Monday, July 7, 2014

Ukulele and an Unintended Vocal Solo

    As Second Counselor in our Bishopric, I have the responsibility to conduct our church services every third month.  I have to confess that  I feel more than a little bit of stress about conducting meetings. The opportunities to mess up are myriad.  My most spectacular foul up thus far stemmed from an unintended spoonerism when I presented someone's name as "Fat Pawcett" rather than Pat Fawcett.  Fortunately Pat is a woman with a good sense of humor and it only took a home baked pie to set things right again.

      On the first Sunday of my scheduled month, I am also responsible for presenting a spiritual message to the children in Primary (ages 3-11). I've always found the Primary message to be a bit of a challenge.  I don't have any problem speaking to the older children, but I have a hard time engaging the younger ones at the same time.  This past Sunday, I had decided to talk about the importance of music. I started by telling them how music can help us feel the spirit and feel closer to God. I also talked about the difference between a regular song and a hymn.  Then I challenged them to memorize some of the hymns from the Children's Songbook. In order to make my message a bit more fun, I brought out my ukulele and led them in enthusiastic renditions of two hymns I had recently memorized from the Children's Songbook, "I Hope They Call Me on a Mission" and "Called to Serve".  The Children's Songbook helpfully includes guitar chords along with the piano music.  I played the ukulele at the podium so the sound would carry better in the large chapel. The children enjoyed it and sang along enthusiastically.  Five minutes later, after the Primary children had been dismissed to their classes, a friend informed me that someone had left on the foyer speakers which had broadcast my performance to the random group of adults gathered there. The mike hadn't picked up the ukulele or the enthusiastic children singing, but just me belting out Primary songs.

     I intend to continue expanding my repertoire of Primary songs that I can play on the ukulele.  My biggest limitation stems from the fact that I only know about a dozen chords.  I also have some difficulty with quick chord changes. Also, some of the songs are a bit high for my bass voice. I'm thinking maybe I should try transposing a few of them to a slightly lower vocal range.  Anyhow,  I think it has the potential for good times with the grand kids.

    My daughter, Sarah, was visiting with her kids for a few days this past week. She had driven up from the Portland area in order to send Linda and her daughter, Rachel, off to China to work in an orphanage for for three weeks.  Yes, that means I will have no adult supervision for the next few weeks.  During her visit, Sarah expressed an interest in learning to play the ukulele. We had a few lessons and now she is off and running.  I think that brings the total of ukulele players in the family up to about eight.  We now have at least one designated ukulele player in each family among my children and grand children.  We have a family campout planned for August at the beach in Oregon. I'll be interested in seeing how many ukuleles show up.

    A few weeks back I attended a Hawaiian ukulele group that meets every Tuesday evening at the Lake Stevens Senior Center. I had an absolutely wonderful time.  There were about twenty people sitting around big long tables singing and strumming their hearts out.  They were working on four particular songs that will be played for an event on September 4th at the Seattle Center.  They will be participating with other similar groups and there are supposed to have about 500 ukuleles in the performance.  It sounded like a fun time. Two of the songs are in Hawaiian so we spent a lot of time learning how to pronounce the words.  Among other things I learned that the word for the rather well-known Hawaiian dress is four syllable word. It is pronounced "Mu hu mu hu" and not "Mu mu".  Best of all, I only have to learn two new chords to be able to play all four songs. I should have taken some photos, but I was too busy strumming my ukulele.


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