What would YOU like to read and learn about?

For those of you who may not know this already – I originally started this blog to put into words the many thoughts I have about music and in particular –  rhythm. My goal was, and is, to write a book about rhythm in a way that someone new to music could easily understand and enjoy.

In the course of writing about this, I have added some ukulele tutorial videos, and I have also started a music workshop here in my town of Santa Cruz, where 30+ players get together every week and practice the ins and outs of playing together.

But perhaps my favorite thing to write about is the psychological aspect of playing: the thought process of “letting go” and imagining yourself a musician. What holds us back, what keeps us from playing with feeling, and what can we do to overcome that and allow ourselves to be whoever, and whatever, we want to be.

But what is your favorite part of this material I present?

Being that one of my goals is to create a book, my initial thought is that it needs to be limited to the written word and not contain the video tutorials. I can, of course, continue to create those video tutorials and post them online as I have been doing.

But what do you think?

I’d love it if all of you could take a moment to respond to this post, and let me know what your favorite topic is that I have written about, or what you’d like me to address in the future. If you saw my book in your local music store, what would entice you to pick it up and buy it, then take it home and read it? What would excite you?

What is it about music that you wish someone would explain? (And please – don’t worry about asking a stupid question – there is no such thing.)

I am excited to read what you all have to say about this.

Thank you.

Rhan Wilson

28 Responses to “What would YOU like to read and learn about?”

  1. Bill Taylor Says:

    Hi Rhan,
    I watched you work at Smoldering Uke earlier this year, but this is really my first time on your blog. An underlying theme in your posts seems to be musicality. I have observed that there are a number of blazing technicians on the uke scene, and some of them are even musical. However, my favorite remains Bill Tapia. He has an understated elegance that doesn’t require a lot of pyrotechnics. We can’t all be Taimane, or James or Jake, but one can still make beautiful music. Just listen, learn, and let go.

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      Hi Bill, and thank you for commenting.
      Yes, I suppose it’s true that I talk a lot about musicality. I see that many of my students and other players already know enough chords to play many songs, yet they don’t think of themselves as musicians or artists. That “musicality” is what seems to be missing. I like to talk about it in the hope that others can get permission of some sort to think of themselves as having something to say, music-ly speaking.

      Of course, rhythm and patience is my real focus – take your time and have good time!

      Thanks again, and dont forget – feel free to ask questions or suggest topics for this blog.

      Rhan

  2. Polly Keener Says:

    Rhan…I have been to a couple of your rhythm workshops, and will attend again whenever I get a chance…once is never enough! Like Mary, I am not sure how or what to practice. I winter in Arizona and there are music jams every day, they are more like open mics here. I want to sing on stage, but am not confident enough..I know the songs sitting on my couch and they don’t sound to bad, but getting up in front of a mic is a whole other ball game! Not sure what I need, but need help in singing, performing. Enjoy your newsletters.

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      Polly,
      Thank you for your compliment and for your response to my question.
      Confidence… stage fright…. legitimacy…..
      I will continue to write about this, though I suspect for each of us, there is a different reason for how and why we feel the way we do.

      Stay tuned.

  3. sacfam44@yahoo.com Says:

    Hi Rhan. When you and a friend played at the Auburn Uke Fest, I luved both your unique rhythms & creative harmonies you brought. It flowed, seemed effortless and joyful, and there was nothing else quite like it at the Auburn event.

    And today when I read “the thought process of “letting go” and imagining yourself a musician”….I had a pause. Rhan, I can actually sing harmonies and melodies all day long and without much effort, when it’s just me, she and the big dog.

    So, yes….I’m fascinated to know where my fear or hesitation or dis-connect may be coming from. BTW-My fellow ukers (some of them very accomplished) tend to be some of the most laid back and non-judgemental people I’ve ever met. I’ve really nothing to be afraid of but I still pause when it’s public. Any thots?

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      As I said to Polly regarding her question/comment – this topic is an ongoing one with many different sub-topics. I will write more about this for certain.
      In the meantime, I encourage other readers to offer up their own personal stories of confidence, or lack thereof.

      Rhan

      • Lori Says:

        Fear of performing…
        It’s harder, psychologically, to be out there by yourself. Being one among many performers–on stage, helps a lot.

        Fear of performing comes from: not wanting to make mistakes, forgetting words or chords (I can’t count on my memory), voice failure, losing timing or tune, lack of projection, lack of voice, breathing difficulties, fear that froggie sounds will come out, I might keel over and die … or wish that will happen (if a mistake is made.)

      • Rhan Wilson Says:

        Lori,
        “Keel over and die?” My, my, but I am afraid it isn’t quite so consequential if you did make a mistake. That did make me laugh a bit, though.
        Seriously, thanks for your input – it seems that many of us think about the actual act of performing a lot, and worry about it.

        How do we deal with that? I know for me, I take it in little steps – pushing my comfort zone out a little at a time.

        What do you do?

