Monday, 29 August 2016

My Milestones in Learning the Ukulele

Uke timeline and milestones

The thing about an enjoyable journey that never ends is that you can enjoy it for ever – or for at least as long as you are physically and mentally able to! After all, “It’s better to travel hopefully than to arrive!”

And that’s the thing about learning to play ukulele – you’ll never, if you’re like me, going to “arrive” - be able to play as well as you want to. I want to be able to play really well – you name a good uke player, any one of the professionals, and I want to play as well as they do. I’m never going to get there. But my goodness, I’m enjoying the journey! Frustrations abound, but with the desire to improve and some perseverance, I do improve….. slowly. And I have good times and make good friends along the way.

So - more music, more skills and more people – all sorts of milestones, and a few important purchases!

Nov 2005
Saw Joe Brown play “I’ll See You In my Dreams” – begged for a ukulele for my birthday - and got one!

Dec 2005
Played for people at a party, very informal

Got the uke out now and then, while life was otherwise very busy … for a long time

July 2009
Played with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and 1000 other ukers at the Albert Hall, London, then … I put the uke on a shelf… for two years! The shelf should not have happened...

Oct 2011
Picked up a uke in a music shop - couldn’t remember any chords apart from "C" and resolved to seriously get to grips with my ukulele

Dec 2012
Played "Leaning On A Lamppost" at a Christmas party while LSH sang it - realised that the solos was out of the question, and became interested in Formby-style

Jan 2012
Started to try learn Formby style

Feb 2012
Bought first banjo-uke, a 1920’s Slingerland

Joined the Ukulele Underground Forum

Mar 2012
Started this blog Life’s A Ukafrolic

Apr 2012
Joined a local uke group

June 2012
Went to my first George Formby Society convention

Finally got the Slingerland playable - with a little advice from "a man who can"...

Bought my second wooden uke – a mid-range laminate

Jul 2012
Bought a webcam to record my efforts at singing and playing

Made first public Youtube video – an instrumental

Entered a video to the UU Seasons of the Ukulele for the first time - Season 23

Getting to work out songs with more complex progressions by ear, on uke

Aug 2012
Bought my first solid wooden uke, first good soprano – Kiwaya KTS-4

Nov 2012
Played uke and sang on stage with mics and backing band, for the first time. Duet ...George Formby Convention

Dec 2012
Learned my first passable Formby-style banjo-uke solo – the song affectionately known as "Window Cleaner" - and played it at a party

Feb 2013
Bought my best banjo-uke, vintage 1920’s Gibson UB2

Jun 2013
Attended my first ukulele festival – UFGB, Cheltenham

Attended my first uke workshops by highly skilled professionals

Played uke and sang solo on stage with mics and backing band, for the first time. (George Formby Convention)

Jul 2013
Learned some chords up the neck, and learned the instrumental Mr Sandman

Feb 2014
worked out my first chord melody by ear…. “Sway”

Mar 2014
Playing the instrumental Mr Sandman “cleanly”… nailed those pesky chord changes up the neck

June 2014
My entry in the Ukulele Underground Seasons of the Ukulele got a mention from the season’s host… oh I was thrilled!

I wrote my first song. For Seasons of the Ukulele. It’s on Youtube

Did an impromptu duet with a Seasonista I met at the big uke-fest in Cheltenham, UFGB…. Another nice “first”, this…

Dec 2014
Wrote two more songs for a Christmas song-writing competition hosted by one of the “Seasonista” community on the Ukulele Underground.
Won the competition with a carol that I wrote. I was so proud….

Feb 2015
After recognising that proper uke lessons from a really good player would be a very Good Thing – had my first lesson from Phil Doleman

Mar 2015
Bought my first craftsman - built ukulele, a mahogany concert, from uke-builder Dave Morgan (D J Morgan Ukuleles)

Apr 2015
Hosted a Season of the Ukulele on the UU for the first time

May 2015
Visited Hawaii! Spent time with friends made online and visited the Kamaka factory, Where Fred Kamaka showed us round on one of his wonderful tours and talks...

Jul 2015
Bought my second craftsman-built ukulele, spruce/maple soprano from Dave Morgan (D J Morgan Ukuleles)

Sept 2015
Was granted an interview with Jake Shimabukuru

Nov 2015
Helped out at Jake’s concert in Liverpool – (and met Jake!)

Apr 2016
Sang a blues song for the first time - one I wrote myself! A milestone, I think...

Jun 2016
Performed a song at a festival open mic for the first (and so far only!) time....

July 2016
Worked out the chords on uke to a more complicated song, then worked out another set of chords using chords up the neck keeping the melody on the 1st string.
I felt this was a real milestone…

So here I am, thus far - nearly eleven years after first being inspired to play ukulele and getting my first... and just coming up to five years of working determinedly and steadily at it. The milestones are fewer and further between now, as the skills get harder to achieve, but every bit as satisfying, if not more so. Most of these milestones were documented along the way on this blog....

Must go. Got to play my ukulele... thanks for dropping in!

Oh, and... have just copied this page with a few added links to a dedicated page on the blog... so I can keep it updated! A lifetime of milestones to hit yet.....

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HI! I hope you enjoy this blog and I'd love to hear your comments! But I know you'll forgive me if I read them over before I click the "publish" button! Thanks!