There is just something about the ukulele that draws people in.
After my run in the Variety Show, I have never had so many people approach me with my instrument in mind. It’s been almost a month past now, and people are still asking me about my uke. It goes with the territory, and I am not so much an introvert that I don’t thoroughly enjoy talking about my craft and the tools I use to create it. 🙂
But it’s the stories that surprise me.
Typically, they come in the form of an older man or woman past their sixties, an unassuming wrapper for intense passion and joy. Outwardly, they show nothing other than a desire to talk and a polite demeanor as they introduce themselves and explain where they saw me play. Then, it’s as if the floodgates open: eyes light up, smile lines appear, and frail hands grasp mine with a sudden, renewed strength as they speak one word:
They tell me about first instruments, first concerts, favorite musical acts. They tell me about time spent with family, friends, and music made from four, little strings by their own hand. These people know the ukulele and it is precious to them not just for the music it helped them make, but the memories it gave them. Their words carry that note of kinship: they have found another soul that knows what they know, and that familiarity breaks down all barriers of age. I may be a child in comparison, but I understand. And so they talk.
Like I said above, it goes with the territory to have people inquire about my instruments. After shows I typically get at least one person who “used to play” or owned an instrument “at one time.” Some use the instrument as an excuse to say “good job,” and some just want information because they know nothing, and here I am, an approachable, walking resource they can tap.
But I have never experienced this phenomenon of true, personal connection with any other instrument I’ve played. These people aren’t just using the ukulele as an excuse to extend a compliment. The ukulele touches them, somehow, prompting them to share precious, relived moments of happiness. And because I stood there with my ukulele in hand, they share these times with me.
It’s a beautiful, beautiful gift.