Final rehearsal for my first ukulele gig: and some hard decisions about music in my life

The night before our Ecofest gig, those of us in the Steel City Ukuleles who are performing in it had one final rehearsal.

It was a very good rehearsal. We’re sounding more and more together as an ensemble, ending solidly on each song the way we agreed, and singing more in tune and balance.

Also, Sunny reminded us that we are performing, and so we should not just grimly look at our music booklets, but instead, when we can, we should look up and smile and engage with the audience.


I still don’t have all the songs down as much as I would like, but by the end of the two-hour rehearsal, I was totally hoarse. I am ready to sing out strong while simultaneously playing my ukulele.

I just realized that in the past three months, I have sung more than in the previous forty years of my life combined. Wow. And I’m loving it. There’s nothing like singing, especially singing with others.

Performance is time and energy consuming

I almost didn’t make it to the rehearsal. I’ve completely exhausted myself this week with work and other activities, and badly need a break. There are times, such as earlier today, when I felt overwhelmed by everything.

In fact, yesterday, in discussing my musical plans for the coming months with Abby, I made some decisions.

This is my last ukulele gig for the year, for sure. I want to get back to basics and work on my technique and in really mastering some songs, rather than get back on the treadmill of more material for performance.

Also, this winter, I am not planning to participate in performing on recorder for the holiday gigs at Phipps Conservatory “candlelight evenings” that I’ve treasured in 2011 and in 2012. That was always a huge amount of work for me. Unless I can participate in significantly reduced capacity, I don’t see how I can manage.

I will probably perform in the Pittsburgh Contras and Squares Holiday Ball again, because it’s something I’ve been doing with Abby every year, and because after two years of doing it, I know the music, and therefore it will not require much work to participate in (if I want to do some Irish flute and tin whistle solos, of course, then I can add as much extra work for myself that I want, ha).

What is the best use of my limited time and energy for music?

Also, there have been announcements and reminders for some time about recorder and ukulele workshops and concerts coming up soon. I have decided not to sign up for any of them, because I really need some rest time on weekends that I have not been getting; weekends are also the time when I can do more household chores and spend time with Abby.

I find that my main enjoyment and improvement in music comes form what I do daily, anyway, rather than what I can possibly do in a long, extended workshop format. I’ve always been frustrated that when I attend a one or two day conference or workshop on any subject (computer programming, salsa dance, etc.), I don’t actually retain or engage with as much as I would like. There are ways to optimize these experiences, but that requires a certain kind of immediate followup that I don’t have time for right now.

So, I will sadly miss the fantastic Flanders Recorder Quartet when they come to Pittsburgh in November, and I will miss the workshop Annie has arranged for them to give here for the local recorder community.

And I am going to miss Cool Hand Uke when he comes to Pittsburgh to give a workshop and concert.


Life is full of choices, especially for those of us who have many interests, not just one. This week I made some decisions about my involvement with music in October, November, and December.

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