Musically Challenged and Rhythmically Retarded

Talk about frustrating. After two years, thousands of YouTube video’s, hundreds of wasted hours.

How is it possible to sit in a group of people and have no problem strumming along with everyone else to songs that you either know or don’t know and yet when you come home you can not manage anything at all. After today I am really at a point where I just want to smash the Ukulele into little bits and use it as kindling at the trailer this summer.

For what ever reason I can not get a grasp of this. Once I am on my own I can not do it. All the good cheer and confirmations that yes you can is not going to do it.

D D D D does not constitute a song to me. If I can not hear it as the song it does not work for me. There is not enough information on the page to help you do anything. A sentence with a chord above one word and a few words down another chord. No indication of a strum pattern (was explained to me that everyone has there own strum pattern that works for them) No indication as to timing, how many strokes (strums) (beats) what do you do when there is no chord listed. what do you do when there is four words with no chord then a chord on every second word and then again 5 words more without.

Ukulele is not easy, no music is easy if you have not got the knowledge to back you up. Strumming does not work for me, nor will it ever work for me.

At least it is not a total waste. Picking makes sense. Even though I am slow I can hear the song. I can feel the song. and I can see the song.

I really can say that I am going to be the one and only that is not going to succeed in the course. Yes I can do it in the class, but I sure as hell can’t do it at home. If I can’t manage it how am I to practice? Secondly why would anyone want to do something that gets them so frustrated.

I am so happy that I discovered this today after I ordered and paid for music books that will be of absolutely no use to me. Chord finder and song a day and Ukulele daily and on and on.

I will do the remaining 9 weeks of the course and then after that there will be no more strumming for this guy. Even trying to have the song playing in the back ground I am to slow to be able to keep up with it (changing the chords on time) then it all goes to hell.

Can you tell I am frustrated? The title says it all. A dream or a wish what ever you want to call it that is certainly not going to come to fruition. I will not be playing any musical instrument before I die. I will continue with the picking although finding music is really hard to do. Tablatures are few and far between. There are a few really good sites out there with a limited number of songs, some of which are a tad to deep and hard for a beginner. You can not order a music book online and really know what is going to be in it as there seems to be a mass confusion in terms. Some people feel the need to call a page with lyrics and chords  a tablature (is it even a word? the spell checker highlights it yet has nothing even close to it in the spell correct). So how do you order a book when you do not know what you are actually getting?

I love it when I get so frustrated that I do not know what to do with myself. Just want to go outside and scream, and jump up and down.  Maybe that is a song, you know up and down and up and down and down and down and up and down.

Not really knowing which direction to go with this. Seemingly, those that teach Ukulele teach strumming. I have not seen anyone in this area that teaches picking. I suppose that would be due to the fact that the Ukulele is designed to be strummed and not plucked and or picked.

Well I suppose that is enough rant for tonight. Guess what, i’m not going to be doing any more strumming practice for awhile.

Have a good weekend everyone.


8 responses to “Musically Challenged and Rhythmically Retarded

  1. Sorry to hear that the strumming at home is disappointing for you, after you enjoyed your class so much. It’s really hard with keeping up with a group playing, isn’t it? Hopefully after a couple more lessons, things will start falling more into place as the instructor will find a way of helping you twig how this works.

    Have you ever tried the ‘disposable song method’, where you stop worrying about the actual song & work on the chord changes to get better at doing them more smoothly? As you get better, you then add in the proper rhythm & then finally (if you wish) singing.
    – I found that helped speed my up by just going through two or three chords in a row from each line or so of the song. Then repeating the chord sequences on the next couple of lines a few times etc. I also do the few really hard tricky chords for me more times.
    – There are also a couple of exercises – or chord drills – where you can work through a sequence of chords which help you improve.
    (I’ve put more links here

    I agree that folk are inconsistent about labelling whether songs are written up as chords, tablature or standard musical notation. It’s frustrating when you specifically want a certain one & get given the other. I’ll have a dig through my files & email you sites I’ve found with tabs in the hope I have a few you’ve not seen yet.

    [I’m now finding that if you get a proper full score (often with vocal line, piano & chords), I can use the vocal line for playing the melody (for me currently the mandolin) & the chords for the uke – but you can see exactly where they need to go.]

    As you’re getting on well with the tabs (because they are more logical & show you more precisely where the make the notes fits in the song), are you interested in learning more how the musical notes work? I’m happy to give you a hand in helping you understand how to translate those dots on the staves into being the fingering numbers on the tabs. All we’d have to do is make you a little table or chart you could use & then maybe it would give you more choice.

    I have used a couple of sites where you can strum along to the song playing & they show you where the chords go – you just need to pick the really slow one & the ones with chords you know. Eg
    – Sheep Entertainment: (change to gCEA tiuning – it’s the equivalent of the old ‘bouncing ball’ as the song progresses. At least you get a good laugh at the old videos from Top of The Pops – my favourites are when you have the UK dance troops Pan’s People or Legs & Co doing their very literal dance routines, eg Egyptian Reggae)
    -Stevens Chord Charts YouTube channel (

    Good luck.


  2. Bill,
    Well, it sounds like you’ve pretty much made up your mind about this, so I won’t try to paint a hopeful picture for you, but I will try to offer this:

    If I wanted to build a house, but didn’t know how to use any of the tools, wouldn’t you suggest that I practice with a few projects first: like a bookshelf, or a simple box?

