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S2E6 – The Journey of Learning Ukulele

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How do you learn? We all do it differently and in this episode I meet up with some of my ukulele buddies, Pam Mandel and Ryan Higgins to talk about some of their best learning moments.

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Transcript

Edited for clarity.

Brad Bordessa (00:02):
Aloha. Welcome to the Live Ukulele podcast. My name is Brad Bordessa. Thanks for tuning in. In this episode, we’re going to talk story about learning. That great journey of music. The Live Ukulele podcast is published on the first and third Saturdays of every month. If you’re not already subscribed, please head over to your favorite podcast listening device and/or system or website and click the subscribe button. It helps you to hear the latest ukulele content and also boosts the visibility of the podcast for other folks who are looking for ukulele content to consume with their ears. We’re here with the crew on this podcast. We’ve got Ryan Higgins. He’s been on the show before, but we’re also joined by Pam Mandell, a former member of The Castaways, Seattle’s loudest ukulele band and a writer. Are you a bestseller yet? Do we know?

Pam Mandel (01:07):
Oh, not yet. No pressure, man.

Brad Bordessa (01:13):
Well, I’m glad to be joined by these guys and was hoping to chat with them about learning ukulele and the different opportunities we’ve had as musicians to study the craft and interact with different people who have shared their knowledge with us and sort of the progression and progress and journey of learning to play music on the ukulele.

So can we start with you Pam, since you’re our new addition to the podcast crew? What kind of was maybe the turning point in your ukulele study that sort of inspired you or brought you to a place of, wow, I really want to take this to the next level. Was there ever a moment like that?

Pam Mandel (02:02):
Yeah, there was actually. So I had been just going to kani ka pila kind of stuff here in Seattle, right. We have this big club, you’ve met them, Brad, the Seattle Ukulele Players Association, and I’ve been going to this club and I just sorta topped out. Right. Like I could only get so far. I taught myself some really basic stuff. I took some beginner lessons. I learned how to read tab. I learned how to read chords. I can’t read music. So just FYI, like I just don’t know how to read music. I’m a total hack. But I was feeling like I had just sort of topped out, like I wasn’t gonna get anywhere doing this sort of song circle, super casual sing along kind of playing. And I wanted to see where I could go.

(02:52):
And that winter was the winter that I went to music camp with you and Evan and Kris down in Pahala, right? So that year I went there and at the same time, right about the same time. So that was, that was really sort of instrumental. I had decided that I was going to do something, right? I was going to do something. I was going to try to push my skills. I was going to try to get some input from elsewhere. And that winter was also the winter that I tried out to join the band. Right? So those two things kind of happened simultaneously and both made a huge difference for me.

Brad Bordessa (03:30):
Wow. So what was your main takeaway from the music camp? Was there any? Just because that’s… I kind of figured that would be your moment when I was thinking of that question…

Pam Mandel (03:44):
Yeah, it sort of exposed me to possibility, right? The idea that you could do more with your instrument than I had been doing. The place I ended up going was not traditional Hawaiian at all, but there was this idea that you could do a lot more stuff with the ukulele and that there was this sense of boundless possibility.

Brad Bordessa (04:11):
Nice. Yeah. That’s, that’s always been one of my experiences with the workshop is that – and with other workshops similar to that, it’s just like, wow. Cause you, you get 10 amazing instructors in the room, not to mention the students, and it’s like everybody has something different that they do well.

Pam Mandel (04:32):
There’s also a really nice energy that you get from around people who are super focused on one thing for a concentrated period of time.

Brad Bordessa (04:42):
Yeah. It’s like a laser point at some of those different workshops.

(04:49):
And then we have Ryan on kind of the other side of the spectrum. Would you share with us a little bit about your time studying with Washburn, Gary Washburn at Honokaʻa High and the different moments that you had there as a budding musician?

Ryan Higgins (05:04):
Sure. Basically I was this super shy homeschool kid that convinced my parents to let me go to Honokaʻa High School so that I could play sports and do music. I thought I wanted to be a football star, but life had other plans and I really actually took a lot more to music. And it just happened to be a school where we had one of the best music teachers in the state in Mr. Washburn, Gary Washburn. And so yeah, I started on drums there and you know, I had to try out for him. That was intimidating in itself.

