Posts Tagged ‘wilson’

Take your foot off the brakes!

November 21, 2013

(An expanded and/or edited version of this post appears in Rhan’s new book, All In Good Time – a Book About Playing Music for the Aspiring Ukulele Player. It is available at: www.rhanwilson.com/allingoodtime )

So often I have been asked to help someone learn something about music: new chords, strumming, singing, etc., but almost always the first thing they say to me (and often repeated throughout the lesson) is something to the effect of, “I can’t do this.”

There are countless variations to these negations; sometimes they say, “I am horrible at rhythm,” or they will constantly shake their head at the mere mention of a new term they hadn’t heard before.

Now I understand the tendency to want to “warn” me of one’s problem areas, but c’mon – it’s like asking me to help you push your car and having your foot on the brakes! Not only is it not necessary, but it actually prohibits me from helping you.

If you want to learn something, you have to take your metaphorical foot off the brakes and HELP PUSH! That’s right – aim yourself in the direction you want to go, and push! And just like a car – it’s a little hard at first, but as you gain some momentum, it gets easier and easier.

This is always the first thing I teach people, and it often takes up a good portion of the first (and subsequent) lesson/s, because I have found that once I can get my student to “get their foot off their brakes” – then the actual learning of material proceeds rather easily.

We have all formed some bad habits. I, too, have to always watch what, and how, I phrase things.

Here are some suggestions:

Instead of saying:  “I am no good at….”
Say: “I wasn’t good at…”
Or: “I haven’t been good at…”

Instead of saying: “I can’t……”
Say: “I will try to…..”
Or better yet: “I can…..”

Instead of saying:  “I have no rhythm.”
Say:  “I’d like to improve my rhythm.”
Or: “I am improving on my rhythm.”

These are subtle changes, and you might not think them that important, but they make a HUGE difference in how we learn. By simply stating our intentions in the positive, we have effectively taken off the brake and are free to move in the desired direction.

Now, what was it you wanted help with?

The Merry Go Round

March 27, 2013

(An expanded and edited version of this post appears in Rhan’s new book, All In Good Time – a Book About Playing Music for the Aspiring Ukulele Player. It is available at: www.rhanwilson.com/allingoodtime )

 

I had this thought the other day while teaching a group of beginner ukulele players.

Often, when a new player is learning a song, they feel the need to play every chord every time, and if they miss one, they want to stop the song and start over. This works if you are practicing by yourself (though I don’t suggest that way to practice) but if you are playing with anyone else, then you are stopping the song for no reason.

The best thing to do is to just stop playing, listen to the other players, get your bearings, and wait for the next opportunity to jump back in.

Like a merry go round at the playground.

Once you get that thing going around and around – let it go. If you miss jumping on where you wanted to – just watch it go, and get ready to jump on the next time your place comes around again. There is no need to stop it and make everyone start over – just watch it and get your timing right. Then you will be able to jump right on with little effort, right?

Music is like this at times. The beat goes on, as they say, and if you are learning about rhythm, and know where the “one” is, you can just take your time, hear where that “one” is, and get right back into the song with little of no effort.

At first – it may take awhile to jump right back on – don’t let that discourage you. It’s much like when you were a little kid on the merry go round. The more you practice jumping on and off, the easier it gets. And it’s fun, too. Sometimes the real fun isn’t going round and round all the time – sometimes the real fun is jumping off and getting back on again.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please leave a comment.

Rub your Belly and Pat your Head

March 21, 2013

Is there a better way to describe the difficulty of doing two things at once than to use the example of rubbing one’s belly and patting one’s head at the same time?

As difficult as that can be – now imagine if you didn’t even know how to either rub your belly, or pat your head.

This is what learning a new song can be like: you are learning new chords, rhythms, AND trying to sing – all at the same time. No wonder you are having trouble!

Here’s my suggestion: take a look at the song. Look for odd chords you aren’t familiar with and spend a little time learning how to change to them from the previous chord, and from them to the one that follows.

Then try playing through the song without singing – just sort of hum the tune, or not sing at all and get the music to sound comfortable.

Then do the same with the lyrics. Sing it without the music, or along with a recording, so that you get familiar with the rhythm of the words.

Now, after you are good at doing both of those separately – try them together. Slowly. You might even choose to just hum the lyrics at first, so that you can concentrate on the chords and rhythm.

Allow yourself to go over it a few times – at first somewhat loosely and rough, and then with each passing attempt – refine the areas that need work.

Trying to do it perfectly the first time may be fun to try, but to really get it in your head – have patience and do it step by step.
And by the way, – can you rub your belly and pat your head at the same time?