Paul was a difficult child. He hated school. He was not interested in sports or music. He couldn’t read well or do math. He lived in the fog of childhood and cartoons. I didn’t know what to do and neither did any of his teachers.
I signed him up for soccer, arranged tennis lessons, hired an academic tutor and took him to piano lessons. Nothing caught his interest, except explosives. He wanted to know everything there was to know about armaments and how bombs were used. I was afraid he was destined for the military, or worse becoming an arms dealer.
Then one day when he was 10 we went to a school ukulele concert. Some kids from a neighboring school were putting on a concert and I dragged Paul kicking and screaming into the auditorium.
The middle school aged kids began by performing Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Night Music) by Mozart, plucking the familiar notes on their ukes. In that instant Paul’s world changed. He sat on the edge of his chair and leaned toward the stage, hanging on every note. When the song was over, he turned to me and said, “I want to do that!”
I bought him a ukulele the next day. All he wanted to play was classical music, which was fine with me. I found a teacher, Doug Johnson, who knew exactly how to motivate Paul and selected arrangements that were challenging but do-able for a beginner. Paul changed over night. He carried his uke with him everywhere, including to the dinner table. When he was 14 he switched to piano for his formal music studies. He eventually graduated magna cum laude from the Berklee College of Music in Boston and has continued with a career in music, writing scores for movies and more traditional music for symphony orchestras.
The ukulele changed Paul’s life. Although he still plays the piano, Paul’s favorite instrument is now the BanjoUkulele. He loves it. So do I!