2018 Year in Review: Hits and Misses

My primary goal for Musical Mama is to share the joy of making music, and I’m so grateful for the opportunities I had to do just that. If you engaged with me in some way, whether you took lessons from me, attended a workshop, read a blog post, watched a video, or purchased one of my books, THANK YOU!

2018 has been a big, exciting, and challenging year for me. I’m usually too eager to start working on the next new thing to look back on the past, but I’ve been encouraged by my husband and a couple of friends to do a little reflecting. So, per their request, here’s a look back on some of the milestones from the past year. Here are four “hits” and two “misses”:

Hit #1: I Published a Book!

Much of the first half of the year was spent refining (and then refining again and again and again) my ukulele how-to book: Let’s Play! The Ukulele Handbook for Beginners. I am SO. DARN. PROUD of it. It looks a lot different than your average music book, because I wanted it to feel less like a music book and more like a user manual, with step-by-step instructions that can be followed by anyone, regardless of musical experience. Go take a peek!

Hit #2: I Made A LOT of Videos

Let’s Play! isn’t just a stand-alone book. It’s accompanied by a total of 75 videos! Let me tell you, trying to record those videos while living in a house with a husband and two kids was no easy feat. My darling husband would take the kids out on adventures a couple Saturdays each month and I would record as many videos as I could while they were out. All in all, the recording of the videos took almost five months, scattered across several weekends. You can watch a bunch of the videos here.

Hit #3: I Participated in My First Ukulele Festival

The Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival was a big deal for me— it was my first time venturing out of the Bay Area to lead workshops and my first time running a vendor booth (read more about it here). And it was such a blast! I’m already looking forward to next year!

Hit #4: I Taught Many Wonderful People

Empty-nesters, moms with littles ones, husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, working professionals— I’ve gotten to teach a lot of kind, intelligent people this year through private lessons. I looked forward to each lesson, and it has been a complete joy to be able to teach (and sing with!) so many students this year.

Ready to read about two of my biggest flops?

Miss #1: My Torrance Workshops

So many of the people who stopped by my booth at the LA uke fest assumed I was local and asked when my next workshop/event would be. So it seemed like a good idea to plan some workshops in November, when I was planning to be in town for Thanksgiving. The workshops went just fine, but I didn’t exactly sell out! haha In hindsight, I should have done a better job of getting the word out, chosen a different venue, and held it on a different day (I chose a day that was convenient for me but probably less than ideal for many others), and I should have planned an event either closer to home or closer to where I was actually staying (in Orange County, about an hour away from Torrance). I learned many lessons that day!

Miss #2: The Making of the Videos for Oh, What Fun!

December is one of the most hectic months of the year for many of us, and I’m no exception. I had every ambition of recording, editing, and posting play-along videos for every song in Oh, What Fun! (my Christmas songbook), but I couldn’t make it happen. First I had trouble just framing the shot and thinking about how I wanted to compose the videos. I also had a hard time finding time to record when no one else was home! Then, when I did set aside a day to record, I was trying to rush through and I didn’t bother to properly warm up my voice (such a bad idea!).

When I watched what I had recorded that day, I was unsatisfied with how I looked, purely from a vanity perspective— I was recording in a room where a lot of light was shining on me, which cast some pretty harsh and unflattering shadows on my face! In an ideal world I would have started from scratch but because time was running out on getting the videos published before Christmas that I put my vanity aside and just went with it. In total, I finished six videos (out of thirteen). I planned to record the rest this past Saturday 12/22, but of course I woke up that day with an awful cold! Yeesh. It’s now the day after Christmas, and my voice still isn’t up for any singing. You can watch the six videos I did manage to finish over on my Youtube channel.

Overall, 2018 was Pretty Major

If 2018 had a theme, I think it was “experiment.” It felt like I was trying something new every day. On a personal level, the most bittersweet change was having my younger child start kindergarten. I’ve been an at-home mom for both of my kids’ lives, and suddenly having them both in school five days a week was a little jarring at first. I’m still adjusting to my new schedule, but it’s been exciting and gratifying to have more time to teach, write, and make music with others. And of course, it’s a thrill to see our family of four evolve as our kids grow and grow.

In 2019 I’m looking forward to more growth, more music-making, and more fun. What about you? Have you been reflecting on 2018, or are you just trying to survive the holidays? What have been some of the highlights of your year?