• My First Uke


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Day 34: Learning Style

“Learning Style” is a modern buzz-phrase in education circles.  What is “their” learning style?  How can I adapt my material to “their” learning style?  Just what is a learning style?

I am peripheral to these discussions at work, and in my own practice I teach using visual and auditory methods to get the information from my head to “theirs”.  I can hang with that.

Taking music lessons, at least in this particular instance, is a pretty didactic and auditory experience.  We are given information verbally, we are exposed what it is supposed to sound like.  There was a terrific set of handouts at the first lesson, but as of the second week this changed to just the week’s songs with words and chords.  There is nothing wrong with this.

I am a visual learner, to go farther I can say I am a solitary visual learner.  I learn best when given the chance to stare at information and process it at my own speed before having to  pull it back out and use it.  Given these two things I can learn anything, but without them I find I need to go away from the lesson, work it out on paper somehow, and then return with my new knowledge in good working order.  If you ask me to watch you play something, or read along while it is played, I can turn around and play it back to you (at a beginners level).  Where I run into problems is when information is presented verbally, like music theory and how chord patterns relate to music theory.  I can understand this if given time to absorb and turn it over in my head.  It will be quicker if you give it to me on paper.  I can’t turn either around during class and answer a question that asks me to use this new information.  To put it in education lingo – I haven’t built a mental schema to process that information yet.  More bluntly: this site is under construction, please come back later.

I bet I look like a deer in the headlights when I’m asked something new in class.  I sort of feel like a dumbass (sorry to get so technical).  Ask me something about last week’s homework – I might surprise you with what I’ve figured out.

Now something for my sweetie – who has become obsessed with Julia Nunes

This week I’m supposed to let the instructor know what song I would like to learn to play during the last class.  I’m thinking George Harrison’s “Give me Love”, mainly because I love to sing it.  What do you think, too hard?


Day 5: Community

Peek-a-boo, you see me! Wait, that’s not how it usually goes. Hello to Humble Uker el Jeffe, Woodshed, Armelle and (blogless?) Ron Hale. Ya’ll know how to make a girl feel welcome.

Community is one of my favorite words.

The word community is derived from the Old French communité which is derived from the Latin communitas (cum, “with/together” + munus, “gift”), a broad term for fellowship or organized society.

Many definitions of the word community talk about geographic proximity, but with the increasing ever-presence of the internet, proximity is losing its power.* When I started seriously thinking about taking up the ukulele I turned to the internet using my superpower (Google-fu) to find resources, reviews, videos, pictures, advice, and above all people who love the instrument. What I saw, as well as passion for the instrument, was inter-connectivity. People who comment on one blog could be found commenting on others, and often have their own. I saw lots of “see you there” and “where’ve you been?” I genuinely like people, and this is lovely to see.

Sharing an interest with others is one of the quickest ways to feel like you have a place in the world. I am happy to tentatively dip my toes in this already robust and interesting community. Thank you for all of your encouragement and keep the suggestions and great blogs coming!

My practice is going well so far. Transitions from one chord to another aren’t smooth, but feel a little less impossible and just the slightest bit faster. I suspect someone has replaced the fingers on my left hand with Italian chicken sausages, but I will persevere. Jake Shimabukuro is in heavy rotation on my iPod and I take too many breaks during the day to watch ukulele YouTube videos. I love the start of something new, I have a crush on the ukulele and the blush of love is exciting.

In honor of community and the in the spirit of crush-drunk love I’ll leave you with this video Ron pointed me to. I love a good end-of-the-night-at-the-pub song.

*next time I pull out phrases like “geographic proximity” and “ever-presence of the internet” please feel free to mock me righteously.