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Ukettante
11-23-2015, 07:40 PM
Because of my family responsibilities, I can't practice much at home in the evening. So I'm left with lunch break and a brief afternoon break at work. I give half of my lunch hour to eating and the other half to practicing, doing both in my small, windowless office. In the afternoon, I practice for about 15 minutes in the stairwell of the office building, which is also windowless, poorly lit, sweltering in the summer and frigid in wintertime. And every step I take in a different direction changes the acoustics. Neither spot is ideal for practicing a musical instrument, but I persevere, because I got no other time. It did occur to me to round up some musical people in the office for a group practice session or sing-along just to spice up my practice time, but I work in a staid law firm, and getting rowdy or just loud in the office is frowned upon. I count myself lucky that so far no one has knocked on my door to say: Keep it down, will ya? Or the building security hasn't told me to "cut it out" in the stairwell.

Anybody in a similar situation? Or everybody's practice space is cozier than mine?

TaoCat
11-23-2015, 08:50 PM
The usual entirety of my practice time is in the car, waiting to pick up the kids from school. Because of the lines, I usually have close to a half-hour of practice, unless the dreaded cell phone leash interferes. This is my time to practice, doing bits that are repetitive and not ready for prime time.

I manage to extend my playing, if not practice time, by playing with my kids, and now some of their friends. Three of my four kids play some uke, and the fourth is expressing interest. Life is pretty good. Can your family duties involve the uke in some way?

kissing
11-23-2015, 10:40 PM
Surely you get some spare time in your own home in the evening. If it's noise that is the concern, say hello to solid body electric ukuleles!

pritch
11-23-2015, 10:56 PM
If it's noise that is the concern, say hello to solid body electric ukuleles!

That would be my suggestion. And it's a good excuse to buy another ukulele.

Ukettante
11-23-2015, 11:41 PM
I gotta look after not one but two 16-month-old babies. Last night was typical. Wolfed down dinner so I could bathe the kids one after another, break up fights, read stories, feed them, get them ready for their bed time, which is 9:30, and then prepare solids for the next day, do the dishes, clean up the kitchen, wash milk bottles, take out the trash, fold the clean laundry, etc. By the time I was just about done with all the chores and ready for a hot shower to wind down before I turn in, one of the babies puked all over himself and the bed. So I was up until well past midnight. The babies don't puke every night, but every night, if it's not one thing, it's another. That's why I can't practice at home. Not anymore. Haha. And being a father of two kids, I gotta watch after my finances, which means a self-imposed ban on uke-buying. For now.

But it's good to hear TaoCat practices in his car. I'm not alone. Yay!

Croaky Keith
11-24-2015, 12:46 AM
I guess being retired gives me the opportunity to practice wherever & whenever I like, but I never seem to.
I'm always finding other things to do, like the computer, which is still my main pastime, & I'm also trying to learn to play the harmonica.

Practicing is less appealling than doing something you know how to do, so I'm quite erratic when it does come to practicing, but spend anything between 15 mins & 30 mins at a time.

As to where I normally practice, in my bedroom, (sometimes the kitchen).

:cool:

rappsy
11-24-2015, 01:55 AM
I practice while my wife is reading. When she is reading, I could be on fire and she wouldn't notice as she is so absorbed, so note after note of bad playing does nothing to disturb her... :agree:

whistleman123
11-24-2015, 01:58 AM
Does anyone build a "practice" uke. Jusr a neck/fret board with tuners attached to a solid body. No electronics. No hollow body. Just for quiet practice.

Sanfe
11-24-2015, 02:39 AM
I gotta look after not one but two 16-month-old babies. Last night was typical. Wolfed down dinner so I could bathe the kids one after another, break up fights, read stories, feed them, get them ready for their bed time, which is 9:30, and then prepare solids for the next day, do the dishes, clean up the kitchen, wash milk bottles, take out the trash, fold the clean laundry, etc. By the time I was just about done with all the chores and ready for a hot shower to wind down before I turn in, one of the babies puked all over himself and the bed. So I was up until well past midnight. The babies don't puke every night, but every night, if it's not one thing, it's another. That's why I can't practice at home. Not anymore. Haha. And being a father of two kids, I gotta watch after my finances, which means a self-imposed ban on uke-buying. For now.

But it's good to hear TaoCat practices in his car. I'm not alone. Yay!

Been there, done that, albeit one at a time, not two simultaneously.

If volume is an issue, then stuff some sort of sponge under the strings near the bridge. This way, you can work on your right-hand strumming technique too.

