Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sore Fingertips

More jazz injuries - this time self-inflicted.*

All my fingertips on my left hand are killing me from practising the ukelele.

They are also developing hard pads like cat's paws on the ends, which will eventually mean (hopefully) that it'll stop hurting so much when I practice.

It never hurts when I play in front of an audience. This must be because the adrenaline kicks in and you don't feel anything. This is probably the same reflex that stops me sneezing on stage as well, even though my hay fever is so bad this year that I've actually come near to biting off my own tongue a couple of times, such are the power of my sneezes.

Although I feel no pain live on stage, I do however manage to forget the chords to songs I thought I knew inside out and upside down as soon as somebody else is looking at me. My strategy has therefore been to write some new songs that only have two chords in them. So far this strategy has been extremely successful.

However, with my usual unrealistic approach to music and performance, I have now decided to attempt to learn how to play the real big league jazz standards, in order to perform them live on solo ukelele. I'm starting with Take Five. I'm getting the hang of strumming in 5/4 time, but it occurs to me that it might be a good idea to get the audience to sing along, so that they can provide the famous 'take five' riff themselves. This will also serve a dual purpose, as it will hopefully distract the audience from listening too closely to the pregnant pauses, lurches and stumblings which pepper my ukelele stylings.

Another side-effect of playing the ukelele, as well as sore fingertips, is the necessity for short nails. This is going to put the kybosh on any plans for glamour manicures in the near future, unless someone can come up with instantly detachable (or hinged?) nail extensions. I've discounted the idea of having long nails on one hand and short nails on the other. That just sends out mixed messages. The solution is probably to wear gloves at all times unless I am actually playing the ukelele. Then hopefully my fingers will be flying over the strings so fast that nobody will notice their stubby nail-ness.

I'm very pleased with my hard case - a generous gift from Miss Vanderlay's mother (thank you Mrs V!) - although a couple of times I have been mistaken for a violinist on my way to the Royal Festival Hall (instead of a cabaret artist on my way to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern). I've also heard a few cracks about carrying a tommy gun in there, Bugsy Malone style, but luckily not so far from any employees of the underground or gentlemen in Blue.

The next thing on my ukelele shopping list is a ukelele stand. I bet they sell them at the Duke of Uke.

Imagine my tiny pink ukelele sitting proudly upright on stage on its very own little stand - possibly cosying up between Mysterio's swish orange German guitar and Trousers' new Japanese Fender bass like some sort of bastard guitar offspring. If I can get two stands, then mine and Honey's can snuggle up next to each other like twin babies.

I think I am to be congratulated on finding an instrument to play that successfully repels all attempts to take it seriously. I am determined to hold true to my defiant stance against becoming a 'serious musician' - and thankfully, even now that I am regularly seen actually playing an instrument (one of the credentials essential for the 'serious musician' tag), I seem to have got away with it by choosing an instrument that is absurdly tiny, and pink.




*PS if my jazz injuries are self-inflicted, does that make it musical self-abuse?

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