As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am a member of the Melbourne Ukulele Kollective, and play in the Ukulele Big Band.
I first fell in love with the ukulele two years ago, when I saw MUK perform as part of the Darebin Music Feast. I’d never played one before – or even entertained the thought that I would – but by the end of that gig, three audience members including myself were converted. I went out the next day and bought my first uke.
We now have three ukuleles as a family – well, I’m the only one who plays them, but the baritone is officially Michael’s. Meg had one, too – in baby pink – but I was really kidding myself when I bought it for her. It had been untouched for almost a year when my ten-year-old niece, Jacqui, over from Adelaide for a visit, picked it up and started playing.
Unbeknown to us, Jacqui had been learning classical guitar for a year. It only took her about three seconds to work out where the notes were and she started picking a blues number. Needless to say, I sent it home with her. If Meg ever wants one again, I’ll happily buy her another.
The other musical activity I’m involved in is singing in a country & western choir called Lipstick and Spurs. I’d no more been a fan of country music than I had of ukuleles when I was asked to add my voice for a recording session that the choir was doing, but again I fell completely in love and have been part of it for a year now. It is the best fun, and the choir members are a fantastic bunch.
I’m a latecomer to music performance, having only realised that I had a ‘voice’ when I was in my twenties. Singing only became really important to me after I lost my voice for eight months, about four years ago. More than anything, I missed singing with Meg and singing along with the radio, though if you’d asked me before I lost my voice, I would have said that I didn’t sing much at all. A persistent weakness has meant that the first thing affected by any stress or illness is my voice, so I have to be really careful with it.
Fortunately for me, singing has also been the best exercise I can give my vocal chords. I bet there aren’t many people who can say that they sing on doctor’s orders (or, at least, on speech pathologist’s orders)!
I may have been a late bloomer in this area, but it has become a really important part of who I am, and it is all so much fun! And life is serious enough – ukuleles, twangy country songs and lots of laughter are a good remedy for it.