(05:57):
But he let me stay on and played in the ensembles and jazz bands for my sophomore, junior, and senior years in high school. And it was just a really good experience of kind of prepping me for a professional musicianship. You know, he really focused on, you know, making sure we were well-practiced and showing up to gigs on time. We would actually go out and play gigs in the community. And we did like a inner-island tour every year. And so, yeah, just all the little idiosyncrasies of you know, the gig life. He really kind of made that learning curve a lot smoother for me. And yeah, so I owe a lot of my musicianship and just my, I guess, professional acumen or whatever to Washburn and that program.

Pam Mandel (07:05):
You know, the drummer in my band, he did high school, junior high band played drums from when he was age four or something very small. And he said, he had this thing he would say that, what is it? “If you’re early, you’re on time and if you’re on time, you’re late,” with regard to playing gigs. He was super uptight about that.

Ryan Higgins (07:28):
Yeah. That’s pretty much it. Yeah. And it makes a huge difference. Like I’ve played in bands with, you know, with guys that are super lackadaisical about it and they show up like 10 minutes after soundcheck and just kind of like ho-hum about it. And it really yeah, it makes a difference in how the managers and, you know, people running the show kind of see us. Cause you know, all of us musicians, I think get a bad rap because it’s kind of a stereotype of we’re just, like, show up on our own time and whatever.

Brad Bordessa (08:05):
Right. Wake up at two o’clock.

Ryan Higgins (08:07):
Yeah. Wake up at two. Walk in, saunter in with our instrument ready to go. But yeah, it’s a big one.

Brad Bordessa (08:21):
Well, I’ll throw my hat in the ring in that my big learning moment, aside from the Kahumoku workshop that Pam already mentioned, was my time getting to go out to Maui, to the Institute of Hawaiian Music and spend a year and a half studying with Uncle George Kahumoku and being part of, kind of the more college scene. But from that it was the time spent gigging that I feel was the big learning experience, the hands-on. I mean, so much of what I feel music has taught has always been outside of the classroom. The moments where you’re struggling on stage or about the stage, or just you’re getting that those hard cracks that are teaching you, the lessons that you’ll take take with you.

Pam Mandel (09:13):
Yeah. There’s playing music in your living room or on your back porch and there’s playing music on a stage in front of a bunch of people and they’re really different experiences.

Brad Bordessa (09:26):
Yes they are. So Pam, was there an instructor at the workshop that really connected with you? Like what is a trait of a good ukulele instructor in your mind?

Pam Mandel (09:39):
So, you know, I spent a lot of time with James Hill. I took a bunch of James Hill classes. I also, I spent some time with Herb Ohta. That was also… Both of those guys are great. But I, again, I don’t think it was so much what I… I can’t point to any specific thing. Like I learned to do this one trick or I learned to do this, I don’t know, I learned to crack this particular code again, you know. It was the practice. It was the concentrated practice time. I mean, I played for what, six, seven hours a day for how many days in a row. How long is that camp, Brad? Is it a whole week? I can’t remember.

Brad Bordessa (10:21):
It’s usually a whole week.

Pam Mandel (10:21):
Right. So six hours a day for a week, you know? It was the first thing I would do is just get up in the morning and get coffee and tune up. So, you know, I don’t know so much that it’s something that I learned sitting in the classroom as much as I just learned doing the time.

Brad Bordessa (10:40):
And is that something you think you would have… You wouldn’t have put that time in outside of the workshop. So was it like the pressure of being around peers and great instructors that sort of took you to that higher level, do you think?

Pam Mandel (10:53):
It’s not the same… I don’t know that I would say it was pressure so much as it is being in a place where all that’s happening all the time. You get to feel like you’re surrounded by people who get why you’re spending all this time with your ukulele. Now, maybe that’s not so much of a big deal for you guys being in Hawaiʻi, but on the mainland, we’re still a little odd. So, you know, when you’re spending all this time with your uke here, it’s a little bit of a strange pursuit still, you know? And there it’s much more in the water. So there’s some advantages to that.

