The Learning Process - The Mind, Hands and Ears
For music and learning an instrument like the ukulele or guitar, it's all about the making the connection between the Mind, Hands and Ear.
When listening to music, we enjoy it at the tempo the composer or artist intended, in real time. Only the ear is involved in listening. This is passive listening and enjoying the music. This is what we do everyday. It's what draws us to want to learn a musical instrument.
When trying to reproduce music on a ukulele or any musical instrument, you're now an active participant in reproducing music. The mind and ear are in control, telling the hands what to do. When performing, it's mainly the ear that is driving the show and telling the hands what to do. This is in real time.
Learning an instrument is all about making and reinforcing the connection between the mind, hands and ears. This typically can't be done in real time.
Of the three, the mind, hands and ear - the ear can grasp simple melodies, basic chords and simple songs without much effort. How easy is it to hear when aunt Martha sings Happy Birthday out of tune. We don't even need to know what the right notes are or the key. We can just hear that it's wrong or right.
Of the three, it's the hands that need the work and the most repetition. Just like the skills needed in sports - it's the technique where all the work is. Take golf, looks pretty simple on the surface. Hit the little white ball in the hole – or, shooting a foul shoot in basketball - put the basketball in the basket.
The hands take up most of the training time. It's the hands that provide the technique to actively reproduce music. This training of the hands needs to be done accurately, with efficiency. This training CAN NOT be accomplished in tempo. Training needs to be deliberate and SLOW. Building the tempo as facility is gained.
Technique can not be taken for granted. You have to work on it.
Chords and Switching Chords
For Ukulele Players, take the first chord your typically learn, the C chord to the right. It's pretty simple, one finger, one string. And, strumming chords on ukulele is somewhat easy, in that you can just strum all four strings. Initially it doesn't have the strumming accuracy that the guitar requires. By itself it pretty easy to memorize and play. There aren't many one chord songs so additional chords need to be learned and memorized.
A new twist is you need to use more than one finger and learn additional chords. Three or four of the most common chords learned on ukulele, all come from the common key of C major and are the primary chords in the key. They are C, F, G and G7. None of these first chords use more than three fingers. So the wimpy pinky, finger four doesn't need to get involved.
When you know two chords, you need to be able to switch efficiently between both chords at various tempos from slow ballads to fast up-tempo songs. This is where all the work is needed between the mind, hands, and ear in the learning process. The ear will learn the sounds of these common, basic chords with little effort. The mind can memorize them with a bit more effort - there's only two of them.
Then add G and G7. Four chords and a little more work. There are hundreds of songs that use these primary chords in the key of C. Use the recommended fingerings for the chords shown above. Although alternate fingerings are possible and need to be explored, these initial fingerings will get you started.
Then all the work is in switching chords, efficiently and in tempo. Ultimately any chord can switch to any other chord. So try C to F, C to G, C to G7. C to C is easy. Then F to C, F to G, F to G7. G to C, G to F, G to C, G to G7 and finally G7 to C, F and G. That's all the possibilities.