A few months back, I wrote about Fender’s new Fullerton Ukulele series, a gorgeous union of classic Fender guitar aesthetics and ukuleles, which are rapidly growing in popularity. Over the past month, I’ve been able to review Fender Play, their proprietary online learning platform.
Launched in 2017, Fender Play is an online resource for musicians of all levels, and most recently incorporated ukulele lessons into its repertoire.
“When you think about going online with the intention that the lesson platform won’t replace a physical lesson, but enhance it, you start to see the benefits,” Billy Martinez, VP of Category Management, Acoustic Division at Fender tells Parentology. Indeed, with many companies still on lockdown due to the pandemic, having a learning schedule that allows players to make their own schedule becomes more important than ever. “You can spend 20-30 minutes a day and tackle the lessons in increments, and we definitely see more engagement; people now have a chance to learn something they’ve always wanted to learn,” said Martinez.
Using a loaner ukulele from Fender, here’s my review of Fender Play.
Once I registered and identified the instrument I was learning to play, I got my first lesson: I was holding my ukulele backwards. From there, everything became much easier.
Fender Play boasts a swanky user-interface and clean, modern design; it’s easy to navigate and find your learning path. The tutorial videography looks good, and there are different camera angles so you can see the fingering to practice in tandem, which is helpful when there isn’t an actual instructor in the room.
The virtual instructors go very slowly, unlike other online teachers that tend to plow through the lesson, requiring you to pause and restart several times. I truly felt like I was on a learning path where the pace matched my ability to follow along. Lessons are interspersed with practice runs, where you follow along with the exercise on the screen.
Within 30 minutes, I was strumming along to Shakira’s “Try Everything,” and by the fourth lesson I was working on chords. No joke.
The desktop app also provides a repository of relevant articles with tips and tricks, FAQs and how-to’s, making Fender Play a holistic one-stop-shop for all things Fender-related. There’s also a Fender Tune app for your phone which, as the name suggests, provides a tuner, metronome, pre-programmed drum beats, chord charts and scales to support the lessons.
Who Is Fender Play for?
There’s no doubt that Fender Play suited my skill level (newbie) and interest level (dabbler), and in most cases are recreation-focused. What’s great about the interface is that you can start playing right away. The lessons focus on songs and fun over theory, which definitely keeps the player’s attention. In fact, my eight-year-old was happily plucking away in less than ten minutes!
However, I can see how intermediate and advanced musicians might get frustrated with the pace. While the lessons follow “levels,” with each level increasing in skill and knowledge as you progress, the rudimentary starter lessons might irritate developed players. I’m sure they already know that “Alligators Eat Canned Greens” (for the uninitiated, that’s a helpful way to remember that the four ukulele strings are A, E, C and G).
The good news is that you can skip the lessons you already know, and dive into new material at your own pace. The progress tracker lets you see where you’ve been and where you’re headed in terms of your lessons, so it’s impossible to get lost on your musical journey.
However, according to Martinez, the idea behind Fender Play is to get people using the instrument quickly and in a way they could understand and access, without getting mired down in music theory. If you’re looking for a more academic approach to learning the ukulele, Fender Play wouldn’t be your first choice.
How Much Does Fender Play Cost?
Fender Play offers monthly and annual subscription options. With a paid membership, you get access to the entire program and all material, and a free trial is included with all plans.
After your trial is up, it’s $9.99 USD (Canada $12.99) per month for the Monthly Plan and $89.99 USD (Canada $121.99) per year for the Annual Plan. All subscriptions include guitar, ukulele, and bass lessons.
In short, the bite-sized lessons were perfect for my skill level (and frankly, with two kids at home, my attention span). The small lessons are cumulative and reinforced, resulting in a larger amount of skill in a shorter time frame.
Fender is a well-known brand, a pioneer in top-shelf musical instruments, so it stands to reason that you would want to learn from the people who contributed to the music industry in such a significant way. If you’re interested in picking up the ukulele (in between baking banana bread and home-schooling your children), Fender Play is a very patient teacher.
Fender Play Ukulele Review — Source
Fender Play ukulele Review