‘Me and My Ukulele’ by Mark Hastings

There are times when I am in my room, thinking about what I am going to write about next, when I just reach for the hand-built DIY ukulele that I bought and I put together piece by piece, and just start strumming and creating whatever music I am inspired to play. It’s so invigorating! It’s so captivating! I never thought that I would get so attached to a musical instrument, but from the moment I built my ukulele, and I started plucking away at the strings, I began to feel this connection with it and with the music that I could produce… and I absolutely love playing my ukulele whenever I can, just for fun, just so that I can make some kind of music – music that I can feel on a subconscious level, and music that means something profound to me! 😊🤟🪕🎶🎵

My Poem “Strum”

I am not exactly sure what
it was that overcame me,
but from the moment that
I first saw and I first heard
someone playing a ukulele
I was immediately entranced
and fascinated by this
stringed instrument,
that looks like a miniature guitar,
that naturally seems to have this
calming tone to it when a player
strums its cords that range G C E A…
I am not exact sure why
I was compelled to buy my D.I.Y.
ukulele from the bookstore I found it in –
so that I could leisurely learn
how to play an instrument of my own choosing?
To feel a wave of emotional connection
and a sense of fun when driving
my fingers over the four strings
that I physically tied
from the bridge to the pegs of the headstock?
I’m not sure, but that is exactly what happened:
because as soon as I began to innocently
move my fingers over the four strings
of the ukulele that I had to glue, screw, and attach all the separate
components of, I felt this instant
and emotionally charged feedback
from the sounds that I created,
and I felt a rush of instant creative inspiration.

There is something special about
making things with your own two hands…
there is something about having
a project in front of you
to put your heart and your mind to…
there is something about the visceral
connection that a lot of people feel
when they handle a piece of wood
that has been crafted into the vital
parts of an instrument…
there is something almost spiritual
about holding something
and feeling as if what you have
in your hands has its own identity,
its own story, its own voice, its own soul…
there is something wonderful about
finding something brand new
that you never could have imagined
that you would ever discover
that would give you the gift
of grasping something profound.

I have always been in awe
of those naturally gifted artists
who can pick up an instrument
and instinctually know how to play
something in such a way that they
can illicit an emotional response
from their audience and immediately
generate a continuum of connection
without even knowing that they are doing so…
I have always wanted to learn how
to play a musical instrument
and to be good enough to be able
to capture and to sustain someone’s,
anyone’s, attention, in a good way –
and hopefully not bore them to tears…
I have known some singers, some song-writers,
and some instrumentalists over my life,
and I have had many moments of feeling
this heartfelt bond with several voices,
sounds, songs – and when I write my own poetry
I attempt to write in such a way
that my words can be interpreted lyrically,
as if they were songs in and of themselves;
however, now I believe that I have found
something that I will use in the future
as an accompaniment to what I write,
and perhaps I will get inspiration for
the poetry that I will write to come
just by strumming upon the strings
of my new ukulele.

My Poem ‘Percussion’

The pitter-patter of raindrops
against a window early in the morning;
the foot-falls of steps
outside your door;
the dial-tone of a phone ringing;
the rumble of a crowd of people
reverberating over a floor.

The sound of drums;
the strike of lightning;
the impact of hand against instrument;
the synchronous movements
and almost-balletic arm accentuation
that make the musical performance of an artist
that much more exciting.

The voice of an instrument
that is brought to life by its player
as it was always meant
to be played and heard is magical –
the tone, the depth,
the range, the indistinguishable
call to rise of emotions
that only they can elicit
and evoke is phenomenal;
like the vocal-cords that vibrate
that allow someone to speak,
the unmistakable beat,
like that of a heart,
is its most effective
when it is allowed
to reach its natural peak.

No two ears hear the same;
no two players share the same gestures,
nor the same emotional connection
to a piece of music;
no two pieces of art
can coexist within the same frame;
every member of the same band
shares the same feeling
of being carried-away
and drifting like a flurry of snowflakes
on the wind.

The music of interaction;
the melody of harmony;
the natural cycle of repetition;
the actions of fluidity;
the language of notes;
the knowledge of keys;
the memory that never leaves;
the gift that comes with ease.

While there is still music playing,
while new songs are still being created,
while there is still the sound of waves crashing,
while new lovers of music are born
and want to become instrumentalists and percussionists,
the world will go on,
the Earth will play on and sing as-one,
the sources of all joy sadness
will continue to drum –
and those fluent in sharing
the music of the spheres of the universe
will want to continue to play
with all their heart the music
and the instruments of percussion.

My Poem ‘Busk for you’

Strumming guitar strings,
a phenomenal voice
singing into a microphone,
an amazing and captivating
reverberation of sound –
a singer, a guitar player,
an artist, a hopeful dreamer,
an entertainer, someone with a gift
who is now standing at the centre
of a circle of people,
playing their heart out,
and singing every song as if they mean so much to them,
and as if every song were a song that had be written for them;
entrancing, inspiring, amazing,
making everyone stop and stare, smiling,
and even moving a black man
in a white hat holding a basket-ball
to stop in his tracks
and start dancing like Michael Jackson.

It always amazes me how much and how deeply
music can move and touch someone,
it has always enthralled me no-end
the connection that people form with certain songs;
it has always brought me joy
to see the happiness on the face
of someone who just loves singing
and who loves playing their instrument;
it always inspires me to be up close
to share some time with the gifted
and the artistic people that I randomly meet,
who are wonderfully exceptional and brilliant,
because they are so different.

I have seen performers of every age,
colour, gender, and ethnicity,
performing publicly, in all weathers,
in every city and town that I have been to;
I have watched singers, violinists,
guitarists, brass-bands, choirs,
full-orchestras, change and effect
the very air and the atmosphere of somewhere
and share hope through their music;
I have been moved in so many ways
emotionally by every artist whom I have listened to;
I have always envied singers and musicians –
because, anyone can write a rhyme,
anyone can have an idea come to them,
and anyone can tell a story,
but only a singer or a musician
can bring words and notes to life
in such a way that elevates them
from a page to make them truly epic.

When a busker is busking
they never want to stop playing,
and when they are playing
they never want to rush;
when a singer and a musician
who loves what they do
gets the chance to play,
they experience a feeling of true divine love;
when an instrumentalist
is masterfully bringing together
all the notes before them
and combining them into one
perfect expression of sound,
they feel and they know their instrument
so well that both player and instrument
have for each other a mutual trust;
when a busker is playing on their street corner,
or in the open space
where they feel the most comfortable playing,
and where everybody knows that they are going to be,
all that they want to do
is play like there is no tomorrow,
and busk for you.

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Check out the amazing Esther Turner on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/esthermusic and on Twitter at @Esther_Ninja