Brad Bordessa (11:30):
Interesting. Yeah, we definitely… I feel like we take the ukulele totally for granted here. And it’s strange because a lot of people say like, “Oh, wow, you’re from Hawaiʻi, you live there. You must see… Everybody must play the ukulele!” It’s like, no, no, not really.

Pam Mandel (11:48):
Yeah.

Ryan Higgins (11:49):
I guess it’s probably more normal. Like in high school would just be kids walking around strumming ukuleles like between classes and stuff. But it wasn’t like, you know, everybody and their dog played. It was like, you know, a few people played and they were like, “Oh, that’s cool. That’s your thing.”

Brad Bordessa (12:08):
And when did you pick up the ukulele, Ryan? That was sort of later for you, right?

Ryan Higgins (12:13):
Yeah, it wasn’t until I was about, I want to say I was, had just started college. I was like 19-20. And I got one for Christmas a Lanikai black ukulele, and

Pam Mandel (12:33):
I had one of those for awhile! Black with the white binding?

Ryan Higgins (12:37):
Yeah.

Pam Mandel (12:38):
Yeah. That’s that was my first gig uke.

Ryan Higgins (12:45):
But yeah, so that was my first instrument – or my first uke. I didn’t really know anything about the ukulele when I got it, other than I’d seen friends do, you know, jamming, like, you know Hawaiian Superman and Super Mario theme and stuff like that. And so I kind of still thought of it as like more of a novelty thing. You know, I’d seen Jake Shumabukuro’s stuff, you know, kind of circulating around. So I knew there was like more to it, but at that point I was still kind of like, “eh, I I’m a songwriter,” like, “I’ll stick with guitar.” And so I kind of just threw it in the closet for like a year or two.

(13:32):
And then I started… So I don’t know why, I think I cleaned my closet and I found it and I was like, “Hey, here’s this ukulele sitting here. Maybe I’ll learn a couple of songs.” So I started learning some covers and, and then I met Brad and I was like, dude, this guy can actually make this thing sound awesome. And we started jamming at, like we’d do these First Fridays in Honokaʻa town. And yeah, just started kind of taking more of a liking to the ukulele. And it was easier for me to play. The guitar always was hard on my joints. Like fingering would always be a problem for me. And so I just felt like, man, this is a lot more complimentary to my Style. And so I just started loving it more and more.

(14:24):
And it was still… For a long time it was still kind of like a means to an end. Like it was just the tool for my songs. Up until the last couple years, I haven’t really appreciated the ukulele for what it is. It’s been more of like, you know, I need something to sing with when I do my songs and this tool happens to work. Rather than seeing it as like a, I dunno, a piece of art in itself and kind of like, not just an accomplice, but like a fellow, I don’t know, I don’t know where I’m going. But it just feels like I’m a little more cognizant of the beauty of the instrument itself these days.

Brad Bordessa (15:21):
Hmm. Well, that’s a really interesting kind of boundary to find yourself walking down the middle of is when you have that musical tool and then the art of the actual instrument. Have either of you found that there is one piece from your learnings that have like, kind of expanded your opportunities and your doors and windows of options as you’ve been studying? Like Ryan, you come from the Washburn school of thought and then came to ukulele later. Did any of that apply down the road? Or Pam, when you got into the band, you know, did any of the things that came from the camp or came from some of your aha moments, you know, bring that deeper into your playing?

Pam Mandel (16:15):
I’m just, I’m thinking about… So for me it was such a ongoing experience, right? Cause I went from zero to 60 in the course of like a year, right? So, you know, you both have a much longer term relationship with the instrument and with music in a classical sense. And I just did this crazy thing on a lark that turned out to be kind of a big deal in a small way. You know what I mean? And Brad, you saw us, so you have a better idea of what I’m talking about. I mean, like we were a big, noisy rock band, right? Like it was kind of a crazy sort of situation. And I went from just kind of noodling with my neighbors and going to these community sing along things to playing on these big stages with like stuff running through the pedal board and out the big speakers and the lights and the racks and all this stuff, right? So it was kind of like a crazy ride. So it’s all of a piece for me, right. To extract things out of it and be like, “Oh, I learned these things in this. And they manifested in this way,” is a lot harder for me because it really felt like such a roller coaster ride that I was just like thrown my hands up in the air and going, “okay, I guess we’re doing this thing.” Right.

