My new friend, the ukulele (July 2021)

Funny how doing something new can give you an enlarged perspective. Last week, I was the lucky recipient of a new ukulele (on loan) from my colleague, Deanna Yerichuk, coordinator of the undergraduate concentration in Community Music at Laurier. She and I had agreed that we would do a recital (?) program this fall, featuring both of us accompanying ourselves on ukuleles. The catch is that I don’t know how to play it! And this was the whole point, because I am discovering new aspects of my music-making life in order to remind myself as both practitioner and teacher of the importance of humility when we approach our craft.

So…in the past week I have learned 6 chords and a couple of strumming techniques (thanks, YouTube and Cynthia K! I am decidedly NOT GOOD. And it’s hilarious fun! Almost addictive (except that I still haven’t found a practice groove that makes me really consistent, and this will have to change). The other day I found myself strumming away and just improvising vocally to the sounds I was making on the uke. I sang freely and with abandon, not worrying about the quality of the sound and just listening to the chord progressions as I went, responding to my own spontaneity. This is a really novel way for me to make music, since I really don’t play the piano well and therefore don’t have the experience of being able to sing alongside my own accompaniment. The best part of it was being able to get out of my head and not judging myself for what I was doing. (My daughter Alice sent me a text while it was going on, asking when I was moving to Maui…ha! not any time soon). So the next level will be to write my own simple song and sing and play. We’re not there yet, but this new little love affair is inspiring. Stay tuned! (and I also bought a tuner to assist in this process).