I came across a music learning app called Yousician during my adventures with Duolingo (the language learning app). Yousician has a free version, with lots of ads, just like Duolingo, so I decided to try it out and see if it would help me make more progress with learning to play my ukulele.
The first few lessons on the app were too easy, because I’d done the heavy lifting of learning the beginner stuff on my own, but now I’m getting to tasks that are harder for me to do – like switching from string to string or chord to chord quickly enough to keep up with the song. When I was working with my lesson books, I could play each song at whatever speed I liked, but Yousician is strict about timing, so I started to miss notes, a lot of them. Then I discovered the option to practice at slower speeds, until I could build up to regular speed without making so many mistakes. It kind of feels like doing musical aerobics, and I need to do it, because on my own I wouldn’t push myself enough. I was never, ever, going to buy a metronome. I still have metronome nightmares from my childhood piano lessons. That tick tock, tick tock thing is sinister!
One of the other difficulties for me on the Yousician app is that instead of using musical notation, they use a form of tablature, telling me which fret to play, on which string, but not naming the note or giving the note a time value, like half or quarter note. It’s taking me a while to get used to this new system, and I still make sure to practice with my lesson books regularly, so I won’t lose the progress I’ve already made.
The Yousician exercises remind me of the first video game I ever had, for my brother’s TRS 80, called Typing Tutor. I loved to play it over and over, building speed and high scores, though I’m not sure it ever improved my overall typing ability. I became an expert at manipulating the ASDF keys, but how many essays are written with only four letters? Especially those four?
I’m still uneasy with the ukulele, just like I was with the guitar, and the piano. I’d like to believe that the ukulele and I will be good friends eventually, but we’re still getting used to each other’s quirks and limitations. I keep expecting the instrument to tell me all of its secrets, and suddenly make music, without much help from me. It’s possible that I have unreasonable expectations.
The dogs have accepted the Yousician app with the same long suffering patience as they accepted the ukulele practice overall, though it does wake them up sometimes from their naps and remind them that they really need to pee. They think I need another app to teach me how to take them for more walks each day, and to stop doing so many uninteresting things that prevent me from giving them all of the attention, and all of the chicken, they want. I don’t know, though. I think they do a good enough job teaching me how to do their bidding as it is.
I have mind control powers. Look into my eyes.
If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Amazon page and consider ordering the Kindle or Paperback version (or both!) of Yeshiva Girl. And if you feel called to write a review of the book on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.
Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Izzy. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. Izzy’s father then sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, as if she’s the one who needs to be fixed. Izzy, in pain and looking for people she can trust, finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?
Love Yousician!! I need to get back to using it so I can practice more Ukulele 😄
It’s really helpful!
I think you are doing really well to keep trying. I have a very nice electric guitar and amplifier in my loft, which I never learned to play. I tried to learn by watching You Tube tutorials, but had the same problem of not being able to switch chords fast enough. I became frustrated with it very quickly.
Best wishes, Pete.
I love that I can slow things down to my speed and then gradually build speed when I’m ready.
That sounds pretty cool. I have tried to teach myself piano (sans metronome), but I was never very good at math. Not sure I could keep up with keeping time while simultaneously holding notes…
You’d be surprised how much you can learn if you give yourself permission to be bad at things for as long as necessary. I struggle with this endlessly even though I know it’s true.
I love this more than i can say. I bought an organ a few years ago – I am so bad at playing it, even Maverick won’t stick around when I start. I shall check out this app, however, maybe it will help me too!
I hope so!!! Good luck!
I hope you are right because I am still so bad at baking bread that my ukulele is going to have to stay on the wall until I figure out whether it is the altitude, oven, over-kneading, under-kneading, recipe or baker that is the problem. Patience and continual learning.
Good bread is worth all of the trouble!
The loaves tasted great…they just weren’t pretty. Now I have to research that mistake so I don’t do it again.
At least the early attempts will be yummy, even if it takes a wild to build the beauty.
My husband was at a thrift store looking for computer ‘bargains’ and came home with a digital metronome. Yup, that tick, tock, tick, tock. With a little computer screen to watch the sound, too. No kidding.
Find songs that use three basic chords and then play them as fast or slow as you’d like. Songs by The Kingston Trio are always good!
Best of luck. I think you and the dogs will be very happy with the uke.
It’s such a fun instrument! Stick at it and I’m sure you’ll come to enjoy the time you spend making music!
I play the piano. I use an app called “ForScore” on my iPad for all of my sheet music. I have about 2000 different scores on the app.
Technology an be wonderful………. and scary! My Yamaha Clavinova 7 had a learning tool that lit up the notes above the keyboard to teach you to play a particular song. You could play at whatever speed and it even had a cardboard cutout you slotted over the keys! To be honest, it made me glad I play by ear as I play in F#!
I think the cardboard cutout would have freaked me out!
It was very discreet!
What a great app to have! The ukelele is such a fun instrument. Love your doggie photos
I took piano 12 years of it and I remember that metranome. Good luck.
Thank you! Twelve years!!!!
I admire your dedication to the ukulele! I’m so unmusical I couldn’t even manage the tin whistle.
I don’t think I have the breath control for any of the wind instruments. I remember trying the harmonica once and feeling like I was going to die.
My dogs howl when I play the piano. I don’t know if it because I am so bad or if it hurts their ears. Maybe both.
I think they’re trying to sing along.
I hope that’s true!
Do you have the grass hula skirt to go along with the uke?
No. But Ellie would do a great hula!
Ha, the dogs will be singing along with you soon.
I hope so!
I love that you’re learning Ukelele. I am too! On a whim, I picked one up at a festival over the summer after falling in love with Mandy Harvey and her Uke. I have been slowly teaching myself from YouTube and Pinterest and such. I’ll definitely check out Yousician. Thanks for the tip!
Ha ha. Good one. Dogs know best. (Yes, play slowly. I’m a decades long, horrible guitarist, and even when I play favorites I have to stop, wet my fingers, and turn the songbook page. Totally screws up flow. Ha ha again.)
You are totally right- metronomes always caused me to panic as I tried to either keep up or slow down or just keep going!!
I wonder if there’s a horror movie with just a metronome as the background music. It would terrify everyone!
I have to get past my image of Tiny Tim when I think of you playing the uke. I know you would have to be incredibly brave, but it would be fun to have a little photo of you and the dogs and the uke posted on your blog to supplant that awful image of Tim.
Thank you for the two recommendations. I’ll have a look see at both the yousician app and your book. By the way, your babies are the cutest.
Thank you so much!
Is this a Shih tzu?
Cricket is a Cocker Spaniel/Poodle mix and Ellie is a Havanese.
Wow! I have an English Cocker Spaniel (Pepsi)
A shih tzu and a husky
Oh my! I’m jealous!
Thats what I like about you and your posts Rachel, you’re always creatively adventurous!
Thank you so much!!!!!
Seems like a great way to help you learn, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the instrument more now. Love the dogs, and trust they will like the music more and more x.