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My top tips for improving faster and how to use your practice time more effectively.
Edited for clarity.
Aloha! Welcome to the Live Ukulele Podcast. My name is Brad Bordessa. And we’re back. This is season number three. We made it. Pretty cool. I don’t think many people who start a podcast get this far, from what I’ve seen. All the podcasts out and available on ukulele stuff. They got a handful of episodes, maybe a handful of seasons, but not a lot of season threes. And it’s fun to be able to have all those past episodes in the bag and be able to bring you all along for the ride twice a month to talk about ukulele stuff.
There’s a lot to look forward to this year with liveukulele.com and the Live Ukulele Podcast and just music and ukulele playing in general. But to get started this year, I thought I would throw together kind of an overview podcast with some tips about just generally improving at the ukulele. Nothing super specific, just like what helps make you a better ukulele player and some things that you can implement right now to, you know, take your playing up to the next level.
I want to encourage you to please, please, please subscribe on your favorite podcasting service. It helps boost the visibility of the podcast. And since this is a labor of love, it’s really just a way for me to get people familiar with Live Ukulele and my work. And if it’s not reaching people, it makes it a little bit harder to justify the time that I put into it. So if we can get it out there to as many people as possible, that’s great. It’s a free way you can support what I do with the podcast. So head over to Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts or Anchor or whatever you use and click on subscribe.
Before we get started. Just a little bit of an update and some news. I have started filming my new course. Left Hand Technique for Ukulele. It’s going to be based off of my popular book on fretting hand technique, but this time going to dive into it with video examples, and we’re gonna go way deeper than the book ever went and I’m laying it out so that it’s more of a structured lesson plan. Start at the beginning of the very fundamentals of how to play notes on the ukulele, how to optimize your fretting, make sure you’re playing everything as cleanly as possible. And with the least amount of tension in your hand as possible, and working up from there through different examples and songs up to advanced articulations and you know, crazy stuff that most people are probably never going to need or use. But it’ll be there and I’m really happy to finally be putting this onto video, recording it. It’s gonna take me a while to put it together, cuz I’ve got almost like 50 lessons planned out. So it is going to be quite a process, but the end result should be a really super solid set of lessons. A super solid course, and hopefully will bring a lot of information to you folks and be super useful. So keep an eye out for that.
If you wanna stay up to date on everything that I’m doing, please subscribe to my newsletter or keep an ear on the podcast, cuz I’ll be announcing it here as well. Thanks for your support. And thanks for joining me here. The first episode of season three of the Live Ukulele Podcast. I will shut up now and move along to some tips that you can implement in your playing. Thanks for tuning in.
So my number one tip is all is the same thing. Work on your timing.
I have pretty much yet to run across an ukulele player who couldn’t benefit from improving their timing, right? This is something that pretty much every student that I teach can improve. It’s something that pretty much every musician that you even listen to can improve, right? The stuff that you hear on the radio, it’s obviously performed at a high level, but that high level can always be improved. And that high level is also, you know, one of many probably takes that it took to put the song together in that perfect of a way and/or it was edited to be that perfect. Not so much for older music, but even in older music, you can hear the variations in timing. And that’s because timing is hard for human beings.
So something that you can do… I won’t go into the details of how to really improve your timing, cuz I’ve done some lessons and some videos on that in the past. But what I think is a missed opportunity for most folks is to not be practicing with a metronome while you’re working on other things. If you’re just focusing on practicing one thing, that is kind of wasted time. You would be able to practice more if you got to the point where you can practice along with a metronome. That way you’re practicing your timing without really even thinking about it or without really knowing it. And you can also practice whatever you’re currently working on. So that’s kind of two birds with one stone.
Metronomes can be had for free. There are apps, There are web apps that you can get in your browser. You could buy a physical metronome. Whatever floats your boat, having that and learning to play along with it will do wonders for every ukulele player out there. And it’s something that once you kind of get over the learning curve and you get on board and you’re able to keep time and place your songs and your exercises around that metronome click, you’re going to be automatically internalizing a sense of timing and improving upon that. And really, if you practice without the metronome, that’s time that you just can’t get back. But if you’re doing two things at once, you’re just gonna go that much, further, that much faster. Work on your timing.