(17:42):
I know that there are things that everybody brings to the table, like when you play music with other people, right? And I’m an adequate musician. And I say that in a really not false modesty kind of way. My timing’s good. Right. And that goes a long way in playing music with other people. They really appreciate that. Especially when you’re playing with pros. That you’re not dragging, you’re not playing too fast. My timing is good. I played with a good drummer and a really good bass player. And so, you know, I could lock into those kinds of things and do that. But I learned that over the course of our playing together, the seven years that we were a band, you know, and that was a quality that I had inherently. That was something that I could bring to the table. But I don’t know, I couldn’t point to the moment in which I learned that.

Brad Bordessa (18:34):
And so what were… Were there any, like school of hard knocks, out of the frying pan into the fire moments where you had a forced aha moment where somebody told you something or you, I don’t know, were on stage and just got put through the ringer?

Pam Mandel (18:53):
Oh yeah. I mean, we like… So I remember once we were planted a big festival and we just totally biffed the launch. Right. Like we just, like, we just like came out and then basically, I don’t know, it was like one of those old cartoons of a train going right off the rails, right? Like everybody counts in and then it was just like, nope! That is not happening, right? I’m sure that has never happened to either of you.

(19:20):
We just choked and you know, we all sort of stopped and looked at each other. And one of the things that I learned that I learned about just being a performing artist and about that from that moment was like, when you do live music, you get to start over and your audience also really wants you to succeed. They care a lot less… I think they care less than you do about whether or not you screw up. Right. And so I could be really like… We could go play a show and I could come back feeling like, “Oh man, that was bad. Like, I missed all the important notes and I just wasn’t feeling it.” And I’ll talk to people later and there’ll be like, you guys were awesome! That was incredible! Right. And so the experience you have of making music and the experience that the audience is having are two really different things. I find that fascinating.

Brad Bordessa (20:10):
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve had those moments before. It’s like definitely a major bomb gig and then everybody loved it. So, so strange and humbling too. You kind of learn that it’s not the same.

Ryan Higgins (20:25):
Yeah. I feel like sometimes when you… You’re in your head – or not in your head, but when you’re kind of like having a bad gig, you’re a little bit more focused maybe because you’re so aware of what’s going wrong. And so sometimes that actually causes you to, I don’t know, be more focused and intense and in tune with what’s going on. So yeah, I’ve had that happen a lot where I finish a gig or a set and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, that was so bad.” Like, “I’m surprised everyone didn’t just walk away.” But then people will come up to me afterwards and be like, “wow, that was like amazing.” I’ll be like “yeah, sure.”

Brad Bordessa (21:07):
So, well, that’s a really interesting aspect aspect of it is the focus. I had never thought about that before, but when you are bombing, you kind of get like the tunnel vision and the ringing in the ears and kind of, I don’t know if it’s like the, the shame vibe or whatever going on, but it like, it does, it kind of tunes you in and you’re like uber focused. I never thought that that could be related. Interesting.

(21:35):
And so for you, Ryan, coming from the Washburn school of being onstage and just doing it.

Ryan Higgins (21:44):
Yeah.

Brad Bordessa (21:44):
Are there moments that, that you took away that have informed you down the road?

Ryan Higgins (21:51):
Yeah, definitely. So I kinda, I kinda went through two phases. I feel like with my music career, I went through sort of the Washburn phase where I was really kind of embedded with, you know, the professional aspects of music. You know, he was really big on sight reading. I never really got good at sight reading, but I could sort of wander my way through a sheet of music. But yeah, so reading and just like all the professional stuff, you know, timing, tightening up, practicing a lot.

(22:29):
And then after high school, I joined a band with two of my really good friends growing up called Life In Pursuit. And they were extremely talented natural musicians and singers, but their professional ship was different from what I was used to. And so I kind of went through this phase where, you know, I would sort of get frustrated because I would be the one showing up early to gigs and like, you know, making sure I knew all these songs. And then they would kind of just… You know, Chase was really, really good at improvising and winging it. And so I think in his mind he felt like he didn’t have to rely on practice as much. In a way, I feel like it was a blessing looking back. At the time I got frustrated a lot, but it kind of helped me to get better at, you know, just going with the flow and improvising in the moment and not being so uptight about, you know, every little detail and just kind of letting things play out.

