My third meeting of the Steel City Ukuleles: finally ordered a new instrument

Steel City Ukuleles

I’ve entered my ninth week of playing ukulele: almost two months now!

Two weeks ago, I wrote about my second meeting of the Steel City Ukuleles and why I decided to perform so quickly after joining and as a beginner to the ukulele.

Here’s a report on my third meeting, in which Sunny led a varied playlist.

Musical selection

Sunny chose a variety of songs from various genres. Again, this stuff was basically new to me.


One of the songs had a short fingerpicking intro, so I was happy to try the easy pattern.


I am now mostly able to play through the chords and changes and improvise my own strumming pattern in most of the songs we go through, so I’ve been enjoying doing more and more singing in addition, although it still feels like talking and chewing gum at the same time.

Here’s where the advantage of the repetitive structure of this kind of music becomes obvious: there are many opportunities to “correct” what you’re doing on the ukulele while learning a song, and then eventually switch the focus to the words.

Sight reading and preparation

Because I’ve been busy with work and other things in the past several days, I only had time to briefly run over some of the songs on my own just before attending the meeting. I feel bad about not being maximally prepared, but sometimes that’s just what happens. When I was a perfectionist in the past, I would prefer to not do something at all if I was not “fully” prepared, but now, I see that sometimes, at least, home “preparation” is not actually optimal anyway.

Being completely unfamiliar with these songs, yes, I could ideally do the research and look up performances on YouTube, etc. (and I did in past weeks), but even then, how we play this music often differs anyway from what one might find. We might be in a different key, have simplified or different chords, etc.

When playing in the Pittsburgh Recorder Society ensemble, I don’t leave things to chance, but do practice parts ahead of time, but this is a different kind of music that is hard to do exactly that kind of preparation. In particular, the sheets we get don’t have notes for the melodies, but just typically have text and then chord letters or tab symbols correlated loosely with the text, without any notation of duration. Basically, it’s a lot of guesswork to figure out what to do with the printed information we are given! It’s really best thought of as what music notation in the end is anyway: a lossy reminder of possible performance practice.

So I’ve found that other than scanning the chords and working on getting them and the changes, as technical preparation, the best thing to do is to just show up and learn on the fly, by ear, and jot down notes, and then go home and really work on the songs.

Ecofest gig

Sunny gave us more details about the logistics of our upcoming Ecofest gig that I signed up to take part in. We are going to receive nice little spiral-bound books containing the songs for performance.


Since the last meeting, I’ve invested in three technique books for ukulele. It is time to get truly serious and start working on technique.

New instrument

Yesterday, I finally just put in an order online for a new ukulele. I am going for high quality right off the bat, because I know that I am going to be serious about the instrument. It will not collect dust. I hope it will last me decades! I’ll report more when I get it. I hope it arrives soon.


I’m definitely getting serious about ukulele. I’ve invested not only in ukulele technique books, but also in a new instrument.

comments powered by Disqus