Tip number two is going to show off my little bit of party pooper side of things. As a teacher, some folks have called me a party pooper before, which I take as a huge compliment, but it’s just kind of how I approach teaching and how I do things. I’m kind of a hardass. I don’t necessarily paint pretty rosy pictures for everybody. I don’t try and blow smoke anywhere. And that’s who I am. That’s what I do. It’s kind of the Hawaiian music background side of you know, who I am and where I come from.
So this is gonna encompass a number of things kind of along those party pooper lines. But the main thing is that lots of folks kind of distract themselves and waste a lot of time when doing ukulele stuff. And this can come in many different forms, which is why I’m gonna try and wrap this all into one tip. But they find ways to avoid practicing or they browse forums or Facebook or whatever and… Or window shop. That’s another thing. Like lots of ways that take away from time that could be spent practicing ukulele. And if there’s one thing that I’ve seen and learned over the years is that there is absolutely no substitute for time spent on the instrument. If you’re holding it and you’re strumming it or you’re picking it, you’re practicing, you’re more familiar with the instrument and how you can respond musically and become a musician, right?
But if you’re doing things that are in the ukulele sphere… Whether or not they bring you joy, that’s beside the point. I’m not trying to judge anybody for being on ukulele forums. I go on ukulele forums. I look at ukuleles and stuff. But just from a pure, I want to become a better player standpoint. None of that is going to help you. So less is gonna be more in that situation. If you can take that time, doing whatever, thinking about other ukuleles or planning which ukulele you’re gonna buy when your paycheck comes in or, you know, reading about what strings are best or blah, blah, blah. Whatever it might be. You know what they are. Switch that for practice time. Make that into practice time, or at least make some of it into practice time. That’s gonna help you become a better musician than somebody who just kind of watches from the sidelines. And isn’t actually actively involved in playing music on the instrument.
Tip number three, kind of goes hand in hand with tip number two. But basically it is don’t let gear define you. Don’t let strings define you. Don’t let the instrument define you. Let music define you.
I know this is something that I was terribly guilty of when I was a younger player in that… Not so much that I would want an ukulele. Because for me, I had a pretty straightforward progression through having a super crappy little ukulele and then buying myself a better like student model. And then I knew, it was like a year later. I was like, wow, I really like this. This is my thing, I want to do this. And so I saved up and I bought myself my Kamaka. And from that point, you know, especially at that time, there wasn’t much better than a Kamaka. So it was fine for a long time.
But I did do a lot of experimenting with strings and basically the advice that I can give from my more experienced self to folks who maybe haven’t been down that rabbit hole is the returns are very, very diminishing the further you go. There are a few main string types that maybe you want to check out, try Fluorocarbon, try nylon, try the nylgut thing. See what flavor you like, but beyond that, get one. If it really says to you, this is my sound, you know, try a few, see what you like, see what your main flavor choice is. And then from there you just kind of commit. Just that’s good enough. It sounds great. Why keep going and keep looking for something that might not even exist? Maybe there’s nothing better. Maybe you just found it. Maybe that’s the best thing for you. And you just keep looking. It’s a lot of wasted time that you can’t get back.
I’m a fan of Rage Against the Machine, the heavy metal band kind of hip-hop band from the nineties Their guitar player, Tom Morello, talks a lot about a moment when he was young and when he was just practicing and working on his chops in the band. Where he showed up one day and he had been playing around with his pedals and his amp, and just like struggling to find that magic sound that we all imagine inside our heads. He just couldn’t get there. But he realized one day, it’s like, wow, this is pretty good, but I’m not gonna let the gear define me. I am going to call it quits. This is good enough. I’m going to use these pedals and this amp and this guitar, and this is good enough. That’s it. And so that’s pretty much what he did. That was his setup pretty much all the way through Rage Against the Machine. That is what he played. And that was his sound. Because he realized that the music makes such a much larger difference than the actual gear and the actual instrument. And especially with an instrument like ukulele, which is just an acoustic instrument. The differences between them and the differences between strings, they’re really small compared to when you get to like an electric guitar where a new pedal can completely change the sound of what you’re doing.
So just don’t let the gear define you. Try not to go too far down the rabbit hole. Some can be fun, but in the interest of becoming a better player, diminishing returns. Not that crazy important to your musical journey.
