So why learn to play an instrument and why the ukulele?
I always wanted to be able to play an instrument. I decided that this year, I would learn it. Why do I think it is important to put a little bit of music into my life each day? As I see it you can split all the tasks of your day into two categories. “Have to do” and “want to do”. The “have to” category contains things that we right now see as a necessary evil. Something we don’t really enjoy but have no choice but to do, and hence the burden of ‘having to’ will kick in. It could be paying the bills, working at a job we despise, visiting people we don’t like, mowing the lawn, etc. Then there is the other category of “want to”. Things that we like to do and things that we find playful. Dancing, playing, singing, or whatever we feel a pull againsts. It is very individual. As adults it is very easy to get into a routine with too many “have to” activities. So I try to get a better balance by introducing a little more playfulness into my life. Playing an instrument definitely falls into the playful “want to” category and is something I look forward to each day. It gives me a small break and fuels me with energy for the “have to” tasks. I highly recommend it!
So why the ukulele?
1. It is cheap to acquire.
I paid 50 EUR for a brand new concert (medium size) ukulele, including a bag to carry it on my back like a small backpack. It looks great and sounds absolutely fine. So it was pretty cheap to get started. If I at some point becomes frustrated and smash the poor thing into the wall and turn it into a thousand toothpicks, it will not cost me an arm and a leg. As I will only be using free online resources to learn, there will be no additional cost.
2. It is small, lightweight and does not require a power source.
The weight is only 850 grams and it is small enough to bring as a carry-on on a flight. That enables me to bring it when I travel without extra cost or worry that it will be kicked around by the baggage handlers. Because it is so light and small, there is a much greater chance of me bringing it to a friends house, on a trip to the beach, or a walk in the park. I have done that already on several occasions. That would not happen often with a guitar, a piano, or a set of drums.
3. It will be fairly fast and easy to get started.
I really hope this turns out to be true! A guitar has six strings and an ukulele only has four. In my eyes that has to make it less complicated. .. Right? Besides the thread board is narrow and short. It is very easy for me to reach all the strings without straining my wrist. It is not the same for the guitar, at least not for me, as my left wrist is a little less mobile than my right, due to an old motorcycle injury.
What resources do I use and how is my routine?
Until now, I have just been using the free version of Yousician. It is a pretty cool program, actually.
I will not play much more than 20 minutes per day. I don’t want my neighbors to complain and put me on the street. I set a reminder for every day at 20.00, and then I do my 20 minutes then at the latest. However, most days I do it earlier, usually in the afternoon. If it is a sunny day, I bring the uke with me on a walk and play it outside.
I have been playing consistently every day, and something unexpected happened. My neighbor started playing his guitar as well and he is not the only one. I hope we can make a small concert on our balconies in the upcoming summer. It is actually much more fun playing than I imagined and I look forward to it every day. Because it is so little time, I actually want to play more. I prefer to stop before I have had enough to keep that pull effect and keep it consistent and practice with ease every day. There is always time and energy for 20 minutes, no matter how tired I feel. Playing is really fun and relaxing. It has become a really nice break from my busy schedule. You should try it!
Will 20 minutes a day, every day, get me playing in just a year?
I will probably never be done learning, but I think it is going pretty good actually. You can be the judge. Not matter what, I am having a ton of fun learning. Here is a short video of my progress after four months. I am playing many level 3 songs fairly ok at this point. The video is an example of a full uncut daily training session, errors and all. This gives you a clear view of the actual time used with the daily free playtime available on Yousician, and my true current level as well. Enjoy!