For me, it was more of a larger issue of self-identity. I came in as me, then when my kids were born, I was no longer me. Outside forces were preventing me from doing what I used to do. I mean, you're struggling to find time to play the ukulele? That seems like a low. For me, something more basic like SLEEP was taken from me.

What was my approach? (You're not going to like this.) Kids and family come first, therefore, I gave up everything. But, you can't be an effective father if you lose your sanity. So, the little ukulele-playing time you're putting in is important.

At 16 months, man, you're not out of the woods yet. They're going to require ALL of your attention. It's almost a miracle you have any time at all for yourself. Rest assured, what you're going through is completely natural.

Here's something that was told to me when I was younger, and I wish I heeded to it then, but it's never too late. "The more hard work you put in earlier, the less you have to later."

So, at 16 months, there's nothing you can do but what you're doing now. They are SUPPOSED to take up ALL of your time - otherwise you're not doing it right. The struggle you're going through now will be a point of pride later and will build character too. Just don't overdo this daddy-thing or get stuck in it because this stage eventually develops into something else which will require a different aspect of you to step up.

In the future, when the kids can play on their own without you hovering over them, you can take them to the park, find a bench, strum away, and keep an eye on your kids at the same time. Just put in the time now to raise kids that won't require you to hover them all the time.

Good luck, man. You're not alone. Daddies have been around forever.

good_uke_boy
11-24-2015, 02:46 AM
Does anyone build a "practice" uke. Jusr a neck/fret board with tuners attached to a solid body. No electronics. No hollow body. Just for quiet practice.

As far as I know, RISA's solid-body ukes are closest to what you describe. They do have passive pickups, though.
https://www.ukulele.de/shop4/en/risa-uke-solid-concert-geared-tuners

ukulelekarcsi
11-24-2015, 03:01 AM
Playing really quite can be a good practice as well - muting and so.

actadh
11-24-2015, 03:21 AM
I try to play as a decompression time when I get home from work for about an hour. Doesn't always happen, though.

My husband turns in several hours before me. I rarely go to sleep before 1am. He is usually asleep by 10pm. The Martin OXK is good for really quiet playing. Or, I will go out to my travel trailer - parked beside the house - and play after he goes to bed. I also do a lot of uke playing in the bathroom after taking my evening shower, dressing for bed, brushing my teeth etc as I usually can't fall asleep. He can't hear me play there as it is at the opposite end of the house.

Rllink
11-24-2015, 03:49 AM
My sister-in-law is a musician, and she has played guitar and mandolin for as long as I have known her. She has played in bluegrass bands, and done all sorts of things. When her kids were little, even when they were babies, she played and sang for them. She said that it kept them quiet. I would be over there visiting my brother, and she would be sitting there watching them, and strumming away, practicing songs, and singing to the kids. The kids loved it, and when they got a little older, she would find them little instruments, little kazoos or drums, or even sticks to hit together, and they would put on concerts in the back yard. They would pretend that they had a huge audience, and they would even get up and bow after each song. Those kids were surrounded by music all their childhood, and only the youngest, who is the youngest by fourteen years, became a musician herself. But I guess what I suggest is that you do the same. Why can't you play your ukulele for your kids? If you read them books, you can play them songs. I don't know, but it seems to be a great way to spend time with the kids, entertain them, and still play your uke.

ukuleleden
11-24-2015, 03:55 AM
I have the same advantage as Laura does. We have an RV parked on our RV parking pad behind our driveway in the rear our home. If for whatever reason playing in the house becomes unreasonable, I simply walk out to my backyard and go into the RV and play my ukulele as long as I want with no one being "inconvenienced"...

kohanmike
11-24-2015, 06:36 AM
It did occur to me to round up some musical people in the office for a group practice session or sing-along just to spice up my practice time, but I work in a staid law firm, and getting rowdy or just loud in the office is frowned upon.

Don't be so adverse to looking for other players in your office; I'm the staff photographer for the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic and Big Band of Barristers. Those people are some great musicians who became lawyers when being a musician was not enough of an income.

Fleacia
11-24-2015, 06:46 AM
I hear you on the little ones. But they are not going away, just changing, so it's best, if you want to do something (uke playing), to find a way now. Or else you never will! My solution was to sing songs and/or tell stories with the uke at bed time. I also kept a uke in the kitchen, and whether I could play or not, it was a reminder that hey, there are other fun things I want to do in this life... :o Whatever it is, I hope you find something that works for you and your family!

