New Learning Can Be Hard!


#sol19- January 22, 2019

Last Wednesday our staff meeting was a TTT (teachers teaching teachers). The last session I was going to was billed as an inquiry into ukulele, but Danielle quickly cautioned us that it was not so much an inquiry, but rather some direct instruction followed by practice.

Well, I was game- in fact, I had encouraged Danielle to work with us on this. I have long admired the energy and enthusiasm people I see when people pay the uke (Emily Arrow even writes songs about children’s books she plays on hers). Danielle teaches ukulele to all the fifth graders and they are working on a belt system, where each level is a higher standard. I had joked that gold level should be the students have to teach me to play, as I am notoriously untalented when it comes to music/tune.

Fast forward to Wednesday and we were only going to learn two notes (chords?). From there we would be able to play a few songs. I proudly strummed. I could play two notes! Then came the hard part playing them in the right sequence and switching between them to actually sound like I was playing a song… After just a few minutes my fingers were sore and I was feeling a bit frustrated- I was not ready to make the quick switches required, uh oh. Luckily the whole session was only 20 minutes long so I could not dwell on my challenges.

By the end of the session, I joined the group asking Danielle where I could buy my own ukulele. I knew a few weeks ago when I chose my olw “intentional” that I was going to challenge myself to learn some brand new things- here was an opportunity. This was a reminder to me how hard learning can be, but also how learner dependent. I know I will not make much progress on the ukulele knowing my past experiences with music, but I also know I want to challenge myself, so bam- let’s see how it goes!

That’s me on the left! Photo credit to @paulabaxter67 (my principal) and thanks to Danielle for being a patient teacher!

I will report back once I actually get myself a ukulele and welcome any tips.

Former student, Zhi Hong, keeps slicing.

11 thoughts on “New Learning Can Be Hard!

  1. How fun! Playing the ukulele is something I’ve never tried. What a great example of growth mindset here. I admire how you’re living your OLW “intentional” as well as your determination. Wish I had ukulele tips for you other than keep at it! The drama teacher at my school plays it, though – I’ll ask for his top tips. 🙂

  2. My daughter’s music teacher plays and she fell in love. A ukulele was all she wanted for her birthday. I envisioned us learning to play together. It is hard! Good luck!

  3. Congrats! There’s nothing like the adult challenge of playing music. I’ve been at my classical guitar for great years. I couldn’t do it without a teacher but together, we stick with it… LOVE IT!
    Enjoy it…

  4. I liked your 3rd paragrpah the best! You mention – how easy – only 2 notes and then describe how difficult that ended up being. I look forward to future posts about this new learning experience!

  5. Look at you three playing the ukulele! That’s awesome!

    I remember being at NCTE in St. Louis and hearing someone at the G2Great Meetup playing the ukulele. Not sure who it was… bet Fran will know. Perhaps you can meet up with them for a jam if you make to the next NCTE.

  6. I love your willingness to grow and learn this new instrument. You sound well on your way to learning! I too believe your OLW – intentional – will guide your path!

  7. How fun to jump into a new learning situation. It gives us empathy for our students when we realize how hard learning something new can be. I know, I tried to learn to play the guitar a year or so ago, so I totally understand about the sore fingers.

  8. Okay, I’m just going to say it. Music is skill-based and a language. It can be learned and practiced by everyone. Step-by-step, skill-by-skill. Add your heart and you have music. The wise teacher Shinichi Suzuki taught that the purpose of learning music is not to show talent, but to make the world a more beautiful place. Just as in all learning, for some it takes a few repetitions; for some,a few more; for others, many more. You can do it!! It’s fun! Quiet the inner critic, just as you teach your writing students!

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