Sitting at his locker, slightly hunched over, Michael Chavis holds a black ukulele, the tag still attached, that has yet to lose its sheen -- as one would a newborn child. He plucks its four strings with curiosity. Every strum inches him closer to proficiency. He knows how to make sounds. He’s learning to make music.
“It’s one of those things I’m just trying out,” Chavis said. “I want to learn how to do it. I’m learning from YouTube and just teaching myself, and it’s been fun so far.”
Since last week, Chavis has been spotted practicing the ukulele at his locker hours prior to first pitch. The instrument is new to Chavis. With each flick of the wrist, with each botched sequence, each missed note, his proficiency grows. For now, he is merely a novice, one fueled by curiosity.
The ukulele that Chavis has been playing isn’t the first one he’s ever owned. His first one was recently acquired at a Dave and Buster's in exchange for the requisite amount of tickets. The instrument piqued his interest, but, as one might imagine, the quality of this particular one lacked. So, ahead of Chavis’ birthday -- he turned 27 on Thursday -- his fiancée, Sarah, purchased a proper model, and Chavis has been hooked.
This is, essentially, his first true dabble into the world of music.
“I can’t even say I’ve ever legitimately played an instrument before,” Chavis said. “I was in band in sixth and seventh grade, and I played the saxophone for like a month-and-a-half. Then I broke my wrist, and they put me on the bongos, because, you know, you can’t play saxophone with a broken wrist.”
Chavis, by his own admission, is “not good, like, at all.” Chavis held his own at Guitar Hero back in the day; he believed finding the strings on a ukulele would be similar. He quickly learned that assumption was wrong.
“Not the same,” Chavis said. “Not the same at all.”
Chavis has enrolled in YouTube University as a means of learning the instrument. He’s also been in communication with former Pirate Cole Tucker, a musical polymath who has dabbled in multiple instruments, the ukulele being one of them.
“He was hyped. He was excited,” Chavis said. “I’m not sure if he was surprised, just because I like to do random stuff all the time, but he was definitely excited for me.”