In May I bought for my wife as a mother’s day gift a ukulele. It was one of those rare opportunities to buy a gift for my wife that she was both not expecting and she truly loved. However, since mother’s day this year I’ve spent way more time learning to play the ukulele than she has. It’s fun, even when I’m learning to play something that’s challenging and requires a lot of practice. So I did the math and if I want to master the ukulele, following the 10,000 hour rule, I need almost 66 years if I practice 25 minutes a day (Dubner, 2016).


66 years! That puts me well past 100 years old before I would master the ukulele. But it hasn’t stopped me, for a few reasons:

  1. It’s fun to play the ukulele.
  2. My wife and kids are all very musical (two play the violin, one plays the cello, and they all play the piano) and it’s fun to no longer be the guy who doesn’t have an instrument (I played the trumpet in high school and a little while in college, but I don’t even have one anymore to pick up).
  3. 25 minutes, right before I go to bed, is a great time to practice the ukulele and drown out the stress and worries of a busy day with my mostly-in-tune strumming.

At 43, you wouldn’t think that learning a new musical instrument makes a lot of sense, at least not on the surface. There are so many other ways I could spend that time. But the fact of the matter is that I think it’s helped me in other areas. It gives me another way to practice patience. I’ve been able to find a few people on YouTube that teach the ukulele, and it’s good for me professionally to observe the way they teach. (By the way, Cynthia Lin is the best).

So go out and learn a new skill. You’re busy … we all are. But we’ve all got something – Netflix, candy crush, fantasy football – that is time spent we wish we could get back. Here’s a way to do that.