On Stage at the Corktown Jam

Category: Ukulele
Mon, 07 Sep 2009, 11:36

I'm not the kind of person who spends his time in bars. But most Wednesday evenings these days, you can find me at the Dominion on Queen, in the Corktown neighborhood of Toronto. I'm easy to find. Just look for the middle-aged guy wearing a green baseball cap with a Corner Gas logo. And carrying a ukulele.

uke player

The ukulele is the reason most people visit the Dominion every Wednesday. That's the day the Dominion hosts the weekly gathering of the Corktown Ukulele Jam. And at the jam a couple of weeks ago, I did something for the first time I never imagined I'd ever do - I performed a song on stage.

I started going to the jam earlier in the Summer. At first, my thought was that you'd never see me up on stage. And yet, once the evening was over, I started thinking about songs I could perform. The more I thought about songs to play in front of the gang, the more I felt I had to go through with it. That is, although I didn't have to do it, I found myself more afraid of chickening out than moving forward.

Let me try to explain: I'm not the most outgoing person, and I've had to deal with anxiety issues for years. I've learned a few things about dealing with my anxiety - when to face up to my fears, and when to walk away. I knew I was now facing some uncharted territory when thinking about getting up on stage. But I also knew that walking away from that territory was no longer an option. These were fears I now had to face head on.

Looking back, my performance was a blur. As a first timer, my main goal was basically to get through my song without soiling my pants, and I at least met that goal. I'm sure my nervousness showed through, especially at the start. And I messed up a line once, but it was in the chorus, so perhaps no one noticed. That's probably because I got distracted by the sound of my amplified voice. (There's so much to think about on stage!) On the plus side the audience laughed at the right points in my song. And I even remember hearing some people in the audience singing along with the chorus.

Will I do it again? I think so. The more you do something like that, the better you get. You can't expect perfection the first time out. I'll do a bit better next time. And a bit better still the time after that. I'm still practicing songs with the intention of doing them on stage.

I know there are lots of ukulele fans at the jam who don't ever want to solo on stage. I can certainly understand their reluctance. After all, there are some really good performers who regularly show off their abilities. But while I know I'm not in the same league as many of the great uke players at the jam, I know we all have to start somewhere. The only way to improve is to practice, and extend the limits of our abilities. Also, we can't forget that this is a very supportive bunch of people. When you do go on stage, everyone wants you to do well, but they also don't care if you make a mistake. Knowing that makes a big difference.

Omnifariously yours, Hans

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ukulele image