Ukulele Plunking

I set all kinds of daily goals for myself. These goals by themselves don’t necessarily take up too much time, but they are designed to give a kind of cumulative bonus. I goals for pushups and rowing, goals for how many words to write in my novels and to have updates for this site. Time and energy (mixed in with some laziness) mean that very rarely to I accomplish all my goals. But they are still there to serve as motivation. Sometimes that motivation helps and other times it feels like a giant wall that needs to be vaulted.

A goal that I have been fairly successful at for the past two weeks is playing the ukulele. Between working, writing, and fathering finding the time for even 20 minutes of strumming and picking can be harder than you think. Too early or too late (also known as the most likely hours of me time) and I run the risk of waking people up. During the day my singing and playing gets labelled as noisy. I guess that lets you in on my skill level. Since we are in the middle of the rainy season running to a local park isn’t really an option. So there are a few obstacles, but like I said, I’ve been able to find about half an hour everyday to practice.

I love playing music. Learning songs and adding my voice to them, or even just tinkering away with random chord progressions and rhythms. Playing relieves stress and just makes the world seem like a better place.

I’ve always liked playing music. Since junior high school I was constantly in bands as a bass player. After school we would play for hours. I kind of dropped off in college. As much as I like the bass, to me it is a social instrument and practicing and playing alone always makes me feel extra alone and a little sad.

I think I’ve related my other musical attempts on this site before. How during college I started the mandolin but constantly breaking strings meant I couldn’t afford to keep playing (it adds up.) I’ve tried the guitar and it never felt like a fit. I also picked up the ukulele after moving to Japan. I bought the cheapest thing around because why spend money on something I didn’t know if I would continue? It was such a cheap instrument that even in tune it sounded out of tune after the second fret and less than two months later I put it down in disgust. A few years later I tried again with a higher quality instrument and kind of fell in love with the sound.

It really is such a friendly little instrument. I just want to carry it around with me and strum anytime there is time available. I haven’t yet because I am embarrassed about not being able to play at I level I want to play at. Which is stupid reasoning because without playing more often how am I supposed to increase my level? And that is why I am thrilled that I’ve had the chance for daily playing.

I keep having these little dreams of strumming and singing with my son as he gets older. Of us making music together. Maybe even my wife, who liked the sound of the ukulele enough that she picked up her own (even if her schedule has meant she’s spent very little time with it.) How great would that be? Making music as a family.

In a way, the ukulele reminds me of my writing. I want them both to be a part of my future. But the only way to make that happen is to keep at it. Spend time everyday working at it and in a year or two I could have something to show for it. And even if don’t, there is little downside to spending time everyday working at something you enjoy.

Now to go back to working on being able to play and sing Rainbow Connection.


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