Ukejenny
11-24-2015, 06:51 AM
Because of my family responsibilities, I can't practice much at home in the evening. So I'm left with lunch break and a brief afternoon break at work. I give half of my lunch hour to eating and the other half to practicing, doing both in my small, windowless office. In the afternoon, I practice for about 15 minutes in the stairwell of the office building, which is also windowless, poorly lit, sweltering in the summer and frigid in wintertime. And every step I take in a different direction changes the acoustics. Neither spot is ideal for practicing a musical instrument, but I persevere, because I got no other time. It did occur to me to round up some musical people in the office for a group practice session or sing-along just to spice up my practice time, but I work in a staid law firm, and getting rowdy or just loud in the office is frowned upon. I count myself lucky that so far no one has knocked on my door to say: Keep it down, will ya? Or the building security hasn't told me to "cut it out" in the stairwell.

Anybody in a similar situation? Or everybody's practice space is cozier than mine?

I salute you for keeping at it even though time and space are hard to come by. I pick both my kids up from school in the afternoons, and there is at least a 30 minute wait in the first car line. I pull up, turn off the engine and practice. I also play at home, but I teach music lessons and play in a wind ensemble, so I do a lot of flute and clarinet playing at home. My designated "practice time" seem to happen more often in car line.

jgarber
11-24-2015, 06:52 AM
I gotta look after not one but two 16-month-old babies.

You have a good attitude anyway. I am a few decades from where you are but I bet your babies would love for your to play for them and sing. Hey, at 16 months they can sing along. Could be part of the bedtime ritual. Sing a few songs, read a few stories, a little snuggling, a little puke :) a lot of love. Maybe it is not practice but music is love and kids love music. I bet they love it.

UncleMoon
11-24-2015, 04:21 PM
I play every time I take my dog outside. She and I go out in the back yard, I play a song, and she does her business.

JulianUker
11-24-2015, 05:33 PM
I usually practice the last hour before I go to bed in the bedroom. I close the door so I don't bother the wife with my horrific singing, LOL.

fitncrafty
11-24-2015, 06:00 PM
I hear your pain. I have teenagers and a husband. I always feel like I am inconveniencing them. The teens don't talk to me for days, but he minute I pick up an instrument they are interested in talking. My husband turns up the TV. It is hard I hear you. Some how I push through and find a few minutes here and there. I am certain I would be at a different level of playing if there was a supportive family here!

The good news is those babies will grow and you will cherish the time they were little. Good luck I hope that they grow to love hearing you play music so they will join you!

UkieOkie
11-24-2015, 06:26 PM
Practice might be a stretch, but I own my own business, so I play all of the time around the office and at home in the evenings.

maxmax
11-24-2015, 09:33 PM
With the uke, I play pretty much everywhere at home. My wife doesn't mind, she says she doesn't really notice (she has absolutely no interest in music, never listens to any kind of music). My four year old doesn't seem to mind either. She likes when I play the theme songs to her favourite shows, but other than that she doesn't notice much.

My one year old absolutely loves it though! I got a cheap uke for the kids that they can mess around with (mostly so leave my ukes alone) and as soon as I start playing, he goes and gets his. He lays it on the floor and kind of aggressively smacks the strings. Sometimes I wonder if he's actually mocking me, but I like to see it as he's trying to play along. I've been on fathers leave since July and will go back to work after New Years, so I've had a lot of time playing the uke with him. From a very early age, I could tell that he is much more interested in music than his older sister.

When practising the banjo however, I go out to the sauna when the kids are asleep.

fretie
11-25-2015, 03:52 AM
I play first thing in the morning, often before the dawg or wife get up. Playing my soprano out in the living room doesn't seem to bother anyone and it's such a calming way to start my day.

Tootler
11-25-2015, 05:11 AM
I go upstairs to the spare bedroom (which is no longer a bedroom) while my wife and daughter are downstairs watching TV. I don't watch that much TV these days, I'd rather be playing.

Jon Moody
11-25-2015, 05:18 AM
I play/practice at work, in my office. Usually whenever I feel the inkling to do so.

Ukettante
11-25-2015, 06:53 PM
Thanks for the encouragement to this sleep-deprived father of twins. Yes, I'm proud of what I'm doing for my babies. Wouldn't have it any other way. I tried giving them a cheap ukulele to see what would happen. In the beginning all they did was yank on the strings. But weeks later, they're starting to pluck the strings, realizing a gentle touch is all that's needed to produce sound. My son in particular can't get enough of it.

Again, very reassuring to find out how non-professional musicians like me practice at home. Inspiring to hear how everyone tries to work the uke into their daily routine. I thought I'd be hearing about "(wo)man caves." I marvel at people who seem able to do it all: work, kids, wife/husband, practice a lot, videotape self, edit and upload clips to Youtube, have a vibrant social life outside of uke, etc. Wow, just wow.