It became a way to relax and create and learn.
A couple of years ago, we purchased our daughter a three-quarter guitar for her ninth birthday. I had hopes that I could live vicariously through her as a musician. I grew up with a very talented friend who played the guitar, sang, and even wrote music. She was always someone I admired and we support her journey any chance we’re given. She is still playing and a successful professional musician in Austin, Texas and a new mom.
As most ill-thought desires, our daughter attempted to play her guitar three times in lessons and then was done. What did come out of this was her love and talent for singing. Instead of guitar lessons, she began voice lessons exclusively.
Another year came and went and on her 11th birthday, we gave her a ukulele. My thoughts were that it only has four-string and is much less intimidating. Maybe this is the segway…
What I found is I ended up playing it more than she in the beginning. It became a way to relax and create and learn. Sitting on the porch, practicing songs I love and cord progressions have become a favorite “me time.” I’ve become hooked.
Then something sweet happened—my interest inspired her interest. I found her sitting next to me with her uke and we discussed songs she liked. I learned how to chart songs she was interested in learning and after three months in quarantine, she decided she wanted to learn. Now I hear her in her room playing and singing all of the time. It’s been amazing watching her fall in love with music.
We started learning to play together. Working on how to place our fingers on the strings for different cords. Singing together while the other practiced playing the ukulele. Learning how to strum—still a struggle.
She even started writing her own lyrics to familiar melodies.
For my birthday in August when I turned 40-something, I got my own tenor ukulele and now our mom-daughter time has become an easy and natural occurrence. It created this creative space to have fun, learn, and work through difficult things creating more resilience in both of us.
The best parts of this newfound hobby are:
- Playing the ukelele makes you get out of your head. Concentrating on finger placement, cord transition, the lyrics, strumming, and timing forces you to get out of your mental dialogue. All of the day’s lists, conversations, and frustrations get put away on a mental shelf and you play. I didn’t expect this aspect, but I’m so grateful for it. The other evening after a long day, I set myself out on the front porch and began learning a song I’ve been interested in that reminds me of God’s love for me — Lauren Daigle’s “You Say.”
The day melted away. I had fun and felt encouraged not only by the lyrics of the song but also by my growing ability to play the song. Then my daughter joined me and we collaborated on learning. My son and husband joined us and we just sat and played and sang and laughed. It was a space of connection. I never expected that type of possibility.
- The space created has allowed for real conversation between us. When my daughter and I connect on the simple practice of playing the ukulele together, it created this space that we can talk about deeper things in our lives. She opens up about herself and I do too. We’ve grown closer on several levels with the intentional time together. I love it so much. She’s 11, almost 12, and I dread the teenage years, but I pray that we can continue having our ukulele time together and continue connecting enough to always know one another.
- We have become each other’s teachers. I’m not the only teacher in this relationship—she is my teacher as well. It’s a sweet place for me to be taught by her and I can imagine it’s a confidence-building opportunity for her to teach me. This dynamic feels connected and constructive in our mom-daughter relationship.
I can’t communicate how much of a blessing a simple hobby like playing around with a ukulele has been. It’s been fun and honestly unexpected along with an effective way to de-stress. I hope that she will continue on her musical journey for herself, but I’ve also started my own that I’ve always wanted. I’m proud of both of us.
How do you connect with children that meaningful and consistent?