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What’s Your Goal?

Every now and then, I see a video of Taimane, a virtuoso ukulele player, posted on social media. Here’s an example:

People comment something to the effect of:

“Wow. I wish I was that good,” or “Goals.”

I also see posts saying, “Girl plays amazing ukulele.” Well, she’s a “girl,” but more accurately, she is a woman in her 30s (with a naturally youthful appearance) and a master player of the ukulele. She has worked incredibly hard to be successful–she didn’t just pick up a ukulele and play the way she’s playing two months later.

Taimane has been playing since she was a little girl, and the ukulele isn’t a hobby for her–it is her life. Her life revolves around playing the ukulele, performing live concerts and recording. And while she makes a living doing so–I’m willing to bet that she doesn’t earn “rock star money.” Drake (the current top album seller) hasn’t done any ukulele work, to my knowledge! Incidentally, Taimane has a very nice singing voice, and I always say that I wish that she would sing more. She is also known for being an entertaining artist…she performs barefoot and quite literally dances all over the stage while she is playing. I doubt you or I will be doing that, either.

Most of us are picking up the ukulele at an older age, as a hobby. I encourage you to go as far with the ukulele as you can. Have fun with it. And learn to play the music you want to play.

At the same time, is it realistic to want to be the next Taimane? Or Jake Shimabukuro?

Again–Taimane and Jake are players who have been playing since their childhood–just like Feng E and Evan Silva today.

I fear for the people that expect to be able to play like Taimane or Jake. Are you willing–or able–to put in the thousands of hours of practice they have put into their playing? Are you growing up in a community that fosters and encourages the playing of the ukulele (Taimane and Jake both grew up in Hawaii before this most recent ukulele “boom,” which Jake was a part of creating)?

If not, keep getting better at your own playing at your own pace, have fun, and support others. Take lessons and attend festivals. Read, learn, and watch. Become the best player you can be. But don’t worry about becoming like Taimane or Jake–enjoy their virtuosity and make yourself the best player you can realistically be.

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