If they’re a standard tuning, like the one you’ve been playing, and they’re not too strummed out it gives a pretty crisp sound in tune, you’ll be able to play those notes and that’s what the finger-picking part of a ukulele is about. The more you play, however, and the slower the notes are played, the more you’ll really be strumming to get the sound we’re looking for. As a result, the finger-picking part can be a bit different every time with different fingers as well as how you hold your instrument. As with the finger-pointing part, you don’t want to hit the strings at the same time, or the instrument will sound strange and awkward. So, as with the finger-pointing part, the first step to learning to finger-pick is to have a sound that you’re sure you can play and then try to figure out what the sounds are you’re getting from your instrument when you first start playing. As always, I recommend you get out there and find another ukulele to play with and spend some time with the other players on your tour and try to get to know each other.
You’ll probably notice that finger-picking is a bit different from fretless-picking, as it’s only used to pick up your lowest notes, as you’re strumming more to get those higher notes. But fretless-picking is a good tool to keep in mind when you’re learning any new instrument and that’s because it’s essentially just fretting your finger and then moving on, without any of the usual problems of fretting that come with fretless-picking. If you get to play without fretting, then that’s great! For an interesting exercise, put a strip of string on string with a flat head the same length in both of your hands, and then turn your wrist 180 degrees and hold your hand down, so the string runs below the wrist. When you first start you might need to make a few extra corrections, as you’ll pick your finger up quite high, but gradually, as you keep playing and getting better, the string will naturally fall between your fingers, and you won’t need to make adjustments.
There’s something special about that moment when your kid first pulls on his favorite tuxedo, but you’re not in a position to buy one—maybe the closest you’ve ever come to one of those was on that plane to England in 1998 with your child.
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