• My First Uke


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Day 3: A little more on why

While perusing the internet for ukulele goodness I came across this article in today’s online version of the Hamilton Spectator.  It is a boilerplate article about how the ukulele had fallen out of favor, but is growing in popularity once again.  I have seen this article written about knitting a hundred times in the last few years.  “Ukuleles (knitting) isn’t just for weirdos (grandmas) anymore!”  I read along unimpressed until I found the one gem that really spoke to me (quoting Tony Coleman):

“For thousands of years we made music together. We sang together when we worshipped, when we worked and when we celebrated. Then at the beginning of the 20th century, the record player came along and all of a sudden you could have Caruso singing in your living room instead of your brother.”

This encouraged us to be listeners rather than players. He says we’ve gone full circle now and want to participate in music rather than be passive listeners. From this the ukulele became the perfect instrument for musical newbies.

That is it you see, I am no longer satisfied being just a consumer of music.  I want to participate in music.  I want to speak music.  I want to see if I can find a place for myself in music and in music communities.   I want to see if I can replicate the personal renaissance I have had through my work with fiber in this new-to-me medium.  I suppose I also crave the satisfaction of learning a new skill, the joy of seeing my own progress in leaps and bounds.  As I have grown in my knitting and spinning the milestones have grown smaller and farther apart.  I don’t imagine I will ever give it up, fiber work still soothes and satisfies me, but I am ready to take this brain out of its comfort zone and see what it will do.

Progress – ridiculous to even use that word yet.  I plan to practice for 30 minutes to an hour each day (except Friday, that’s movie night).  It’s easiest for me to carve the time out after dinner while my honey does the dishes.  So far so good, 3 days into this grand experiment.  Dusty Strings was out of their top two beginner books when I went in this weekend so I picked up the Ukalaliens Songbook to begin with.  I don’t think it’s the right fit for me, the music is dated or original and neither appeals to me.  This is not a dis of the book, the artwork is lovely and the information seems sound.  I just don’t think we are right for each other.  I want to order something from Amazon that will be here tomorrow, but instead I think I’ll wait and see if Dusty Strings gets any books in this weekend.  I’d rather support them and I need to start building relationships with the local music stores.  In the mean time I’m practicing chords (it was easier, yet less satisfying last night – what’s up with that?).

While I’m on the subject of what I “plan” to do, I should state for the record that my goal is to be able to comfortably play at least a song or two in front of people (not just my partner) in 100 days.  I think that’s May 16th, oddly a personal marker day.  I’ll have to learn something for Dad – anyone have chords for “Sophisticated Lady”?


11 Responses

  1. Hello — I am also a blogger. I started music late at 44 and today I am 49 2-10-2010. I was told by a major internet ukulele junky, Ron Hale, that you are new to the ukulele. My blog might be of some interest to you for finding ukulele song chords and tablature. I also explore music and art, cigar box guitars, balalaika’s, music theory. It’s eclectic. I write about sore fingers, muscle memory is your best friend! The ukulele world is growing. Welcome. http://humbleuker.blogspot.com

  2. Hello, Lainie. My name’s Ron Hale and let me be one of the
    early ones to welcome you to the ukulele world. I found you just a little bit ago and I’ve emailed my favorite ukulele bloggers about you, and I’m hoping they

  3. Sorry, my cat just jumped up onto the keyboard. I’m hoping
    they’ll drop by and introduce themselves and their blogs to you.
    Humble Uker Jeff West just told me he stopped by (and it’s his birthday today, 2/10). His is one of my very favorite blogs, I comment on it on an almost daily basis, and I’m sure you’ll
    enjoy reading it. So, when you get a few minutes, drop by, Jeff is great.

    I’ve been at it now for about a year and a half, and play a
    hibiscus Flea at the moment. I’m one of the odd ones
    who uses a pick exclusively (the small ones, sized and shaped like a guitar pick and very flexible, work for me).

    Don’t know what music you like, but my favorite ukulele
    video at the moment (I do this, I’m always recommending something) is on Youtube as

    Vagabondage – Raise Your Glass
    from: vagabondageband, the music video of the song, not one of the live performance videos of the song.

    Well, maybe you won’t like it, but at least you’ll know
    what you don’t like, and that’s something.

    Again, welcome to the ukulele world, a good world filled with good people. I said the same thing to John, the singer/uker in the Vagabondage video, and he told me he’s glad to be part of the uke world. I’m sure you will be, too.

  4. Issue 11 of Ukulele Player Magazine (online) is
    available now at Tricorn Publications. If this is
    new to you then, of course, you have all eleven
    issues to pore through.

    • Ron – thanks for all the suggestions. I’m going to look at everything. I wrote about wanting to be a producer and not a consumer, but I think that I’ll be consuming even more with all there is to learn. Maybe this is the difference between active and passive consuming. Geez, my brain hurts.

  5. Tony Coleman is absolutely right. You should take a look at this talk by Larry Lessig. I think there’s a huge shift from people using things to making things. I’m all for it.

    • Woodshed – great talk by Larry Lessig. In addition to his points about the shift from consuming to producing I really like his take on copy, fair use, and copyright.

  6. Welcome to the ukulele world!
    Wanting to speak music and make music sounds like an excellent plan, especially when your chosen vector is the ukulele.
    Good luck with your ukulele learning !

  7. Ukulanie — something you wrote about a day were it didn’t feel as good doing the chords. I know that’s how I am somedays I feel great, others a little clunky. Your goal to learn 2 songs in 100 days is a good way to start. Now just picking 2 and sticking with them is the trick. There are 7,655,343,096,221,754,229 songs out there at last count! Produce & Share.

  8. Welcome to the uke! Here is a link to Sophisticated Lady, but it may be a bit to chew this early on: http://www.chordie.com/chord.pere/www.guitaretab.com/e/ella-fitzgerald/115797.html?1944-06-06=always&transpose=&tuning=GCEA

    • Thanks for the link. You are right, it’s too early to attempt that one. Sophisticated Lady was one of my Dad’s favorites, I’ll learn it someday when I’m ready.

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