    House = the kind of music you really want to play on your uke
    Tools = your uke
    Starter projects = simple strumming songs, rhythm exercises

    You see, in my humble opinion, one must practice the basics of a skill, boring or uninteresting as it may seem (which needn’t be that way), and trust that by learning these skills separately, one can then combine these basic skills and build the house of their dreams. (Mixing metaphors, once again.)

    Just sayin……:)

    Happy New Year


  3. I have tried and tried and tried. I have spent countless hours with anyone of my Uke’s. I can do it in the group, keep time with everyone else, change chords when required without difficulty. I still do not hear the song it is noise to me. At such time when some one sings then I can sort of hear the song, although it is not the song but accompaniment to the song.
    I am sorry, I do not know how to explain it in terms that others can understand.
    Don’t get me wrong here, I enjoyed the class and group setting. I strummed along with everyone else and played the songs that we were taught. NO Problem. Unfortunately the same is not true when I am home trying to practice. It does not work for me.
    I am going to continue on with the classes and have deep discussions with the instructor and her assistant and try to find a solution for my inability to do this on my own.
    It is surely not for the lack of trying and trying and trying. I have dedicated hours and hours into this, because it is something that I want to do and I want to be able to do it well.
    Why am I able to pick (with the tabliature) and be somewhat successful and feel good about it and not get so frustrated? I can hear the song, I know what I am listening to. Even when I record it and play it back it sounds like it is suppose to, albeit a little slow, but it is there. If I record a strumming session I hear nothing but noise, Even to watch YouTube video’s unless the song is being sung it is nothing more than noise to me.
    There is another gentleman in the class that has started this venture the same time I did two years ago. we are both the same, He told the same story in the class, he just does not get it. He also went to picking.
    I think that if someone was strumming and some one was picking it would probably sound pretty good. Time will tell, I have not given up.
    For someone to tell me that I have to practice, I don’t know what to say. I don’t work, I am home alone, I have nothing but time on my hands. I spend hours with my Uke. I try, I give it a good go until the point of frustration, at which point I put it away and try again later.
    I hope you can understand that I have not just picked it up and said nope I can’t do this. Because that is so far from the truth.

  4. Thanks, I am not giving up totally. I will have a good discussion with the instructor and see if there is a solution to my problem,. All is not lost, picking is good too.
    I’ll checkout your site suggestions and give them a try,
    thank you

  5. Bill,
    Good morning!

    Perhaps we are talking about two different things – I am sure you are practicing and trying hard.

    I think what I am trying to suggest is that you adopt a bit of Zen attitude with music – and that is to relax and find the value in the simplest of things: a simple strum, the simple movement of one chord to another, and the sound that your new uke makes.
    And to invoke another metaphor – enjoy the walk around the block, even though your goal may be to scale a mountain.

    Learning to play music in isolation – which is what you have been essentially doing, is very hard. I am going to go as far as to suggest that all you have been learning is floating around in your head – and that the right teacher and moment of realization will bring it all around and start to make sense.

    In the meantime, think of this as charging up your battery.

    Take care!!


  6. I nearly commented anonymously, but decided to harness the self-confidence to own what I have to say. It seems you like picking and can hear and understand it. It makes sense to you. That’s great! Perhaps the trick is to help strumming make sense to you as well. And to become as used to hearing chords, as you are to hearing plucked notes. Make the chords familiar to you by playing them. Make friends with them, if you will. Hear them for what they are, a group of notes, just like the ones you pick, that are played together. When the chord sound (feeling or quality) is familiar to you, strumming may not seem like noise anymore.

  7. Thank You. I understand what you are saying.
    I have been working with the chords for the past two years as well as trying to strum. Where as i have only been trying to pick for the last few months. My left hand is comfortable with the chords that I know and able to move around the fret board with out to much difficulty. My right hand is not feeling it!!!!(for lack of better words)
    Other than the class that I am currently enrolled in the chances that I will ever play with anyone again are really between slim and none.
    I will put everything I have into the class, including full participation. I will seek out some extra advice from the instructor and her assistant.
    What ever takes place between now and the completion of the remaining 9 weeks of the course I can’t say. I will take away from it some very valuable information. I will have fun.
    In the end it is just going to be me and Otis. Personally Otis doesn’t care one way or the other as long as it doesn’t interfere with his playtime or the attention that he gets. Me, well. As long as I get some enjoyment out of it is all that I ask. Whether it is strumming or picking.
    I am sure that most by this point would have long given up. I did not. I found another means of enjoyment (through picking) because I could not get a grasp of strumming.
    If it gets to the point of being a hassel or not enjoyable then it is not worth pursuing.
    I just really don’t know what to think right now. I haven’t given up as of yet. I have tried to find a way to enjoy the instruments that I have. To some I get the idea that not being able to strum is akin to being sacrilegious.
    To me, to be able to pick up a new song tablalture, try it out a couple of times and be able to recognize the song that I am playing is a big deal. Having never really had music in my life for the first 52 years I think it is a really big thing, And when I do recognize the tune that I am working on it actually puts a really big smile on my face. Where as I can honestly say that there is not many things left in my life that do that.
    Again thank you.

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