Tip number four. I really like this one. And I think it’s super important. Maybe it should be number one. I don’t know if we’re going in reverse order or backwards order or what, but I hope you’ll bear with me and not give too much weight to what order these actually are in, because I’m just kind of winging it here. But tip number four is to mess around with your instrument. Just try things.
This can be any number of different things for any number of different people. Maybe you’re an ukulele player who likes to strum a lot. Play chord in different orders that you might not normally play them in. Just create. Add a finger here, take a finger away there. If you’re holding down the chord shape, there’s a lot of variation you can create just by altering one string. The note on one string. You just move that note around. You’ll end up with some interesting voicings especially if you do it where you’re not intentionally thinking about what it is. Just play music and try and create cool sounds and kind of switch on that play by ear sort of mode. That’s really super important.
And it’s something that I think is easy to forget about, especially for me as a teacher, I’m always trying to think about how to explain things and how to, you know, put them into language and put them into concepts so that I can transfer them from my head to your head. But there’s so much that I could spend a lifetime trying to teach the things that I have just discovered intuitively. And you can discover them intuitively as well if you just kind of give yourself permission to goof around, try different things out.
Probably at this point, I have spent more time just trying things and just improvising. Just, you know, trying to make cool sounds than I have actually practicing or even actually playing, perhaps. The majority of the time that I spend on the instrument when I’m playing is improvisation and like, oh, what would happen if I did this? Or what would happen if I did this? Or trying to play things in ways I’ve never played them before. It’s not because I expect it to be good. It’s because I’m curious and I want to see, oh, what does this do? What does this sound like? Could this work? And trying those things and not approaching it as a critic, just approaching it as a curiosity.
Because I think that that’s something that is a big detriment to Western minds and Western thinking, and certainly Western style ukulele players. You know, if you’re from the USA mainland or even places that are like, you know, developing countries coming on up, and they’re kind of becoming this, I don’t know, this new age globalized place. The style of thinking is changing from intuitive to very much thinking-based, right? Everything can be explained with math or physics or science. And you just explain it to death. Music is not something that you can explain with any of these things, for the most part. You could have all the theory in the world and still not write a moving song because there’s just no emotion to it.
And so by just messing around on the instrument, you unlock the intuitive side of the music that you otherwise won’t if you’re just sticking to the lesson plan, practicing the notes, practicing the chords, whatever you’re doing. You’re missing out if you’re not trying to push the boundaries of what you know and trying things and just really goofing around. It’s super important. And I think everybody can benefit from it. I mean, everybody…
You know, all of my peers, they sit and a lot of the time they spend on the instrument is just trying things. It’s not trying to play it, right. It’s not trying to practice or improve. It’s just like, oh, what happens if I do this? You know, think about the players that you really idolize and think about how much of what they can perform or what they bring to the table as an artist. How much of that would not exist if they had never experimented or, or just tried things? You know, half of what James Hill plays would never have existed if he wasn’t just trying it out and like, oh, what would happen if I did this? What would happen if I stuck a chopstick here? Half of what Jake does would never have existed because you know, he wouldn’t have discovered his sound. He wouldn’t have discovered what it means to have that Jake sound.
So this, this is super important. And even if you’re not wanting to be a professional player, you know, I give those examples because those are people who are well known, but any of us can create music. That’s the bottom line. Any of us have valid music to share. It’s just harder to share if you don’t have that intuitive approach to the music. And so by just playing around, being intuitive, trying things, spending some time playing things wrong. You know, seeing what doesn’t work. It’s gonna give you a better feel for presenting the music that you want to play when you do want to intentionally play something. You’re gonna have just… You’re gonna be more informed as a musician and as an emotionally connected person to the instrument and to the notes.
Okay. So tip number five, kind of piggybacks on the last one, because it’s force yourself to play by ear. This is almost the same thing, but I’ll give it its own tip because I think that it deserves the extra attention. Force yourself to play by ear.
People ask, you know, how do I learn a song by ear? What are the steps? And you’ll see people give like detailed responses of, “well, you start by picking out the melody and figure out what scale it’s in,” or “you figure out the key of the song so that you can know what chords are right.” And those are both true, but they’re also a lot more complicated than they need to be. The easiest way to play by ear is to just start doing it. And to start daring to suck, as James Hill says. I love that. Dare to suck. Because that’s really all it is, is you’re going to play by ear all the wrong notes until you find the one that you want. Until you find the right note.
