If you've been following me in all the places (including this one) you've probably seen that I've been learning to play the ukulele. This is my first time learning to play an instrument without the supervision of a teacher, and it's been a really interesting experience. Here are some thought's I've had about the process.
1) There are a lot of really really shitty tutorials on youtube and some of these are by actual proper musicians who (quite frankly) should know better. These tutorials (in my opinion) set players up for a long string of bad technique. They also don't break down correct posture enough, so the beginner can be left to experiment and feel frustrated.
2) If you've spent your life reading sheet music, reading TAB is really hard and really frustrating. Don't get me wrong, TAB is an excellent way of showing someone who doesn't read how to play a piece of music, but when you've learnt to read music, it's so slow, and takes such a long time to process.
3) It's really hard to work out how to hold the ukulele in a way that keeps it stable and allows for full movement of everyfinger/each hand without bending in awkward positions. I'm sure this could be fixed by some lessons, but I'm haven't been bothered to search for a teacher who's a ukulele specialist, and all the teachers I know are guitarists who play ukulele as a novelty.
4) My understanding of chord construction and voice-leading has improved in a way that just isn't possible playing a single lined instrument. This is something I've struggled with all my life, but it's starting to dissipate. From here on out, I'm going to encourage all of my "serious musician" students to learn the instrument.
5) It's really lovely learning an instrument for fun. Don't get me wrong, I love the flute, and it's been really fun to learn and play, but it's always been covered in this cloud of "this is what I want to do with my life". I don't have that same pressure with ukulele.
Off topic: When I shot these photos, I was in Sydney with Nick, and managed to grab a couple of nice shots of him, which he's allowed me to post :D.
So there are some thoughts I've been having about learning the ukulele. If you're interested in starting the instrument I recommend checking out:
The ukulele way :This is a comprehensive system of learning with great resources. It's not free, but there are some lessons available as a teaser
James Hill: This guy's a master of the instrument, and also the creator of the ukulele way. His youtube has some extra lessons.
Ukulele Mike: He's the best teacher on youtube hands down. If you want to start from the beginning, and $$ are an issue, go here.
Uncle Rod's Bootcamp: This is the best non video resource I've found online. You don't need to be able to read music OR tab to follow.