From the Summer 2017 issue of Ukulele | BY DANIEL WARD
Here are some of the things you can work on while learning any piece of music:
- Pull the best sound from each string
- Listen to your tone and shape it
- Play through the chord changes as smoothly as possible
- Build a strong steady rhythm that you can really feel
- Try some dynamics, playing softer or louder in sections
- Enhance the hidden melodies within the song by making one or two notes stand out in each arpeggio grouping
And, here are few ideas for practice:
Practice space. Make sure you are in a comfortable space to spend some time just playing for a while. (I suggest a minimum of 5–20 minutes so you can really feel the physical changes as you listen and work on your sound. Spend less time, and you won’t reach that place where things start to sink in and really gel.)
Play slowly. If you can’t get through any part cleanly and in rhythm, you are going too fast. Practicing slowly allows you to focus on more things at once, and is the quickest path to becoming faster and clean. Use a metronome later to check yourself if you like, but the motor rhythm should come from inside you.
Learn the chords that make up the song and work for smoother changes and sweeter sounds.
Look at your plucking hand while you play. Concentrate on relaxing it while keeping the back of the hand steady, without bouncing or “grabbing” at the strings. This will build tone and strength, and will lead to clean speed in your strokes.
Finally, open your ears wide and focus on breathing evenly.