(23:44):
So hopefully after those two sort of phases, I kind of had the best of both worlds. Like, you know, I still try to maintain a, you know, a good practice regimen and make sure I’m well versed in the songs and showing up on time and whatnot and all that stuff. But then there’s always going to be things that happen that you’re just not prepared for. And so just being able to being able to go with the flow and just kind of wing it and yeah. So that was kind of my experience.

(24:20):
As far as the musicianship too, I think being a drummer in Washburn’s class for a long time, really rubbed off on my, my musical style. So when I started playing the ukulele, you know, it’s a very… I have a very kind of rhythmic sense. And so, yeah, as far as that it took me a long time to be able to get like more mellow and like, stop just like going up and down and like moving my hands. I feel like I have restless hand syndrome. Cause I always feel like I gotta be keeping the beat.

Brad Bordessa (25:01):
Well, it’s interesting what you mentioned about kind of the casual approach and then this uber professional approach and finding the balance between those. Because I find that I’m more uptight about probably performances and music than I am relaxed about it. But then you get into certain situations where you have those kind of natural improvisers. And sometimes those are the best musical moments. I’d love to be able to put that in a bottle and take it around with me and kind of like, we don’t know actually what’s going on, put a little drop of that on the music and see what happens.

Ryan Higgins (25:37):
Right.

Brad Bordessa (25:38):
Was the band super anal about the professionalism, Pam, and getting everything super dialed in? Or where you kind of go with the flow type?

Pam Mandel (25:48):
Yeah, we had a… So when we could afford it we hired a sound guy so that we didn’t have to run sound. Everybody showed up on time. Everybody hauled their own gear. Everybody rolled cables, everybody did all the stuff, right? People were pretty good about like being on the clock, letting everybody know what’s up. Yeah. We were… You know, Seattle is a big city with a lot of clubs in it, but it’s also a city with a lot of musicians in it. And if you want to be invited back, you show up on time and you haul your own gear. And you’re nice to the people that work the bar and all that stuff. So yeah, we tried really hard to also be Seattle’s nicest ukulele band. In addition to their loudest, you know, we tried really hard to not be those people.

Brad Bordessa (26:40):
What about musically? As far as improvising and winging it versus having everything super dialed in?

Pam Mandel (26:48):
Yeah. We played… So we rehearsed for our shows, right. And we played pretty much on the map is just sort of a nature of the kind of music that we played, that we kind of stayed on the plan. We didn’t go off and go free range very often. Because these guys are really funny, most of the places where we went off the map had to do with verbal stuff and not so much music, right? And we also, you know, we played these very defined time slots and stuff, and we often would put things together for festival time slots. So we didn’t have a lot of time for screwing around, right? Like, we’d get a 20 minute set and we’d be playing the same 20 minute set on all the stages over the course of the summer. And so we would dial it in pretty tight.

Brad Bordessa (27:42):
Do you feel like you ever might’ve lost out on any kind of magical opportunities because of that dialed-in-ness?

Pam Mandel (27:51):
Maybe? I guess, I don’t know. I mean, there’s still just because of the nature of what it feels like to play live music. It varies every time, right? Like there’s this transitory nature to making music, which is super cool. And also like you don’t get… The same thing never happens twice. So maybe it’s not entirely a free range because we’re in this locked set, we’re playing the same eight songs all summer long, but something always happens. Right. Because it’s live. Right. Anytime it’s live, something happens.

(28:28):
We played a show once where one of my bandmate’s pedals burst into flames, right? Like right in the middle of it, just burst into flames. He was like, “Oh, we have to stop I’m on fire.” Like it was not a joke, right? But he has, literally, flames coming out of this thing. And once we blew the lights out at a place we were playing. There was a short, the wiring was not enough. And so like the whole room went dark. So that was fun. So, you know, our improvisational nature was more accidental and comic than it was musical. Let’s just say that.

Brad Bordessa (29:02):
That’s great. I wish I had a pedal bursting into flames story.

