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View Full Version : I'm following my passion now thanks to the Ukulele



ItsAMeCasey
03-18-2012, 06:40 PM
Hey guys, I just thought I'd share a bit about how the ukulele changed the direction of my life. You see, I've had a passion for music ever since I first started playing the tuba in 7th grade. I loved music, and was a band geek all throughout intermediate and high school. I've always dreamed of making music into a career. However, it never seemed like a realistic possibility because of the lack of jobs for music majors and such.

So up until very recently I was going to college to become an elementary school teacher. However, I began to realize that the only thing that brings me TRUE happiness is playing my ukulele. You see, truth be told, I don't have much of a social life. I spend 95% of my free time playing the ukulele or doing other music related things. I guess I have a very obsessive personality, because honestly I play the ukulele 6+ hours a day. I know this is on the verge of unhealthy, but I really can't help it.

So right now I'm at that crucial point in my college career where I have to declare a major, and thanks to the ukulele I've made up my mind that I'm doing music. The ukulele has shown me a different side of the musical spectrum, and it is allowing me to express myself in the only way in which I feel I can truly do so--through music. And at this point I really can't imagine doing anything else.

I owe a sincere thanks to the ukulele. In a very real sense I found myself through it.

Sorry for the life story haha! Just had to get this out, and I figured all us UU'ers share the same passion. Thanks for taking the time to read :)

Nickie
03-18-2012, 06:50 PM
Hey, Congratulations! The most important thing in life is how we treat ourselves (and others) and part of that is finding and pursuing our true purpose. Go for it, and best wishes, mate! The details will work themselves out, they always do.
And there is nothing perverse about playing for 6 hours a day. I only wish I could!

gyosh
03-18-2012, 06:52 PM
Music teacher!!!

KimosTherapy
03-18-2012, 06:54 PM
Ho, Brah!

I have to say that you are one very talented individual! You definitely made the right decision by following your heart, your dreams, and your passion. I believe in you Brah! And I know you will achieve great things through music! I always say, "ALWAYS CAN!!!" Keep a positive mental attitude, work hard, and you will reach and exceed all of your goals. Wishing you the best and much success!

Aloha,

Kimo

Trinimon
03-18-2012, 07:00 PM
Well making that career making decision is never an easy one to make always wondering in the back of your mind if this is the right thing blah blah blah. Congrats on choosing a major and some advice for later on; no matter the outcome of your decision, don't ever look back and think "what if" 'cause we don't got no crystal ball to see into the future so live it up and enjoy the ride. :)

ItsAMeCasey
03-18-2012, 07:02 PM
@ Nickie: Thanks for the kind words Nickie! Really appreciate it.

@ Gyosh: That's the current plan haha!

@ Kimo: Thanks braddah, really appreciate it. I'm prepared to work my arse off, and am ready for the diffult road that lies ahead. Thanks for believing in me!

ItsAMeCasey
03-18-2012, 07:04 PM
Well making that career making decision is never an easy one to make always wondering in the back of your mind if this is the right thing blah blah blah. Congrats on choosing a major and some advice for later on; no matter the outcome of your decision, don't ever look back and think "what if" 'cause we don't got no crystal ball to see into the future so live it up and enjoy the ride. :)

that's the exact reason why I'm doing music, because I know that if I do anything else I'd looks back in 20 years and think "what if" and what not. Thanks for the kind words.

southcoastukes
03-18-2012, 07:21 PM
... I play the ukulele 6+ hours a day. I know this is on the verge of unhealthy, but I really can't help it....

One of my favorite musicians is the guitarist Joao Gilberto. So dedicated, and with so little to show for it at the beginning, that for years he lived in a series of friends' houses and apartments, with just a few clothes and a donated guitar.

The famous story from one place is that he found the bathroom of one of his friends had inspiring acoustics. He would apparently spend up to 8 hours a day in the bathroom, playing just one note over and over, trying to get all the nuances of the sound.

