Last March I took a trip to Hawaii and came home with a ukulele and no knowledge of how to play it. It wasn’t the first time I’ve tried to teach myself an instrument. Six years ago I worked in the music department of my alma mater and had the key to the instrument room. I tried the tenor saxophone, the bass clarinet, and the oboe. Simultaneously, I was working on mastering my new banjo, and was switching between recorders and crumhorns in other ensembles. The entire time, I was reading music and was extremely reliant on having someone work out the notes for me.
The ukulele has changed the way I learn music. It’s such a small and portable instrument I want to bring it with me on all my weekend excursions, camping trips, and picnics. I envision myself taking requests and, like a jukebox, being able to instantaneously play a rendition of any song. But in order to become this on-demand type of uke player, I need to develop some skills that plain old music reading hasn’t taught me. Luckily, I have a good ear and NCH Software’s TwelveKeys music transcription program.
I’ve been singing a song in my car on the way home for weeks and have been longing to learn the accompaniment. But where to begin? How do I know what the first note is, or what key it’s in? How will I learn it efficiently if I’m running back and forth between the CD player and my chair?
Today, I downloaded TwelveKeys and a minute later had loaded the song and was seeing the notes I needed to learn wiz by. What TwelveKeys does is highlights the frequency of the song’s notes in a graph and lines them up with a keyboard, so you can see and hear where to begin. As the first note came at me, I paused the music and honed in on it, and made TwelveKeys sustain the tone until I was able to locate it on my ukulele. In another few minutes, I had the basic notes of the intro picked out and was able to play along with the song slowed down enough so I could keep up. Learning my song was so much easier than I had anticipated!
Now I’ll be able to practice by looping the sections I’m focusing on. I’ll master the picking pattern that runs throughout the song, and after that I’ll add strums and other fancy riffs to make the song my own. Next time I get fixated on a tune, I’ll load it into TwelveKeys to transcribe. And maybe one day, I’ll be able to take a few requests.
Learn more about TwelveKeys music notation software and see for yourself how easy transcribing music can be by downloading the free 14-day trial.