First rehearsal for my first ukulele gig: dealing with anxiety

It’s now officially two months since I started learning to play ukulele. It’s hard to believe, but two months ago, I was still struggling to play three chords: I could play C, of course, but had trouble with G7, and had even worse trouble with F: I had no finger strength or dexterity and could not arch my fingers and everything was a painful buzz, and I could spend only five minutes a day practicing because of the pain on my uncalloused fingers.

And after just over a month of playing, and joining the Steel City Ukuleles, I had volunteered to perform in a gig for Ecofest in Regent Square, as a way to force myself to maintain momentum.

And this week, just in time, I got my brand new concert-sized ukulele.

First Ecofest rehearsal

The gig is in just over a week. I attended my first rehearsal with extreme anxiety. I was even thinking about bailing out instead of attending. Here’s why.

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The Chess Improver: the psychology of not winning the won game

Round 3 I published my third post on the blog The Chess Improver. It covers my third round game in the current Pittsburgh Chess Club Tuesday night tournament, in which I was very disappointed because I had a won game but failed to actually win the game! The psychology of not winning the won game.

Why you should go out to the Pittsburgh South Side Slopes Step Trek

Thanks to my blog coverage two years ago of the annual Pittsburgh Step Trek, I was invited, as I was last year also, by the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association to a special preview small group tour of the “church route”, which includes 820 stairs (379 stairs up, 441 stairs down), led by Brian Oswald.

I decided to attend for a couple of reasons:

  • To refresh my memory; I had not been to the South Side Slopes for probably a year, since Abby and I entertained her visiting sister and her boyfriend by taking them on a tour ourselves, along with Kitty.
  • To take my work colleague John along and show him this unique part of Pittsburgh.
  • To learn what is new with the maintenance of this unique neighborhood.
  • To better promote the annual Step Trek event, which is enjoyable and benefits the neighborhood.

Here’s my report on the evening preview tour.

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Finally got a nice new ukulele: Mainland Classic Mahogany Concert

Mainland Classic Mahogany Concert ukulele Exactly two months after beginning to learn ukulele, I finally got a quality instrument for myself, ordered online from Mainland Ukes in Indiana (yes, there are good ukuleles made outside of Hawaii). I first encountered Mainland because of an electric tenor that Linda lent me at my very first Steel City Ukuleles meeting. This instrument had some very nice qualities I appreciated: its construction, appearance, and sound. Read On →

The Chess Improver: remember the importance of development

I published my second post on the blog The Chess Improver. It covers my second round game in the current Pittsburgh Chess Club Tuesday night tournament, in which I won, but suffered for a bit because I neglected a basic principle in chess. Remember the importance of development!

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. Read On →

On not celebrating Constitution Day this year, 2013

For several years, I’ve made a habit of observing Constitution Day by attending the annual exhibit and lecture at CMU. Last year I reported on an interesting session about the very invention of Constitution Day. This year, the program for the event held at the Posner Center at CMU read: David Harris, distinguished faculty scholar and professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, will deliver a keynote speech titled " Read On →

New goals for a new season of the Pittsburgh Recorder Society

Recorder group

I was delighted to pay my membership dues at the first meeting of the new 2013-2014 season of the Pittsburgh Recorder Society. I hadn’t played recorder much since this July’s Mideast early music workshop, because of my having taken up ukulele the day after I got back from that; in fact, apart from that week-long workshop, I had not attended any meetings of the Pittsburgh Recorder Society since April (since I had to miss the May one on travel), and although there are meetings all through the summer as well, they only take place in the North Hills, which is kind of far for me.

As with the opening of the last season, we have exciting new plans for this season. And I have my own new plans in addition.

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Saying No: on not playing in the Pittsburgh Chess League this season for the CMU Tartans


Later today, the first round of the 2013-14 season of the Pittsburgh Chess League will start, and I will not be there to play.

Here’s why.

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Back to French dance: potluck and party

I went to a French potluck dance party at Lisa’s. For the first time, I attended without Abby, because she was up at SNPJ for an international folk dance camp; actually, we had a fairly low turnout (I counted fourteen people) because some others who would have come to the potluck are at the camp with her! It’s been months since I was involved with French dance or music, because I gave all that up temporarily in order to focus on learning ukulele starting less than two months ago. Read On →