Over the past month and a half, I have been trying to learn how to play “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on the ukulele. I decided to pick this song to try and challenge myself with more chords, and “a challenge” is definitely an understatement. Learning how to play the chords was not as tricky as I had imagined, however, the hardest part of the instrument proved to be getting the strumming pattern while playing the chords in sequence. I think that considering I had never picked up a ukulele until mid-January, my progress is coming along quite well! I haven’t been able to master singing along with it yet, but that is going to be my next step! There are still some transitions between chords that are rocky, and I can’t always nail the song on the first try, but I am very proud of how far I have come. The first time I was able to play the song from beginning to end I felt like a little kid again! I even called my parents and made them listen to me play. That was excitement that I had not experienced in years.
When I first started playing I found myself becoming very easily frustrated. “Why do I have to learn the stupid ukulele anyways” are words that I found myself saying almost every time I picked it up, often with more colorful language added in if I was alone. Once I was finally able to get the strumming pattern with the chords, putting them together to make the song became a fun challenge. I think what motivated me the most was telling people I work with what I was doing, and every shift I would hear them ask “how’s the ukulele coming Mariah?” Now I couldn’t keep telling them that it wasn’t going anywhere, so the stubborn person that I am, I kept practicing until I reached the point where I am at now! I have it written on my wall that I have to practice at least ten minutes a day no if’s, and’s, or but’s.
What I am currently struggling with the most right now is probably the vocals. I haven’t trained my voice to go as high, or as low as this song asks me to so it is really hard for me to sing. If I put all my thoughts onto singing then I mess up my strumming, but if I put all my thoughts on strumming I mess up my singing! Some may say that I am currently stuck between a rock and a hard place, I would say that I am slowly figuring my way out of it. I’ve been trying to practice my vocals on their own in order to train my voice to hit new octaves, however, this past week I have been so sick that singing, in general, is almost out of the question. I’ll start right back up next week, however, might be seen during office hours asking for some tips and tricks to get my voice up that high!
This process is teaching me what it’s like to learn completely new concepts again. Frustrating. This is a feeling that my future students will probably often experience when learning subjects and skills that are foreign to them, and because I am being reminded of this right now, I will be even more diligent in providing help for those who are struggling. Sometimes it takes a different perspective on the problem in order to fix it! After all the hard work is put in, however, it is amazing to see the final product.