This past semester I set out to learn how to play the ukulele. My original goals were to learn a few basic chords and scales and then maybe learn a song. When I was making these goals I did not know much about the ukulele, quickly after beginning to learn my first two chords I realized that scales are not as commonly practiced on string instruments so decided to jump right into learning a basic song. The first song that I learned how to play only had three chords in it and is a very well known pop song for me and my peers, it was Riptide by Vance Joy. Learning the chords was difficult but it was a challenge that I took on and accomplished, the harder part was definitely learning the strumming pattern.
I decided that instead of trying to perfect every chord transition and strumming pattern, which drove me crazy trying to do, it would be more fun for me to learn a few songs that my friends will be able to sing along to while we are spending time together at the beach. So far I have learned how to play: Riptide, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and Country Roads. Once I learned the basic chords in Somewhere Over the Rainbow it was easy to find other songs which contained these! I think the hardest part of learning a new song, still, is having to learn a new strumming pattern. I found with the last song I learned, which is Country Roads, that if I drew out big arrows on a piece of paper in the direction of the strumming pattern, that it is a great visual cue for me while I am playing!
The hardest song out of the three is definitely Country Roads, I still struggle with some parts of it when I play. This song introduced me to finger plucking the chords as well as doing a strumming for the chorus, i didn’t realize just how challenging putting the two together would be! Even harder than that is try to get my singing to match the song even though I’m finger plucking much slower than the real time. I am very proud of myself for being able to play the song from beginning to end even without singing, so adding singing on top was just the icing on the cake! My playing is far from perfect, however I still wanted to share it to show how far I have come already.
I have been very sick the past few months, I have a had a very bad cough which I am on antibiotics for and the doctors are still figuring out what is wrong. Because of this, it has been really hard for me to practice my singing! It is very rare for me to be able to make it through an entire song without having a full-blown cough attack where it is hard to breathe, but it is so much more fun to sing while I play.
I am so proud of myself and all the work that I have put into learning the ukulele. I was very hesitant at the beginning of the semester because I am not usually very good at self-regulated learning and dedicating time for myself to accomplish tasks. I think because I knew this about myself I put a lot of time in in the beginning so that I could definitely accomplish my goals! Since my midterm reflection video, I am no longer doing ten minutes a day, but I am playing more frequently as a way to relax rather than as a school project that I have to learn. I’ve never experienced playing an instrument for fun or simply laying down and thinking “I want to be playing an instrument” was not only a super weird lifestyle change for me but it has also helped me drastically reduce my screen time and get a better nights sleep!
I am thinking of buying a ukulele of my own this summer. My dad was so excited when he found out the songs I was learning that he pulled out his old guitar and learned the same ones. When I go back to my parents house to visit on holidays him and I are going to have our own little jam session, and I am so excited to be able to make these memories with my father thanks to this course.
This whole process has helped me to learn more about myself and my own learning habits, as well as has forced me to reflect that everyone learns in very different ways at varying rates. A large group of us set out to learn to play the ukulele over the past few months and everyone has accomplished different skills. Some are off writing their own songs and singing, some have learned a song, and others are proud that they were able to learn three basic chords! This whole project helped to put me back in the shoes of the learning rather than the instructor. It will definitely help me when I am creating lesson plans and assignments. Now when I am figuring out what to do for assessment or for projects I will be sure to try and create a place for all learners as well as allow them to practice regulating their learning in order to create proper study habits for the future!