Pam Mandel (29:07):
It was pretty funny. Although, you know, everything stunk like burned plastic for, you know, hours after.

Ryan Higgins (29:13):
That’s like perfect for a rock band.

Brad Bordessa (29:15):
Everybody has a headache!

Pam Mandel (29:18):
Right. Right. And we were in a really nice wine bar when that happened. So, you know, it’s a little decontextualized.

Ryan Higgins (29:29):
Oh boy.

Brad Bordessa (29:32):
So if you guys had any kind of tips for folks who were on the journey of improving and trying and trying to take their playing to next level, do you have a couple of tips that you might throw their way that would, that really helped you along the way?

Pam Mandel (29:48):
I can tell you that the single best thing for me was always to be the worst person in the band. Always be the worst musician in the room. Right? Play with people who are patient with you when you’re the worst musician in the room. And then when everybody is better than you and is patient with that, you have no choice, but to get better, it’s just going to happen. You like, you listen and you sit and you practice at home, but also like you always try to find people who are better than you to play with. And that is both incredibly humbling and extremely demanding. And you move fast when that happens.

Brad Bordessa (30:24):
That’s a super good one.

Ryan Higgins (30:26):
Yeah. I agree. Although for me, there’s a caveat. Because if I’m playing with people that are too much better than me, or, you know, listening… Like watching videos of like, you know, ukulele virtuosos all the time or, you know, things like that. That is really not realistic for me, then I just get discouraged. So I think definitely play with musicians that are better than you, but try to make sure your game is, you know, climbing up as well and not getting discouraged by how much better than you they are.

Brad Bordessa (31:02):
Well, I think that’s something that can be addressed maybe by a little bit of diversity in like the band context. Cause I know Pam had like percussionist and a bass player that she was working with and she always speaks super highly of those guys and having those alternate musicians. I feel like that’s a little bit less pressure instead of being like on stage next to a super great ukulele player. That’s not a whole lot of fun, right?

Ryan Higgins (31:30):
Yeah.

Brad Bordessa (31:31):
But if I’m next to a super great guitarist, then it’s like, “Oh wow.” You know, “I’m the ukulele player.” And I get to hold up my side of the deal.

Ryan Higgins (31:39):
True. Yeah. And there’s less comparison going on.

(31:43):
As far as tips. Let’s see. I think one thing that I’ve learned that I’ve kind of had to relearn is really focusing in on mechanics and basic strumming and picking and, you know… It’s really tempting to just kind of skip over all that and be like, “Oh, I got the basic strum down. I’m going to just gonna, you know, try to go as fast as I can” and start, you know, learning all these intricate songs. If ,you know, my strumming isn’t in the right spot and the ukulele, or, you know, I’m playing heavy handed, then everything else is going to just kind of not sound great.

(32:33):
So I think that’s a huge one is – at least in experiences – is just like really focusing in on, you know, just play a triplet strum for like 10 minutes straight. Just start off really slow until you can like do it without even thinking about it. Once you can do that, then try it a little faster, try something a little more intricate. Yeah. Starting off really grounding yourself with the basic stuff.

Brad Bordessa (33:12):
Yeah. That’s, that’s another super good one. I feel like that was my turning point moment with learning is so often and in kind of Western learning in a Western culture is that we’re used to everything being kind of solvable like a math problem or a physics problem. And like, “well, there must be a mathematical solution to this musical thing.” And so growing up and learning to play, I was always pushing, pushing, pushing for that secret. And then one day Herb Ohta, Jr. at one of the Kahumoku workshops sat me down and he said, “Brad, you have the skills. You just need to practice the basics.” And that sorta hit me like a bus. It was like, “Oh my God, I get it!” There’s so much to be improved with the very simple things. And I think, you know, it’s easy for people to skip by that. And the best ukulele player still has to pick single notes the same way as the beginning ukulele player. Right. And it’s just, that motion just gets more and more refined. And so the more time you spend on that, the better, I think.

Pam Mandel (34:24):
Sorta related to that, you know, we used to start over a lot. Right. And I think there’s this tendency to want to, when you’re working on a song to want to push through the mistakes. Right. And we used to just stop and start over again. Right. Until we like…

Brad Bordessa (34:41):
Was this in practice?