I did a lesson on how to find the notes of a melody, a YouTube video that I uploaded a while back. That’s probably worth a look. But really it’s not super complicated. You just try notes until you find the one you want. And at first it’s really super slow. I remember trying to figure out my first song by ear – and I was actually doing it the harder way I was trying to figure out chords. I think that finding melody is an easier place to start and a better place to start. But I was trying to figure out the chords of a song. And it was really a simple song as I found out once I got to the end of, you know, working through it. But as I was working through it, I was pulling my hair out. It was absolutely miserable and I was super frustrated. But then the next time I did it, it was easier. And it kept getting easier. Until now, I’m pretty much at a point, you know, if my chops are up and I’ve been practicing, where you throw me up on stage and I can pretty much figure out the song as it’s playing and, you know, contribute to the song musically as it’s going. And just respond kind of intuitively and instantly, because I’ve spent all that time in the trenches, just slogging it out. “Okay. What is this note? Oh, that’s not right. That’s not right. That’s oh, there it is. That’s the one.” And then “what’s the next note? Okay. Now that’s not right. Oh, it’s that one.” Right? And you just work your way through it and you go super slow.
But I think a pitfall that a lot of people get stuck in is that they think that there’s a certain way to play by ear, or there are certain rules to play by ear. And there’s not. Nothing could be further from the truth. Playing by ear is just playing intuitively. Because you’ve done it enough times that you know where the sound that you want is. If you’re thinking about it technically and you’re like, “okay, well the interval between there and there is a sixth,” or “it’s a major six, that means it’s X number of frets, or it’s this shape…” That’s already really a super slow way of examining what’s happening. It’s way better just to play what you’re trying to do and express it just by playing it. And if you’re always trying to think it out, you never give yourself a chance to express it intuitively, right? There’s never that chance to have that alternative mode of thinking and interacting with the music. You’re always locked into just, oh, it’s this far away so it must be this. And then it’s, it’s this shape. And you know, the song’s over by the time you think through all that stuff.
So by playing by ear and by just starting and by just struggle busing until you get even one note. One note is an achievement. And the next note that you play is gonna be a little bit easier and a little bit easier and a little bit easier. Until you get to the point where it’s becomes natural to play by ear. So I think that playing by ear is something that’s super valuable to any player, especially if you don’t do any of it. It gives you a really different view of the music. And it gives you what I feel is almost a more valuable view of the music. Because you can respond musically. You can respond intuitively and not have to think about it. That’s really all there is to it. You just play it.
So here’s one, that’s a little bit ironic because I wrote a book called Ukulele Chord Shapes that is, to my knowledge, one of the most thorough chord books you can get for ukulele. It has a ton of shapes and a lot of context for how they work on the fretboard. It’s been well received. Lots of people love it. But I literally wrote the book about chords. And yet this next tip is going to be kind of against that grain.
So tip number six, don’t learn fancy chord. Or don’t spend your time learning fancy chords. For most people, there are better things you could be practicing than trying to memorize a fancy jazz chord or a, you know, a family of fancy jazz chords. When you need a specific chord for a song, that’s one situation. That’s a whole kind of other thing. But as far as like, knowing your chords, like, oh yeah, I know how to play all the major chords. And I know how to play all the minor chords. When you’re talking about that, you really don’t need that much vocabulary. What’s more important is what you do with it, right?
So here’s my proposed toolbox of chords that most people should have. Or I guess I should say that I’m super biased because this is the toolbox that I use for 99% of what I play. Major chords, minor chords, seventh chords. And then for each of those, you add an extension tone, right? So a major chord is a three note chord. To make it more fancy, you add a fourth note to it, right? So that would be 6th, sometimes major 7th. But major and M6. And then for minor, same thing, it’s a three note chord. To make it a four note chord, you’d be playing minor 7ths. For seventh chords – that’s already a four note chord. So what you’re gonna do is you add a fifth note. We only have four strings. So you have to get rid of one of the less important notes. That’s all it is. You just get rid of it. Usually it’s the root note. But now you have more sophisticated notes in that same chord, and that would be the 9th. So for major, you have the plain major chord, you have the major 6th chord, sometimes the major 7th. For minor, you have the plain minor chord and the minor 7th. And for 7th chords, you have the plain 7th chord and a dominant 9th chord. That’s six chord families.
