Saturday, August 23, 2008

Joshua, Ashley and Grandpa Stan's Harmony Uke

No they aren't real ukulele players. They are number 2 and number 3 of my 4 kids: Joshua and Ashley. They are posing in our livingroom for dad with the camera. Joshua is now living in Indianapolis and Ashley is still in the bay area and working her way up the corporate ladder.

This little harmony, was purchased by my father Stanley W. around 1960 and it became part of my household and sat on shelves amongst books, legos, baseball cards, bats, gloves, cleats, for about 20 years. Then one day I saw it and picked it up and noodled a bit (not quite Lyle Ritz noodling) .

My neighbor Jeb is a guitarist and a longtime resident of the area told me that there was a Ukulele Festival every year in Hayward. I did some checking around and about 30 days later I was hooked. The Northern California Ukulele Festival was in it's 13th or 14th year already. Uncle Hollis Baker and another man started it up as a celebration of Hawaiian culture.

I went to a few of Uncle Hollis' Saturday classes and remember a Hawaiian man named Herman told me that I was going to struggle for a while until my fingers built up muscle memory. Every beginner should note - it takes time and you are going to be behind and feel stupid at times. Believe me, I have struggled with each step along the way. Your fingers are smarter than you think. Yes your fingers will be tender for a while and they will toughen up. The Bb chord that was so hard at first becomes easier. Your fingers will become more flexible. You will activate more brain cell connections and you will play music or atleast notes and the music will come.

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