Asperger’s and Ukuleles

Tom with Ukulele

My name is Tom Peters. I am a professional musician, composer and non-profit consultant. I’m 48 years old with a wonderful wife and son. I also have Asperger’s Syndrome.

So what is Asperger’s Syndrome?

Asperger’s Syndrome is a mild form of autism, characterized by an inability to understand how to interact socially. Those of us with Asperger’s—or Apies, as a term of endearment—tend to have few facial expressions and are apt to stare blankly at other people. It’s nothing personal; we really can’t help it.

Aspies are often accused of being “in their own world” and preoccupied with their own thoughts.  We are often clumsy with uncoordinated movements, are socially awkward, have repetitive routines or rituals, odd speech and language, and non-verbal communication problems. God knows, I qualify for all of those!

So why is this blog called Asperger’s Ukulele? One hallmark of Asperger’s Syndrome is an intense interest in one or two subjects, and we often torment those around us about our special interests. For me, one special interest led to another. I know, I know…I’m being all Aspie and not getting to the point, but bear with me—I’m getting there.

In addition to performing classical music, I compose and perform live film scores here in Los Angeles for films from the silent era. Last November I was working on a new score for the original film version of Chicago. I needed a jazz-era score, so I pressed my Grandfather’s banjo into service and blew the dust off my old ukulele. The ukulele stuck.

After playing classical bass for nearly 40 years, I’m now on an interesting journey in learning a new instrument. I hope you’ll join me on my voyage of self-discovery and music.

10 thoughts on “Asperger’s and Ukuleles

  1. Tom, this is so brilliant I can’t stand it. You are a gift. Thank you for being a part of Parson’s Nose, and just for being. Your wit, charm and insight are a real source of enjoyment for all of us. I haven’t seen any of the other traits any more than I do in the mirror. God bless with this project. I look forward to it’s future.

  2. This is so bizarre, Tom. When I was in Kauai last month, it was all I could do to resist this adorable pineapple shaped uke at Larry’s Ukelele shop. I can barely keep into practicing my violin. Another musical pursuit would surely do me in (don’t even ask me about the piano lessons–a wretched experiment) Still.

    • It’s funny, Sandra, but I’ve come across quite a few people who have had the same experience with the ukulele. At first I couldn’t quite believe that there was an instrument that sounds so good right off the bat and is so easy to play. Then I discovered this:

      http://www.vintageukemusic.com/

      The DVD he sells of over 2,000 pieces of sheet music from the 20’s and 30’s is an absolute goldmine.

  3. Tom,
    Thanks for sharing this. I’m not an Aspie, but I have come to that point where I’m starting to learn a new instrument as well. I’ve played professionally with steel pan groups for years now and I’m finally taking the time to figure out how to play one myself. I don’t know if it will just be for me or for others to hear, but there’s something very freeing in exploring a new instrument. Thank you for taking the time to share that experience with us.
    -Sam

  4. Hi, hello, howareya and how fantastic that you have started this blog. Please share this info and journey with our mutual friend, I KNOW he will enjoy the hell out of it!

    Best and hugs to you and your beautiful Linda.

    xo
    Meem

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