Learning the songs you play - why it is better
Okay if you are like most ukulele players you get together with your uke mates or club, open up your song book and play what is written in front of you - all good, it's a lot of fun.
However next time you get together really listen to how you and everyone else plays. What you will notice is everyone is playing like a big flat line - no true expression of the music you are playing. In a sense, it is very robotic. Everyone is focused on the next chord, and not so much on the music they are creating. The music takes a back seat to the series of chords. Everything becomes regimental and dare I say heartless - no emotion. Music is suppose to invoke emotion in the player and audience.
Without learning the arrangement you don't really understand what you are playing - you just learn chord sequences.
At this point I wish to say this article is not an attack on your uke playing, I have written it to shift your perception about the songs and your uke playing, to hopefully expand your understanding, and in so doing, if applied, increase your level of enjoyment.
By learning an arrangement you free yourself from the rigidity of watching a series of chords on some paper. It allows you to focus on what is important in a song - the flow and emotion of it. On another note, what happens if you ever get invited to a jam where no one uses songbooks if you don't know arrangements in your head?
Learning songs also gives you better understanding of music and also allows you to hear what you are playing increasing your ability to pitch and recognise what chords your are actually playing. You naturally develop your musical ears and general musicality.
It is not that hard to learn an arrangement of a song - if I can do it anyone can. For the people that have seen me perform live with my duo Gollagher Ross you will never see me with sheet music in front of me. I always learn all my arrangements so I can focus on playing them with more emotion and dynamics making my songs sound better.
So why not start to learn your arrangements today. Pick a very simple 3 chord song and learn the first verse, then the next and the next till you know the whole song. Normally once you learn the first verse you already know most of the song as this progression will repeat itself over and over again. You will start to understand how music and songs is formed also by learning songs. Once you learn a song start on another one. Before too long you will have a whole lot of songs in your head .
So give it a go and watch your music ability grow along side your enjoyment and sense of satisfaction.