        Rhan

  4. mary wagstaff Says:

    Rhan-Ive been trying to articulate my many questions for you for months now.. This seems like a good opportunity to actually sent them off.. Here’s my best try for now:

    As I am always drawn in so many different directions when presented with the possibilities of the uke, should I concentrate on learning one thing well before moving onto another? Is it necessary to build a solid base first ( which is what I think you are touching on in your posts, re: rythym, listening, etc.. ) before moving on..and if so, what is the “base” ?

    I would like to hear about how and what to practice… Is there an order? In other words, how to practice “smart”. I always want to improve and learn.

    What about different learning styles? Being visual, tabs are easy for me, but music theory is like calculus. When I really see how something works, I get it.. but the process is SLOW.

    The issue of memorizing vs hearing in remembering a song.. Playing in “public” and the dreaded brain black out. ( vs living room playing)

    I have gotten so much out of this blog, I love your straight-forward teaching style. Thanks!

  5. gaynellewatts@aol.com Says:

    Rhan,

    I love your writings about rhythm. It is beginning to make sense to me that rhythm is everything. When you and Rick and Patti were jamming on Sunday at the Crepe Place I began to see how if you know where the number 1 is you can sing and play anything.

    I would buy a book that says no matter how inexperienced you are you can sing and play.

    Thanks for all your work. gaynelle

  6. Barbara Sonnenshine Says:

    I would like to know what programs/apps to use when trying to make an arrangement with chord diagrams. The only one I know of is GoChords and its not really working that well for me. Also, what about “making up” your own chords…how do you name them?

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      Barbara,
      The problem with using a certain program, is that you are stuck in that world with those rules, if that makes sense.

      I personally have been using a combination of programs: InDesign , for one. It’s really for publications: magazines, books, etc., but I have found that I can create my custom chord charts and place them wherever I want.

      As for making up chords… how to name them is a bit tricky, as you need to know a little bit about how chords are made up to name them accurately. For instance, on a uke, all open strings could be called a C6, but it could also be called an Am7… (there are others, too.) Which one you call it wouldn’t matter too much for a uke player, but if you had a bass player playing the wrong tonic (bass note), then it wouldn’t sound right.

      In lieu of calling a chord anything, you can always just make the chord chart and play it anyway.

      Thanks for the question and response.

      Rhan

  7. Marty Carlson Says:

    Rhan: I think you have hit the nail on the head. We sometimes get so caught up in playing complicated stuff that we forget music is all about playing and having fun together. Jamming with others is one of my most favorite things to do. Every time I go to a jam, I come home with a new song or a new performer. I was in a jam several years ago and played “Wildfire” by Micheal Murphy. Someone said “if you like Michael Murphy, you will like Tom Russel”. I said “who’s Tom Russel”. Well, I found out and he is one of my favorites. Sharing music together is what it’s all about. Thanks Rhan, keep up the good work. Marty

  8. Tom slatten Says:

    How can one turn sheet music or chords into tabs?

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      Hi Tom,

      I don’t know of a quick answer, but here’s what I do:

      First of all, I never trust a lyric/chord chart off the internet. Sometimes I start with one, but I always assume there is an error somewhere.

      If I want accuracy, I buy the sheet music.

      Then – if a simple chord-over-lyric chart is all I need, I write, or copy the lyrics into word and type in the chords over the lyrics. I always single space those chords – don’t use the tab key, because they will mess up your spacing later if anything changes.

      If I want tabs (tablature) then I figure it out and write it by hand.
      There may be some other way, but I don’t know of it.

      Did this answer your question? Please write back and let me know more specifically what you were speaking of.

      Rhan

      • Tom slatten Says:

        you understood what I wanted. Your answer is about the best that anyone can do, thanks

  9. Chuck Buchanan Says:

    One thing I have never really understood is the numbering of some of the more exotic chords. How do you determine where your fingers go on a D9 for instance. What is really happening musically?

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      Chuck,
      Great topic. That’s a whole chapter right there, though there is a short and quick answer.
      I will ponder and get to work!
      Thanks.
      Rhan

    • Jeff Says:

      Chuck — there are versions of 9th chords. If you really want a GREAT reference I have a book for you. It has a very long title. “Ukulele Breakthrough: helping you go from a lonely strummer to the life of the party”

  10. Brian Morton Says:

    Rhan
    Thank you for your work; you’re well known down in Monterey for your assistance with the newbees to the Uke. My question is what is the best way to connect the dots between strumming and rhythm. For example, your u tube video on “Blues in A” and ” Simple start to the blues” is very clear in terms of chords, but the strumming pattern is just below the video bottom edge. My “newbee” fingers just cannot make sense of it.
    Thanks
    Brian Morton
    MUC

    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      Brian,
      Thank you for responding. And great question/topic.
      Being that my emphasis on that particular blues riff was aimed at the chording, I didn’t bother to say much about the rhythm.
      But because the goal of this book I am working on is all about rhythm and timing, I will certainly go into much detail about that!

      thanks.

  11. Clyde Ortego Says:

    I would love to learn how to read tablature more easer and I love the instructional videos of easy songs such as sloop john bee.

    Thanks

    Rhan

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