a proper acoustic reason (for example, when I play with a piano or outdoors I play my resonator or cumbus). If you feel you're "held back" by your factory instrument that plays in tune and doesn't have terrible action, you're spending too much time shopping and reading reviews (and this forum!) and not enough time playing or listening. Especially if you only started a year ago. Buying a shiny uke gives you a little rush of dopamine that lasts for a certain amount of time, and then you start to lose interest. The number of people that join this forum, post avidly for six months then lose interest is there to see if you spend any time on this forum. UAS on its own will not sustain you if you are trying to learn to play.
I strongly agree (based on my past 2 years of progress) with your #1 and #5.
1 - speaks for itself but I have no idea why anyone attempts to learn a tune they’ve never actually heard. What’s the point there? Heck, I often have lots of trouble playing tunes I’ve heard all my life, an example being “It’s Only A Paper Moon” which continues to flummox me.
5- I advise any beginner to first learn all the moveable chord shapes by strumming. I first started the opposite direction but realized it was the wrong one.
 
I strongly agree (based on my past 2 years of progress) with your #1 and #5.
1 - speaks for itself but I have no idea why anyone attempts to learn a tune they’ve never actually heard. What’s the point there? Heck, I often have lots of trouble playing tunes I’ve heard all my life, an example being “It’s Only A Paper Moon” which continues to flummox me.
5- I advise any beginner to first learn all the moveable chord shapes by strumming. I first started the opposite direction but realized it was the wrong one.
I have no idea why anyone attempts to learn a tune they’ve never actually heard. because it is somethng to do when you have a book of tabs and a uke and some time to kill.
 
Here are 10 things that I think hold people back from progressing on the uke. I’m interested to hear people’s comments and thoughts on the list and what they would add or change based upon their experience! 🤙


I like your video. I hope you figure out better sound recording, at the room sound is distracting, and makes you seem far away.
 
I like your video. I hope you figure out better sound recording, at the room sound is distracting, and makes you seem far away.
Interesting, never had that comment before. What room sound? Like the A/C blowing/other ambient noises? Or it just seemed like I was too far away from the mic?
 
Top Bottom