The fifth song that I chose to learn this semester is Here Comes the Sun. When I originally picked this piece I did not pick it for the music, I simply enjoy the song. I thought it would fun to know how to play and that my friends and I could all sing it this summer around a campfire. As I started to look over the music for it, however, I realized it is actually a very intricate song! Not only was there a new chord that I would be learning, but the piece also contains three different plucking patterns as well as a strumming pattern. It was the hardest song I have tried to learn how to play.
I worked at it bit by bit every single day. I found that if I started by only learning chunks at a time I would put a lot less pressure on myself. I began by playing through the song with the strumming pattern only. This helped me to get used to the chord transitions and playing the new chord of D. After this, I added in the first riff which comes right after the G chord in the first line. I do not know why this was as hard as it was, but I am not used to having to control my ring finger that much. It took a lot of practice and I still do not get it every time. After this, I learned the longest riff of the song. This required a lot more finger movement but I picked it up a lot quicker because it is mostly plucking. After that was the hardest one. I am still working on perfecting it because it is something that I have never tried before. The third riff is played while strumming, so I am not even sure if you can call it a riff. You strum down normally, but on every up you only pluck the one string. I can not play this one at full speed yet. I started learning it by just practicing playing the riff (without integrating the strumming). Once I was able to play that, I started doing it with the strumming.
I cannot sing and play this one yet, I have recently started trying to sing with it but have not successfully done so all the way through. Regardless, I am extremely proud of myself for learning what I set out to on my adapted plan. It took a lot of hard work and I am excited to play them for my friends. I have even been facetiming my parents to show them everything that I have learned. The way this semester is ending is definitely abnormal, but I am still excited that I got to go to school for the beginning of it. Moving forwards, I think it is important to remember that learning can be done in a lot of different settings. Just because a Student is not in class does not mean that they are not learning. Another thing for me to remember is that a student is never too old to want to show their parents what they have learned.
In February I began being treated for Lyme disease. It was caught early enough that it should go away soon but made me extremely tired. I continued with my regular school and work days but found it to be very difficult to do extra tasks. I decided to cut down the number of songs that I had originally intended on learning because I did not want to push myself too hard. The song I chose to cut was titled, One Man Band and it was a song that I was really looking forward to playing. It is one of my favourite songs, however, it has a very difficult plucking pattern and contained a lot of new chords. I chose to cut this one for a couple of reasons, however, the main one is that I want to learn to play this song when I am in the right space mentally. It would no longer be fun for me if I was being pushed past my breaking point to be able to play it.
Throughout February I started to learn the song You Are My Sunshine. I was already familiar with the chords in the song so it was not too difficult. I chose to do a DDU DDU strumming pattern to add a bit of groove to the song. The song is quite slow so the hardest part about playing the song is not speeding up. Sometimes when I am playing it I get excited and start to play extremely fast, but when this happens it ruins the song! I learned that I have to tap my foot or my knee to try and keep the same tempo. This helps me to slow down but will sometimes throw me off my playing. It took a lot of practice to do both at once.
I decided to sing along to this one because I feel like it ties the whole piece together. Even though my singing may not be perfect, it adds a bit more happiness to the song. I have played it a few times with my roommate and she and I had lots of fun singing along also! This song has helped me to remember how much fun playing the ukulele can be. It is one that I will remember for a long time and keep in my back pocket for when I am teaching!
My experience with this over the past month has taught me some valuable lessons that I will bring with me into the classroom. Just because someone seems to be doing well on the outside does not mean that they are on the inside. It is important to remember that our students are doing the best they can and dealing with a lot. I found it hard to let go of some responsibilities, but in the end, it helped me grow.
I’ve been putting off writing this because in my mind I always want my reflections to be positive. I want to showcase and document my learning with a couple of sprinkles of what I am still practicing. Unfortunately, the negatives outweigh a lot of the positives this time, but I am still proud of what I have accomplished so far!
One thing that I am proud of so far is that I am able to slowly play my first three songs while properly holding my ukulele! I practiced for at least ten minutes a day five days a week and it is really helping. I have so much fun playing “Let it Be” because I don’t have to think too much when I play. I found that I have to be careful that I am not getting carried away with the fun and speeding up halfway through.
“Hallelujah” was the hardest song for me to learn so far because of the plucking pattern. I can’t quite do it without thinking yet, sometimes I think that I can but then my fingers get really jumbled up and do not know what they are supposed to be plucking. I have found that the hardest part of this song, for me, is transitioning to and from the E minor chord. I think it is because of the way I am holding my ukulele. I am not squeezing it hard enough with my right arm which means that my left hand has some support (so when I go to move my left hand to transition between chords it just drops). There were a lot of times where I just dropped my ukulele mid-song because it slipped during the transition. I have been practicing singing along to the song as well but find that I make a lot more mistakes with my playing when I do this. This is the reason that I am not singing in the video.
