We have been in our new apartment for nearly three weeks now. Things are starting to get back to normal. The whole house sale, packing, renting, moving, and unpacking really happened fast. We count ourselves fortunate that we were able to sell our house so quickly, but it was stressful to have everything happen that fast.
We are mostly unpacked now, with only one box of office stuff left without a home. The next phase is organization. When we were unpacking we found homes for things quickly, and didn’t take much time to organize as we went. Having the main rooms in order was a higher priority as our capacity for accepting cluttered spaces has greatly diminished. Over the next few weeks, I’ll visit areas of our home to organize them. Some areas on my list include the pantry, kitchen cabinets, linen closet, master closet, and our daughter’s room. They are not complete disasters, but each of these areas needs to be organized for appearance and ease of use.
I see the difference downsizing makes in our entire family. Everyone has a more laid back attitude. We are spending more time together, as the living room is now central and in a smaller space, as opposed to the far end of huge house. I’ve said this before in other posts, but it continues to amaze me – even our cats are more relaxed. We have one cat that is very old, and he would wail every night and every morning in the house. We took him to the vet twice to identify a cause, and didn’t find anything physically wrong. Since we moved, he has not cried out at all. He looks more at ease now. I think the house was just too big for him and he didn’t feel safe and/or comfortable.
I’m starting to have more free-time again, now that most everything has been put away. You don’t really notice how much time a house takes until you leave and move to an apartment. No more trash to the curb on Tuesdays, no more weeding, no more trimming bushes, no more cleaning four bathrooms, no more vacuuming a huge expanse of carpet, and my personal favorite – no more pre-bedtime check to see that four doors are locked.
With some time on our hands, I decided to start my next crazy idea. I have always been amazed at people that could play an instrument. I never learned to play anything, and it has always seemed like such a mystery to me. I had a thought in the back of my mind for a long time that I would like to learn to play the violin. I never felt called to it exactly, but I wanted to unravel the mystery.
I’m also intrigued by the fact that someone with an instrument can strike out anywhere and earn a little money. Not that I want to do that, but you always have that possibility if the sh*t hits the fan. And lastly, I like the social aspect of playing an instrument. I love the idea of sitting around with friends and someone breaks out an instrument and starts playing. It hasn’t happened often, but I love it when we’re camping and someone starts playing.
The problem has always been that lessons are expensive, and I’m hesitant to invest too much if I’m not sure I’ll like it. I sometimes try things, only to quickly realize that it’s not for me. Learning Kung Fu was one such experience. I’m happy I tried it, but I’m also happy I didn’t have a lot invested in it. With music lessons, there is the extra expense of buying or renting an instrument that I wasn’t quite ready to jump into.
One day, not long ago, I saw a video ad on Facebook. I usually try to avoid ads, but this one caught my attention. It’s showed a phone app for learning to play the ukulele. I had never considered the ukulele, but now it kind of clicked. It’s the perfect instrument for me to learn on. It’s small so it doesn’t take a lot of space, it’s easy to take with me when traveling or camping, and it’s a fun looking and attention grabbing instrument.
The apps is called Yousician. I read all the reviews I could find, and from what I could tell, it looked like a solid app for learning to play an instrument.
With the thought swirling in my head, I waited until we were settled in the new apartment. Last week I searched Amazon for a ukulele, and to my surprise they had some decent ones for reasonable prices.
I bought a Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele, Snark SN6 Clip-On Ukulele Tuner, BoloPick Felt Picks, and a book to learn how to play, and thus began my new crazy idea of learning to play the ukulele.
If you use the Yousician app, you don’t really need the tuner, as the app includes a tuner. The book was pretty much useless to a true beginner like myself. I’m happy with the Kala Ukulele and the felt picks. I found the picks made it a little easier for me when learning to strum.
Everything was available with Amazon Prime shipping, but the ukulele looked like it would arrive a day or two after the other items. Luckily, they all arrived on the same day. As soon as it arrived, I opened the box. I was in the kitchen and my daughter was nearby in the living room. She couldn’t see over the bar side of the counter, and plucked a few strings. My daughter looked up with a look that daughters give their fathers and said, “What do you have?” I proudly held up my new ukulele, and she promptly said, “Oh my gosh, you are such a nerd!”
Nerd or not, I downloaded the Yousician app to my phone and started on the lessons. It was really fun. The Yousician app got me started even though I was completely unfamiliar with reading music and playing an instrument. The app gives you a certain amount of free instruction per day. I decided it was worth the fee to upgrade to the unlimited instruction plan for $120 a year. You also have the option of $19.99 monthly, but I was pretty sure I’d stick with it after my first session. Even at $120 a year, it’s a fraction of the cost for in-person lessons. Another nice feature is they have the app available for the computer too, so I downloaded it to my macbook.
After following the instructions and practicing with the app for about an hour and a half, I set the ukulele down and started heating up some left overs for dinner. As I’m doing that I hear a pluck, pluck. Yeah… little miss called me a nerd picked up the ukulele and was plucking the strings.
I wanted to encourage her, so I used all my fortitude to resist calling her a nerd, and asked if she wanted to try it. She did, so I setup the app on the first lesson, and helped her get started. The app is really fun, in a Guitar Hero kind of way, and she was hooked.
Of course, she pretty quickly beat my high score on one of the songs, and now I find myself having to ask if I can have a turn. She has stayed up late for the last couple of nights to perfect her practice sessions using the Yousician app. Mom and I are letting it slide for now since she’s learning something new and having fun at it.
I’ve still been able to sneak in some practice time when she is playing with friends. After she was hooked, I did let a few nerd comments slip out. She was unfazed and somehow the ukulele is cool now. If she sticks with it, I may have to get a second ukulele. She laughed at that thought and said we could have a ukulele-off. I was thinking dueling ukuleles, but I think we’ll likely play together rather than in competition with each other.
So now the ukulele is cool and all is good as we continue our quest to learn to read music and play an instrument.