The 52 Weeks Project : Week 7
On Earth we strive for earthly things
and suffer sorrows daily
In Heaven, choirs of angels sing,
while we play ukulele
For those of you who don’t go to the Toronto Ukulele Jam, the above poem is the ukulele benediction penned by David Newland, that finishes each Wednesday night ukulele jam in Toronto. The Corktown Ukulele Jam was started by Steve McNie and David Newland in 2009.
My history with the ukulele started almost 20 years ago when I bought a cheap $40 ukulele at the Hilo Farmer’s Market. It was a junky ukulele, but I loved it. I loved that it fit my small hands. I loved that it could fit into the hatch of a kayak, was small enough to bring camping with me, and fit into my suitcase when I was a traveling systems consultant. I keep one in the kitchen so that I can play it while I wait for my water to boil. I can play it in a car while stopped at a stoplight. It travels well, and I like to travel.
The first song that I learned to play on it was Morrissey’s Every Day is Like Sunday. I liked the juxtaposition of the morose song with the pluckiness of the ukulele. It was the only song that I knew how to play for many years, until I got a music lesson. From then, the floodgates opened and I couldn’t stop playing.
I challenged myself 4 1/2 years ago to get up on stage at the ukulele jam to share a song. It was the first time I had ever sang seriously in front of anyone. I was nervous and my voice was shaky but the room was filled with such support and ever since then, it’s become easier and easier. From there, I learned something. To share who you are with people. I went from being an odd girl playing ukulele in my living room, to being an odd girl playing the ukulele for other odd people who like to play the ukulele. 🙂 The feeling is quite amazing actually — to connect. That is the magic of the Corktown Ukulele Jam. It is a community that is very supportive of who we each are and a place where I have met some of my favorite friends. The evening is filled with fantastic musicians, and there is always laughter. It is a special place to me; a place with so much heart.
On Wednesday February 12th, I came full circle with the ukulele. I shared the first song that I ever learned. A sad Morrissey song, but I couldn’t stop smiling, even though the lyrics said come Armageddon, come armageddon come… it was a ukulele milestone for me. An anniversary for an instrument that demands little from me, but gives so much to my life. Thank you ukulele, and thank you Corktown Ukulele Jam.
P.S. Hawaii is considering making the ukulele the official instrument of Hawaii – the funny thing was that I thought it already was.