Although I said I probably wouldn’t be updating for a while, I didn’t really think it would be this long. But a huge wave of… something… just come along and swept me away, and I was so caught up in it that I couldn’t even think about updating. The “something” I refer to is the extension of what I talked about in my last post– what all started out with a sudden urge to learn to play the ukulele.
Learning the ukulele seems to have awakened something inside me that has always been there, but was never fully realized. I’ve always been a musically inclined person, I grew up in a very musical household, and there was even a point in my life when I was sure I was meant to become a musician. I actually started university with the intention of being a music major, but ended up changing to Asian Studies after my first semester. The thing is, I just felt like I should be a musician, but was never really passionate enough about it to put my all into it. So eventually I burnt out and drifted away from music almost completely. For the next several years, I dedicated myself to language-learning and traveling around the world. Those were an incredible several years, and they have played a huge part in shaping the person I am today. I have absolutely no doubt that I am a stronger, wiser, happier, and overall better person thanks to my experiences with other languages and cultures. I wouldn’t take those years back for anything.
I was convinced for some time that I’d continue that globe-trotting lifestyle for the rest of my life, but I am now beginning to think that perhaps it was just a long phase that’s now coming to an end. And perhaps this passion I now feel for music is yet another phase, and my whole life will be a long series of unpredictable phases. But all I know is that right now, music is all I really want to do.
I’m not the most skilled pianist or ukulele player (especially since I’ve only been playing the ukulele for four months!), but I think I’m a good singer and songwriter. I’ve actually written a ton of songs over my lifetime, but have never really gotten them out of my head to share with anyone until now. Songwriting is something that comes naturally to me– I just hear songs in my head. Sometimes they come out of nowhere, and sometimes they’re inspired by some event in my life. Sometimes I hear a whole song all at once, and all the lyrics and background music and everything are just there, as if I were hearing it on the radio. Sometimes I just get a snippet, and have to think about how to build on it from there. The strangest thing is when I come up with a song and have no clue what it’s about, only to find years later that it applies to some new happening in my life. I’m not a religious person, but I used to be… And I used to think the songs came from God. Now I’m not sure where they come from.
The crazy thing is that, even though I grew up with a professional recording studio right in the basement of my house, I never recorded any of my own music and almost never shared it with people. I did sing an original song in church once, and people seemed impressed with it– but that was the time I got the church pianist to play the accompaniment. Another time I tried to play the piano myself, and failed pretty miserably. I had no problem singing on stage, but playing the piano made me incredibly nervous, and I never got over my lack of confidence with the instrument.
That is, until now. You see, I thought I was going to France to improve my French and continue my quest to learn about other cultures, but it turned out to be for a completely different reason. Because if I hadn’t gone to France, I never would have ended up living in a house with a grand piano. I never would have met Jeannie, the Parisian woman who offered to give me free piano lessons in exchange for English conversation practice. I never would have taken up the piano again, and I probably wouldn’t have had enough interest in music to think of taking up the ukulele. And if I hadn’t taken up the ukulele, I wouldn’t have all the confidence I have in my musical abilities right now. I don’t mean to say I’m a prodigy– far from it. But there’s something about the simplicity of the ukulele that’s made me realize, “Hey, I can actually play this thing well enough to strum some chords and accompany myself on a song. And that’s good enough to get my ideas out there.” I’ve never wanted to be a concert pianist, after all– I just want to sing and write songs. So the ukulele has opened up a whole new world for me.
So for the first time, I’ve actually shared some of my songs with my parents, and my dad and I have even started recording a bit. I’m really excited about this. I think I have some good songs and can’t wait to get them recorded properly so people can hear them. I’m not expecting to see my name on the Billboard charts anytime soon, but I guess it could happen…?
For now though, I’ve made a video of myself singing “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys. My ukulele playing isn’t perfect, but I think it’s decent enough to post on Youtube… And I will probably post more videos like this in the future as I learn more.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is, you never know where life is going to take you– and sometimes I feel like I especially never know where my life is going to take me. But hey, that’s why this blog is called “Adventures of the Directionally Challenged”. I think I got the title right, if nothing else.