If at any point you get the urge to learn one, do. It’s joyful. Learning an instrument goes like this:
(Click on chart to make it bigger!)
Many years ago I lied in a job interview (only once!), and said I could play the ukulele, (never lie in job interviews.). It was to be a preschool music teacher. The conversation went like this. (I’ve written the lie in bold so you can easily identify it.)
Interviewer: So I think your perfect for the job. One final question, can you play an instrument?
Me: Yes. The piano.
Interviewer: (Disappointed) Oh. Nothing portable then.
Me: WAIT! Yes. Silly me. Of course, portable, eh? I forgot to mention. I play the ukulele.
Interviewer: Perfect. You can start in two weeks.
There, an outright lie just rolled off my tongue. What ensued was not pleasant. Imagine this…You spend a late night ordering a ukulele on Amazon (a trendy little red one.) One week later it arrives, it’s orange, not red (very disappointing. You think orange things give you a headache. It’s a belief rooted deeply in your childhood where orange wine gums give you a headache, and you have at some point assumed this must mean all orange things have the potential to give you a headache. You’re twenty-six and a quarter by the time you realise that they don’t.) You spend four days practising C and G chord, and then realise you actually need F and D for the nursery rhymes required during your first week of work, so spend three days learning those, wishing you had have spent seven days learning them, and not wasted four on learning the wrong chords. You board the 8.14 train out to High Barnet, still really not that expert in matters of ukulele. You are literally flying by the seat of your pants. You walk in to the nursery school. A fraud and a phoney. You’re no ukulelist. You’re not even a novice ukulelist (a ukulovice?) No. You don’t know anything. You’re not even sure you can strum properly, no one ever taught you that stuff. You hand over your CRB to the receptionist. Take a deep breath, and think (as they like to say in American films) ‘Here goes nothing.’
But it’s all actually fine. You play the songs, they go down a treat. The kids don’t care, they’re too busy complaining that your guitar’s too small. One year later you hit a pinnacle point in your ukulele career. You’re at a West London children’s centre and the parents are not only singing along to your tuneful playing, but they are harmonising. And having the time of their lives. They cheer and request an encore of Twinkle Twinkle. You know you’ve made it. Another six months pass, you fumble your way through some Jason Mraz at a party and everyone’s singing along to your slightly stumbley strumming. No one cares if you get it a tiny bit wrong. Also, you now love the colour orange! Skip six months on, you’re in a pub in Camberwell, proudly strumming out Christmas songs alongside your trusty band mates. That’s right, you are in a ukulele band. You’re called the Flukuleles. You’re not even that bad. You never even imagined this, not in in your wildest ukulele dreams. All that from one little white lie. I’m not advocating lying, but I am advocating musical instruments.
So if you want to learn an instrument, do. If you want to learn ukulele, I’ll help you!