Seasons of a Self-directed Learning Journey

To everything (turn, turn, turn)

There is a season (turn, turn, turn)

And a time to every purpose, under heaven….

The photo on the right, from 4 years ago, turned up in my Facebook timeline this morning.

Learning to play ukulele, playing and singing with other people, has been a challenging and rewarding self-directed learning project for me. And there have been seasons – when I first started I was excitedly practicing every day and meeting with my mostly homeschool mom friends weekly with our matching blue dolphin ukes. We went to Uke Festivals and workshops. I was so excited I wrote a song and created a photo series I call Dr. Uke says…to show what songs I was working on and how I was feeling.

The group evolved.

I started working on other projects and my mom’s illness progressed.

The season and my learning journey shifted. 

Even my Dr. Uke changed.

I passed my blue dolphin to a little girl who needed it more than me. My sweet cousin gave me this beautiful tenor Robert Abulon ukulele – made by an amazingly self-directed learner/artist in instrument building! I rarely was able to attend uke group, and I mostly played for solace and stress relief for Mom and me, hoping not to lose the skills I’d gained. The Dr. Uke photos became more sombre.

A time to build up, a time to break down

A time to dance, a time to mourn

A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

And the season and the journey shift again.

Last week my friend C asked me if I wanted to start going to ukulele group again. The original group had split into two groups with different purposes. I was excited to hear about one of the member’s self-directed learning journey from shyly and uncertainly attending her first meeting with a brand new uke in hand to now co-leading free beginners classes, organizing workshops, and a band! Her church sponsors the band by making space available- for free-and supporting the band being open to the public. They ask band members to play one or two songs at various events which gives those who want to perform a low stress opportunity to play. Win-win.

I was a bit nervous about going. Since I had a conflicting meeting, I skipped the beginner class and joined in during the band practice session.

How many chords would I remember? Would my fingers be able to find them fast enough? Would I feel confident about singing in more than a whisper with a big group I didn’t know? Would I belong? Could I set aside all these worries and just play?

Yes, yes, yes!

I felt like the prodigal son. I was embraced, celebrated, joined in mourning mom.

I remembered how fabulous and supportive it is to sing and play together. Many voices, various instruments, all different skill levels and stories of why people were there, but united in making music.

Flubbed a chord? Croakily trying to find the right pitch? Still strumming impaired? Yes again!

Those mistakes don’t matter if you smile and keep going. Laugh at yourself. Ask for help to remember the easiest way to hold a tricky chord and a slower demo of that strum pattern.

Passion, purpose, support, making, learning. A joyful crooked noisy path of self-directed lifelong learning.

Risking growth.

Not alone.

Join me?

Read previous ukulele and lifelong learning posts:

Banish the Blues with Dr. Uke

Ukulele Unleashes Unbridled Urges

In case you want to know more about the song:

A little music history from wikipedia 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.