Ugandan Musical Adventures

The past week or two I’ve been thinking a lot about Uganda, and wanting to go back there. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for our organization, Loving One by One, as we have dealt with the passing of one of our little girls in our children’s home. These things are always harder than we quite know how to express, but we believe Sarah is with God now, and we are also seeing good developments in our local community as a result of this loss. More on that in the coming months, as things develop further.

But in the meantime, while my mind has been on Uganda, I couldn’t help but go back and look at photos from my last two trips over there, and in looking at those photos, it seemed fun to compile a short album which I’m calling “Ugandan Musical Adventures.”



The two photos above were taken in the town of Jinja, near the Nile River, on two different trips. The one where I’m playing the guitar (that’s the larger instrument, for my nonmusical readers) was from July 2011, and the one with the ukulele (you guessed it, the small one) is from July of 2013. Same location, same cool artsy wall. I believe it was during the guitar photo that I acquired the nickname, “Mzungu with legs brighter than the sun.” Maybe when I go back there next summer, I can bring an accordion.


This one (left) was from July 2013, taken at New Creation Centre. NCC is our school, and the students there were a more than a little intrigued by the “little guitar.” I’m not sure my California/Hawaiian/White Guy style of playing worked with all the African rhythms, but they were polite about it.



This photo was taken at Mulago Hospital in Kampala. Our teams always visit there, and it happened to be early in our trip, so I wasn’t sure about taking the ukulele, but I got talked into it. And actually, I thought, “They already feel pretty horrible; the ukulele probably isn’t going to make anything worse.” So we were walking through this really crowded ward, filled with beds and sick people (which is, by definition, a hospital), and we started playing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” And I looked across the room and this little girl with a cast on her leg was dancing on her bed. Never one to neglect a fan (because I have so few of them), I went to her bed and sat with her and played. And that was the day we decided the ukulele had tocase always go with us everywhere for the next two weeks. *Note – see video at the bottom of this post.




This one (left) was taken at Mapeera Bakateyamba Home, a Catholic elderly home near Kampala. By this time, about a week into our trip, there was never a question of “should we take the ukulele.” Whether we were dealing with HIV and malaria in a slum, or intestinal parasites in a remote village, or in this case a rural home for older people, the policy was, “Grab the ukulele; we’ll figure out what to do with it when we get there.” The guy with the green sandals never stopped dancing as we played old hymns, newer songs, and of course, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” The nun in the back appears to have been rocking as well. (Note – the above paragraph contains the first ever occurrence of “ukulele” and “intestinal parasites” in the same sentence).

My plan is to return to Uganda in the summer of 2015, which right now seems like a long time away. But in the meantime, I have time to work on my ukulele chops a little more, and as I mentioned above, maybe get an accordion.


About Miller Piano Services

I offer piano tuning, repair and maintenance in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas.
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