With my ukulele learning project nearing the end of its course I spent time this week thinking about how I will continue moving forward. I have been very busy with school and work and it has definitely put a damper on my progress lately. This week I definitely experienced feeling like I was not making very much progress or rather, I wasn’t really sure what to do next. I feel like this would come with learning any new instrument. I just do not feel very organized with a clear plan of what to do next. To overcome these feelings, moving forward I am going to go back to the 10 day and 30 day course type of videos that I was following along with on YouTube in the beginning. I strayed away from them as the weeks progressed because I wanted to see what other resources were out there and I definitely did find some other very useful ones as well! However, in doing this I definitely lost my way a little and would come across lots of great resources but feel as though my skill level was never quite there. I know that this will all come with more and more consistent practice. So as this class comes to an end and I continue to learn and improve my ukulele playing on my own, I am going to mainly use free course types of video playlists on YouTube. These have a slow and detailed progression and allow you to gradually improve and build your way up to becoming more advanced. This is why this type of online resource would be my first choice moving forward and what I would recommend to other beginners.
As for what I did do this week:
I tried out SkillShare as recommended by a fellow classmate! This was an amazing online resource that you could use to learn just about anything! It has a free 2 month premium membership trial which is great so you have a lot of time to try it out before committing to a paid membership. There are tons and tons of different classes on this website for you to learn a variety of different skills online. I did not have much time to really search around on it and try it out but for what I did get to check out it seems like a really great online resource!
I also continued practicing my smooth chord transitions and strumming patterns from last week. I combined both of these in the following little tune I play for you. I got this from the YouTube video: “4 Chords 15 Songs Tutorial” by Lindsey’s Uke. The chord progression goes: C, G, Am, F. The strumming pattern goes: down, down up, up, down up. This was a great way to combine what I learned last week. I think I have played this over and over probably 200 times. I plan to continue to repeat tunes such as these to really get my fingers used to moving in these different ways smoothly and get both of my hands working together and moving in sync.
I chose to include all of my mess ups in this video. I think it is important to see the negatives as well as the positives to understand that learning an instrument is not easy and takes a lot of determination, persistence, and of course, practice. I was a little disappointed with my video this week as I do not feel as though it demonstrates my improvement as well as I feel like I am improving off camera. I was struggling to play as well as I wanted and I show that in the video! This is just a part of learning something new and I wanted to make sure to share it with you all.
What has really stood out to me in learning to play the ukulele (and I did touch on last week) is getting really good at the basics before trying to move onto more advanced chords, patterns, songs, etc. Many of the beginner videos that I watched really reiterated this, but I don’t think that I truly understood it until I had been trying to learn for multiple weeks (often with a lot of discouragement). Learning anything new can be really difficult because I don’t think that any one actually enjoys trying to do something that they are bad at. It is so easy to give up when you cannot catch onto something right away. I feel as though this is why many people struggle with learning new instruments, learning new languages, learning to cook, or learning essentially any new hobby or task. It is so easy to want to be instantly good at whatever chosen activity and not feel like you are making any progress until you are actually “good” at something. For example, in my case, the past few weeks all I wanted was to be able to whip out my ukulele and play a song. However, over the progression of this learning project I have quickly learned that until you really perfect those chords and strumming, your songs will never sound “good enough” to you.
The best way to learn a new instrument, such as the ukulele, is not to try and learn a whole bunch of chords all at the same time but to progressively learn more and more as you go and improve, and as your fingers get used to playing. It is much better to focus on fewer chords and learning how to use them, how they work together, and how songs work in general. There are many other skills that come into play when learning to play the ukulele, other than just knowing the different chords. Day 3 of the Andy Guitar course that I decided to return to and actually complete reiterates this notion. He used the exact same chord progression and strumming pattern from the video mentioned above. This week I used this tune that I played for you above to play some of the easy 4 chord songs he demonstrated in this video, using the 4 chords that I have been focusing on throughout my learning project. I am still working on getting my rhythm right and sticking to counting out the 4 beats as much as I can, before I will ever be able to move onto singing along while I play.
It is exciting to see how I have improved in changing between these chords over my progression of this class and I now feel lot more confident in changing between them and using them to play some easy songs. Especially the G chord. In the very beginning of my learning project I was doing the G chord completely wrong and even once I corrected this, I still struggled to go to and from the G chord. However, this is actually an easier one for me now, especially when C is before it and Am is after it, as demonstrated above. My strumming is still a major work in progress. What I did learn this week regarding my strumming is that it is extremely important to loosen up your wrist when strumming. I noticed that when I put and effort into keeping my wrist loose and able to move freely, my strumming way a lot more smooth. It is very easy to tense up and be very stiff, especially when trying to have a firm, strong finger for your strumming. However, having a loose and smooth moving wrist really helped with my strumming this week.
My post for next week will be my summary of what I have learned over the past 6 weeks of my learning project on the ukulele. I look forward to revisiting everything that I have learned, really being able to see my own progression over the 6 weeks, and bringing it all to a bit of a conclusion. More than ever, I am really looking forward to being finished with my spring classes and being able to really dedicate the time and energy necessary to really improve on playing the ukulele. It’s only up from here!