You Can’t Get Bucked Off a Ukulele

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When I started playing the Ukulele, there were some chords that were easy to get my fingers around and there were others that… weren’t so easy. The B chord, for instance, made me feel like I had lost any ability to coordinate my fingers.

You have to smush down two strings with one finger, and then kind of extend the next two fingers at an angle no two fingers are designed to go at, higher up and further across. And then just at the point where you get all three of your fingers in the place required for this magnificent masterpiece you are about to unleash on everyone’s ears, your first finger turns mutinous and refuses to have anything to do with it. It only wants to be used to eat cake, even though you tell it this is NOT a cake-eating time, and in fact, this is the time in your adult life where you are supposed to be making magnificent music. If only your fingers would cooperate.

So, the thing about the Ukulele is that it is not attached to anything else in my life. I don’t get paid to play (thank god). If I sound awful, I’m unlikely to break myself, damage anything or otherwise put myself in peril. No one has any expectations of my Ukulele playing (in fact, everyone looks quite shocked that sometimes the sounds I make seem ok. I’m not sure I appreciate them looking quite so shocked). I don’t need to understand what makes my Ukulele tick and it’s unlikely to buck me off. So far, I’ve never heard of such a thing happening.

And so, I tinker. I tinker without expectation and I tinker while I’m also doodling around with something else.

And then, all of the sudden, I can play B. It just happens. My brain and my fingers have connected. My neural pathways have risen to the glorious place on high that shouts “LET THERE BE B!”.


So, the thing is, at no point is my emotional brain involved.

I don’t curse the B chord. Not much anyway. I don’t think about the rest of the chords that I might never be able to play. I don’t turn my Ukulele out into a paddock with other abandoned Ukulele’s while the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee has its way with me, convincing me that I am utterly useless.

I just let myself learn.

There’s magic in letting yourself learn. You are supposed to repeatedly not get it right. In fact, your brain relies on it. You might see the failure, but your brain sees the learning.

It says, thank you! Now we can adjust. Now we can tweak. Now we can practice again.

Until one day, you hear “LET THERE BE B!!!”

And the thing that happens that you’ve let not happen time and time again takes up residence in your body, and now you can play.


❤️ Jane

And to answer your question: yes, this will be the photo I’m using to submit to my agent in Nashville (NB: if you are an agent in Nashville I don’t have one yet).


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