Sunday, December 28, 2008


Jeff & Wendy West (Puerta Vallarta 2004)
Sometimes when you attempt something new you get insight into yourself. The addage that those who don't learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them surely rings true for me. Sometimes, I have my struggles with the desire for perfection mixed with procrastination, a desire to collect, and a short attention span. Now when it comes to music and in particular strumming and fingerpicking the ukulele I deal with these issues and my impatience with mediocrity. I know that I have learned quite a bit.
Muscle memory is something that is really amazing. Beginners need to now that the repetition of playing chords early and often may leave with tender fingertips for a while but soon your hands react to those known chord symbols fairly effortlessly. The Bb and E chord shapes come with time.
As a runner, I felt the runner's high. As a ukulele player learning new finger-picking tab arrangements I am considering it a meditation. In my meditations my mind easily takes off from the object of my focus and the trick is to gently say, oops! the goes that monkey leaping off again. Let's real it in and get back on task. So in my ukey-meditation I memorize a bar and play it until comfortable (atleast 3x's successfully) and then the next, etc. Once I have the fingerings memorized I then play the song with a focused-gentle attention. When the mind wanders, I bring it back and start again.
I have found that I need a lot of practice on a single piece of music. I am constantly counting and trying to understand the language of musical notation. I must slow way down when there are dotted note and quick notes. Music has many nuances and like any other language it takes time to feel comfortable.
I was comforted the other day when I handed a piece of music to our club guru. He studied the music. He didn't attempt to play it immediately. Then he worked through a bar at a time. Quite slowly, I was impressed. The aha moment. One doesn't just take off running with a piece of complex music. It takes time, study, noodling with the instrument.
Oh, why did I label this post perfection? I left it blank for sometime because I don't think in exists! I try too hard to sound like an expert but my hands don't have those years of training, nor do my ears, or voice. My little brain cells need to do some more bonding with the appropriate ganglei.

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