At the age of 20, I decided to embark on a musical adventure and learn how to play an instrument. This has pretty much been my first experience with music and learning how to play an instrument—unless you count playing the recorder in fourth grade. For some reason, a few months before Christmas, I had the urge to learn how to play the ukulele. I had seen videos of people playing on social media and in movies. It seemed like a cute and simple instrument. For some reason, despite being a person with no musical background, I thought I could easily buy a ukulele and teach myself how to play. Two months later and I have learned a lot about the instrument and can play three songs, but it was with my ukulele instructor's amazing teaching.
I unwrapped a ukulele as a Christmas present and was so excited. It was brand new and came in a case with a strap for the ukulele and several strumming picks. I was so excited. That evening, I opened it up and began to strum but quickly realized it didn't make that beachy, relaxing, Hawaiian sound I had heard before. It was out of tune, and I had no clue how to fix that. After putting it off for a few weeks, my family saw a Facebook ad about a student in my hometown offering music lessons in various instruments, including the ukulele. The next week, we reached out, and my new teacher was sitting in my living room teaching me how to play the ukulele.
I have to admit I was nervous about the first lesson. What is a college student who is so musically talented going to think when I have zero experience? Am I even going to be able to understand anything he says or learn how to play? My fears quickly evaporated when I met my teacher. He was so kind and understanding and prepared to help me start this musical venture entirely from scratch.
We started by going over the parts of the ukulele and the main cords. My teacher tuned up my instrument so I could finally hear the lovely sound. I then learned the first four most common cords on the ukulele and quickly picked them up. I had high hopes but was still very much getting used to playing.
The first song I learned to play was "Over the Rainbow" in the style of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. It is a classic ukulele song but has such a warm, peaceful, and happy tune (which I like). I grew up watching "The Wizard of Oz," so playing a rendition of this song on my own was pretty exciting. It took several lessons, but I finally mastered the song and can play it well now. The next song I learned was "Count on Me" by Bruno Mars. In this song, I had to learn a new cord, and it was almost like a Twister game trying to get my fingers on the right strings to play this cord. Once again, after a few weeks, I mastered "Count on Me" and was thrilled. I am in the process of learning "Best Day Of My Life" by American Authors, another fun and upbeat song but one that I will have to learn a couple of new cords.
Learning how to play an instrument for the first time has not been quite as difficult as I had anticipated. However, I have come across a couple of hard things. To begin with, mastering the proper placement of my fingers on each cord can be difficult sometimes. This is because it is very important to make sure that you press down very hard on the fretboard of the ukulele to ensure that the best sound is amplified. Not only can this hurt your fingers, but it can also be hard to fit them in the right place when you have to press down on multiple strings on different frets at the same time. The other thing that is hard for me sometimes is transitioning between notes. I have significantly improved in this aspect, but it can be hard to quickly switch your finger placement at the signal of a word. But as the saying goes, practice makes perfect.
I have thoroughly enjoyed learning to play an instrument for the first time. I can't speak for other instruments, but the ukulele has been so much fun to learn to play. Even just strumming has become a fun and creative outlet for me, and others enjoy hearing it too. I was able to play for my Nana at her assisted living home, and she loved it. Music can bring a lot of joy to those who listen to it or play it. It is never too late to try something new.