Saturday, June 27, 2015

To Have and To Hold

Since picking up the ukulele a couple of months ago, I’ve been fairly diligent about setting aside time to play most days.

The Scarborough Uke Jam (SUJ) is great  because I can play along and mostly people turn a forgiving eye and ear to my learners’  gaffes.  Blog TO mentions it as one of the Top 5 places to learn ukulele in Toronto.

I've been enjoying learning how to play this accessible instrument, but mostly I've been trying to teach myself via books and the internet. You Tube has been such a magic treasure chest, with Ukulele MikeCynthia Lynn, Ukulele Play Along, and some very talented players to inspire.

I wanted to accelerate my learning a bit, so signed up for a beginners workshop in June, taught by Paul B., the same person who leads the SUJ.

There is a saying, “practise makes permanent” and it’s true. My self-taught persistence has ingrained habits that are proving hard to break. At the first session of the workshop, Paul B. pointed out to me that how I was holding the ukulele neck with my left hand could make it difficult to change chords without a pause. When I tried the new position it seemed obvious why it would work better, but try as I might, I keep sliding back to the old fingering.

Here’s some good online advice I’ve come across about holding the instrument:
- Paul B. on You Tube giving a demo (he was the instructor at the beginners workshop and leads the Uke Jam at the Stone Cottage)
- holding exercises ("you don't want to be thinking about gravity when you should be thinking about music.")

So I am trying to bring the same level of awareness I’ve developed in yoga to how I hold the ukulele, but it is frustrating to have to continually remind myself to reposition the left hand. Lately, more than once I have fantasized about taking my cute little soprano and smashing it to bits, rock star style. Then I take a deep breath and remind myself about non-violence and non-attachment and try to refocus on the music.

After all, it’s about the music, right? Relax, find the notes, feel the rhythm.  

As to the question of how to hold the uke, the most important thing is to pick it up in the first place.

No comments: