Ukulele Retreat – a neverending encounter with the Fraud Police

I spent the first weekend of October in a lovely ukulele retreat in Lower Austria. It was organized by my ukulele friends Manuela and Markus (who also joined me at UFO Festival). They opened up their beautiful home and hosted a fun weekend.


Our teacher was Elisabeth Pfeiffer. As you probably know by now, I’ve attended various workshop (weekends) with her in the last couple of years but yes, there’s still ton of things to learn from her. She is a really good teacher (which we all know is not that given) and brings something new for every workshop. This weekend we focused on playing together. There was lots of music theory about chord progressions involved – actually something I kinda knew, but it was good to hear it again. And Elisabeth also brought something super fun to learn: The 12th street rag.

If you’re active in the ukulele community I’m sure you’ve heard it before. It looks and sounds really challenging, but Elisabeth broke it down into smaller sections and I am really surprised that even I left the weekend with knowing how to play it (not perfectly but I am working on that – there might be a video coming up).

But of course, we did not just learn new skills on the ukulele, we also had lot of time for just hanging out, having fun and singing an playing together. Since the weekend was in the so called “Weinviertel”, which is an area in Lower Austria that is famous for its vineyards, our hosts organized a wine tasting in one of the famous wine cellars. Most of us brought our ukes and we took turns playing and singing. I even got to play some of my original songs.

The Fraud Police

Somehow these kind of weekends (as fun as they are) always come with a visit of the fraud police. Now at this point I’m just thinking, wtf is wrong with me, that this keeps coming up. Every time that I spend more time with other people who have a different skill set than me, the fucking fraud police not just knocks on my door but tears it down and just forcefully enters. I very carefully chose the words “different skill set” because that’s really what it is. I used to think that other people have better skills than me and so much more to offer which automatically makes me a failure. But by now I know that it’s really just a different set of skills that they have. It’s not better that what I have to offer, just different.

But somehow in these situations it seems to flare up and totally trigger me. It’s easier by now to get it under control and it’s not completely derailing me anymore, but I just can’t help that thoughts of not being good enough, of being a failure and a fraud just come up. And there’s also the feeling of “you’ve been playing for that long, you should also be able to do this or that” coming up. It’s completely ridiculous but I just can’t shake it off.

What did help this weekend was a very interesting conversation we all had at the end of the workshop. It was about why we want to be on stage and when it’s “legitimate” to have the wish to be on stage. This got me back to thinking about why I want to do this and that it’s perfectly fine to do so.

So the fraud police seems to be a regular at these weekends. That shows me that there’s still tons of stuff for me to work through. But I’m getting there.

xoxo Nikky

Ps. I didn’t really take pictures during the workshop (it felt really nice to be off my phone for a while) but I did take some pictures with new ukuleles (watch out for giveaways).

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