I wouldn't worry about "unhealthy" because of your practice time. It's bound to lead to something good.

foxfair
03-18-2012, 07:44 PM
Way to go! Casey. Quote this for you: Love what you are doing, so you won't be working another day in your life.

mm stan
03-18-2012, 08:18 PM
Many never persue their loves, in whatever they do..and always have this question..I wonder if I took that path in
my life...follow your dreams and passion and you'll find happiness.. go for it brah..thank you for sharing.

kaizersoza
03-19-2012, 12:13 AM
its always uplifting to read about someone actually doing what they want to do in life because as Stan has mentioned most people don't get the chance or fail to take the chance when it presents itself, good luck for the future Casey

1931jim
03-19-2012, 02:33 AM
Hello ItsAMeCasey,
Decisions decisions. Congratulations on your choice. I once had that ambition also but wife and family and feeding all of us every day got in the way.
1931jim

JamieFromOntario
03-19-2012, 02:54 AM
Good luck with you choice!
I've managed to make a degree in music into a career. Though, it is good to know ahead of time that it can be a challenge to do this.

I remember the t-shirt my school gave me when we all started our music degrees. They had this written on the back:

"Would you like fries with that?"

23skidoo
03-19-2012, 03:36 AM
Casey - as others have said, you've definitely got the talent to do what you want with music. Also - most people I know who actually make a living as a musician supplement their income as private instructors - something you seem to have the capacity to do. Your general demeanor and the way you present yourself in your tutorial videos shows that pretty clearly, I think.

I was a band geek as well (saxophone) and I've always enjoyed playing music. I've played guitar casually for years. I've only started seriously practicing in the last year, trying to get my chops up enough to do something more with the guitar and ukulele than just sit around with my buddies and drink a few beers and strum a few tunes (not that I don't enjoy doing that immensely.....) I'm practicing several hours a day myself, trying to be a 'real' musician - I just wish I'd had the foresight and motivation to do it when I was 19 instead of 37, with two kids and two mortgages and not enough time. I think you're fortunate to have the opportunity and wise to give yourself a chance to pursue what you really love. Even if you end up doing something else, you'll know you tried and you'll be one hell of a ukulele player (not that you aren't already....) Good luck with it, man - keep us posted. And be sure to include Atlanta in your first world tour.....

Mandarb
03-19-2012, 03:42 AM
Casey - congrats on the decision! Good luck.

I am curious about your 6+ hours a day practice time. You seem to learn covers very quickly and they are always amazingly clean. So, how do you spend your practice time? Do you just work on songs or parts of songs?....technique, scales, theory? Is there a structure to your practice?

caukulele
03-19-2012, 04:09 AM
Hey Casey, follow your passion... Life is really very short and you have a passion and talent. I have always been an artist...I have not always been able to make a living just doing my art, but it has always been vital to me, has kept me focused and creative...the challenge as one grows older is sometimes finding the time to do everything.

Olarte
03-19-2012, 04:18 AM
Good for you Casey.

Coming from a family of musicians myself, and not having taken that path 30 years ago, I now regret that decision.

I think you will do great, and perhaps as a college trained musician, you will make a huge impact bringing the Uke to the forefront as the great musical instrument that it is.

I wish you all the best, and know that you will do great!

Ivan

UK Paulie
03-19-2012, 04:26 AM
Hey Casey thanks for sharing that. I feel exactly the same way. I'm older than you and a short whiloe ago I found out that I can't work again due to an injury and life seemed pretty crappy. I guess I was in a bit of a dark place. About 2 or 3 months ago somebody bought me a ukulele (I played guitar already) and I just fell in love with it. It has brought me Joy. Real Joy. I probably practice for a similar amount of time and I love it! Actually, I learnt that technique Kalei uses from your tutorial video so nice one for that! You clearly have alot of talent brother, keep strummin!! Oh and keep the tutorials coming! I'm gonna get good enough to play 'Mach 4' if it kills me! Lol

chris667
03-19-2012, 05:28 AM
You use very harsh terms to describe yourself, and it's a pity. Shall I tell you what we see from the outside?

I've had a passion for music ever since I first started playing the tuba in 7th grade. I loved music, and was a band geek all throughout intermediate and high school.

Passionate

I don't have much of a social life. I spend 95% of my free time playing the ukulele or doing other music related things. I guess I have a very obsessive personality, because honestly I play the ukulele 6+ hours a day.
Dedicated.

I know this is on the verge of unhealthy, but I really can't help it.
Unnecessarily hard on yourself.

