Get Ready to be Impressed

Did you know I am going to be famous soon? I’m pretty sure that a talent agent will be banging down my door any day now, all set to get me a record deal — well, me and my ukulele.


That’s right, a few weeks ago, I bought a ukulele. It’s a pretty original idea that basically zero other soi-disant hip young ladies have ever had before, I know. I am out there. I am on the edge. I don’t care; I am just that radical.

So for the past three weeks, I have been learning some basic chords and practicing my fingertips off. Which reminds me: there’s one thing they don’t tell you about the fingertip calluses you get from learning a stringed instrument. Namely, it makes the practice of really refined nose-picking far more difficult. The sacrifices we make for our art, man.

King of the Hipsters

Since you know how original I am, and how I am absolutely in no way the picture of a clichéd hipster, I can tell you that the first song I learned to play was “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” in the style of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. I bet no other beginning ukulele player has thought of that song! On a serious note, though, damn is that song pretty. I love it.

I’ve also been practicing strumming along with several other songs with similarly easy chord progressions. Playing along with songs is fun because it makes me feel like I’m playing just as well as the pros. When I practice sans accompaniment from iTunes, it’s a little less impressive. So far it’s still really tricky for me to add singing along with the playing without totally losing my rhythm — it feels like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time. Something easy enough to learn, if you practice, but baffling at first.

That doesn’t stop me from occasionally howling along with Adele, Amy Winehouse, Death Cab for Cutie, and Florence and the Machine. (Their respective songs with easy chords: “Set Fire to the Rain,” “Back to Black,” “I Will Follow You into the Dark,” “Dog Days Are Over.”) I assure you, my singing is absolutely top notch, and not off key at all, ever.

Like I said, any day now my big break will be coming. Maybe you’ll see me on Nashville playing backup for Scarlett and Gunnar. (Side note: do you want their hypothetical album, or what?! I love them!) Or maybe I’ll be going on tour with Sophie Madeleine. But maybe not. At any rate, I’m having tons of fun, and I’ve learned how to both spell and pronounce “Kamakawiwo’ole.” You can’t tell me that doesn’t impress the shit out of you.


  1. My favorite thing about good fingertip calluses is the fabulous ability to pick up hot things while cooking. Whatever hot pads! Also, have you considered trying any Ramones songs?


    1. Oooh, good to know. I will have to test that out next time I need to pick something hot out of a pan. And yeah, hmmm, I bet the Ramones would be relatively easy to play. I’ll look for some chords….


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