For my personalized learning project in music, I chose to learn the ukulele. Learning an instrument has been a fun process, although very frustrating and challenging at times. I found it hard to devote a lot of time to it due to school classes, my work schedule, practicum prep, and homework. Throughout this semester I have tried to keep to a regular schedule of practicing each Sunday for an hour, however sometimes I have to prioritize other work and do not have time to practice. With the aid of helpful online videos and my roommate, who knows how to play the ukulele, I have been able to practice and learn new chords and strumming patterns. I think my biggest physical struggle, is that strumming and holding my fingers on multiple frets at once is a very unnatural feeling to me, which clearly shows in my final video. My biggest personal struggle in this process is that I have been really self-critical. I am very self-conscious playing the ukulele because this is a new instrument to me and I am not that great playing it. When I mess up, I instantly feel embarrassed and want to give up. I have worked on this so that when I mess up on a chord, I play that cord continuously until I feel good about it. I have practiced on my strumming and it is slowly getting more comfortable. I know that my finger placement can improve by holding the ukulele with my wrist away from my body and my thumb closer to the neck of the instrument. This has been a struggle for me, because when I hold the ukulele with my wrist away from my body I cannot see the frets and struggle changing chords.
My goal for my final checkpoint was to use the chords I learned for my midterm checkpoint and apply them to a song. I managed to learn four chords including: C, F, G, and A minor. Using these chords, I learned how to play a song “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz. My final video demonstrates me playing the first few versus. I played along with a slowed down version of the song. Playing a song was a huge jump of difficulty compared to learning chords. I faced new challenges like playing to a beat and changing chords at a decent speed. My biggest struggle was transitioning from a C chord to a G chord quickly. This would overwhelm me and I felt my fingers would freeze and I would be unable to move them, but I just focused on staying with the beat. If I was unable to change chords fast enough, I waited and moved on to the next chord to continue with the beat. Moving forward, I plan to continue to practice my hand placement, strumming and chord transitions so that it becomes a more natural feeling, and I can create fuller sounds while playing. I think learning an instrument is a good skill to have, and I would like to continue playing so that I feel more natural playing the ukulele and can develop muscle memory with playing chords.
This process has helped me as an educator to understand how it will feel for students to learn a new instrument and have struggles with it. It reminded me to take into account the perspective of the students and how it can be a frustrating process at times and a lot of fun at other times. Each student will learn at different rates and some will love it and others will not. As an educator, it is important to support all students and encourage them to practice and try their best; reminding them that everyone will learn at a different rate and that it will get easier with the more practice and knowledge a student is equipped with. It also helped me to reflect that not every student will want to play the same instrument and that choice is important. Some students may not be interested in playing the ukulele and in turn not be receptive to learning it. However allowing them to choose a different instrument provides the same learning objectives with more personalized learning which helps students become engaged and interested in the learning. This personalized learning project pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed for both personal and professional growth. I got a lot out of it through the learning process. Though I am not fluent with playing the ukulele, I got a lot out of it as a teacher who will teach music.
My Midterm Goals:
Learn Four Chords:
- C – Ring finger, third fret, fourth string
- F – Pointer Finger, first fret, third string / middle finger, second fret, first string
- G – Pointer finger, second fret, second string / middle finger, third fret, third string / ring finger, second fret, fourth string
- Am – Middle finger, second fret, first string
Basic Strumming Pattern
- down, down, down, down, up (d-d-d-d-u)
My End of term Goals:
Learn a Song: “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz
I played the first two versus
Each line is 4 beats, meaning I strummed each chord 4 times
Chords used: C, G, Am, F
Strumming Pattern: down, down, down, down (d-d-d-d)
(Chord C) Well, you done done me and you beat I felt it
(Chord G) I tried to be chill but you’re so hot that I melted
(Chord Am) I fell right through the cracks, (Chord F) and I’m trying to get back
(Chord C) Before the cool done run out I’ll be giving it my best test
(Chord G) and nothing’s gonna stop me but divine intervention
(Chord Am) I reckon it’s again my turn to (Chord F) win some or learn some
– The link below, is for a website which nicely illustrates and demonstrate tips for learning to play the ukulele.