Sunday, April 1, 2007

Practice Pays Off

I have spent the majority of the weekend inside at my computer working working working. I spent yet another night working until midnight... not fun. Scattered all over every flat surface in my guest room/office are papers, receipts, bank statements, bills and 1099s for several different clients. BLEAH! But on top of these heaps of papers lie ukulele songs and chord charts.

My only relief from this toiling weekend has been dinner with Rossi, Ross and Maggie and practicing my banjo ukulele. I actually found myself taking breaks from work for an hour or more at a time practicing the ukulele. I have definitely seen some improvement and it feels good. I am actually having some luck with one of my favorite songs, "It Had To Be You." I have a uke arrangement for this song that isn't too hard. I can handle all the chords except for Adim which coomands that you twist your fingers into a position that I find humanly impossible. The Em chord is really hard too (you gotta use four fingers!) but I am starting to grasp it. I am moving more easily between chords, too. I think I have down G, D, C, A7, B7. My favorite is D7.... it just feels cool to make that chord.

But I seem to have lost my rhythm. It seems that I can either concentrate on my left hand on the fingerboard or the right hand with the strumming, but not both. And holy cow! I couldn't sing this song in tune if my life depended on it... I sound like a drunk old lady when I sing. I sincerely hope that singing in key comes with practice, too. I sound awful. Cliff Edwards sings "It Had To Be You" so sweetly. I want to sing like him.

I remembered the first time I discovered the banjo uke at the Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention. I heard some of the most amazing music of my life at this festival. I highly recommend it. Old-time music is the most hypnotic music around. In June 2001, I was introduced to the banjo uke at Mount Airy and I thought it was the coolest instrument I had ever heard. I was soooo happy (see photo). It was then that I decided that I must to learn to play this entrancing instrument. But it has taken me this long to actually try. It will be a long time before I can play any old-time, but after this weekend, I am feeling a little bit more confident that someday I might reach that goal.

I am getting close to finishing up all this extra work for my clients, so that is good. I hope then, I will have more time to practice my uke.


Howlin' Hobbit said...


I found your blog via a Google Alert (on "ukulele").

I have lots of free info on ukulele playing (including Bi-Weekly Uke Tips) on my site, Please feel free to come on over and download away.

Don't let those diminished chords throw ya! They're very much worth the effort to learn and you'll soon "get" them and love their sound.

BTW... I've checked out a lot of your blog entries and notice that in your playlists there's not a lot of ukulele music. Feel free to contact me (via the form on my website) and I'll send you some great suggestions for uke CDs.

You'll find that immersing yourself in uke tunes will make playing them easier.

Also, I checked out your Flickr account and blogged about it myself. Also sent you a friend request on MySpace.

I've got your blog in my RSS aggregator. Keep up the good work!


Gye Greene said...

Well, it's all about the practice, isn't it? ;)

I've heard that lots of small doses of instrument practice are better than big pushes; looks like yer doing just fine in that regard.

I taught myself the guitar (and electric bass): don't worry about the chording vs. the strumming. At a certain point, you'll just **think** a chord, and your left hand will automatically jump to that position. Which leaves all your concentration free for your strumming.

As far as singing on-pitch: Well, actually being aware that you're ''off'' is most of the battle; a pre-requisite, really. You might try singing it higher or lower -- it could be that you're trying to sing outside your natural vocal range.

If all else fails, you can just ''talk-sing'' it, like some of the blues folk. Probably a legitimate work-around for some of the more narrative folk songs, as well.

But, yeah, I know what you mean: I wish **I** had a purty voice, too.