Plus it’s nice to know, like the diminished 7th shape. That’s pretty handy. And it’s only in one shape that’s super easy to learn. And it’s probably a good idea to know an augmented chord in case you ever play anything weird that has that Star Wars intro sound. But beyond that, trying to memorize extra fancy chords, I don’t think is the best way that most people could be using their time. Certainly if you’re an advanced player and you’re really into jazz, there’s a lot to be benefited from having a deeper understanding of harmony and knowing what more options might be.
But for most folks, you know, there’s other things on this tip list that would be a lot more important to work on. You know, is your timing strong? I would rather hear a 9th chord played with good timing than a 13th chord played all over the beat, right? Musically, the 9th chord on time is going to sound better. It just is. Just from a musical standpoint, if you were to play two different clips for an average listener, the one that’s on beat is gonna sound way better than the one that’s offbeat every single time. They’re not gonna care what chord you’re playing, whether it’s fancy or not. Maybe it sounds a little bit more plain. But if you’re playing something that sounds a little bit more complicated and it’s still offbeat, who cares? It’s offbeat. I can’t dance to it.
So those are the main chords that I would try and put my efforts towards. And to be completely honest, those are the chords that I mainly play, for me as an ukulele player. If I go to a gig and I’m playing, or if I’m working on an arrangement, those four note chords to substitute with the major or the minor, those are completely sufficient for most of what I’m trying to do. And if I need a different sound, if I need a different sound, usually I’m going to just intuitively alter the chord by adding a finger on a string or taking away a finger on a string and trying to change some of the notes in the chord shape that I already know, then trying to figure out exactly what an appropriate substitution chord would be exactly. Like, I never get out my chord book and I don’t actually have all of the chord shapes in the book internalized. I’m kind of whistle blowing on myself here, but it’s true. I don’t use all of those so I don’t have them in my head. They’re just so obscure that there’s not a super practical use for them.
So it’s a lot easier just to know a handful of chord families really well, and be able to change them when you need something a little bit different, right? I could play a 9th chord and know that from a 9th chord, if I put a finger here, it gets a little bit more weird. Or if I put a finger here, it gets a little bit more normal. You can kind of adjust the flavor just by adding a finger and you don’t even need to know what the chord is called or what family it is or what substitution it is. Does it sound good?
I got to study a little bit with Kimo Hussey for a week at a workshop that was put on by my mentor Keoki Kahumoku. And one of his biggest kind of emphasis points, at least for me, when we were private lessons was play what sounds good? I asked him… I had been listening to a lot of Santana and Santana makes notes sound really good, right? He’s a fantastic guitarist. And he really makes them sound sweet. Everything that he plays is really soulful and really moving musically. And I thought that there must be an explanation to this. He must be doing something that can be figured out musically, right? With theory or whatever. So I asked Kimo Hussey, it’s like, can you show me what the best sounding intervals are? Cuz I thought maybe the distance between the notes is what was making the notes sound so good.
And looking back on that, that’s such an embarrassing question to have asked, but just by asking that and saying it out loud and by hearing his response… His response was very thoughtful, of course. He said something along the lines of, well, why don’t you try playing all the intervals and see which ones sound best to you? That was kind of the gist of his spiel. But looking back there’s no such thing as a perfect formula for having that substitution or for having that note that is gonna sound better than the others. And it’s really just a matter of experimenting and trying it. And does it sound good? If it sounds good, play it. If it doesn’t, maybe you wanna upgrade and find something better. Or not. Just, you know, stick it out and stay with the thing that doesn’t sound quite as good. But really the choice is that simple. Is, does it sound good or do I want to try and find something else?
And so from that standpoint, I think that most ukulele players can get away with a smaller chord vocabulary then they’re led to believe. Certainly, if you’re not playing jazz, you can keep it really simple. If you are playing jazz, there might be places where you want to know a 13th chord. But there are also places where you better be damn sure that you’re playing that 13th chord on time before you’re learning 13th chords, right? That’s the more important piece. And that’s what you should try. Try not to get stuck or hung up on one thing when it’s really something else that’s making it sound less ideal. That’s really the main thing is, does it sound good?
