When I was growing up, my Dad worked as a superintendent at an apartment complex in Sioux Falls. He was a pack rat and had a hard time throwing away things, that were “perfectly” good junk. Well, he was always digging treasures out of the garbage for us. One of those special things, was a ukulele. It really didn’t work. The strings constantly, needed tightened. No wonder why, it was in the trash. Back then, I was okay with that, it was a toy to me. I had no clue how to actually play it. But I loved to pretend I was famous, and singing on a stage with my ukulele.
Fast forward 40 years to California, my mom, John, and I, were visiting my Aunt Cel and Uncle Doug. In the evening, they would sing and play guitar and ukulele for us. They even allowed me to be part of the “band”, and sing with them. I was curious about the ukulele. However, I really was afraid to try it in front of anyone. I didn’t want to make mistakes and look silly. While we were there, Cel did a video call with my other Aunt Leona, and they played ukulele together. It was amazing to watching them. Leona was back in South Dakota and Cel in California. Leona was just learning, and once a week, the two of them had a video teaching session.
After we went home, Cel, Doug, and I, started doing the video calls, with me singing along with them. I loved it! Then one day, I was in the Pierre Music Store, staring at a little pink ukulele. And I decided to buy it. It was out of the blue, but anyone who knows me, knows I am a spur of the moment kind of person. I called up Cel and asked her to help me learn how to play. We began my video training. The music store did recommend a good starter book, which helped. But for the most part, my teacher was Cel. Because of the distance, I really was on my own. I did practice a lot, but yet, I wasn’t too sure of myself. That fear of someone making fun of me stayed with me.
A few months later, at a family gathering, we were playing together. My cousin, Lauren, who had also just started the ukulele, was playing. My confidence in my ability was still lacking. But some how, playing with her, made me feel better. I knew I could do it. Parts of the learning process were very hard for me. I was overthinking everything. It was something that I had to have a little chat with myself about. When I relaxed, and just listened to the other players, I was able to figure out how to strum correctly. Over time, I have gained confidence. There have even been a few times, that I have performed in front of people on a stage. Today, I am not a professional. But it does bring me great joy and is a fantastic stress reliever. As I look at my life, I could have let my fears control me. And maybe they have at different times. But thankfully, I found music and took that challenge to learn something new. Now, I really don’t care what people think of my playing or singing, it makes me happy.