Sunday, March 01, 2009

Ukulele Jam

by Karen E. Hoover

I attended LTUE (Life, The Universe, and Everything) at BYU last weekend and had an interesting conversation with my friends, one that I’ve pondered on for the past week. Somebody brought up the fact that their daughter had recently played in a school ukulele choir and out of my mouth popped this: "Oh! Give me your email. I'll send you a link to the best ukulele music ever."

Immediately the group started laughing, with me, clueless as ever, sitting there going “what?”

You see, the problem was we had a different perspective on what good music or even good ukulele music really was. I actually sent them the link several days later and each of them responded with amazement. I got responses such as “I never thought I'd write this but, those are some pretty amazing finger pickin' ukelele tunes. You have converted me.” And “That was amazing. Once again, you were right...” and a simple “Wow!”

Now, what does Ukulele music have to do with writing, you might ask? Well, nothing, really, but the story relates in that it’s all about perspective. The way we see the world is directly influenced by the experiences we’ve had and the way it has taught us to think. That affects us as writers and it especially affects our characters—or at least it should.

The other lesson this experience taught me is that there’s nothing like getting a great surprise, especially the kind that shift our perspective. The mystery that keeps you guessing “who done it” until the very end, and then finding out it's the guy you least expected. The romance that makes you think she chose the wrong guy and then discovering he was the best choice all along. Every little step that surprises and delights is one more chance to change our perspective and create a paradigm shift.

So what would you rather write? Predictable vanilla? Or something a little more spicy? Take a chance and try it. Shift your perspective. Change your world.


Annette Lyon said...

I'll bite--that WAS amazing and unexpected. Fresh. All adjectives we hope readers will be able to apply to our writing, no? :)

LexiconLuvr said...

c' est magnifique! That was one of the most spectacular performances I've ever seen. I've got chills! I didn't know that could be done with a ukulele.

Heidi Ashworth said...

I can't seem to get any sound--I'll have to come back later and check it out. To answer your question, I would rather do the unexpected--but it doesn't have to be "who she ends up with" that is the surprise . . .

Karen Hoover said...

Annette - I certainly hope so! Glad you liked it.

LexiconLuvr - I had the same reaction the first time I saw this and still love to watch it over and over again.

Heidi - You are so right. If you still can't get the sound working here try going directly to You tube at

Howlin' Hobbit said...

Jake is no doubt fab, but you do realize that there's lots of other great ukulele music to listen to out there, right?

For example, check out Brian Hefferan or GUGUG, just to name two right off the top of my head.

While certainly not fabulous, I strum a bit too.

Nice tie in from the ukulele to writing. In fact, good writing in general.