30-Day Challenge Report - Ukulele Challenge

Image by  University of Hawaii at Manoa Library , courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Image by University of Hawaii at Manoa Library, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

At the beginning of the month, I announced that I was going to practice ukulele every day in an attempt to work on my technique and learn some new tunes. Today marks the end of my latest 30-Day Challenge on Think Wilder, so it is time to write a review of my challenge and share my experience.

I consider the challenge to be an overall success—I played and/or practiced ukulele nearly every day this month, with the exception of three days. I was unable to play the instrument on those days purely because of poor time management. I brought my ukulele along with me to this year's All Good Festival and played while I was there, although I have yet to build up the confidence needed to truly belt out some of the vocals of the tunes that I am practicing.

One of the main benefits that I experienced was that the challenge got me used to picking up and strumming my ukulele daily, which is similar to my experiences with other 30-Day Challenges as well—the challenge period instills a habit that often has the potential to continue beyond the original 30 days. Even if some of the days only involved 10 minutes of practice, it was still enough to feel like I was on a streak and inspire me to keep it going.

While I didn't learn as many songs as I wanted to, I was able to add a few new tunes to my repertoire: Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, Amazing Grace, Hey Jude, and What a Wonderful World. I remembered the joy of learning a new song—that feeling of personal growth that comes from fresh experiences like stretching the fingers of my left hand into foreign shapes to awkwardly hammer out a brand new chord or the excitement of belting out lyrics that I've never seen before. Learning new songs was definitely my favorite part about practicing ukulele during this challenge.

In the practice of learning new chords, I developed novel rhythm patterns to use in the little ditties that I am writing. I already have a few chord progressions put together, so now I just need to pen some lyrics and I will be able to say that I have written some of my own tunes!

The resources I used include the fake book The Daily Ukulele, chord progression websites for strumming along with music (which I did while live streaming the Grateful Dead's Fare Thee Well Tour and Phish's Summer 2015 Tour), the iPhone apps PanoTuner and Ukulele Companion, and the website Ukulele Tricks.

Because of the challenge, I am re-energized and motivated to learn even more songs on ukulele and reconnect with the act of creating and performing music. As I mentioned in the original post for this challenge, I have prolonged experience with multiple other musical instruments and definitely benefit from expressing myself through music. Another successful 30-Day Challenge completed!