I tend to get inspired by people who go against the odds, people who do life outside the box.
Most of you know me and how in my own life I detest the run of the mill existence where life runs to a routine that tends to grind out my creativity, crushes my excitement for living, quenches my thirst for adventure and creates fear and trepidation for trying new things. I hate my “Comfort Zone”.
This is why I’m attracted to the Grey Nomads at Dumaresq Dam who play musical instruments and sing.
You see, they all started to play, sing and write in their later years. Two of the group picked up instruments for the first time only months ago. I love their complete lack of concern about how good or bad they are at it, they do it for the challenge and the pleasure.
Each of these individuals has a story that’s touching and sometimes heartbreaking but they live a happy and contented life in spite of that. They refuse to act according to the life script written by the unseen hand of social conformity.
They harm no one, break no laws, and live in peace with those around them. They’re generally not boisterous and loud, nor do they stick their chests out in self pride or continually interrupt conversation to inform all around of the extent of their knowledge and experience as is often the case in small groups.
These are humorous people without needing to be obscene or base in order to be funny.
So it’s this crowd who inspired me to visit the Armidale Music Store and purchase a Ukulele!
Now I played the “Uke” as a kid and “graduated” to the guitar in the very early teens but apart from a couple of years resurgence when I was at sea on the “WJ Scott” I’ve never seriously picked up an instrument since.
I’ve often thought about taking it up again but I look at the talent of musicians who’ve dedicated themselves to their instruments all their lives and up against them I believed I’d look like an idiot.
Well you know what? I will and I couldn’t care less!
I thought the Ukulele was best since a guitar would take up too much room in the van and would be difficult to play in the car while travelling with Kerrie driving.
The Ukulele I was going to buy was $29.95, just a modest instrument to start off. As I looked at the brightly coloured Ukes hanging on the music store racks, another took my eye. Larger and made with an obvious quality it stood out in a beckoning sort of way. I enquired about it and the shop assistant took it down and played a couple of notes.
The mellow richness resonating from those first couple of notes had me sold as completely as Kerrie can be sold on a slab of chocolate in a Lolly shop.
It’s a Baritone Ukulele, about half way between a conventional sized soprano ukulele and a guitar. Constructed of a light coloured timber with black fret board it’s lovely to look at and easy to hold.
After getting it home and playing around with it for a while I was surprised at how quickly the basic chords came back to me after almost 50 years.
The chords for a Baritone Ukulele are different from a soprano Uke as the Baritone is really the first four strings of a guitar. I downloaded a few chord charts and song sheets off the net and a couple of “How to Play the Ukulele” videos from YouTube. The blokes from the Grey Nomad group gave me some song sheets and off I went into a wonderful new world of being able to make music – although “music” is probably stretching it a bit at the moment. I can’t tell you the enjoyment I felt from the first few hours of playing around with this instrument.
It’s so nice doing something just for the pleasure of it without needing to be “Good at it”.
Here’s the difference between a standard Uke and a Baritone Ukulele and how it SHOULD be played…