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Thread: motivation to play ukulele and continue practicing?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Default motivation to play ukulele and continue practicing?

    Being new to the ukulele (and having rather high aspirations as to what music I eventually want to play), I am curious what motivated other beginners here to want to start playing and to continue practicing (i.e. what makes you pick up the instrument day after day)?

    For me, it was hearing a shop owner play standards and show tunes in a fingerstyle solo manner. He could just whip off tune after tune by ear. The shop is a guitar store that focuses on expensive vintage guitars, both acoustic and electric as well as vintage expensive guitar amplifiers. They also sell new gear and have a rather higher end selection of ukuleles (Collings and up in terms of cost), which is most likely due to the owner's love of the ukulele. He is also a professional guitar player.

    But, though the shop owner's playing got me interested enough to get a ukulele from him, I then encountered Daniel Ho's CD Polani. That is still some of the most beautiful solo stringed instrument music I have yet encountered - every piece on that CD. I got the book that goes with it, with all the pieces transcribed. I want to learn to play every tune on that CD. So my motivation is to do what it takes to get proficient enough on the ukulele to be able to tackle these pieces.

    Since I have played fingerstyle guitar for many years, I am able to play through these pieces slowly and haltingly now. For me, the biggest thing to overcome (at least it seems that way right now) is that my "muscle memory" is set for the larger guitar fretboard. It is amazing to have a reach of 5 frets and more, but that is only maybe three frets on a guitar. I am getting acclimated, but having taught myself to play guitar and keyboard, I have a good sense of how much practice and time it will take to learn to play ukulele. One step at a time for me.

    I have seen a number of amazing players on Youtube and they are inspiring. However, that one CD, Polani, for some reason, really does it for me.

    Also, I have to say that I am absolutely fascinated by the ukulele. It is so small, only has four strings, but has seemingly unlimited musical possibilities. What a wonderful instrument!

    Tony

  2. #2
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    Mar 2014
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    A couple of things for me. First of all, I'm retired. I don't have a job. I have lots of time. So I sit on my front porch a lot with a rum and coke and watch the world go by. The uke gives me something to do with my hands while I'm sitting around on my front porch drinking rum and cokes. Also, I paint. I'm an artist. And a lot of times I have to quit painting and just let it alone until the paint dries. I am impatient, so the uke gives me something to do for a while so I don't sit up there and muck up my paintings. Finally, I have some friends who are very musical. They play all sorts of instruments. I hope that someday, hopefully sooner than later, I can play my uke with them. That probably is my number one goal. I just want to play music with my friends. That is what keeps me motivated.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

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  3. #3
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    Nov 2009
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    Agree completely, Polani is a beautiful recording.

    I played uke (*badly*) when I was really little, then abandoned it to play (also *badly*) piano, guitar, and bass, all of which I lost interest in because I was a very impatient young person. Then in my mid-40s I picked up a uke again, with no thoughts beyond playing it for the duration of an 8-week beginner's class, but those 8 weeks kind of changed my life. At first I didn't expect to do much beyond strum chords to a few standards; at some point during those 8 weeks I discovered John King and all of the possibilities the ukulele had beyond chord strumming, and there was no going back.

    I'm a lot more patient as a middle-aged person than I was as a young person, which helps keep me motivated. I really enjoy the challenge of playing complex pieces on a simple instrument. And I'm told I don't play *badly* any more

  4. #4
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    Feb 2009
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    I hope to supplement my future retirement years by playing music for people. I love Hawaiian music and I am learning as much as I can. My goal is to be able to earn a little $ doing something I would be doing anyway - singing and playing ukulele. Technically I could do that now, but I really want to be able have all the songs I know completely memorized, and I would also like to be able to play them in any key easily. I have some more work to do to get there...
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  5. #5
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    I stumbled on ukes almost a year ago while shopping for a violin for my daughter at McCabes Guitar Shop. Having no musical background, I had never given ukes a second thought. For some reason, I was captivated by their look and then picked up a few to strum. I went home, did a bit of research which landed me on videos of Jake S and Singha Jung, decided with age 50 around the corner (which has now come and passed), it would be good to challenge myself.

    Fast forward almost a year and I've rotated through 8 or 9 ukes already and spent an embarrassing amount of time everyday playing my uke, thinking about playing my uke, talking to people about playing uke, researching ukes, and buying and selling ukes. I may never be very good, but I love it nonetheless. Yes, I'm an addict.
    More an appreciator of the ukulele than a true player. My motto is: "Don't matter how good it ring if it ain't got some bling."

    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.—Voltaire

    Curious about the relative importance of tonewood vs. the luthier? See Luthiers for a Cause to learn more!

  6. #6
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    May 2014
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    These are interesting responses, thanks so much!

    @Rllink - It sounds as if you have an interesting retirement. I am retiring, with tomorrow being my last day at work. I have worked all my life since I was about 15, so retirement will feel strange. I can take example from you. Personally, I believe that we can all learn to play quite well, given consistent attention to the instrument.

    @Janeray - It seems that 8 week class was a life changing event for you. There is a woman in our condo building who, at 87 years old, took a painting class and found she really loved it. She has been painting a lot and really enjoying it. Who knew? She really has a knack for it. I think we all have something we can do to express ourselves, but it seems rather chancy that we will really find and connect with it.

    @Pueo - Hawaii! You are definitely in the right place. With a solid goal like you express, I am sure you will achieve it and more.

    @Ukelele Eddie - It sounds as if you too have found your musical self. If we could all spend as much time as we desired playing and socializing around our chosen instrument(s) I think we would all be a lot less stressed. Music is a wonderful pasttime, and for some, much more.

    Tony

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbeltrans View Post
    I am retiring, with tomorrow being my last day at work. I have worked all my life since I was about 15, so retirement will feel strange.
    Congratulations! Enjoy it!
    More an appreciator of the ukulele than a true player. My motto is: "Don't matter how good it ring if it ain't got some bling."

    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.—Voltaire

    Curious about the relative importance of tonewood vs. the luthier? See Luthiers for a Cause to learn more!

  8. #8
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    May 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ukulele Eddie View Post
    Congratulations! Enjoy it!
    Thanks Ukulele Eddie. I noticed you live in Santa Monica. My first "real" job was with Dept of Water and Power at the Canoga Park yard, though I don't know if that is still there. I grew up in Granada Hills and graduated from Granada Hills High. I have lived in the Twin Cities since 1978, and that is where I graduated college. I have been to McCabes, but it has been quite a number of years.

    Tony

  9. #9
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    Tony, the secret to retirement is to never look back.
    Last edited by Rllink; 06-26-2014 at 04:38 PM.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...tective+Agency

  10. #10
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    Apr 2014
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    I really couldn't tell ya exactly why I chose the uke... played guitar in highschool, started to re take it up about a year ago but I'm a bit shy on space.. started to build 3 string cigar box guitars and played them for about a year or so... lol I've got 5 now that I've built.. I still need something smaller than a 38 in cigar box guitar, so started looking towards the uke which I can find parts for easier and will make for an easier build and after picking this one up and playing, I believe I'm in love... soo easy to learn. And play

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