Ignorant people write off humanities graduates, but let me assure you in the real world that isn't the case. Music is a language, and people that can speak more than one language have skills that are highly prized by employers. Out of all of my peers, the one who has done the best financially (he's now IT director for a large company) is a music graduate. His job has nothing to do with music, but he has better communication skills than the technical people that work for him so organisationally is more useful.

So don't go thinking you've burned all your bridges by making this choice. Opportunities are always there, people who tell you otherwise are losers.

Bob Bledsoe
03-19-2012, 07:05 AM
Good decision Casey! You definitely have the talent to back up that choice. Don't believe that notion some people hold that if you choose a life in the arts you have to starve. That's only true for people who believe that. I went from making my money as a banker (years ago) to making my money as a comedian. I'm much happier for that career change. That doesn't work for everyone because some people are delusional about their abilities and talents when they choose their art, but as I said before, I think you're more than talented enough to make the move to a career in music. It would be a waste if you became an insurance agent or something, so well done!

ItsAMeCasey
03-19-2012, 07:18 AM
Thanks so much for the encouragement guys. It really means a lot to me to know that people that have seen my work believe that I'm making the right choice.

My father is strongly against the idea of me pursuing music as a career. I don't blame him for wanting me to major in something that'll make me more $, but I don't know how to tell him/convince him that this is what I want... need to do. Many of you folks are older and wiser than myself, so any advice on this problem would be much appreciated.

ItsAMeCasey
03-19-2012, 07:25 AM
Casey - congrats on the decision! Good luck.

I am curious about your 6+ hours a day practice time. You seem to learn covers very quickly and they are always amazingly clean. So, how do you spend your practice time? Do you just work on songs or parts of songs?....technique, scales, theory? Is there a structure to your practice?

Hi Mandarb! I never really thought about how I practice until now haha. Majority of the practice time would be on repertoire, but I do spend a lot of time practicing scales/double picking. I also study a lot of music theory, which I think supplements all other aspects of my playing very nicely. Recently I've been spending a lot of time composing music aswell. Above everything, I just try to get my playing as clean as possible, and try to not just "play" a piece, but play it musically.

Olarte
03-19-2012, 07:31 AM
Your dad is trying to be "realistic" regarding the economy, reality etc... BUT with someone with your talent, drive and motivation, you will be able to make a living.

Like anything else, you can parlay your interest into any part of the spectrum, from the "Starving artist" musician to the "comercial jingle composer" or gig musician and everything in between.

My advise to you would be to continue on to a good music school, and be sure to mix that (double major\minor?) with some type of business or tech oriented field so you can use both and parlay that into both a satisfying and rewarding career.

There is no reason why you could not become profitable since you are starting young, with plenty of drive and talent.

A well educated musician has plenty of opportunities, from orchestras, soloists, compossing\arranging to teaching and publishing. And School will give you a very solid foundation to be a well rounded musician.

With your intereste in Uke in particular, man you have the opportunity to make a great contribution to Music and to the Uke itself.

The road with many paths is there for you to take, and you are just starting out on your journey! enjoy every step of the way.

My family has a mix of musicians from the wannabe's like me returning to music at 45, to professional musicians and teachers from with dergrees Julliard and Boston Conservatory. My niece is a cellist for Cirque du Soleil, and is having both a great career and a blast out in LA.

Regardless of where we all are, one thing is for sure, Music is part of who we are and it's something that cannot be denied. Believe me I denied it for 30 years and was foolish to do so. Luckily I woke up before it was too late and have returned with a vengance.

So plan out your career, but don't forget that a Journey has many different paths to take.

Ivan

RyanMFT
03-19-2012, 07:49 AM
I am really glad to hear you are following this passion Casey!

Many years ago, when I was just out of college I was offered a job in marketing.....selling NFL licensed products. The money would have been really good. Instead, I decided to follow my heart and become a Marriage and Family Therapist. Twenty years on (am I that old?), after a lot of learning, struggles, and very low wages.....I couldn't be happier with my decision. Now, I see clients, run a counseling center, and teach in a master's program.

Many people told me I was crazy not to take the marketing job.....but I go to work every day and my heart knows I am doing the work I am supposed to do, helping people who are suffering, and that is worth a lot.

