I find my eight-string ukulele really difficult to tune. The first two pairs of strings are one octave apart, the last two pairs the same notes, and once I’ve gone through the strings the first ones seem to have gone out of tune again. The husband kindly tunes it for me occasionally, as for some reason it behaves for him (or he’s just better at tuning things than me).
I had this picture book when I was little – an illustrated version of “The Fox Went Out On a Chilly Night” – and it now sits in Edward’s bookcase, rather battered. I have always been fond of it, and I really like Nickel Creek’s speedy bluegrass version of the song. When I was first playing ukulele, I put together the chords for it as it’s a nice easy song – only three chords – but good practice for a beginner with the fast changes during the bit before the “town-o, town-o” section in each verse.
Now that Edward is older I can get more chores done with him actually being a small help, rather than a determined little hindrance, and as a result I’ve been trying to do things like play music during his naptimes rather than catching up on housework. Last weekend I propped up my phone on a pile of recipe books on the verandah, and recorded myself playing a few songs. It’s interesting watching myself play and seeing things I don’t notice in the moment – the sudden hunch over the ukulele when I have to stretch my fingers into a bar chord, or the odd way I lean back in the above video because I’m running out of breath and need to finish the line. I am working on my strumming at the moment, trying to be less repetitive and “thunka-thunka-thunka” and have more variation and tone in my playing. I’m never going to be an excellent instrumentalist, because most of my enjoyment comes from accompanying myself singing – I really like being able to sit down and bash out a few songs.