"Tropical Depression" by Patti Liszkay
Now Available on Amazon
- Sublime Book Review
"Tropical Depression is rich in the intersections of love, conflict, and culture that bring this world to life." - D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review
For more reviews of "Tropical Depression" go to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/86517578-tropical-depression#CommunityReviews
If a piano player is a pianist, a guitar player a guitarist, a saxophone player a saxophonist, etc., does it follow linguistically that a ukulele player is a ukulelist? I suppose the question of whether a ukulele player is a ukulelist is as discussion-worthy as the question of why I wanted to become one. My journey to becoming a ukulelist (if it wasn't a word before I'm officially christening it) began sometime last year when we were planning this year's trip to Hawaii. After having visited the Hawaiian islands several times previously, I felt a yearning this time to immerse myself in the Hawaiian culture beyond what one can absorb as a one-week tourist. Which would be a challenge, considering that I was going to be a one-week tourist. Well, two-week tourist, actually, but as the first of those weeks I'd be spending with my visiting children and grandchildren, that left only the second week open to cultural pursuits; provided. of course, that my mate Tom was not adverse to being abandoned while I pursued culture.
"Nah, I don't mind," said Tom, ever the good sport. "I'll find something to do while you're pursuing the culture."
My teacher, Zorayda, in our classroom in León. (Sadly, I didn't realize when I snapped this picture what a bad spot I'd picked for lighting).
But then, the more I thought about it, the less sense it made to take a week of immersive Hawaiian, anyway. Once I left the island and returned to Columbus, Ohio, when would I have a chance to practice my Hawaiian with another human?
Then I came up with the idea of learning ukulele, the instrument of the Hawaiian islands. I figured that if I could find a teacher in Honolulu who would be willing to jump-start me with a lesson every day for a week, then mayhaps I could figure the rest out for myself or with the help of the internet and practice on my own.
I found online the names of a few music schools in Honolulu that taught ukulele. But that was as far as I got. I guess I just didn't know where or how to start trying to arrange what I had in mind.
Anyway, I put the idea of immersive Hawaiian lessons, immersive ukulele lessons, or immersive anything on the back burner.
But then after we arrived in Honolulu, every time we we walked into downtown Waikiki we'd pass by the Kamehameha Ukulele store.
Finally, after a a week of wondering, I decided to go to the Kamehameha Ukulele store and ask, long shot though I knew it to be.
And so on Easter Sunday evening (see previous post) Tom and I walked the several blocks from the Hale Koa to the Kamehameha Ukulele. Inside the store was a young sales clerk plucking away on one of the ukuleles for a customer. I listened to him play for a few moments and thought, that kid knows how to play the ukulele.
I waited until the sales clerk had finished with his previous customer, then I approached him and told him what I was seeking. I learned that his name was Ron, that he was a college student studying language education, that Kamehameha Ukulele was his evening job, that he'd taught some ukulele, and that - glory hallelujah! - he'd be willing to give me an immersive ukulele lesson every day starting the following day, Monday through Friday, for the next week.
Ron, my ukulele teacher, at Kamehameha Ukulele.
Ron turned out to be a top-notch teacher. The first day he taught me the basics, how to hold the instrument, how to strum and pluck, finger numbers, string names, some scale work, etc. He gave me a chord sheet and taught me how to strum my first song, "Happy Birthday to You."
He had brought an extra ukulele for me to use and offered to let me take it with me back to my hotel to practice on. I turned down Ron's generous offer but told him that I'd seen ukuleles for sale at the ABC store, that ubiquitous chain of everything-you-need-and-don't-need stores that one finds on every block in Honolulu.
Each day for five days Ron immersed me for forty-five minutes in beginner ukulele technique,
"You think they'll take it back after I already played it for days?"
"Sure," said Ron. "They'll take anything back."
And so I took my old new ukulele back to the ABC Store. They took it back.
Since my return home from Honolulu I've been practicing every day, usually 20 minutes twice a day.
Anyway, after a month of practicing, here's what I've conquered. Baby steps.