Keep following your passion for ukulele and doors will open which you couldn't have imagined. The path will unfold as you follow it, and though it is hard to trust in the unknown, you know the most important thing....that you are passionate about this. Do what you love, the money will follow!

Mandarb
03-19-2012, 07:52 AM
Hi Mandarb! I never really thought about how I practice until now haha. Majority of the practice time would be on repertoire, but I do spend a lot of time practicing scales/double picking. I also study a lot of music theory, which I think supplements all other aspects of my playing very nicely. Recently I've been spending a lot of time composing music aswell. Above everything, I just try to get my playing as clean as possible, and try to not just "play" a piece, but play it musically.

Thanks for the feedback on your practice.

As far as the stuff with your Dad....sounds like there is some communication - just keep the lines open to one another. Good luck.

JamieFromOntario
03-19-2012, 08:01 AM
I don't want to rain on your parade, but having a career as a working musician (i.e.: someone who plays music for the livelihood rather than someone who uses their musical skills and knowledge as part of their job) is difficult at the best of times.

I agree with what many others have said on this thread. It will be worth your while to have another skill set on the side, or be prepared to do something not explicitly music related to make money and do music as a hobby/passion. Learn to leverage the money you have and maybe make your living in real estate or through careful investments or entrepreneurship.

I have many friends who are still struggling 5 to 10 years out of some of the best music schools in the world to find jobs that pay more than minimum wage. Also, I think some of the advice on the forum around musicians being employed to gig or play in bands and orchestras needs to be taken with a grain of salt. If you are making ukulele your main instrument, you simply will not have the same opportunities to play in bands/orchestras as, say, a violinist.


All this being said, I think you should go for it. I did a degree in music (vocal performance and music history) followed up by a teaching degree. I use my music everyday as part of the small music education software business I work for. However, had I followed my interest without thought to how I might survive financially, I'd be working for minimum wage with a Phd in Early Music.

the_dude
03-19-2012, 08:47 AM
I'm certainly opening a floodgate here, but I'd like to inject some common sense into the equation.

I do applaud your decision, but want to caution you. I'm 40 years old. I studied fine art in college (at a very good art school) and graduate school (probably the single most highly regarded graduate program) and have had a tough time of it. I have been under- or unemployed for over 2 years now since being laid off from a video game developer (where I was not in a creative role). The art schools I went to emphasized being an artsy-fartsy kind of artist, a "fine artist," not a commercial artist, and I never received any kind of instruction on how to ACTUALLY BE a professional artist. A few of my classmates figured it out, but most did not. I taught at various colleges for a while, bit could never find a permanent job doing that.

Luckily I have a spouse who is very smart and makes a generous salary. Otherwise, I'd be living back in my parents basement with a wife and child.

I would urge you to continue on with your plan, but also STRONGLY URGE you to choose a second major or even a minor in a field that has better earning and/or employment prospects. I myself am considering going back to school for computer networking or some kind of IT studies.

Also consider the fact that many artists (including musicians) do not pursue formal education in the arts. There's no law that requires you to study music if you want to be a musician.

I'm assuming you are of the traditional college student age, so I know it's very hard to look 10 or 20 years into the future. Having a job is important and making money is important. I've had neither of those things for 2+ years now and the humiliation, embarrassment, and frustration has become almost insurmountable. I feel that art school was a mistake. I could have majored in computer science, had a second major or a minor in art, then been able to make a decent living while pursuing the dream on the side. (and this is definitely possible to do while you're young and in the post-college-pre-marriage-and-children phase)

Please keep in mind I am NOT saying that you shouldn't study music, but just give yourself some options for after college. How about a major in music education? Or computer science and music? Look at the original makers of the Rock Band and Guitar Hero video games: they combined music with technology and made a very cool, fun and educational thing (that also made them a lot of money). Heck, how about even studying to become a luthier? You'd end up with some valuable carpentry skills I bet! Or double major in electrical engineering and work on better amplifiers for musical instruments. What about being an architect who specializes in auditoriums and amphitheaters? How about music therapy? All of these things are very closely intertwined with music...

