The Inspirational Story Behind Katie’s new Hobby: Learning to Play the Ukulele

Learning to Play Somewhere Over the Rainbow on the Ukulele

Here’s the thing. I’ve never been that musically talented. Sure, I sang in the choir in high school, and I quit piano lessons at 13 so I could do tennis instead. When I met my boyfriend -now husband- ten years ago I was always envious of his ability to just pick up a guitar and play. Any guitar. It didn’t have to be his. He could tune it easily and just start strumming out any old tune he heard earlier that day on the radio.

I was jealous. I wanted to be like that.

For Christmas this past year, I wrote down ukulele on my list thinking it would be a fun thing to have.

Ukuleles are smaller- they’d fit in my hands better. For years I’ve loved the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and thought it would be neat to play that tune on my own. I walked down the aisle to that song, and it has taken on great personal significance to me.

Here’s his YouTube Video

So, I thought, if someone ELSE gifted that little instrument to me, I’d commit to playing.

On Christmas morning, there it was, a beautiful soprano ukulele under my tree. My husband purchased it at our local Guitar Center store. The same musically talented gent who I married had given me the gift of music.

“If you give it up, I’ll at least be able to play it” he said.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” I thought.

Ukulele Lessons

When I turned 29 in January, I started making a list of 29 Things to Do Before I Turn 30.

30 feels like a big birthday. Most of the things on the list involve food, some travel, goals for myself for my writing, and a few fitness milestones I’d like to commit to.

I had a few slots left and pencilled in ukulele lessons.

Many people are great at teaching themselves things. With the internet these days and YouTube so many folks can watch videos, buy programs, or follow blogs that help them learn a new skill. These are great options for the self-starter and folks who are limited by budget or time. You can watch a YouTube video any time, day or night.

I knew I needed the financial commitment and to be accountable to a teacher to actually get my butt on the stool and my fingers practicing chords and strumming the strings.

So I asked on Facebook and called local music stores for teacher recommendations and ended up deciding to work with a local musician who offers lessons out of her home.

I go to a thirty minute lesson every other week with a lovely, inspiring teacher who is kind and patient as my fingers stumble over the strings.

Then I come home and show my husband what I learned.

I’m still very much a novice player, but love trying something new. The time away from a computer screen and looking at chords is refreshing and makes my brain think in new ways.

Right now, I’m just working on my strumming patterns, but hope to move up to playing songs with ease soon. I’ve got the music for Somewhere Over the Rainbow in my binder. It will only be a matter of time.



Katie Huey is a vanilla latte loving writer who enjoys searching for ordinary and beautiful things. She blogs regularly at 52 Beautiful Things. She lives in Colorado with her husband Dylan and rambunctious puppy Olive.

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Katie’s story is an inspiration. Learning an instrument is a great hobby and skill to have. I would love to learn the drums but my lack of space for a drum kit has stopped me. If I took some lessons then the commitment might encourage me to make space. Thanks for a great post. – Sarah (editor of Hobbyism)

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