Treasure: Ukulele Moleskine

Little notebooks are great to go with the little ukulele.

Years ago, I developed an addiction to PDAs (personal digital assistants) that began with with a Palm IIIc then moved through a progression from Tungsten to Treo.  The PDA changed my life.

I seldom lost notes and usually knew where I should be according to my digital calendar.

Once upon a time I’d written notes on small scraps of paper that made it safely into jean pockets or the black chasm of a purse. But, as you likely know, doing laundry can wash away the best of ideas.  Generally, people don’t lose $300 small electronic devices like PDAs.  As a result of this addiction, so much of my life relied on the digital.

But then I read a blog post called, “9 Lists to Keep Updated” on Lifehacker Blog.  Some of the suggested lists are atypical — such as the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals).

If lists are to keep our lives tidy, under control, put us where we are to be at the right time then the idea of these 9 lists  moves us to think outside the list.
The lists, as described in Lifehacker Blog, are kept  in “Moleskines”.  What was that? A new kind of rodent?  Within a few days of reading that post I’d “googled” and researched  Moleskines and its competitors, read about the Moleskine effect, viewed other people’s Moleskine contents and pictures on the Web.  Then I purchased blank, squared, and lined Moleskines for myself and friends.

Learn new chords farther up the neck with songs pasted into Ukulele Moleskine.

Learn new chords farther up the neck with songs pasted into Ukulele Moleskine.

But the  Moleskine I wanted most had tiny musical staves in it.  I did not order it from the Web site, because like you, I argued I do not need to spend $12 on a small notebook when I could buy a set of Worth strings instead.

Then I found the real thing. And that is different. You pick it up, turn the pages, feel the textured paper in your fingers, caress the black leather-simulated cover and imagine what could happen on those tiny staves. The purchase is painless, perhaps even liberating. This happened and I bought what has become my “Ukulele Moleskine” in the campus bookstore of Reed College — home of the Portland Ukefest 2009.

My first use of my Ukulele Moleskine was to try to write the tabs that Del Ray was teaching in one of her sessions.  She can hear something and then play it back in a way that lets you know she is an aural learner. But I am a visual learner. So I strained my eyes to follow her fast fingers on the fretboard, then jotted quickly into my Ukulele Moleskine the tabslation (read tab translation) that she was teaching.

Tabs from Del Ray's session

Tabs from Del Ray's session

Now, when electricity or power is minimal, I have my Ukulele Moleskine with me. If my iPhone is low on batteries, I have my ukulele moleskine with  me.

There are four types of uke-activities recorded in my Ukulele Moleskine:

1.  In my Ukulele Moleskine are scales that I want to learn, like the blues scales.

2.  In my Ukulele Moleskine is the new song I am figuring out — note by note on the staff. For instance, recently I watched Ken Burns documentaries on the U.S. National Parks and noted that one of the recurring music themes was an old hymn “This is my Father’s World”.  Why not figure out my own fingerpicking rendition of this song in my Ukulele Moleskine!

3.  In my Ukulele Moleskine I am learning new chords.  I’ve glued in songs I like and then the  fingerings I need to learn to play the chords farther up the neck .

4. In my Ukulele Moleskine, I scribble quickly what I think I am learning in a session — such as I did in Del Ray’s fingerpicking Portland Ukefest session.

Can you think of ways to add to the Ukulele Moleskine list?

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3 Responses to Treasure: Ukulele Moleskine

  1. J-Hob says:

    Great idea! I have just ordered a music moleskine.

    I always carry a plain moleskine around with just for jotting notes to myself in. I also have a really little reporters spiral notebook that I jot down song chord progressions in to jog my memory – saves me lugging around folders full of chords and lyrics all the time. I keep that in the pocket of my gig bag.


  2. Jeff West says:

    I really enjoy reading your posts. I am not sure if a moleskin is an electronic device or notebook? It looks like a small old-style day timer. I’ll have to do some more checking around. When did you start playing a fretted instrument? I am working on a closed scale too. I think my fingers, especially that little pinky are gonna need a lot of repititions to build dexterity and strength. My friend Rhan (aka Yoda) gave me that scale exercise where I show all of the notes and then sequences of 4 notes working the way up one note at a time. JW/HU


  3. Rogerb says:

    I have a tiny diary, moleskine is it’s name…… …. It is perfectly proportioned and I do love it and use it as a musical notebook – if only I could use staves.
    On the other hand I do feel a bit targeted, someone with acumen (!) has cottoned on to the commercial potential of this nostalgic package. A different notebook from Oxfam would do a similar job.
    love it though


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