Pam Mandel (34:41):
Yeah, this was in practice. Right. While we were at band practice. And while I was at home too, like it’s a practice that I took home too. Right. Where I’d be like, “Oh, you keep getting stuck at this spot. You keep biffing it here, start over again.” Right. We go all the way back to the beginning and do that and work that until that’s laid down until you get past that, until you sort of sand down that spot that you keep getting stuck on. Right. Like it’s okay to start over again. There’s this desire I think when you sit down to play either in practice or when you’re just hanging out and playing by yourself that you want to finish the whole piece. Right. Instead of just being like, “can I just fix this section? Let me just fix this section.” And then the whole thing snaps together so much better. Right. Stop, start over, keep going.

Ryan Higgins (35:25):
That’s true.

Pam Mandel (35:25):
Like, you know… It’s contrary to what you do when you play live. Because if you do that, when you’re live, you just have to keep going. You have to be like, just pretend that never happened. Keep going. Right. But in practice to stop and start over again was I always found that really useful. And you know, or we would stop and just work a section. Right. Let’s do it again. Let’s do it again. Let’s do it again until everybody had it right.

Brad Bordessa (35:47):
Yeah. Well that’s an interesting dynamic too, is with the band and getting the feel of having… Not only playing your part, but playing your part with the band and having that cohesive. Cause I know like Ryan and I were part of a group for a good couple of years and we’d sit and we’d work those little things and being able to play it on your own was very different than being able to play it with people.

Ryan Higgins (36:13):
Yeah. There’s like a different thought process because you’re not just relying… It’s like driving down a road by yourself. You’re like, “Oh I got this.” But then once you’re in like four lanes of city traffic in Seattle…

Pam Mandel (36:31):
I love that!

Ryan Higgins (36:35):
Then you have to be a lot more aware of what’s going on.

Brad Bordessa (36:39):
Well, thanks so much for coming on the podcast you guys, this was a fun little talk story. We’ll have to do it again sometime soon.

Ryan Higgins (36:46):
Yeah.

Pam Mandel (36:47):
Yeah. Thanks for having me. I would prefer if we could do this in person.

Brad Bordessa (36:52):
Yes. Same.

Ryan Higgins (36:53):
Same. One day.

Brad Bordessa (36:55):
We’ll see.

Pam Mandel (36:57):
Someday. Yeah.

Brad Bordessa (36:58):
Yeah. I have no plans of stopping the podcast. So we’ll have to keep doing the podcast and then eventually we’ll just start doing it in person. That would be incredible.

(37:09):
Pam Mandell can be found on nerdseyeview.com. Her new book, The Same River Twice, a memoir of dirt bag backpackers, bomb shelters, and bad travel is available now. It’s getting great reviews and I can’t wait to read it. My family is actually working their way through it. And I’m at the end of the list of who’s going to get to read it in the family. But I’m looking forward to it. Pam’s a fabulous writer and some of her not book-tied work can be found on Nerd’s Eye View, just random musings. And of course she was part of the Seattle Castaways. You can find some of their old videos on YouTube: castawaysukeband. And they’re also on Facebook. If you’re lucky and you shop around, you might be able to find one of their old CDs. You never know.

(37:59):
Ryan Higgins can be found at higgsmusic.com. He does mostly hip hop and rap stylings with ukulele accompaniment and incredibly clever lyrics that I wish I wrote myself. But if you like that style of music, definitely check him out. He’s doing new things with the instrument that I haven’t really heard before. You can follow him on Facebook. He’s always posting fun stuff.

(38:27):
Thanks again, to both of these awesome ukulele players for joining me. My name is Brad Bordessa. The Live Ukulele Podcast is published on the first and third Saturday of every month. Again, please subscribe. And I’ll see in the next episode. Take care of one another out there. Be safe. Be well. Play your ukuleles. Aloha.

brad bordessa avatar About the author: Brad Bordessa I’m an ‘ukulele artist from Honoka’a, Hawai’i, where I run this site from an off-grid cabin in the jungle. I’ve taught workshops internationally, made Herb Ohta Jr. laugh until he cried, and once jammed with HAPA onstage in my boardshorts. More about me