Ukulele Life Lessons #2

This time the ukulele life lessons all came from my DH, who appeared to have channeled a Mr. Miyagi-like version of a music guru as he helped me replace the string I broke from my first attempt at playing the uke.

Rather than helping me, I pretty much let him complete the entire operation himself. Recently I read about the phenomenon of someone feeling closer to you after you have asked them to do you a small favor. My DH has expressed a similar philosophy in the past, so I decided to take a back seat and observe instead of jumping in myself.

He assured me that strings break, so I shouldn’t worry about this one. It’ll probably be the first of many.

He told me that getting exactly the correct tuning pitch as far as the digital tuner was concerned was not as important as I thought. The overall balance of the four strings will work out even if each one is not tuned to perfection.

Tension changes when the environment changes. Deep, huh?! This is how I wrote his last piece of advice down in my notes. Honestly, I don’t have a clue how it related to the ukulele, but it makes me think about relationships and the importance of a little give and take when one or both parties are a little out of their depth.

Ukulele Life Lessons:

  • Leave it to the expert, especially when the expert will feel good about helping.
  • Life happens. Even if something may seem like a disaster at the time, it often turns out that you are the only person worrying about it so much.
  • Overall balance is important – there’s no need to micromanage every little thing.
  • Tension changes when the environment changes – What does that gem mean to you?

Ukulele Life Lessons #1

I had reasonable expectations for my first time at picking up the instrument for real. This time, I’d move past the air-ukulele phase and actually learn a chord or two, nothing too advanced. Baby steps all the way. I lined up a 12-minute beginners instructional YouTube video from a playlist I have been putting together since late last year. I factored in some time to tune the uke with my high-tech digital tuner, which had come along with my Christmas present. Musical DH knows his non-musical DW might have baulked at the thought of tuning by ear.


All set, right? Or so I thought… Cue the horror movie sudden flash of lightning and creepy music!

Ok, that’s perhaps a little dramatic.


The kids went off for their bath. I sat at the table with ukulele, digital tuner and manual in hand. The few minutes I thought it would take a piece of modern technology to tune my instrument for me turned into an uncomfortably long exercise. Did I mention that this was over the winter holidays, and both my mother and mother-in-law were watching me, for all the world as if I was about to give a concert and it was perfectly acceptable to gaze at the musician on stage. About as dis-concert-ing an experience as I can imagine for a first DIY ukulele lesson, but hey, I was relaxed. I was looking forward to learning my first couple of chords and making some mellow, albeit limited, music. No pressure at this important exploratory stage. Slow and steady. Give it time. Breathe…


And then?


Ping! I killed the A string. I swear I didn’t mean to. It just happened. The super-duper digital tuner gave me no indication that I was in a danger zone. And yes, I did feel betrayed. It’ll be a while before I can trust him again. [Of course, it’s a him. No communication skills when it matters most 😉 – kidding!]


I never got to watch the instruction video. The new chords remained a mystery. And now I had to find out where to buy new ukulele strings.


Ukulele Life lessons:

*Have reasonable expectations for the first time you take on a new challenge…and then dial them back some more.

*Don’t trust technology more than you trust your own judgement, even if it does look really cool and “experienced.”

*Don’t invite an audience to the very first rehearsal.

*Killing an inanimate object is not the end of the world.

*Internet access so you can buy new ukulele strings 24/7 is a beautiful thing. Ping!

Ukulele Life Lessons #0.5

This year, I am going to learn how to play the ukulele.

It might not be up there in the top 10 lists of resolutions floating around the web these days, but that is one of my resolutions for 2016.

To be more specific, my goal is to be able to comfortably play 3 songs I love to sing along to by the time my birthday comes around in May.

I should make it clear that I do not regard myself as a musical person – at all! I love listening to music and singing along. I’ve been known to belt out a few nostalgic 90s hits at a private karaoke venue, but I have never felt comfortable playing an instrument. I tried to learn the guitar at two different stages of my life. Neither attempt ended well, for different reasons.

I’m set to hit a milestone birthday this year, and I still yearn to play the guitar. A few timely references to the ukulele toward the end of last year, along with some coincidental (or not?!) ukulele tunes on the radio led me to changing tack and choosing to start over with a new instrument, rather than test the validity of the “third time’s a charm” theory with the guitar. In Resolution Evolution for Moms, I advise choosing a new challenge over a resolution that has not worked out for you in the past. I’m listening to my own advice.

I created a playlist of ukulele tutorials on YouTube, and I got a lovely ukulele for Christmas, so the scene was set for a musical challenge.

Ukulele life lessons:

  • Specify your desired resolution outcome. How will you know if you have accomplished your goal?
  • Turn over a new leaf rather than go back to the same old ideas when it comes to resolutions.
  • Give thought to any equipment and resources you will need to make progress on your resolution. If you can, get your hands on these ahead of time, so there are no excuses or unnecessary delays when you’re ready to get stuck in to your resolution.