String Theories

Since May, I have embarked on learning string instruments. I started out on my personal favorite, Ukulele’s, and then transitioned into electric, acoustic, bass guitars and now pedals with help from some musician (including Sub Pop label) friends…

I started loving Ukulele’s a long time ago as a child with their sweet sounds and mini-cuteness and in 2013 I finally received my first Uke which I lovingly call “Lei Lei”. It didn’t take long before my youngest wanted one too and so for his 5th birthday this year he received one as a gift and we played our Ukulele’s together for the first time on his birthday (see video). When I started playing Ukulele’s at Dusty Strings I didn’t realize just how many types of Ukulele’s there are, I ended up even playing an electric and bass Ukulele which blew my mind.

I have known for a while that my time finding videos or attempting to learn to play instruments myself was coming to an end so I started to ask others for help to learn a few chords and ways to play each instrument. My friend Patrick, who is in the band Tuco and Blondie, helped me with the Ukulele’s and at the same time I was corresponding with Brandon from The Helio Sequence on Sub Pop about his pedal board (which he displayed on The Helio Sequence Instagram). I knew I had upcoming pedal board sessions so Brandon was kind enough to invite me to play his guitar and try some of his pedal boards at their release party at Easy Street Records in West Seattle.

I know right? Talk about #Swoonage material right there! I barely maintained my composure playing the personal instruments of one of my favorite bands EVER. But I kept it together, see for yourself in the video clip of our pre-concert session. (and guys, if you are reading this, you are in my heart forever for being so kind to support my #AnInstrumentADay project) The Helio Sequence Album ROCKS so buy all their music! You will be very happy you supported such outstanding artists.

So with Ukulele’s and some pedal boarding in, I set out to get into the nitty-gritty of guitars and boy did it flow through me!  Just watch the video to get a sense of all the fun, quirky (did you expect anything different?) and just outright awesome information and sounds people can create with string instruments! I have a completely new-found appreciation for musicians that use a string instrument for sure. I totally see how they end up loving their instrument(s) like an extension of their own body because the complexity of sound from one human’s use of pedals, amps, strings, heck even plug-in apparatuses makes each so unique that it’s literally mind-boggling.

I learned much of this amazing information from Seattle musician, David Salonen, who is studying in the UW jazz program as well as playing with the band General Mojos. David has been so helpful with not only teaching me techniques like flamenco strumming and using whammy bars and pickups but he is a plethora of information about guitars and the accompanying materials used on each one! I asked David how he knew so much and he told me that he had grown up in a musical family, which I personally did not, so from this new knowledge my “theory about strings” is the same as all the experts teach…. learning music from an early age is paramount. I understand now that the recent purchase and continual use of a Ukulele with my 5 year old is going to make the biggest impact on his life forever because I have seen what an adult of a musical family can share through artistry and instruction in the world, and I wouldn’t want my boys to live any other way.

Through playing more music with my boys, to the continual exploration of my #AnInstrumentADay challenge and of course the upcoming amazing concerts and releases from the Sub Pop brand…. I’m going to LOVE witnessing how much string theory intercoils with living a life that you love this summer, one pluck, pick, hammer or strum at a time.

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