Yesterday, I brought my ukulele to class. It was my final day of teaching, and I only had one class. Seeing as it was with the students who are in the music course program at the school (think of it as being like a college major, but in high school), and they were the only class of the day for me, the teacher asked me to do something relating to music, if I could.
For the longest while, I had nothing. I was just too exhausted and mentally worn out even to think about ideas, let alone come up with some (let alone good ones). But, as I found myself fiddling at long last with my ukulele on Wednesday night, – this was after having decided just to do a non-music-related activity – I wondered if I couldn’t pull off just singing songs the whole class period.
Sure enough, my brain decided to work for me as I played some songs for myself. Kids could sit where they wanted, and look up lyrics on their phones (Yay! for phones in class.). We could start with the ABCs, since some of us had specifically discussed in that class a few weeks ago that Japan seems to have learned only the first half of the alphabet song, and then made up the rest, making the whole thing weird, and having everyone always mumble out somewhere along the second half. From there, we could “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, and then move to some real songs.
I was nervous about my uke playing, and the fact that I’m really just a beginner on the instrument, having come as a lazy-esque mid-level guitar player, and simply become a lazy-esque ukulele player. However, I practiced several songs, and the chords really came back to me rather well, and I even learned some new ones quite easily as I went along.
Once in class, I offered for a student to play the uke. Two kids in the front happily took over tuning it for me (I have a decent ear, but I knew theirs would be better.) when I asked, and one even pre-guessed the notes, singing them aloud for tuning (think of perfect pitch folks). So, I thought they might have had experience with ukuleles. This is Japan, after all. However, the only kid who said he possibly could play a little – usually Japanese for ‘I’m rather decent, but just don’t play too often these days,’ – tried out the uke, and discovered that the chords were different from any instrument he knew. This means that he strummed some odd-sounding chords, and then I reclaimed my ukulele with a bit more confidence and determination.
I taught them the alphabet song, and we had a wonderful time of it all, moving from that to the stars to “Under the Sea” to “Let it go”, and finally “The Lazy Song”. There might have been another in there, but I’m not recalling it right now.
All-in-all, the kids had a blast and didn’t seem to stop smiling, I had a blast, and the teacher was utterly pleased with the lesson and class (she even kept saying so over and over again afterward). I wish I had been able to do more things like that before, but the schedule never really allowed for it. So it goes – it made for a wonderful final class, though, a magical send-off for me. And that is beautiful.