I joke to my husband that every time we walk into this store, Australia’s leading retailer of music, video, home theatre, communication and computer gadgetry, their share price goes up. Every time we leave the store empty-handed, the share price goes down.
So while my husband was showing me the ‘Sound Bar’ he wants, my eye spied a stack of ukuleles on sale.
I picked one up and strummed it.
“I want it,” I said to him.
“Are you serious?” he asked.
I shrugged my shoulders. I really wanted a cloud storage solution but was that going to get me off the computer and learning something new? Besides it was going to cost me over $400 compared to this red ukulele, a bargain at $26.
So I bought it.
I always like to learn something new and novel. This year I decided to be mindful of the time spent in front of the computer wasting time and focussing this time more on something more manually productive and rewarding – actually using my hands to learn a new skill or hobby. It also helped reading and viewing posts by Joyce Seitzinger (@catspyjamasnz) and George Aranda (@popsciguyoz) on their playing and how much enjoyment they got out of this little instrument. I also believe the anticipation of going to Hawaii in June also played a big factor.
So although learning to play an instrument was never on my ‘To Do’ list for 2014, it made a surprising entry and I’m happy to admit that it’s a delight to play – when it’s tuned properly.
So as a new learner of an instrument what did I do first?
I turned to my own friends and family on Facebook first to see if anyone could help me out….and sure enough Joyce Seitzinger (@catspyjamasnz) came to the rescue and offered some suggestions for chords to learn.
Then, I did the following:
- Downloaded an app that helps you tune a ukelele from iTunes
- Viewed a YouTube video “Tuning the Ukulele” by Ukulele Mike (as suggested by Joyce Seitzinger)
- Then I tuned my little red ukelele
So far so good.
Next I had to learn the strumming patterns. Nothing too onerous so I went back onto YouTube and watched UkeTricks “5 Effective Strumming Patterns” and practiced those for an hour until I was getting my down, ups all in order.
Throughout the practice session, I wondered if I should be using the pick because my finger was getting sore so I decided to use that and also try to learn some chords.
Back to YouTube I went and this time, I watched chirpy JustinGuitar and his video called “Get Started on Ukulele, Easy Strumming, Chords and Songs!” and played along with him. I watched the video about 4 or 5 times just going back, listening, watching, stopping, practicing and doing it all over again.
The chords I learned were the C, A-, F and G. I continued to practice for another couple of hours just playing these and making sure my fingers went to where they had to go. Admittedly I did struggle with the G but this morning, after another couple of hours of practice, I feel as if my fingers are more nimble however I realised that the instrument does seem to go out of tune easily.
It’s a worry when the music you play does not sound as fluid and lovely as your You Tube teachers.
After a while, I accidentally lost my pick into the hole and I took it as a sign that it was time to stop – besides I heard an audible sigh of relief in the next room by my husband. Losing ones pick in the hole must be the lament of many beginners playing this instrument.
So back to my own ‘learning network’ who told me that I shouldn’t be using a pick! How was I to know this??
This must be the lament of many music teachers out there who have people like me try to learn things from YouTube and possibly picking up bad habits that they don’t know that they’re picking up!
I believe that as humans we need to be constantly learning new things to keep our minds and bodies active. Tools like the Google and YouTube have made it possible because they open up so many possibilities to learn and be inspired from a world of people who share the same interests, hobbies and passions.
No one put this instrument into my hand and forced me to take a class – it was purely driven by self motivation and using my networks to be able to steer me in the right direction and find the right tools to guide me along the path. I used the tools that I had at my disposal, a book, YouTube, Google and my networks to learn.
But the real eye opener for me this weekend was that how these tools equalise everyone regardless of their age, gender, race, culture or creed – where everyone can be a teacher, a learner, an observer and a contributor. True peer networks for learning at their best. Now why can’t we use these same concepts in corporate learning?
This little bloke was a real winner for me this weekend….
I want to play like him when I grow up.
Photo Source (Carousel Front Page): http://www.flickr.com/photos/h4ck/308541164/
Photo Source (this page): By Tijuana Brass, Honoluly http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ukulele_wall.jpg