Finally, best of luck to you! I hope you do find a way to live the dream!! (but listen to your dad at least a little bit)

Bob Bledsoe
03-19-2012, 10:58 AM
I think you mentioned earlier that your plan is to teach music, which I assume would point you toward an education degree to go along with the music major. That's a good plan and gives you a nice job to have as you persue writing, recording, gigging, etc... It's tough to not have the full support of the people closest to you, but an important realization that many parents come to is that their offspring will not make the same choices they would make. The hope would be that your decision to go into teaching will help to cushion your dad's realization that you might make some different decisions than he would - I say this assuming that you and your dad are both reasonable people and that you respect and consider your dad's advice even if you don't choose to follow it...
I'm also guessing that you've thought about the income opportunities for a ukulele player, especially being a resident of Hawaii. There are all kinds of creative routes you can take with it, but I doubt you were considering joining an orchestra...
Anyway, we haven't met but for some reason I don't see you living on the street and having to busk with a uke & kazoo. I see you working a regular teaching gig while making your music and probably collaborating with some of the other great musicians in Hawaii. If you get a big break, that's great but if not you're doing what you love and you have a happier life for it... (and you still have a good teaching job like all the other responsible people)

ksiegel
03-19-2012, 11:10 AM
Hey, Casey - best of luck!

Years ago, I turned down a (at that time) fairly lucrative offer in the insurance industry, and started a career as a Firefighter/paramedic. It was the greatest, most fulfilling career I could possibly have had - much more than the communications/theater arts major I had in college would have given me - but I used what I learned in high school and college journalism - actually more than I would have if I'd stayed in the field. Observation, interviewing techniques, and writing reports were everyday things in the FD, and the entire spectrum of Speech and public speaking/performance was something I used every day while teaching fire and EMS classes. I ended my career as a Deputy Fire Chief - not too shabby.

None of that was planned, by the way - it just happened.

I've been retired now for 8 years from the FD, and I work at a Starbucks. I like what I do, I like my customers, and I look forward to going to work every single day. (Having a pension makes that possible.)

One of my daily customers is a music teacher. She is also a professional singer, works with two or three adult choral groups, and recently organized a bell choir. And she enjoys what she does.

She had a student teacher last fall who played ukulele, and is responsible for several of the students taking up playing the uke. Everyone wins in scenarios like this.

See where I'm going with this?

You've chosen a path - it may or may not lead directly to the life you've imagined or planned, but you've chosen a direction. Good move. Take it, run with it, and staying mindful of the sharp turns in the road ahead, take it where YOU want it to go. And enjoy!



-Kurt

Ronnie Aloha
03-19-2012, 11:20 AM
You are certainly dedicated and talented and if I were in your position I would want to do what you're doing too. As a dad, I would say the same thing your dad says. Tough choices

However, most of the top musicians in Hawai do not make their living playing music. They have full-time jobs doing something else. The music is done on nights and weekends. Talk to some of them and find out what they think. Head to Chai's Bistro and talk to any one of them after they perform. Jake is the rare exception.

DaveY
03-19-2012, 11:22 AM
I think parents sometimes look at their kid's career choices through their (the parent's) own experience, rather than through who their kid is and what times s/he is living in. It's not that your dad is wrong, or that you are wrong - it's that it's complicated, and you're both right (though not necessarily equally so). As BobB reminded people, you seem to now be headed towards a music education career. You could tell your dad that (at least where I live), once you are three years in to a teaching job you'd have to pretty much be convicted of a felony to lose the job. So that's job security, a very conventional and important value. (I'm not bashing teachers here - my wife's a teacher, and I've been one.) The challenge might be that, if you were to take a full-time teaching job, it would be harder to have time to practice, write and/or perform. Add in a family (if you ever do), and it gets tougher. As you may know, some people mix performing with giving private lessons, which a music degree would help qualify you for (at least in people's eyes) and which allows you to adjust your time for teaching as performing/etc. grows more profitable. You gotta do what you gotta do because of who you are (your sensible motivation), and as things unfold you'll find what else you gotta do because of other realities (your dad's sensible perspective).

webby
03-20-2012, 08:23 AM
Good luck to you brother, following your passion is the key to a joyfull and satisfying life, i just know you are going to pass your course with honours.

simplekine
03-20-2012, 11:23 AM
aloha Casey,

follow your passion. your heart will lead the way. you are just starting out, just listen to your heart. life is a journey and maximum effort is required. " success" will find it's way.