When I bought my first ukulele on a whim a number of years ago I never imagined I would end up buying two more and playing uke performances every few months in Los Angeles California of all places! But since then, the uke has transformed into so much more than just a cute yet mostly decorative instrument that I “should learn to play some day”. That “some day” is now and I’ve been taking group lessons for nearly two years in Manhattan Beach at Dietz Brothers Music School. Let me tell you something, music lessons are not just for kids, silly rabbit. They are for everyone of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds. It’s not just an instrument for people who spend most of their time on the beaches of Hawaii either. The only thing it requires is a love of music… well practice and a little patience too.
Such a sense of fun and nonjudgmental acceptance by a group of people brought together for one reason: to learn and play the ukulele! I love that our teacher is less about theory and all about about playing. She teaches us theory along the way, but we get the instant gratification of learning new songs every week at class. The school is very close to my place, class starts later in the evening so I’m not being rushed through rush hour AND I get to bring Elliott, who has become the class mascot. What’s there not to love about this set up?
Music has been an integral part of my being since the womb, I’m sure. And a life without music would be a terribly sad existence. I played the recorder for the Recorder Society in elementary school, and then went on to be the first chair floutist in the State of Colorado through Colorado Honor Band and now, many moons later, here I am strumming and singing a wide assortment of hits, both past and present, on the ukulele. I can certainly say, your brain will never dull while learning something new like an instrument. Man, it sure takes some hand/eye/brain coordination to pull this all together and I’m hardly a pro, but I do okay! Of course I practiced my other instruments a lot more and didn’t have an office job to drain my brain like I do now, but such is life, right? Hell, if a woman 20+ years older than me can learn to play the banjo then I can surely learn the ukulele.
The point I’m trying to make is, these little 4 (and 6) stringed pieces of carved wood have brought me such joy, accomplishment, belonging and happiness while feeding music to my spirit on a regular basis and then, every so often, I get to perform a few songs within the safe confines of a group for others to enjoy. And if and when I’m lucky, I can wrangle up someone I know to come watch!
After last night’s performance, I just felt the need to share my love of music from a different perspective than my usual concert replay. Playing an instrument as an adult is highly underrated and is a somewhat untapped source of happiness that every single human could benefit from. Don’t just listen to other people’s music. Make your own music! It’s good for the soul!