The year was 1992; I remember this because I graduated from High School in 1991. I decided to bypass my acceptance to San Diego State University, and go instead to Grossmont College in order to pursue my baseball career. I always knew I would go to college, but I never put too much thought into what to study, since I was convinced baseball was my future.
It was my second semester at Grossmont, and I was still clueless as to what subject I was going to major in. I didn’t really consider studying music full-time because, as a guitar player, I assumed that being a music major was only for classical musicians. What place would a rock guitar player have in a subject dominated by musicians studying Mozart and Beethoven?
Still trying to decide what to study, my mom said, you’re good with kids, you should be an element school teacher. Thinking about it now is really quite funny, but at the time I said sure, and thus began my journey in Liberal Studies. Little did I know that it was during this time the ukulele seed would be planted that would change my life forever.
It was the Spring semester of 1992, and due to a very poor first semester in Fall 1991, I was on academic probation. I didn’t want to risk being ineligible to play baseball, so I dedicated myself to my studies. Mixed in with my Anthropology, Physical Ed., and Philosophy classes, was Music 118: Classroom Music. In my mind I thought I was too cool for the class, but at least it was music and a subject I was interested in. Let’s just say that Anthropology was not my strong suit, and it took me 3 times to actually pass that class. Too much to memorize.
Back to Music 118. The class was focused on how to teach elementary music to kids. We learned basic music theory and counting, and would create music games and exercises to help kids learn rhythm and melody. It was pretty basic stuff, but it was fun.
But one day the teacher said, I want you to bring your ukulele to the next class. I’m sure the syllabus passed out on the 1st day of class said we needed a ukulele, but I tended to wait to the last possible minute to get my school supplies.
For the ukulele, the teacher told us to head down to Moze Guitars, and get the ukulele special she had worked out with the shop. When I arrived to this tiny little shop, I explained I was there to get an ukulele for my music class at the college. I handed over my $50 and they handed me an ukulele. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a laminate mahogany ukulele that had 4 strings. It didn’t come with a case or anything, but it was ready to play.
Thinking back, it’s crazy how this one event would later change my life.
I arrived at the next class prepared with my ukulele, which turned out to be a baritone-sized ukulele tuned G-C-E-A. We learned some basic chords and learned to play through some simple kid songs. I don’t remember too much more, but it was fun strumming along with a class full of beginning ukulele players and singing some songs.
When the class ended in June of 1992, I wasn’t ready to make the switch from guitar to ukulele, so I put the uke in my closest. That very ukulele, which you see in this post, sat in that same closest at my parents’ house for 23 years before I would get it out again for one fateful day of jamming at the beach that would take me on to what would become Uke Like The Pros.