I was really excited to play “Fix You” because its one of my favourite songs. It would usually have to be played using a capo but because I do not have one it sounds really off. I find it really difficult to sing along to it in this key. I also think it would sound a lot more similar to the song if I had used a plucking pattern, but could not find one online. I am able to play the song to a level that I am proud of, but do not have a lot of fun playing it.
I am going to keep working on getting comfortable holding my ukulele, doing the chord transitions, and even more new plucking patterns. For the next songs that I have set off to learn there are new chords that I will have to learn. I am definitely getting nervous that I have bitten off more than I can chew, but I know that I am doing my best and that is the best that I can do. Hopefully, if I keep on with my regular practice schedule I will be able to at least achieve some of my goals!
For my passion project last year I decided to learn the ukulele. I went into this passion project this term pretty confident that I would be able to learn six new songs because I was under the impression that I already knew the basics. That thought was short-lived. On the first day that we ukulele in class, I learned that I do not hold my ukulele properly. When I played I would always rest the instrument gently on my leg, this helped me to keep my wrists loose when I was strumming and transitioning between chords. I have found that with the new way we’re supposed to hold it, hugging it against my chest, the chords that I mastered last year are now more difficult than before. This new holding position is extremely discouraging because I can barely even strum a C chord.
I have spent the past two to three weeks practicing scales and riptide in the new holding position. I have yet to start my new songs because I have found it difficult to think about holding and playing at the same time. Yesterday I was able to successfully hold my ukulele and play riptide for the first time! It felt really good to be able to do this but it is now time to learn my new songs. I am extremely nervous to try new strumming patterns and finger plucking patterns. I’ve decided to start with the three songs that have chords I already know. I think this will help me to focus on what my right hand is doing and holding the ukulele without having to have a huge worry about my left hand’s finger placement.
There is a lot let to do and I am really worried about the goals that I have set. Hopefully, now that I have mostly figured out how to hold my ukulele I will progress at a quicker pace. I am really excited to start trying songs that I have not played yet and can sing along to.
For the past two weeks I have been leaving positive messages around campus and town to help anyone who sees them to have a good day. For the first week I wrote notes on pieces of paper and put them onto cars around our campuses parking lot. It’s a stressful time of year for university students, everyone is scrambling to finish midterms while also trying to begin studying for upcoming finals! I figured after a long day of school it would be very exciting to come back to your car and see something kind on your window. What I didn’t think of is that when you’re approaching your car and you see a piece of paper on it, a car owners mind immediately jumps to two things :
1: I got a parking ticket
2. Someone hit my car and left a note with their details
Now obviously I didn’t mean to scare people into thinking their day was ruined more, but I did it on some of my friends cars and their said it was too much of a rollercoaster of emotions for them to be super worried and then just read a little note! So I decided to try something new the following week.
Week two of positive messages I wrote kind words on rocks and placed them around campus and around town. This was a fun art project that i was able to include my friends into and was also very visually appealing. I thought this would be a great way to spread positivity throughout the community without leading people to think of the financial burden associated with car mishaps.
The rocks were cute, and when people saw them they definitely liked them… but they were a lot harder for most people to see. In general when someone is walking they’re not looking directly down on the ground, which is something I didn’t think of because I never think of how we walk I just simply walk. So this one worked pretty well, however, I knew I wanted to do better for my final week.
Week three of positivity was a hit. I went back to campus and decided to aim this one directly at students who are running out of money, stressed with exams, and struggling to get to class on time. In my room I have a jar of change, I don’t often spend change when it’s given to me so I end up putting it into a mason jar and never knew what to do with it! I decided that I would put little bit of change into individual plastic bags (I know plastic.. I am sorry for the environment impact) and then I hung these bags on parking meters around campus.
This is something that definitely excited students, made their days, and encouraged them to go through their day with the “pass it on” attitude.
QR codes are a useful tool for teachers to use when creating handouts and worksheets. They are small square boxes which, when scanned, bring the reader to an external link. The codes are quite easy to create as there are many websites which will generate them for you! All you have to do when making them is attach the link or file that you are wanting the code to bring your students to and then click “go”. The website will then generate a code for you which you can copy, paste, or print to wherever you would like!
In the classroom this is an awesome way to link tutorials onto complicated math problems, audio clips onto readings, and even youtube videos for extra information/visual aides! And example of this could be on a complicated question from a math homework sheet. Attached to the question and be a code which will show students how to do the problem if they get stuck.
If you have followed my other blog posts you may have seen the one under the “Open Inquiry” tab titled “Placemaking”. When a group or my peers and I created a handout for faculty and parents about the positive impact of peacemaking, we added a QR code at the bottom which would bring them to an interactive map of popular placemaking sites around Victoria. If you are intrigued by QR codes and are now wanting to try one out, feel free to give that one a shot and experience some of the beautiful art that this city has to offer. This is placed above!