For the first time in a very, very long time, I signed onto Yousician (btw, I am no longer approving comments on the 10000000 year old Yousician post, which, yes, I am STILL getting comments on, much to my exasperation. Just let the damn thing die. It was a thousand years ago. I have literally zero desire to get tied into endless conversations on a program I only use once in a blue moon.)
Those of you who’ve been following along know I have a love-hate relationship with Yousician. Namely, I love it when it works, and I want that to be all the time. Reality is not so kind, so I also hate it.
I’m not getting into it (again) other than to say I’m a Windows 10 user, and my experience is that if you want to run this program on a windows laptop or desktop…just…don’t, unless you have the patience of the saint or a lot of booze and/or Xanax. (and so help me, if I get one more person telling me about how ABSOLUTELY AMAZING OMG PERFECT ANGELS ARE FUCKING SINGING it works on ios, my next post is going to be a picture of me stabbing an apple. Just STFU. There’s literally no reason for an Apple user to get involved in a Windows discussion other than to sound snobby. Cut that out.)
I’m really just putting all that up there to give a bit of context, since I haven’t talked about it in a while, and those of you who’ve been following along might need your memory refreshed.
In brief, my abysmal experiences (several of them, with lots and lots of troubleshooting and reinstalls) with Yousician on my laptop caused me to uninstall it entirely sometime around the end of last year. Maybe the current rendition of their windows desktop program has improved. I don’t know. I don’t care.
HOWEVER, last winter I got a fancy tablet, and decided to try it out on that. I don’t use it as a steady diet, but it’s there, and for the most part, work’s notably better than it ever did on desktop, leading me to believe Yousician is far more interested in a)marketing and b)it’s mobile app than it is in ever squaring away it’s desktop version. Is the guitar portion of the program still really effing quirky? Yep. But, it’s a computer program. My electronic tuner sometimes mishears things, and I certainly don’t expect perfection. It’s functional enough most of the time, which I guess is really all I can ask for.
So, why now, all of a sudden did I sign onto Yousician for the first time in ages? Well, actually, I can blame Vish of UglyBassFace for that. He recently mentioned in a conversation totally unrelated to music that there are a few Final Fantasy Mobile games out. And, while I have some jaded feelings about Final Fantasy these days (these days, yeah, more like…have been a very sad geek ever since square and enix merged, but that’s not music-related, so I digress), I decided to check it out, and figured my tablet with it’s nice big screen would be way more fun than my phone. So, I’ve been knocking around a bit in FF Mobius for the past few days. And, since I had my tablet open, well, one thing led to another and I decided to open up Yousician again and spend a bit of time on drills.
The first thing I had to do was check my settings, since the last time I signed on was just after they added the ukelele to the program, so I wasn’t sure what instrument I had set on and that’s when I noticed it:
The darn thing now, FINALLY, offers a section for BASS. Yes, they took a really roundabout way of getting to it, but bass players are no longer excluded. Well, I haven’t touched my bass in a good long while, and that seemed like a bright ol’ neon sign saying ‘get that fucker out and noodle around a bit’. So, I did. Of course, this also meant getting my bass amp out and dusted off. Yousician is not going to hear an electric bass unplugged.
So, you turn on the bass section and it says to amp up or use an adapter to plug directly into “your device” (note how it doesn’t say your computer, leading me to believe Yousician really is aiming pretty strongly at the mobile device market, as noted above). It further says your amp doesn’t need to be loud, just loud enough for the program to hear. I can confirm this is pretty darn quiet. I had my amp on pretty low, and when I first started going, it told me my volume was too high and it couldn’t hear, so you’re looking at an amp setting that’s, most likely, just above a whisper.
Nothing new and fascinating here. I only get about 15 minutes/instrument so when you’re cracking into a new one that basically means I got to fret a couple of notes and pluck a couple of strings, but nothing much was really going on, really rudimentary lessons, which is as it should be early on, but with the free version, I won’t be able to tell for quite some time how well the program hears once it starts picking up the pace on me. Overall, my first experience was a good one, though. (see, I say nice things, too.) I’m not ready at this time to speak well or ill of it since 15 minutes isn’t long enough to form a verdict, BUT at this time I can say I’m glad to see bass lessons have been added, since from a program that was designed for guitar, this was the first instrument it should have branched out to. I’m glad to see my bass players are no longer being neglected.
After bass time, I moved to guitar. I didn’t move forward at all here, but rather went over lessons I’ve already done trying to get better scores. I signed on to drill, not drive myself nuts. It’s been a while since I used the program, so I felt it was better to focus on things that need ironing out than barrel forward into lessons I’m probably not quite ready to tackle without frustrating myself. No new news here. It heard a few chords badly, but for the most part the fuck ups were mine.
Out of guitar time, I moved to the uke. It looks like they’ve fleshed out a lot of the lessons I went through since they first added, them, so I backtracked again here to do the tracks that have been added since the last time I signed on.
Here’s where things are interesting and made this worthy of posting about. I noticed as I worked through, mostly on the guitar and uke, that my ears seem to be learning. Usually, when you open something like Yousician (or Rocksmith, or whatever), as a beginner, you end up so focused on the screed and all the little colored bits telling you what to do that you can almost forget what you’re doing is supposed to sound like music. You become over-concerned with precision and under-concerned with the actual SOUND of it all. This is where something’s shifting for me. I found my practice more rewarding when I realized that things were going more smoothly because I was using my ears to tell me when to hit notes rather than just my eyes. This should be obvious, but that’s what happens when you’re learning via flashing lights and pretty colors; your brain prioritizes the visual plane. So, it’s cool that I’m noticing the first signs of rewiring in the attic telling me ‘hey, dummy, this is music, you’ve got to LISTEN to it if you’re going to improve!’ It’s cool to finally realizing there’s a voice in my head counting off ‘1, 2, 3, 4-1,2,3,4…’ , at least most of the time. Tracks that are more complex or busier I’m still getting overwhelmed by the visual – which means this is more apparent for me on uke and bass than on guitar (those two extra strings still fuck me up when doing lessons with single notes. It still requires concentration just to see what string I ought to be on – it’s generally the 3rd and 4th string that hang me up). But, it was still an observation of my brain doing something new and different, so I wanted to catalog it for posterity.
Will I become a regular Yousician user again? Meh, who knows. But I’ll likely use it more as long as I’m in the mood to kill monsters on my tablet, I suppose. We’ll see. Either way, I haven’t talked about actual lessons in a while, so I figure it’s about time for me to mention something of the sort.