Thursday, February 12, 2009

"My" Ukulele

I posted this on another blog earlier in the week, but I thought you needed a break from my dust.

When I was home, Dad gave me his ukulele, so I came home with it carefully wrapped in clothes and in the suitcase, with a bottle of musical instrument oil. He played it, as it turns out, for over 50 years and we kids used to play with it and abused it, so there was plenty of dirt, grit and who-knows-what-else. Besides, Dad used to smoke two packs of Camel a day.

I always thought he bought it himself when he was a student, but it transpired Mom gave it to him as a present before I was born! Mom didn't remember, but Dad is the kind of guy that remembers these things. (He used to be a hopeless Romantic. He once let me read a letter he wrote to Mom!)

It's a very special thing for me. My parents don't have much they can hand down to us, and there are three of us. But he used to play it most often when I was the only kid, and Mom was pretty sure my siblings wouldn't be interested. He was pretty good, and he knew a lot of Hawaiian songs. Kath Bee tried it last week, and told me it's a really good instrument, even though the pegs (??) at the top are wooden, so it gets out of tune even as you play one song.

I hope to practice, but no sweat if I'm no good or progress slowly. It's a piece of family history, and particularly appreciated because of my tenuous relationship with Dad. Though at times it can be tough being the oldest, there are lots only I share with my parents, because I was the only child for the six and a half years.

But then if you take the humble instrument to Paris, it can be make truly respectable music, especially in the hands of such long fingers!! Hats off. (Thank you, Lynne, for the pointer.)

4 comments:

  1. I play uke, Meg! Except I can't anymore because it hurts my wrists too much. I learned in the late 1970s when I lived on Maui. And I actually bought one four years ago, played for a while again, then had to stop. It is a wonderful instrument.

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  2. Instruments are a big part of some lives and it is very nice when they can be passed down.My hubby plays a banjo passed to him from his Dad and it will passed on to our kids and grandkids.

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  3. Connie, now that ukulele is popular again, we can talk about this openly, but I used to think he really picked an odd instrument, until I found out there was a huge Hawaiian music fad in Japan after the war, about the time Dad was a student.

    Coinguyslady, hello, and I assume that would be the CoinGuy? I used to think the uke was a semi-instrument, hardly as satisfying as, say, a piano or a guitar, but holding it and playing it, I find it resonates with the diaphragm and is immensely exciting to play. Yay!

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  4. Connie, lived on Maui? That sounds so exotic!

    Conguyslady, by the way, nice watermark!

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