When you’re learning how to play an instrument in a group, the experience can be very up and down. Although, it certainly has its benefits! Learning with others can be inspiring, motivating, and overall a great time. On the downside, you may find your pace is too fast at times or too slow during others. While some may thrive learning in a social environment, others may find it awkward to learn on the spot with people watching.
If you’ve recently found yourself in a group ukulele class, here is our advice to you:
Find a Buddy
If you don’t already have friends in your ukulele class, chances are you will find one by the end of the first couple sessions. Having a group buddy is a great way to stay on top of learning in-between classes. You and your buddy can hold each other accountable to practice. Even if you don’t meet up during the week, a short text or phone call to check in and stay motivated makes all the difference. Send a cool ukulele video, ask a question, or get to know each other. Making friends is half the fun!
Be a Self-Advocate
If the class is progressing too quickly or you are confused on a concept, do not be afraid to ask for help. Look to your practice buddy, maybe they are having the same difficulty. Meeting up with the teacher after to class to clarify material is a great way to learn without feeling awkward about asking a question.
Acknowledge Your Learning Style
Some folks learn by listening, some learn by watching, and some learn by doing. In your ukulele group you may have the whole gamut of learners. Hopefully your teacher uses a combination of demonstration, visuals, and practice time to learn skills. If you find you really enjoy the handouts and diagrams to learn, keep that in mind when you practice. If watching others and listening to instruction benefits you the most then make sure you take the time during your class to soak it all in! There will be plenty of time for practice after class too.
Knowing your learning style is essential to make the most of a group learning environment. If you don’t already know it, simply pay attention to what the teacher does that makes you understand the content with the most ease.
Practice Outside of Group
If you’re taking a group class, chances are you don’t love learning by yourself. Unfortunately, it takes much more than an hour a week to learn an instrument. If you don’t practice in between sessions you may find yourself falling behind, or simply not retaining the information long-term.
To make your practice sessions the most efficient, take simple notes during class. It may be helpful to jot down a list of concepts you worked on that day so you don’t forget. Maybe even write them in a certain order with the most difficult concepts at the top. For example: G-chord, Down-up strumming, muting strings. This way, when you go home to practice you have a short and easy list of ideas of where to start.
Get Social with Your Media
It’s safe to say that most individuals use some form of social media nowadays. When you’re learning to play an instrument, social media can be an incredible resource to expand your knowledge and find some inspiration. There are many ukulele teachers out there posting content and videos for you to learn from. At Uku we’ve worked with a few Instagram teachers. We highly recommend Bernadette Teaches Music, @plazi! Abby Lyons (@helloabbylyons), is also great for musical inspiration and lead sheets. There are infinite possibilities to find an individual online who you resonate with!
This is a given, but try to have fun in your group. Whether it be through making friends or finding a new hobby, make sure you take that time to relax and enjoy the fact that you are learning a beautiful new instrument. The ukulele is meant to be fun- don’t make it too hard!