Tip number seven is learn the entire song. Learn it all the way through. A lot of times it’s easy to, especially if you’re an ukulele player who doesn’t sing and just likes to play instrumental stuff, it’s really easy to get distracted by just playing the riffs or just playing the solo or just playing the cool parts, right? The stuff that’s immediately attractive. Like, Ooh, that’s shiny! That’s, that’s an exciting part of the song. Because if you don’t play the other parts, you’re missing out on a lot of the story.
A song is a story. You know, we expect there to be a certain format. We expect certain parts of the song. Even if it’s just a simple song that has verse, verse, verse and at the end of the verse you tag something. That’s a structure, but you expect that sort of structure. And that’s different from just being able to play the intro. Like, oh yeah, I know this song. And then you play the intro, but then there’s nothing else to the song. It’s sort of, it’s not complete. And anybody that you were to play the song for wouldn’t feel like it was complete either.
Beyond that, I think that it’s important from a discipline standpoint to learn to play songs all the way through. To be able to commit yourself to, I’m gonna learn this song and I’m gonna get all the way through it instead of being distracted by the next thing, or the next bit, or the next song that I wanna learn. Learn a song all the way through and practice it until you can play it well.
I know that a lot of folks play ukulele as a hobby. That’s fantastic. But in that kind of good vibes, it’s just a hobby mindset. It’s easy to get kind of complacent to maybe the craft. And it’s a little bit more about, you know, oh, it’s just for fun. It’s good times. And yes, it’s those things, but don’t let that be an excuse to only have part of a song, right? The craft of playing music is to present an entire song. So if you’re shorting yourself and your listeners by not having that entire story, that’s really too bad.
And I speak to this as somebody who spent a lot of time as a younger player just playing riffs. And just playing intros. And not having a complete package to perform for anybody. And I regret that. Because as a musician, I was very limited. I wasn’t able to ever really get up on stage and present my own songs. I always had to be part of somebody else’s band, so to speak, to be able to play music. If I only knew the riff I had to be playing with somebody who could hold and carry the rest of the song, otherwise I couldn’t present the whole song. So in the interest of being able to be a self-contained musician yourself, I would really encourage you to learn the entire song, learn it all the way through. If you’re singing the song, you know, learn as many of the words as you can. As many the verses as are practical. For most pop kinds of songs, that’s gonna be fairly straightforward. There’s not gonna be that many words, unless you’re learning a Bob Dylan song or something.
But I think that you’ll find that in the long run, it becomes more fulfilling to have complete music to present, whether it be for yourself or for an audience. Just that discipline of being able to boom, here’s a song all the way through that I learned, that I took the time to dedicate myself to. Otherwise I’m not quite exactly sure, you know, what the point is. Honestly. I can’t remember what the point was for me back in the day when I wasn’t learning songs all the way through. I’m not sure why I thought that was enough. I honestly don’t remember that. But looking back, now I realize that it wasn’t enough. And I think that I could have had a more meaningful relationship with music and, you know, people who wanted to interact with my music by being listeners is like, oh, could you play a song for us? And that was a very limiting factor, not being able to play a song because I didn’t really have anything that I could play all the way through like, oh, well here’s a snippet of a song. That’s not… It’s something. I definitely don’t wanna say that it’s not worth your time to learn cool things, or it’s not worthy, or it’s not X, Y, Z. But it means so much more to the listener and the relationship that you can have with the listener if the story is complete.
I could go on for hours and hours about all the things that I think are important for folks to work on and things that have helped me over the years. But really that’s a lot to chew on. There’s a lot of really good, actionable steps in there that you can take. If you want to find out more about any of the specific things that you can do, check out my website, liveukulele.com for more information, and to find lessons regarding a lot of those subjects.
Last thing I’ll leave you with is to perform. Even if it’s for your dog, by getting your music to a place where you feel comfortable, like you can perform it. It really brings about that kind of musical discipline of being able to learn a song and then practice the song until it’s at a place where you feel comfortable performing it. That’s a big part of the musical journey. And it’ll teach you a whole lot about the song and about practice and about music in general. Just being able to take that piece and present it.
