That question is important, just think of how many things you have been “learning” since forever and actually blame it on them being so difficult or just impossible.
I was like that with music. I had been learning how to play the piano, the flute, the French horn, always to end up dropping it and complain about how difficult it was.
I am writing this review for Ukulele Buddy because it has changed so many good things in my life, not only in terms of playing the Ukulele, which is now so much fun but also helped me understand many things about learning and improving.
In just a few weeks, I was able to:
- Play complete songs
- Master essential chords
- Be comfortable with fast tempos
- Develop my hearing
- Play MY favorite songs
- Start playing by ear
Getting into ukulele
Music has been a great part of my life, I have always been surrounded by instruments, or singing in the school choirs. However, I was the type of person that will make some progress on their music, and then quit, move on to the next instrument. I just got bored easily.
This went on for many years of my life until I was 27. My friends and I were at this party, having fun, grilling, talking. Later that night, a guy that was with me at the school orchestra in high-school comes in, I didn’t even remember him.
He was carrying a guitar, and later, after he had some tequila shots, he started playing for everyone. We were all singing, dancing, it was such a great evening.
However, as I recalled more events from that orchestra, the guy never really had musical skills. He was clumsy, always out of tune, out of tempo. But now, he was actually pretty good, so I wanted to know more about his journey.
“Anyone can whistle”
So we met at a bar, had some drinks, and started talking. Eventually, I asked him about his musical skills and how I remembered him struggling so much, to which he answered: “Hard work beats talent”.
This response completely blew my mind and then everything made sense.
As I was listening to his story, I learned that he had made the decision of being the best guitar player he could. He worked hard for so many years until finally he went past his limitations and now plays amazingly.
I felt so embarrassed because he was right. While I was resting in my laurels of being “more talented” than he was, he was actually working on things, and he became amazing.
It was a great evening, and I left that bar with a new decision: I would only reach my goal through dedication, not merely by talent.
Starting over and frustration
Since I have already some skill with other instruments, I tried to retake them:
- French horn
I gave it around 3 to 4 months of playing before I would finally quit. Why? Because my mind would remember that I had some level of skill with them, but I didn’t have it now, it would become extremely frustrating every time.
Regardless of how much I tried, my levels of frustration were unbearable because I would find myself relearning how to do something that, some years back, it was so natural to me and my body.
So many choices
Also, there were so many new things, new methods, it was all so sophisticated and elevated, and expensive! But I never really felt connected to them.
For me, it is important that a method takes into consideration the musician, not only the music, so it was complicated for me to remain engaged.
I did try, a lot, only to find myself frustrated again and ready to give up.
Finding the uke
After sharing my frustration with my friends, they all seemed to have been going through similar stages. However, one of them had an amazing advice that would change my life:
“Why not try something new?”
By then, I had heard about Amanda Palmer, the vocalist for Dresden Dolls, and how she always encourages people to learn ukulele, saying it is versatile and easier.
It was settled that night, I would buy a used ukulele, tune it, and just start.
Finding the right method
After getting my first uke, I was faced with the next challenge: Learning. I am more of a self-learner myself, so I knew I wanted to start on my own. This caused me to:
- Lose so much time researching
- Lose even more time trying
- Browsing the internet aimlessly
- Reading hundreds of know-it-all opinions
- Wasting money
It was just exhausting, I was ready to give up, but I would give a last try to 3 methods.
After reading some reviews, and browsing the website, the one thing that immediately clicked with me and Ukulele Buddy was the “Hard work beats talent” part.
Also, the fact that the method is made for FUN, and this is very important. Ukulele Buddy is not for serious musicians who want to learn all about theory and technique.
Ukulele Buddy is for those who want to learn how to play and have fun and share that with others.
I knew I had to buy.
So, right after I bought it, I received access to the whole things:
And I was pretty much ready to go. I started from the beginning and I made a decision in that moment: “I am going to trust these guys as if they were my doctors, see where it takes me”
I mean, I was not asked to send money to a Nigerian prince. They just want me to learn how to play the ukulele, so I might as well trust them.
How does it work?
Well, in its essence, Ukulele Buddy is a series of video sessions that take you through the basic processes of learning how to play:
- Posture (important)
These videos are around 7 minutes each, and everything in them amounts to develop one skill, and then it all comes together in a song.
It’s a no-brainer:
- Learn a skill
- Practice that skill
- Learn a new song
- Bring everything together
This provided me with a sense of achievement, coming full circle, and then the learning process took another light. Much more fulfilling.
Am I actually doing this?
After being through the motions with the other instruments and not being able to achieve a lot because of my poor skills in dealing with frustration, it was a shocker to see me, well, playing.
- Getting the chords right
- Identifying sounds faster
- Playing songs better
- Translating other instruments to the ukulele
- Playing different genres
It was not all roses and wine. Of course, I had frustration, of course, there were times when I struggled. This learning process won’t be all smooth, but NO LEARNING PROCESS IS.
Whenever I would go into frustration mode, I would remind myself: “Hard work beats talent”
Long term benefits
The best benefit I got from Ukulele Buddy, was learning that “discipline” is not being squared and closed-minded, but allowing yourself to learn, or do, something that you like and will bring you happiness in the long run.
I mean, I kick some ukulele ass now, what can I say? But I am also learning accordion now, and guess who can deal with frustration now? Guess how can I know where to go? Which step to take next?
Yes, that’s right. The skills and progression provided by Ukulele Buddy are transferable to other instruments. Of course, with the respective tweaking.
But I mean, some of the methods I tried are highly technical or specific. The worse were those that wanted me to stay with them forever.
This method is basically training you to “fly”
Is this for you?
Although this method can benefit anyone trying to learn how to play the ukulele, the way it is designed may not suit those looking for a more “professional” approach.
If you are looking for something more relatable, something more fun and casual, then this method will work perfectly for you.
Also, you need to be aware that you need to practice daily if you want to see results. No results will come from slacking and thinking that you already know something, you might skip it. Don’t.
Trust Mich and you will get far.
Basically, he knows everything! Kidding, but he’s the guy in the videos, guiding you. At the end of the day, most likely, he knows more about playing the ukulele than you. This is where I come from.
These guys have put together a comprehensive learning method that is tested and proven. Basically, all the job is cut out for you, and you will be walked through it, what else can you ask for?