You Can Uke Too

You Can Uke Too

Don't expect to be a master any time soon, but do expect a lot of fun quite quickly

Grace VanderWaal, a quirky, uke-playing 12-year-old singer unsure of her place in the world, snatched a Vegas headlining act by winning the 11th season of America's Got Talent last summer. Her original song "I Don't Know My Name" connected with judges and fans alike, taking her straight from the televised audition round to the first live round with the push of a Golden Buzzer. The reasons for Miss VanderWaal's victory in the talent competition are numerous, but among them was her use of and expertise with the ukulele. While many singer/songwriters prefer to use the guitar for accompaniment, full-size guitars can be difficult to play before an individual nears physical maturity. For VanderWaal, the ukulele fit perfectly with both her persona and her youth. Practice, of course, likely helped a lot, as the child singer needed strong uke-playing skills to pair with her lofting voice and candid lyrics in order to win AGT.

Unless you already play the ukulele, it's unlikely that you'll be near VanderWaal's skill level on the uke in the near future. But that doesn't mean you can't become passable on the little instrument quickly. There are many things to love about the four-stringed, guitar-resembling instrument we call (well, some of us) the "uke." It's very portable. It sits nicely in the lap. Its strings can be comfortably strummed without a pick. For most individuals, the ukulele, at least in its soprano variety, its typical form, can be used as a hobby instrument without a vast quantity of stress.

I purchased my ukulele, pictured above, for less than $50 through Amazon. With many options for cheaper ukes available as well, the soprano ukulele is easy on the wallet. After you've purchased a ukulele and pressed your fingers against its strings a few times, you'll find that it's also easy on the fingertips. As a mandolin player, I can appreciate having an instrument with soft strings that I can play even when my fingers are sore. The ukulele is not an easy instrument for melodies, so far as I can tell, but it is quite easy as an instrument for chords. If you want to sing some songs from time to time but aren't already trained on anything, the ukulele might be the perfect instrument for you. While it might be annoying how difficult the D major chord can be for anyone with medium or large fingers, the basic chords of C major, G major, A minor, F major, and A major are all very easy to play on the uke. With those five chords and a handful of others, many popular songs will be right at your fingertips.

Becoming great at any instrument takes a lot of work. The same can be said of the ukulele. Yet that doesn't mean every instrument has to be hard to play decently-well. In my opinion, the soprano uke is one of the best instruments out there for someone who wants to be able to play some songs without tying up a lot of time, money, or emotional energy. It'll take a few days to figure things out, especially the strumming, but if you put just a little bit of fight into it, you should be playing something cool very swiftly. It may or may not be a Taylor Swift song. Actually, it'll probably be "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Everybody wants to be able to play "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," right?

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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A Poem To Art Saving Us

Art is what you need it to be.

“Youth is wasted on the young”, I know, and I am trying. So desperately to ensure that my odyssey is a chest of memories that will never diminish.

I find myself staring at the bottom of empty coffee mugs, caught between the backwash of coffee tainted oxygen molecules and morning delays. These cells are nothing but pixilated facades.

Nietzsche says that art does not need to be truth, but isn’t that what it is all about? Is that not what makes it so raw? Making the intangible, tangible? But the only thing true of art is that art saves us. And if that means that what art is made of is not truth; that art is the outcome of a survival mechanism to compose and convince ourselves to feel something so that we do not fall into the black hole of nihilism then so be it.

Because I won’t know any other way. All I know is that I am breathing and thinking and just being.

It is kind of ironic that we depend on each other’s defense mechanisms to live, to prove that our existence isn’t just some fucked evolutionary step. We are so desperate and so in need to find ourselves, to understand that we need to be here that we also begin to see ourselves in the art works. In the brush strokes of Van Gough; in the not so irregular and not so misplaced lines of Picasso’s works. This is both comforting and scary.

Some days it is hard to differentiate yourself from all the art that is surrounding you and I; sorting through all the pieces that are spread along the sunrises, book stores or through the numb vibrations of the rain. Art does not have to be true, but it does have to be a series of releases.

We spend our whole lives breathing in and attacking notes, but we always forget that we can breathe. That in our composition of life we can add our own breath marks. It is okay to release. To breathe in and to stop your tune when needed.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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The 7 Best Pieces of Drag Race Lingo Ru-vealed

Werk it, queen!

Season Three of "RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars" just wrapped last week, but season 10 of Drag Race is scheduled to premiere on March 22nd. You might’ve turned on your TV and thought, “what the heck are they talking about?”. Some of the lingo is confusing and unclear, so here’s a guide to just some of the key catchphrases.

1. The library/Being read

The name of the mini challenge is “Reading is Fundamental, in which queens take turns reading each other. When it’s their turn, they “enter the library”, which just means putting on goofy glasses. Reading is pretty much pointing out flaws but in a funny or over the top way.

2. Shade

Throwing shade is similar to reading someone, but I think of shade as usually more blunt, insulting and less clever.

3. Tea

Derives from the letter “T” standing for truth. Tea refers to gossip, news or information. Commonly used in the sense of “So, what’s the tea?”, which means “girl, what’s the gossip?”. It’s commonly combined with shade, as someone might say “No, tea, no shade, but…” which is a preface saying “no disrespect”. Conversely, someone might say “all tea, all shade” meaning that they know exactly how they sound and don’t care if you’re offended.

4. Fish

A queen is said to be looking fishy/serving fish when they closely resemble a woman. Some of the fishiest queens include Tatianna, Courtney Act, and Farrah Moan.

5. Back Rolls

An insult used in season 5 when Jade Jolie told Alyssa Edwards: “Girl, you had rolls all over the place in the back, it was disgusting!” To which Alyssa responded

6. Snatch Game

A parody of the 1960’s celebrity game show “The Match Game”. On the original show, contestants write in answers to questions, hoping to match the guest judge. Snatch Game operates in the same way, but the contestants have to impersonate a celebrity. This is a challenge that has taken place every season since the second one, and it’s probably the most highly anticipated. This is one of the challenges that really establishes the top queens, as they’re judged based off of likeness and humor. Celebrities that have been impersonated range from Dame Maggie Smith to Britney Spears, Judge Judy, Anna Nicole Smith, and even RuPaul.

7. Comedy vs. Pageant Queens

This is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Some queens are more specialized in makeup, costumes, and overall pageantry. Others are more campy and over the top. Comedy queens are usually stronger in acting or comedy challenges, but pageant queens have the upper hand in design focused challenges.

So there ya have it, a short list of Drag Race terminology. I RuPaulogize if you got a little lost somewhere, but if you managed to make it through this article….


Cover Image Credit: Daniel Dudek-Corrigan

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