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So guess what? I’m learning to play the ukelele.  I asked for one for my birthday last month, and so far I’ve got 4 chords down.  That’s enough to play a lot of songs, but of course, I’m nowhere near good enough to introduce that to the act yet.

You’d be amazed at how different a ukelele sounds than you’d expect.  Ever heard of Jake Shimabukuru? Go on Youtube and check him out. You’ll be amazed.  And that version of Over The Rainbow by Iz (Israel) kamakawiwoole is stunningly pretty.  So no, it’s not all “woka woka woka” kind of music…

Mine is a concert ukelele and it sound like a tenor or capo’d guitar. I love it – it has very sweet tones to it and it’s not intimidating at all. I have REALLY SMALL hands, so it fits just right – guitars overwhelm me.

So why a ukelele, Annan? Well, see, here’s the thing:  I love to sing. I mean I LOVE to sing. I believe a voice is an instrument, and I everytime I use my “instrument” I try to get better and better at it.  But I’ve always wanted to learn to play an actual instrument as well.  I was in band as a child, and loved my clarinet and my flute, but developed asthma and ended up switching away from them to the xylophone.  Granted, it didn’t use my lungs, but it wasn’t nearly as fun for me either, so I stopped playing.  Over the years, after I outgrew my asthma, I’ve focused more on singing, and I love it more than anything else I do. It is the one hobby I’ve taken on that I just NEVER get bored with, and am always working to improve at.  But I’d love to be able to play to accompany myself. Singing to backgrounds is wonderful, but there is a feeling to live music – an organic feeling, plus an ability to improvise – that I can’t get using backtracks.

And then let’s add this in:  The truth is, there are places out there in SL, and people out there in SL, who don’t see what I do as “real” music. That burns me up. It really does. Every time I sing, it is with every ounce of energy and concentration I can muster. I have a very sophisticated set-up of mics, mixing boards and music.  I sing a wide variety of songs ranging across a truly diverse spectrum of genres. And still, you hear the occasional ignorant person denounce it as “just singing” or as “karaoke”.

Sure – I guess you might say that technically, I’m singing to pre-recorded background music, like you do with karaoke.  But that’s not what I’m doing in my head and my heart, and it’s not what I’m doing with these songs. Every new song that I sing I have practiced and sung over and over and over until I can forget about the little technicalities, and truly sing it with my heart and my soul for the people listening. I am not singing karaoke, I am performing covers with a back-up band.  It doesn’t matter if the backup band is there, or previously recorded, it’s still the same thing – I’m a singer singing with music. Period.  I am perfectly capable of singing just as well with live music, and have done so in dual streams performed live in SL.  (MrMulti and I are working on this regularly.)  It’s just that I don’t happen to play myself.  My instrument currently, is my voice.  And I’m proud of that. Unequivocally.

That said, I’m learning the ukelele because it’s the first stringed instrument that I picked up, strummed and instantly felt connected to. It made me smile. It makes my fingers happy. I like it. I can feel that I will be able to learn it to a point where I can play it naturally and not be so focused on the mechanics of playing that my singing becomes wooden and rote because I can’t focus.  I can feel it come alive in a way that means someday, I’ll be able to write my own songs on it.  And I can’t wait. 🙂

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