12 Weeks to Playing the Ukulele

ukuele last checkin

Did you guys all have a fantastic long weekend?  I sure did!  I went down to Kiawah Island and Charleston with my girlfriends and we had a fabulous time.  A few beach days, some exploring the city, and lots of wine and adult coloring.  A big thanks to Jessie for turning me onto these amazing coloring books geared toward adults.

Anyway… There is good and bad news today.  The best news is that we’ve completed our 12 week summer learning challenge!!  How did you DO?

I know some of you were learning skills that had a very measurable tracking process (like my uke) and others had longer term, intuitive skills (like styling).

Regardless of what you chose waaaay back in June, I want to hear how your progress went and how you feel like you’re doing today, 12 weeks after the start of our challenge.  Let me know in the comments below and by tagging #earnestchallenge on social media!

For me, I chose to learn how to play the ukulele.  I was excited to learn something totally outside my wheelhouse.  And I mean totally out of my wheelhouse…. Usually when picking up new skills, I choose something craft related (learn to knit),  language related (I’m currently learning Italian), or sport related (this summer I tried my hand at golf).  With all of those things, however, I already had a pretty good understanding of how to learn them.  I am crafty, so learning new crafts is just like another drop in the bucket.  Similar with languages.  I speak 3 well, so piling on another isn’t a huge deal. And sports, well, I played lacrosse in high school, so I have a general understanding of sports that involve sticks and balls (haha).

When it came to playing a musical instrument, I had no foundation.  I had never played in the school band or taken piano lessons as a child or anything like that.  I did sing in the choir, but that was the extent of my musical base.

Throughout the 12 weeks something were easier than I thought they would be and some things were more difficult.



Learning chords – (and making them sound good!). I was surprised how early out of the gate I could string together a few chords and kind of hear a song. It’s encouraging to see progress so quickly.

Tuning – I bought the Guitar Tuna app (with it’s uke extension) and it made it very easy to tune my ax each time I went to play it.

Reading music – I thought reading uke tabulature would be really hard, but it made sense and was fairly easy to understand.

Learning new songs – just ‘You Tubing’ a song I like pops up with lots of tutorials and they’re pretty great.  I primarily used the Ukulele Teacher and his tutorials are great! Now if I could just get a handle on the hard parts of playing…


Actually strumming – while getting the chords came simply to me, strumming did not.  I thin it’s because the chords are a very black and white thing… you do or don’t hit it the note. But strumming is more of a personal preference thing.  You just have to feel the pattern of the strum and tempo.  That is something I do not have yet.

Conditioning my fingers – guys, my fingers are SORE.  I feel like such a weenie! I wrap my strumming finger in multiple band-aids before I play, or else the cuticle gets seriously abraised.

Tempo – I can play lots of things very very slowly.  Picking up the tempo takes lots of time and practice.

Singing – The second I start singing with my planing, the whole thing falls apart. It’s like patting your head and rubbing your stomach, but much harder.

So, at the end of 12 weeks, I think I’ve come along way, but I still have a lot of practice. The basics have been learned and I have a good sense of what I need to continue doing to get better, which is all a girl can ask for in just a few months of something so completely new. I am committed now to pushing my skills and becoming proficient enough to have a good party trick to bring out.

Back to YOUR progress.  Below in the comments, please let me know ONE easy part and ONE hard part of the skill you learned!  Ok, go!

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