Hey friends,

Last week, I had one of the most productive evenings I’ve had in a long, long time.

As per usual, I was planning to give myself the evening off after a rather vicious battle with The Afternoon Slump. In my mind, the evening was going to look something like a short nap or a chill writing/reading session.

I packed up all my study essentials and set them aside, a smooth transition that marks my descent into an unproductive slob. As I laid on the bed doing some mindless scrolling through Twitter, tears of regret started to steadily stream down my cheeks while I repented on how inconsistent I was on the rather powerful social platform. Oh well, what can a man do.

That was when my friend, Chris came into the chalet. He, too, was looking to reward himself with an afternoon off and someone to hang out with.

Chris had his ukulele with him. He began to strum some simple chords and I hummed along as I continued scrolling through my Twitter feed, very occasionally eyeing the musical instrument. After a couple of songs, he offered to teach me the basic 4 chords of the ukulele on the spot.

It came as quite a surprise for me. My first instinct was to say “We’ll get to that another day” or that I was too drained to learn a new instrument. However, I seem to be my higher self that day because I went against that instinct and took him up on his offer.

In a matter of 15-20 minutes, I’d learned the 4 basic chords and could strum some rather simple tunes. It took an additional half and hour or so to get familiar with the strumming and rhythm. By the dinner time, I found myself capable of playing a couple of songs well enough to sing-along to them in real-time.

It goes without saying that I’m far from being able to call myself a Ukulele Player (Dunning-Kruger effect, remember?😉) However, I was absolutely elated and grateful. That was definitely not the evening I had in mind but it was without a doubt one of the most productive evenings in my life. Ironically, all it took was just a little bit of effort to go against my instinct to take the path of least resistance and the openness to say yes to new opportunities.

🔬 Closer Examination

Why was this one of the most productive evening of my life?

It all comes down to how one defines productivity. I’ll be writing an article on this at a later date, but for now here’s my personal definition of Productivity.

Achieving the results that you want in the shortest time possible and hence being able to do the things you most want to be doing at every moment.

Learning the Ukulele brought such a disproportionate amount of value to my life when I think about the time that it required of me to do so.

I’ve always been meaning to learn a string instrument. Many have tried to sell me on the idea of learning the ukulele because once you master the chords, you can basically strum along to any song that you want. While I recognised the value in it, I never quite gotten around to learning it. And yet, one evening was all it took to get started.

To be fair, it was quite the stroke of luck to have Chris come into the chalet with the Ukulele and turned my perfectly planned evening off into one that ticked a main item off my life’s bucket list. For that, I’m forever grateful.

What is the core lesson you’ve learned?

Be ready for new opportunities and accept them with arms wide open when they come your way.

As students, it is understandable that we have a lot on our plates and there seem to be barely enough time to get everything done. However, if we could just manage our time properly, there are so many opportunities for us to learn new skills and grow as a person.

Again, this is one of the ideas I have in store for a future article but humour me this:-

How feasible is it for me to learn the Ukulele from a fellow colleague once I’ve entered the working world?

While many of us constantly complain about the struggles that comes with being a student (myself included), we rarely, if ever, take the time to appreciate the opportunities and benefits that come along with it.

People are generally more forgiving and accepting of students if we are trying to learn a new skill and hence there is a larger margin for error. With your identity as a student, it is significantly safer to try out new things and explore different fields. It is also easier to stand out. There is also so many opportunities that offer themselves to you within the student community, if only you’re brave enough to look for them, and open enough to accept them when they come your way.

You definitely don’t have to learn the Ukulele. Stop limiting yourself. Learn anything that interests you, anything that strikes your fancy; and let marvel at how the openness to pick up new skills can potentially change your life.

With that said, I hope my side lessons I’ve learned from learning the Ukulele added some value to your life in some shape, way, or form.

Have a great week ahead and see you in the next issue of Sunday Scoop!

Jia Shing.


  1. 📱Chordify - This is an application that my friend, Naqib recommended to me. It has a wide selection of songs and for each one of them, they provide you with a diagram of the chords so that you can master them before proceeding to the full chord list. The layout is pretty intuitive and is definitely an app I would recommend to anyone starting out with the Ukulele. Another alternative would be the go-to app Ultimate Tabs.
  2. 📹 Video - This video by Nathaniel Drew was one I revisited this week when I felt just a little overwhelmed. That’s honestly the dream - to go on a Think Week in a secluded and beautiful spot like that. Anyone has a spare cabin to rent?


What’s the ‘last’ new opportunity you’ve said Yes to?

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