So here we are in another year. I know that a good number of you may well have had your first ever ukulele in the 2011 Christmas. Some of you may have had a second with a wish to try to progress more seriously in the year ahead. So here are my thoughts.
Now lets get one thing out of the way - this is not going to be a list of the obvious resolutions you may hear elsewhere - you know the sort of thing - "learn chords XYZ, learn ten songs, learn some scales, practice every week", that kind of thing. If you seriously want to progress with the uke, those really should be a given, and you can find on this blog, Chord charts, beginner songs and tips on practice. No, these are a few other options that I think you could possibly consider as resolutions for the New Year
1. Play with other people
In my opinion, this is without a doubt one of the best ways to progress and expand horizons on the uke. Playing with others builds confidence, creates new ideas, and generally just helps you progress quicker. Grab a friend with a uke, grab a friend without a uke and ask them to buy one, whatever, just grab somebody. Then sit down and start playing together alongside your normal practice. Even better, try point 2 below.
2 Join a club
Wow - it staggers me how many ukulele clubs and societies there must be out there, and this, whilst a big list, probably only scratches the surface. If you have the opportunity to visit a local club regularly I would strongly advise it. Meet with like minded players, both beginners and experienced alike, and share ideas and play together. This will give your playing a HUGE boost
3. Develop your styles
You have a whole year ahead of you, and there is no need to rush, but if you are an absolute beginner, you will soon find yourself in a rut of playing up down basic strumming. Experiment - work on some rhythm with your strumming, or try working on some slow finger picking of your instrument. Whatever you choose, don't be rigid in your learning, don't rely on strum patterns as the be all and end all - learn your instrument, and learn to understand what it can do. There is no right and wrong within certain limits, and you need to work to make your instrument become one with you. Experiment!
4. Make a video
I have seen so many ukulele players online who have drummed up the courage to record their tracks and put them on YouTube for others to comment on. The ukulele community is a great friendly place, and in the vast majority of cases I have seen nothing but constructive support for those who are prepared to share their playing in public. It's less scary than playing to an audience, but can reap better rewards in terms of feedback. I've seen players I know through this site go on from YouTube to playing live for money and getting record deals. I'd strongly recommend the Ukulele Underground site forum and checking the videos section for examples of what people are posting. Sure you will see some advanced stuff, but that community welcomes absolute beginner videos also.
5. Try some other ukes
Sorry about this one, but if your ukulele bug bites, you WILL be buying another before long. It is what is commonly known in ukulele player circles as UAS (Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome) and you may already have it. I know budgets are tight for many, but don't be afraid to try a new ukulele size alongside the one you have. If that isn't possible, experiment with alternate tunings for your instrument, and in particular if you have larger sized uke, consider playing with the LOW G tuning as opposed to the more common re-entrant style
But most of all (and this isn't an idea or a resolution) just have fun. The ukulele is a happy, social instrument. Take it everywhere with it, learn it, explore it, but have fun.
Here's to your ukulele 2012, and I hope to see a whole bunch of you in twelve months time having developed hugely. The world is your oyster!