ukulele girl

ukulele girl

If there’s something you should know about Rachel, it’s that she’s wee bit obsessive. Just ask my browser history, which is filled with various inquiries into Sonic the Hedgehog, Five Nights at Freddy’s, and Pokemon. She falls deep into these worlds, learning intricate details about characters and back stories, and then talks about it all incessantly until I have to lovingly say, “I CAN’T LISTEN TO THIS ANYMORE. But I’m sure your dad would love to hear more about it.”

In June Rachel started ukulele lessons. She’d come across the instrument when we were at a family-friendly concert during SXSW. One of the sponsor tables, a local music company, had ukuleles for kids to try out.

Thus began the ukulele obsession.

Activities with Rachel and Claire have been…challenging.

Ballet (Claire): “Um, this ISN’T ballet.”

Tae Kwon Do (Rachel): What do you mean I’m not automatically a ninja?

Gymnastics (both): A valiant effort. We know when to say when (i.e. tears before every class).

Soccer: LOL at the coach putting them both in at the same time. Sideline entertainment! That’s cute.

ukulele girl

So starting new things makes me nervous. Music lessons are a commitment. Doing anything well is, I suppose.

When we signed her up for lessons, I picked up a “Letter to Parents” that described how learning an instrument is a commitment, and how kids often want to quit things after a few months, but DON’T LET THEM, or you will pretty much destroy their lives and work ethics and they’ll never be able to hold down a job or a relationship, which is fine if you want to spend your golden years with your grown children, because they will never move out due to the fact that you let them quit ukulele lessons.

I don’t know, I kinda stopped reading because it freaked me out, and now I am wondering if I am up for this kind of commitment? Do I have what it takes to endure the [inevitable] whining and resistance we’ve encountered in the past? It’s all very stressful, and I appreciate your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

(Also, I took piano lessons for nine years, so I am no stranger to this game called “I don’t want to practice” and also the game of “speed-practice 15 minutes before your lesson.”)


Before her first lesson, she hung out by the front door, ukulele strapped to her back, asking every 36 seconds if it was time to go.

ukulele girl

Several lessons in, and we’ve had some whining and some complaining. Rachel likes to learn things at her own pace, her own way, and sometimes that means that the monotony of a weekly lesson – or more the fact that I say it’s time to go – makes her stabby. But until our teacher offers “ukulele on demand,” we’re just going to deal. We’ve had a busy summer, and that Monday lesson comes up more quickly than I would like.

Sometimes I’ll pick up the ukulele and start strumming it myself, and that encourages her to practice. All we need is 5-10 minutes a day, then she can have her coveted free strumming time. She’s been learning Ode to Joy (“Mommy’s wedding song!” she has to tell everyone) and her teacher just gave her some of the notes to Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know.

Whenever people hear she’s taking ukulele, they exclaim how cool they think that is. So I’m just going to be over here, content in the knowledge that I am raising one cool little girl.

(Meanwhile I’m totally piggybacking on her lessons, because I want to be cool too.)

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  1. I have a dream of yet becoming a drummer, and so I’m trying to tell Paco he wants to take drumming lessons.

    In other words, I feel you, Mama.

    Also, excellent restraint with the word “that.”

    1. YouTube is quite the stand in when I can’t comprehend the notes her teacher has given her…

  2. Oh my. I gold-medaled in “I don’t want to practice” and also “speed-practice 15 minutes before your lesson.” Piano. Six years. Ish.

    My kids took guitar lessons for a year and loved it until they didn’t. Then I let them quit and they’re still okay. I believe. Hopefully.

    Fingers crossed.

    1. I think as a parent, we just really want our kids to find ONE thing they love and will stick with. My youngest excels at almost everything, which we try not to make TOO big a deal of while still celebrating her successes. It’s a delicate balance.

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