Project Update: #Uke50ByHeart

Following WDS 2016, I decided a couple of things. Primarily, that I don't have singular focus and that I am not sure what I would be willing to focus on at the exclusion of all else. I've been a guy with too many hobbies for a while: Dance, Photography, Bass Guitar.

One of the small-but-powerful ideas I took away from WDS came from the artist Judy Paul from Austin, whom I had the chance to go for a couple runs with while out in Portland. She had been a graphic designer and, when she decided to buckle down and start shipping art, began with 50 pieces themed on trees. (check out her instagram... it'll really spice up your feed)

So I decided that it's okay to settle on projects that have this structure: "I will ship X number of some creation". And the first project supports something that has been in progress for a year now. I've been learning to play ukulele since summer 2015.

Structure and Accounting

To put a serious structure around Ukulele, I have committed to this 50 songs by heart project with the goal that I can take my Uke anywhere and just start playing songs. I started this back in late August or so. And I have noticed since that this is the sort of project that can drag on and on.

So in order to ensure it won't drag on forever, I have this fancy spreadsheet to track what songs are on the list and how I am doing. I don't have a specific timeline for completion but I think I am just around the corner from working out a system.

  • I will practice a song without the sheet music before me first and only if I forget a chord or lyrics, I will immediately use sheet music and consider it cheat sheet practice. If I can complete the song, it counts as a "play by heart".
  • I am collecting information on when I mark a song active and when I consider it ready.
  • When I have played it 5 times by heart, I will remove the song from active and consider it "ready".
  • Over time, I hope to establish a sense of velocity and be able to estimate a finish date.

Doing It In Public - Youtube

As part of the process of doing this project, I am documenting my progress with recordings and publishing videos of me playing songs.  Over time, I hope to have a progression of videos where I suck at the beginning and I slowly morph into a Ukulele Master.  

In case you were worried that I'm going to get a big head, let me assure you its already much too late for that.  And also, the results of my videos are really quite humbling.  I am learning how to sing in addition to how to play and doing both at the same time is quite a challenge.

It took quite a number of tries to get this rough version of "Georgia On My Mind" down. In truth, I really hadn't practiced it quite enough and I was mostly trying to test the recording setup.

This video of me performing "All of Me" is my second attempt to publish anything. It's my 4th or 5th attempt at recording anything at all. (They're not all keepers and shouldn't be. Some things need to be created and tossed in the wastebin.)

I like this recording much better and it features "The Birthday Uke" which my family helped pay for and is my first K-brand Hawaiian Uke.

No Clear Timeline, But...

So there you have it. Project is in progress. There is no clear timeline but I think I am doing a better job of working out a practice regime that will allow me to complete the project in my lifetime. :)