BY SARAH MAISEL | FROM THE SPRING 2019 ISSUE OF UKULELE
Two excellent musicians who happen to also be ukulele virtuoso, Neal Chin and Abe Lagrimas Jr., offer their tips here on how to make your ukulele practice time fun and effective in building your skills.
EXPLORATION “I try to reserve time to noodle and wander around the fretboard. This exploration time can be rewarding and educational, as it’s often a great way to hear the strengths and weakness in your playing.”
EXERCISES “When I am actually playing, my goal is to be free to go wherever my mind wants to go. By warming up with a few physical exercises (about 10 minutes) before jumping into my actual practice, I’m much more limber to do what I want to do and I’m able to focus more on musical concepts and ideas more than physicality.”
LISTEN “The instrument is an illusion; you are playing your ear, and the more you can exercise the muscle of listening, the better. This can be sitting down with your favorite album, a quick song on the radio, or even listening to the way the wind sounds bellowing through your favorite corner of your home. The more you can hear, the wider your auditory world will become.”
ABE LAGRIMAS JR.
EAR TRAINING “When I learn a new song, I almost always transcribe it, because when I do this I’m training my ear to hear harmony and melody. If sheet music is easily accessible and available, I will only use it as a reference to compare to my transcription. When you transcribe something, not only are you training your ear to hear more, you also learn more about harmony and this increases your chordal vocabulary.”
NEW SKILLS “Technique comes to mind when I think of developing new skills. To me, learning a new skill takes time for the mind and body to absorb before it becomes part of your arsenal. This involves a lot of repetition and application. It’s been said before, but if you want to learn something in the shortest amount of time, have patience, and practice slowly and correctly before you increase the tempo.”