Room for Improvement

This is my post for my week 1 update of my learning project for EDTC 300. I had a little change of plans since due to COVID-19 my guitar will not make it here in time. Instead, I decided to borrow a ukulele from the school I volunteer at and will be doing my learning project on the ukulele instead. I quickly realized that this was kind of a happy accident as this is only a six-week learning project and I imagine I will be able to make a lot more progress on a ukulele in six weeks, than on a guitar. Since they are pretty similar instruments, my original plan will still stay the same for the most part. For week one I only had my ukulele for about four days, so I did not have time to make too much progress, but even over the course of just a few days I definitely saw improvement in my skills. 

The main things that I learned this week included:

  • C major chord
  • G major chord
  • F major chord
  • A minor chord
  • Strumming with thumb
  • Strumming with index finger
  • Strumming on the beat and counting bars (4 beats) as I play
  • You are my Sunshine song

When I first got the ukulele, I knew that I had to tune it. Before I started to tune it, I quickly went on youtube for a beginner tutorial to the parts of the ukulele, specifically what note the 4 strings were, just to get a little more familiar with the instrument. The video I used was called, “HOW TO TUNE YOUR UKULELE AND USE A CLIP ON TUNER”. I learned that the four strings on the ukulele were G, C, E, and A. After gaining a basic understanding of the ukulele, I was ready to tune it. I used the guitar tuna app, as recommended by a classmate. It was free, super easy to use and worked just as good as the clip-on tuner that I also used to test the accuracy of the app. 

Once my ukulele was tuned and ready to go, I first turned to YouTube to find some beginner ukulele videos. I watched a quick video called, “How to strum a ukulele for beginners- 3 different methods!”, which showed three different ways to strum the ukulele, using your thumb, index finger, and then using a pick. I then found a really great free 10 day course offered by Andy Guitar on YouTube. This first video that I watched was 10 one of the course I found called “Ukulele Lesson 1- Absolute Beginner? Start Here [Free 10 Day Course]. I learned 3 chords from this video: C major, F major, and G major. According to this video there are hundreds of songs that you can learn to play with just these three chords so I was pretty excited about that! Learning three chords seemed easy enough to me. I also learned how to strum better using my pointer finger and how to hold the ukulele. Holding the neck with my thumb resting on the back was the most comfortable for me. I also learned that a bar is a count of four beats and how to strum on the beat and count along as I play to keep the song sounding more cohesive. Lastly, this video showed me how to play the song “You are my Sunshine”, and with lots of repetition, I got decently good at strumming along with the person in the video, as we played and sang the song. My next goal for this one is to be able to sing along and play, but for now I need to count the beats in my head, so I know when to switch chords. The person in the video also mentioned some other easy level songs using these chords which included: Happy Birthday, Amazing Grace, Lean on Me, and Twist and Shout. I am definitely going to download the chord sheets and try some of these next week!

The next video I came across in my search for beginner ukulele videos on YouTube was called “Riptide- Vance Joy | Easy Ukulele Tutorial”. This one pulled me in very quickly as Vance Joy is one of my favourite artists, if not my top favourite and I absolutely love this song. Watching this video, I very quickly learned that I really need to work on my strumming before I move only anything more advanced. However, I learned that this song uses the same three chords that I learned before, as well as one additional chord, A minor. This was an extremely easy chord to add to my repertoire as it only used one finger and was half of the F major chord I had already learned. After realizing the strumming for this one was a little too advanced, I decided I better calm down and head back to my 10-day course that seemed much more beginner friendly. The next video of this course was “Ukulele Lesson 2- FREE 10 Day Ukulele Starter Course”. And to my surprise… this video was also a tutorial of Riptide by Vance Joy. I took this as a sign and decided that this song would be my goal to be able to play by the end of this learning project. I imagine once I practice my strumming and learn this strumming pattern really good, the rest of the song will come easily as it is actually pretty simple! I will also have to practice switch chords faster as this is definitely needed for this one as well. Both of these skills will definitely come with time and just take some practice. I learned the strumming pattern for this song. It is essentially: down, down, up, down, up. And repeat. I am currently very bad at this strumming pattern as it is much faster than anything I have done before. What I struggle with the most though, is definitely the “up” part. Strumming upwards is a lot more difficult than strumming down. Next week I am going to find some resources to help with strumming alone, specifically in the upwards motion. 

Week 1 Learning Project Update

Please don’t mind my facial expressions while playing haha. This video shows you most of what I learned this week in a quick recap. It was pretty rough but definitely a great starting point for me. I am excited to be able to look back on this video at the end of this learning project and see how far I have come! If you have any suggestions for videos to watch or resources to take a look at, please leave them below! I am opening to trying anything and really looking forward to seeing where this learning project journey takes me!

5 thoughts on “Room for Improvement”

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