I know for me that one of the greatest joys in life is performing. You get up on stage and you know, maybe you’re nervous at first and you’re not sure how it’s gonna go and, “oh, am I gonna be able to play the notes right?” “Am I gonna sing on key?” And then you get up on stage and you do it and, you know, provide you don’t completely bomb, which does happen and can happen. But that’s why you prepare the more you practice, the less likely you are to bomb, but you get off that stage and it’s such a rush and it’s so exciting and so uplifting to be able to partake in that. And that’s always super exciting for me and something that I’ve certainly missed during the COVID slowdown of the music business and the lack of gigs is that there’s not really any chance to perform. Certainly not a chance to perform at like a show where you’re on stage. And, you know, there’s a big sound system and you get to be kind of the star, as it were. That’s really special. That’s pretty cool.
And even if it’s just for your parents or for your roommate or whatever, that little bit of butterflies and nervousness and that little bit of extra pressure that that performance pushes on you, it can kind of leverage out that feeling of that exhilaration of being able to share the music in that way. And it’s really great. And I think it’s something that everybody should try at least once. Cuz at the end of the day, that’s really what music is about is being able to share and to uplift people.
And for the most part, you know, most people are going to be very forgiving about what you’re playing because most people don’t play music. That’s what I’ve learned over the years is that if I go up on stage and I make a mistake, 99% of people don’t notice. The only people who do notice are musicians, other musicians. Or if I acknowledge the mistake. If I make a mistake and then I stop, everybody knows it was a mistake, but if I make a mistake and I keep going, most people won’t notice. And the same is gonna always be true for your audience unless you’re playing in a room with a bunch of high level musicians, in which case, you know, they’re going to appreciate the effort you’ve put in to get yourself to where you’re at. And if they don’t, you know, screw them, they’re obviously not the kind of empathetic people you wanna be surrounding yourself with.
So that is a lot of information. Hopefully some of it you found valuable, hopefully there’s some of it that you can implement into your own practicing. Music is a journey. There’s nowhere to be. But you gotta keep the car on the road and hopefully I can help you do that. Help you learn to steer a little bit better with these podcasts and with my lessons.
Once again, please go subscribe to the podcast if you’re not already. It’s something that helps the cause, helps the exposure of the podcast and the work that I do. You can also go check out, liveukulele.com for lots of free lessons and handout kinds of materials along with my eBooks and my course soon to be two courses! Left Hand Technique is on the way. Can’t wait to get that out to the world, but it’s gonna be a minute. Stay tuned. It’s gonna be great. Really am super excited about the learning and the different things that I’m going to be able to share with you folks. And that we can explore regarding taking ukulele playing to a higher level.
Thank you for tuning in. Tell your friends, tell your dog. And just remember, play music. That’s the bottom line that I always keep coming back to is that, in this world, it’s so easy to get confused and to get down on doing things a certain way. And you know, maybe life isn’t working out quite as we hoped or we anticipated especially right now, but that music is kind of a window into a different world. And if we embrace that different world, we embrace that different way of thinking. I think that is really valuable for our souls and for our wellness to be able to experience that art and to engage that other side of our brain.
So mainly what I want to say by that is play intuitively. Just explore. You know, approach the instrument as if you were a child. Try and always discover new things. Play. They call it playing music because it’s play. It’s not work. It’s not supposed to be hard. It’s supposed to be fun. Think about, you know, if you’re child, you’re out exploring, you’re out creating imaginary scenarios, just always creating everything. Try and bring that to the instrument because all of us, in the big picture, have so little time involved with music that we really are children in that aspect to that craft of the music.
So thanks for tuning in. Thanks for joining me. And I’ll catch you back here on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of every month. Next episode, I’m really excited about. I interviewed my friend Kelly Hyde from up in Kohala. She’s an amazing songwriter and a baritone ukulele player. Fabulous voice and really one of my favorite musicians on the island to run across. She played a number of songs on the podcast and sent me over some music files so I could share even more. They’re all fabulous. I hope you’ll tune back in to hear what she has to share and to hear some of her music.
Until then, all my very best. I’ll catch you down the road. Aloha.