Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Music and Love


If you have never played ukulele with 200 ukulele players, then you are really missing out! (At least in my opinion!) This past weekend, Carolyn and I attended Ukulele camp officially called Mighty Uke Day which, of course, lasted for more than a day! These ukulele camps or festivals turn into reunions for uke players as well as playing for hours and hours!

We are fortunate to live in an area where we can attend many uke festivals since Michigan is a great uke capital of the country. With our bags packed early on Friday, we hit the road on a sunny day to get to camp to register early. As we arrived in Lansing there were so many old friends and new friends to connect with for these short few days. Nametags, lunch, check in to our hotel and back for our first workshop.

Carolyn and I have been teachers forever, and so we know how to be good students…well pretty good students. We took our seats, tuned our ukes and waited for the lovely workshop to begin. However, it seemed as if everyone came out of hiding (finally!) as a hundred players came to that particular workshop. We kept moving our chairs closer and closer together. Finally, everyone was seated, and it sounded as if we were all in a huge band with all the tuning and the ukes in place. The first workshop was hard, by the way! We stumbled through it, taking notes, practicing and then at the end of the first workshop knew that we had already had a great brain workout!

By late afternoon, we could barely zip our uke bags back up as we scurried to dinner to get back in time for the night concert. It is completely amazing to me how fabulously talented are the folks in the uke world. As I told Adam, I will never, ever be that kind of player, but listening to the concert is overwhelming. How can one small ukulele make all of those sounds? Rock band. Classical. Country western. Jazz. Blues. All of those genres were expertly played on the ukulele to a huge crowd of happy listeners.

You would think the evening would be over at 10:30, but oh no. Following the concert, we all headed back to the hotel and filled the lobby with a uke jam until well past midnight. I think the Marriott will never be the same; although they did greet each guest with a small ukulele token attached to our keys! The jam was again so crowded as player after player came into the lobby. The songs were put up on a big screen and we just played our hearts out until one-by-one folks called it a night!

The next day was no exception as we were transported back into our musical world. Again, workshops, networking and a late-night jam session.

By Sunday morning we were packing the car to head home. With a notebook full of notes and a tired uke, we made our way back as the conversation was as colorful as the music we played all weekend. Carolyn is much more a musician than I am, yet I love playing and thinking I am a musician! (I guess we can think we can do anything, and why not?) Research shows that we need “structural and functional brain reorganization beyond the developmental maturation period as an intrinsic property of the human central nervous system.” (Professor Bogdan Draganski, consultant in neurology at the University Hospital in Switzerland.) In layman terms, learning and playing music helps with an aging brain, and let’s face it, everyone has an aging brain! Ukuleles are so reasonable to purchase. They are not expensive, unless you want them to be, and you can have a great time no matter how much you pay. You don’t know how to play? Oh well, you are in luck, our ukulele group, The Steuben Strummers meets the second Monday of every month at the Angola Carnegie Library. Don’t be shy! We welcome you into our group. As I always say bike riding on long trails and playing the uke are definitely Zen moments for me!

Arriving home, I unpacked until Aaron and Rachel stopped by with a dozen pastel roses and an invitation to dinner. Of course, I would never turn that down! I did hear from my other boys and the grandchildren as well, so the weekend ended with a flourish of love.

Music and love…anything better?

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Music and Love

  If you have never played ukulele with 200 ukulele players, then you are really missing out! (At least in my opinion!) This past weekend, C...