Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The First Open Mic

Tonight I did my first open mic, and I had the pleasure of doing it with my 9 year-old daughter, Rachel. We were at the Parkside Grill in Stinson Beach which has an open mic Tuesday nights. Didn't know what to expect and was just a LITTLE nervous about it all. However, after a glass of wine at dinner time, I was ready to go! Also, it was great to have the encouragement of my husband, Dave, and my daughter. I was particularly thrilled to have her do this with me. First, we did "Mynah Bird," which is sung to the tune of "Yellow Bird." We got a bit of applause as we rushed back to our table. Emboldened by our success, we planned our next song, "Maui Girl." Rachel sang with her melodic voice (she actually is quite musical) while I played and sang. But even better, Rachel played "Brand New Key" while we both sang. I watched proudly! OK, now I'm plotting our next open mic and we are coming up with a name for our "band."

As an aside, while I have nothing against the kids learning the recorder in school (Rachel just started this year), it is not my favored instrument for kids. As uke legend, Ukulele Ray says, take the recorders out of their mouths and put ukes in their hands, and then they can sing at the same time. My good friend tells me that in Latin America kids in school routinely learn the guitar. Hmmm...I've toyed with a teaching career...substitute taught science and math at the middle school level. Maybe I should teach an after-school music class on the 'ukulele??

Monday, August 20, 2007

It All Begins Here...

It all started back in April (or so) of 2006. Bought a basic little 'ukulele at the auction from my daughter's school. What can I say? It was a good deal so what did I have to lose? But what people didn't realize was that in all those trips to Hawaii I'd been coveting one for oh so many years...yes, and I was a huge Iz fan. But to own and play one myself? I mean, really, I already had an incredible piano and didn't play that all so much. But 'ukulele promised so much more...it was portable so I could bring it wherever I went and regale folks with my musical prowess (ha!)

Taught myself a few chords/licks and proceeded to forget them all as life got in the way over the Fall of 2006. Then 2007 came around and all my dreams came true: a beginner's uke class nearby. By the summer I'd learned most of the chords in their basic positions...now I was yearning for even more: to fingerpick and play chords down the neck. But even worse and much to my family's dismay, the obsession had now begun.

What obsession? I now spent every free moment surfing the internet and YouTube looking for ukulele tutorials, chord charts and trivia.

OK, so maybe there was one profitable moment in all of this in the late Spring...my third-grade daughter needed to do a design-your-own homework project (don't ask!) I ixnayed the first idea for a project as it involved my help with cooking. (If you know me, cooking is SO not my forte.) Shrewdly redirecting her to my already prodigious number of bookmarked 'ukulele websites, we redesigned the project to be about 'ukuleles. Luckily she really took to the idea and learned the basic I, IV, V7 chord progression to play "Brand New Key" for her class. Was a HUGE hit. The accompanying dessert, however, wasn't so much of a hit (see what I mean about my culinary skills?)

In June got to perform with my teacher's other students as part of Pa Mele 'O Hokulea Ukulele Academy at the Northern California Ukulele Festival. (I'm the second woman from the right, behind the guitarist. And yes, you might need a magnifying glass to see this!) A lotta fun...the performing bug has hit. Now I divide my time between private uke lessons and the Berkeley Ukulele Club.