Closing Time

This is my summary of my 6 week learning project of learning to play the ukulele. I am so grateful to be getting back into playing music and really gaining a new valuable hobby. I have learned so much over the past 6 weeks that have set me up for a life of taking the time out of my busy schedule to focus on my hobbies and what makes me really happy! In this summary, I am first going to go over what I learned each week and the main resources that I found. I will then do an overall conclusion of everything that I learned over the past 6 weeks learning to play the ukulele.

Week 1 (Part 1 and Part 2)

This week was all about figuring out what exactly to do for my learning project. I was torn between many things as all my extra time in quarantine was fuelling my passions and hobbies such as cooking, learning Korean, and learning new instruments. I ending up choosing to learn to play the ukulele since what I really wanted to do was learn to play the guitar, but my new guitar did not come in time and I was able to get my hands on a ukulele fairly easily. I soon realized that this was a happy accident because the ukulele was a smaller (less strings) instrument and would be much easier to learn and progress on over the short 6 weeks that I had to complete this learning project. However, my post this week was entirely guitar oriented so I shared many resources regarding:

What helped me decide what guitar to order:

What guitar I ended up getting:

Apps for learning to play the guitar:

Apps for learning to tune the guitar:

Week 2

This was the week that I finally began actually getting my hands on the ukulele and starting to learn.

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

I basically began my searching beginner ukulele videos on YouTube and found a plethora of content and resources on there including:

Week 3

This week I did some more building off of what I started with the week before. I tried out the Yousician app. I began their beginner tutorial and spent a lot of time progressing through this tutorial and practicing the chords and strumming from the week before. I found that a lot of these beginner tutorials begin the same way which gave me a lot of practice on the first 4 chords that I learned and getting more comfortable using those. I also watched some videos about strumming including:

I continued the free 10 day course that I started the week before and kept building off of that. I also found some other resources such as Bernadette Teaches Music on YouTube among others, that I planned on incorporating in the weeks to come.

Week 4

This week was a little different. We were tasked to find a new tool to use to share our learning projects with the class. I used Powtoon. I found that it was a really great tool to create quick and easy animation videos for just about anything that you could think of. It had tons of wonderful templates too so that you did not have to start right from scratch if you preferred not to. I used this tool to create a little video to show the class my goals for my learning project. I also went in depth about my experience using screencastify to share my tutorial on how to use Powtoon. Overall, this week I gained some great sharing tools that had added to my tool box of online resources. I did not do anything new on the ukulele and simply continued practicing everything that I have covered thus far.

Week 5

This week I got back into really practicing the ukulele and improving my skills. I had 4 main focuses for this week:

  1. Practice smooth chord changes (between C, F, G, and A) 
  2. Learn strumming patterns 
  3. Learn a new simple chord song (similar to “You are my Sunshine” from week 1 update)
  4. Find a different resource online (other than YouTube or an App)

As far as the resources I used:

Chord changes:

Strumming:

Overall, I learned the importance of first focusing on developing your finger strength, flexibility, and independence and then using this to improve your smooth chord changes and strumming patterns. This week really taught me the importance of going back to the basics and really developing the basic skills necessary to teach your fingers and hands to move in the way that you want them to.

Week 6

This week I kind of brought my learning to a bit of a conclusion and made some plans moving forward. I realized that throughout the past few weeks I kind of lost my way regarding what I should do next and how to keep improving. In attempting to try out as many different online resources as I could, I often found myself finding them all very valuable, but my skill level just not up to par. This led me to going to back to the 10 day and 30 day beginner courses that I found on YouTube in week 2. These types of free courses are extremely beginner friendly as they start very simple from never having needed to have touched a musical instrument in your life, and gradually progress to more advanced playing. Since they are set up in this way, it makes them really easy to follow along with and gradually improve as you go rather than jumping around never knowing the skill level required for a certain resource until you actually try it out (and can’t do it).

The two main videos that I watched this week were: “4 Chords 15 Songs Tutorial” by Lindsey’s Uke and Day 3 of the Andy Guitar course that I started in week 2. Both of these videos did basically the same thing of combining the chord progression of C, G, Am, F and the strumming pattern down, down up, up, down up to create a little tune that can be used to play/sing tons of different songs! I have not gotten to the level of being able to actually play and/or sing these simple songs yet as I am still really trying to perfect my smooth chord transitions and consistent strumming without any mess ups (at least for long enough to play a short little song like the ones in the videos mentioned).

As I really began understanding last week, I learned that there are many more skills necessary to learn besides knowing the different chords, when learning to play the ukulele. This emphasis on practicing the basics until you are really comfortable changing between chords and strumming consistently on the ukulele, as well as staying with the beat of 4 counts, before attempting to play full songs or sing along while you play has given me a lot of guidance on my future plans of improving my ukulele playing!

Conclusion:

I learned that learning to play a new instrument is very difficult. I used to play the piano as child and into my teenage years and as I progressed through my learning project I had a lot of similar feelings coming back to me. In the beginning it is very exciting as you envision all the wonderful songs you are going to play one day and how cool it would be to be really good at playing a musical instrument. However, once you actually get into it, you quickly realize that in order to actually play anything you need to first focus on the basics and practice those for what seems like forever. For it is the basic finger strength, flexibility, and independence that needs to be developed in order to have smooth chord transitions and consistent strumming and eventually having both of your hands working together in unison. I also learned that it is really easy to want to give up immediately when you are not good at something as soon as you try it. However, when you are able to overcome the initial doubt and discouragement, it is this persistence, determination, and dedication that will really show you success in the end. I am very grateful for this class being the force that pushed me to start something that I have always wanted to try. I am looking forward to really committing to learning to play the ukulele in the future – and who knows, I might even post an update on here for y’all to see!

My ukulele sitting in my favourite chair. Lol.

I truly appreciate anyone who has taken the time to follow along on my learning project journey and I hope to hear from you in the comment section here, or on twitter @caitlinrkendall !!

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