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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Ukulele Day 8 - Amazing Grace - This Land is Your Land

So here it is, a full week into the ukulele experience. I have practiced at least 15 minutes each day, but I'm sure it's closer to 30 some days. I basically stop when my fingers hurt enough

I'm actually writing this on Day 8, but the video below is from last night. I surprised Horyon by playing Amazing Grace in front of her family. I wrote about it in the Day 6 post, which I actually wrote mostly on Day 7. Dang. This is confusing.

So the next video is the one I actually recorded today, Day 8.

Here's the main idea, if you aren't keen to watch the video: today I added a new chord, the D7, and it led to a new song.

Of course, the devil is in the details. I have attempted the D major before, but I have to line up three of my fingers in a row across one fret, and I just can't do it yet without some serious contortions or reversing my grip on the ukulele. But the D7 only involves pressing two strings, so it's easily playable. I was strumming it, and switching back to the old familiar chords, when a song came to mind: This Land is Your Land. It's a bit of a high register for me to sing, but not terribly so.

And I get it! This is why some people just get to be good at playing the ukulele, or guitar, or piano! Because when you can make the songs in your head appear out there in the real world, it's awesome! I knew that before, but I didn't really get it until now.

My first instrument was the recorder, like every other elementary school student. And like every other elementary school student, I learned that the recorder was a foolish instrument, not worthy of respect, and a magnet for mockery. My next instrument, taken up around 5th grade, was the trumpet. I didn't really get it then. Band was just something to do, something our parents made us do. Kind of fun in a noisy, hanging out with other kids way. By jr. high (middle school) band was a habit, and I was starting to see some fun in it, in the cooperation of a huge room full of people who have very little else in common. But there were some real jerks in there, and in all likelihood I was one of them. The band teacher, Mr. Roller, was a good guy, and in hindsight amazingly patient. But he communicated his love of the art form in ways too subtle for me to pick up on at the time.

Or maybe he just hated his job.

Sometime around jr. high I started taking piano lessons. Maybe high school. Four years of piano lessons, and I stopped. I went to Anastasia Medill at Tune Shop in downtown Leavenworth. (I was surprised to find that they have a pretty decent website!) She was a very patient woman, dealing with my pitiful practice habits. I can still play, and the theory I learned has helped in all of my musical endeavors.

In my senior year of high school Leavenworth High School got a new band director, John Lefler. During the first week of school he moved me from trumpet to euphonium. He needed more low brass, and could tell by looking at me that I would do better with a bigger mouthpiece. And I did. Enjoyed it, more and more as I got older. Asked for and received a Wilson euphonium for a graduation present. It's still in my parents' basement, as it is one large piece of luggage to bring to Korea.

In university I took lessons from Scott Watson, and learned to play the trombone from Max Bonecutter (the coolest music teacher name I've ever heard) the year Scott went on sabbatical. I had a lot of fun playing in the Tuba Euphonium Ensemble, as well as concert band. I tried marching band my first year, but it just didn't work for me. Probably because of all the time you had to spend pretending to be interested in football games.

One summer during university I took an internship working at seven different summer Church camps. I wanted to bring an instrument, so I took my Yamaha alto recorder. I played that recorder every day, whenever I had time, and got to be very good at it. It was still considered a very uncool instrument, but I was good enough to play along with campfire songs and at talent shows. I may have changed a few minds regarding the recorder, and I will always be fond of it. I also acquired a bamboo flute and a tin whistle around that time, and enjoyed playing them as well. Though the flute uses a completely different ambrature (mouth shape), the fingering was mostly the same, so I don't count them as separate instruments.

I bought an autoharp before my wedding, and accompanied myself on a song a wrote for Horyon. It was way, way, way too long, but by the time I realized that I was stuck in the middle with no idea how to get out. Fortunately it got cut a lot in our wedding video. I don't usually count the autoharp as one of my instruments because all you have to do is press a key and strum: instant chords. Sounds pretty, but not very versatile. And that was in early 2001. Since then I had not picked up a new instrument until last week.

So this is my sixth instrument, and my first real stringed instrument. (I know, pianos have strings, but you play them by striking them. Easier to just put them in the keyboard category so synthesizers and pipe organs have some company.) I already feel like the guitar is looming somewhere in my future if I can't get really comfortable with the uke. Time will tell.

It is Day 9 now, 40 minutes until Day 10, so I need to get my practicing done. I hope you are enjoying this journey, because I sure am!

1 comment:

Uncle Bob said...

Keep it up! We enjoy!
Uncle bob

A Brief Introduction

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