janewilliams20: (Default)
But I know why the backwards part happened, so it's all a useful learning experience.
Thursday, as previously reported, was a busy day.
Friday was MIND day. Read more... )

The game, incidentally, can be found at www.memrise.com, and I'm quite impressed with how it adapts to my learning rate and specific weaknesses. Well worth a look for anyone trying to learn the basics of a new language.

Today, Sunday, is a day of rest, using up  bits from the fridge, and readi-meals. No stress.

janewilliams20: (Default)
I have now owned one for just over a month. Last night I played at a gig for the first time.
So, what have I learnt?
Those anti-anxiety tablets work. No stage fright.
There are some chords I can play and some I can't, but I'm already well beyond the "three-chord" level. And if I can't...?

If I can't manage the complex strum pattern, hit the main beat.
If I can't play the whole chord, do the top string only.
If I can't even do that, play "air uke" in time to the beat, and join in on the "main" chord for that song. I'll have plenty of time to get fingers in the right place if I skip the one before it.
If I can't do that much, keep singing
If I don't know the tune/words, the uke is a perfectly acceptable percussion instrument.
If  I can't even do that much, silence is fine. The wrong note is not.

At practice, we sit down - in a gig, we stand. Given a duff ankle, this hurts. I need to work out what shoes to wear, and practice at home standing - the method of holding the uke is slightly different.

Noting what gadgets others use, and reading up afterwards, I'm getting a clamp-on electronic tuner. My perfect pitch isn't, so it helps to have something to get at least one string right when I'm playing with others, and at home, the phone app does the job nicely. But in a noisy room full of other ukes, it can't tell which one it's listening to. I've been round Amazon and Ebay, reading reviews, and the new tuner should arrive next week. Once I have one string in, I can do the rest by ear.

A strap, or not a strap? Most other people seem to use one, and there are lots of possible designs. So I did some reading up. It seems that quite a few don't actually let you go "hands-free" so as to clap. They help support the weight (what weight?) and help hold the uke away from your body, so you're not deadening the sound, but if you let go completely, the uke hits the floor.
The method of attaching strap to soundbox is either by a strap button (can also be the jack socket for an electric pickup), around the soundbox, or hooked into the sound hole. I don't have a button or jack socket, and anything on the sound box or sound hole will alter the tone. Also, the recommendation is that beginners should learn without a strap until they're completely confident like that. So, no strap.

Printing out every song in the gig list, in play order, with the chord charts for each one written on the sheet, helped no end!

OK, I didn't spend money on a strap, or on a new case ( very tempting, some of those). But there was this mug....

dit to add: one more thing. I have a duff ankle. Standing for the entire gig hurts - think carefully about what shoes to wear. Dancing, during the last number or two, is asking for trouble. Do not expect to be able to walk more than a few yards without a stick the next day. In any case, what's a beginner doing trying to play, and sing, and dance, all at once?
Ah, yes. Having fun. That's what I was doing!

janewilliams20: (Default)
Next week, instead of ukulele practice, there is a Gig - we're playing at an old peoples' home. Naturally, I took it for granted that as a beginner, I'd have an evening off.
Oh, no, I don't. I may not play all the right notes, but I don't play any wrong ones, and apparently my rhythm is spot on. I'm playing in the gig.
Better do some more practice, then.
Improved a lot just during the practice tonight - my shift from F to G7 is far smoother, as is D7 to C, and after listening to how the strumming as we went from common chords to an E7 went embarrassingly quiet, I've added that to my repertoire. It isn't really all that hard.

janewilliams20: (Default)
It's World Play Your Ukulele Day today, so I thought I should at least do a little practice. It's very different strumming at home from in the club - I can hear what I'm doing, and go "aargh" when I notice I've half-deadened a string I wasn't meant to be touching. (F-chord, I'm looking at you.)

Also, in club, we get handed a new song and expected to play it, at full speed or near enough. So I read through, realise that at least half the chords I have no idea how to play and half the rest I can't possibly get fast enough, make a mental note of the ones I can play, and join in on those. At home, I'm starting off by pulling the sheet out of the songbook and writing down the fingering for every chord in that song. Then I play through them, in order, taking as long as I need for each change, and maybe several tries as I work out where each finger has to shift from and to. I've more or less decided that while playing a D by bridging three strings is certainly nice and easy, especially when changing between that and Am, I'm probably better off playing it "properly" with three fingers under most circumstances.

So, I sat down with the uke at about 20:30, got interrupted by a "take your tablets" alarm at 21:30, decided I'd carry on playing just a little bit more, then realised it was 22:30, but there's just this one song I want to try out.... and at 23:00 finally decided my fingers hurt quite enough, thank you. But that last song, I'd been singing, and playing every chord.

I'd better take those tablets.

janewilliams20: (Default)
And it was worth it.
MIND - I was helping teach rather than being a pupil/consumer. Crochet, with the intention of producing scrunchies for sale on a craft stall. I then came up with a fall-back plan aka "first lesson" - spectacle "chains". A simple crochet chain in some attractive but smooth yarn, with a rubber fastener at each end. I'm rather glad I did, as only one of my beginners progressed beyond that. Still, one non-beginner has progressed to things she couldn't do before, and we have ideas on how to use the random granny squares she's already made, one lady who's always had problems with tension now knows how to solve them, and two have gone home bearing hooks, yarn, and either patterns or photos of how to hold the hook and yarn for best tension control.
Plans before next week include turning some very simple patterns into diagram format, as my non-beginner can't cope with a written pattern.

Four hours, with a break, and not *too* tired at the end of it. No shaking hands, no stuttering, no problems coping with people who aren't as fast in learning as I'm used to.

By the way, shout-out here to my mum and gran who made sure I was totally familiar with working with yarn from early childhood. It really does make a difference!

Evening was ukulele practice, and yet more evidence that they're a lovely welcoming bunch - I got there a little bit later than planned, and Brian had saved a seat for me! One song was simple enough that I was actually playing every chord, I caught on to some slightly more complex strumming patterns without too much trouble, and I'm getting there with the more complicated things. I can do all the chords, just not (yet) fast enough.
But two hours of intense concentration was too much. I was really struggling by the end, yawning all over the place. Well my therapist said that concentration is the first thing to go, with depression, and the last to come back. This is pushing me just up to my limits, and that's what I need.

So, Saturday, breakfast was toast, brunch I did manage to do properly by doing a recipe "by the book", laying out all ingredients before I start rather than grabbing and improvising as I go. Mid-afternoon, and I've sorted some emails and might even consider getting dressed. But basically, Saturday is devoted to recovering from Friday.
janewilliams20: (Default)
I'd forgotten how much fun music as a group can be. I want more of that.

The friend who'd invited me to go along to the Sandy Ukulele group forgot to bring me a spare one to borrow, but I still had a fun two hours, mostly singing, and occasionally borrowing her uke so as to join in whenever the C chord was required. Went home with a sore throat, but still singing in the car.

I now have a ukulele tuner installed on my phone, have taken advice, done some web-browsing, and expect to spend tomorrow afternoon at a shop in Bedford purchasing a ukulele. Next week, I should be able to join in with more than just a C (though probably not take part in the concert on the Saturday). Even uke-less, it seems my contribution was appreciated - one more voice, and in an almost-all-male group, a useful one. I may not be a soprano, but I'm an octave or so closer to it than most, and when we're invited to do the high bit in "Edelweiss", yes, it's in my range - just.


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September 2017



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