Other Stuff

100 Days Uke Challenge Wrap-up

The 100 Days Uke Project, part of the 100 Day Project, has come to a close for another year, and I am proud to say that I have completed it. Every day, from February 13th to May 23rd, I recorded myself singing and playing a different song on the ukulele. I love a good challenge of my creativity, and this project has really pushed me to my limits for the last two years.

Some days were really fun, like when I tried Lizzo’s, Truth Hurts… because, why wouldn’t it sound amazing on a ukulele? Other days, when I was overwhelmed with school work, or had an emotional day, it was a chore to make myself play. There are moments where I definitely did NOT want to be on camera! However, I was committed to the challenge and knew I would grow from the experience.

There are two big things that participants gain from being part of the 100 Days Uke Project. First of all, our mentor, Cynthia Lin, always says that practicing for just five minutes a day is all you really need to continue to grow as a player. In those five minutes, you are able sharpen your skills and build up the much needed callouses. Plus, I find that most of the time, I end up playing much longer than five minutes.

The other thing players grow from is creating a connection with the uke playing community at large. There are Facebook and Instagram groups where players post their daily progress throughout the 100 days. It’s in those spaces that I find a lot of encouragement and support from players of all skill levels. Plus, I find inspiration for new skills I want to learn and new songs I want to play. The connections I have made through the forums are a big part of why I continue participating in the project. I love being part of a creative community.

Looking back, I am pretty proud of what I produced this year… though I will say, I was kind of sad that it attracted less attention than it did last year. I just have to remind myself that I did this for ME, not to gain popularity points. I wanted to share my reflections on this year’s 100 days. Here goes…

How I grew:

  • I feel a lot more comfortable varying my strumming patterns. While I have a LOT of room to grow, I sound a lot less clumsy and basic than I did during last year’s project.
  • I was able to add several new chords to my arsenal of the ones I have memorized. That opened me up to a lot more songs to play.
  • I tried a few themes, like Sunday Morning Worship and Disney Week, that helped me narrow down the song selection.
  • I kept track of all the songs in a spreadsheet. That was super helpful in diversifying the genres of music I was performing and kept me from repeating something.
  • I watched a lot more videos of other people in the project and tried to encourage newer players on their own journey.

How I struggled:

  • Coming up with a totally new song to play every day is really tough! With my limited skills, and the fact that I had already done the project last year, finding 100 songs I could play was a real challenge.
  • I am really bad about stopping the camera and starting over a lot. I know that this is not supposed to be about perfection and being honest about the learning part could be helpful to others.
  • In the beginning, I spent free time pre-recording songs for busy days. This was actually a really great idea. As the end of the school year approached though, I did this less, which meant more time looking busted and recording when I was exhausted at the end of the day.
  • I still struggle with feeling like an imposter. My fear is that the more accomplished players and other musicians I know will think less of me if I am not great all the time. I also fear that the videos are annoying to people.

What I want to change next year:

  • I really want to learn how to chuck, as well as do more syncopated strumming patterns.
  • Barre chords are my nemesis! I want to be able to play them without fumbling.
  • I’d love to have a fancy new uke for next year, as well as a place to hang all of the ones I own on the wall. It would make a pretty backdrop for the videos.
  • I want to feel less scared about playing in public; that way I can play in interesting places.
  • It would be a ton of fun to start a Ukulele Club at school! I would love to be able to foster a passion for playing and singing with my students and have some community jam sessions.
  • Most of all… I’d love to be able to play in Hawaii. Dream big, Jenn… dream big.

I would love for you to come see what I was able to accomplish this year. Hop on over to my YouTube channel for the full concert (a two-hour extravaganza)… or just the highlights (a nice 15-minute commitment.) While you’re there, like, subscribe, comment, and give me some love.

Until next year, my friends… keep it aloha!

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