The 100 Days of Ukulele Challenge is a ukulele journey with a difference.
Budding singer, songwriter and ukulele player Maree Reedman tells us how she wrestled with the challenge.
Maree shares her journey.
Fear clamped all the way from my stomach to my throat as I waited to go on stage at the Sunshine Coast Ukulele Festival open mic. I should be alright. I’d practised the song. But it was the biggest crowd I had seen — over a hundred people. I walked up to the mic, my heart beating faster than a rock song. When I sang, it was like a strangler vine had taken over my vocal chords. I couldn’t control my voice. It was much higher than it should be. The crowd was kind and sang with me. But to this day, I remember the man who made a face and turned away.
That was a few years ago. I’m not a natural performer. I don’t thrive on people’s attention. I don’t love parties. And yet because I love playing the uke, I keep trying to find a way to become more confident on stage. I’ve improved since then, and I’ve never felt that level of fear again. I’ve done more open mics and busking, and even entered songwriting competitions where I’ve had to perform my song.
Taking on the Challenge
Then I saw this year’s 100 Days of Ukulele on Cynthia Lin’s Patreon page. She launched the challenge a few years ago, from another internet-based art idea, #THE100DAYPROJECT. Now she hosts it every year in a private Facebook group.
Ukulele musicians are invited to post a song daily. There are no rules, you can do a song whenever you want.
But I have always been fascinated by hardship and the personal growth that it yields, so I wanted to do it the traditional way: one song, every goddamn day.
And yet, should I wait until I was better? I hadn’t figured out my iRig pre-amp yet. What was I going to do about sound? A friend said, “For God’s sake, just record yourself in the bathroom.” And so I did … for my first song.
I’ve posted over seventy songs. I joined Facebook and uploaded to YouTube. In the beginning, I spent hours setting up my recording space — the best spot for the amp and the mic and the music stand and lighting (my study faces west and doesn’t get much natural light).
I’ve had technical glitches and reno-across-the-road problems that have wrecked recordings which took so long to make, and have even driven me out of the house in search of a quiet place to perform.
In the beginning, knowing I had to record, I had that familiar churning in my guts. But it’s just part of my everyday routine now. I smile at the camera. I laugh like a madwoman when I make mistakes. Sometimes I sing like I’ve always wanted. And every day, people give me positive feedback.
I still chafe against perfectionism. Sometimes I can’t make the song sound like I want it to. I don’t have much time to learn or rehearse or arrange. It is a wicked, fantastic behavioural experiment for my high standards that I have to post something every day no matter what.
I still get envious of the performers whom everyone loves and who are better than me. But I’ve made friends all over the world, and I remember what another participant wrote: It is beautiful where we all are at this very moment.