Saturday, 18 July 2015

Something different: Ukuleles, everywhere!

A few weeks ago my sister told me she was having a ukulele lesson. I don't recall her ever showing any interest in playing an instrument, so it was unexpected... but I forgot all about it until last weekend when she got her uke out and started playing songs that I recognised. Modern songs. The type we hear on the radio. This piqued the kids' interest too. 
A week later and we seem to have acquired three ukes of our own and I have learned how to play-along with several of my favourite songs - not very well but I've only had a ukulele for 48 hours, so I'm satisfied with that. We spent this afternoon in the garden enjoying the sunshine while subjecting the non-uke-obsessed family members (and neighbours) to 'Prayer in C' by Lilly Wood, Sam Smith's 'Stay With Me' and various Coldplay and Maroon 5 hits.
Like my bewildered husband, you may be wondering what has happened to us, and why we have become obsessed. And we are not the only ones, as ukuleles have been gaining in popularity over the last five years. Here's why I think they are the instrument du jour:

- Small and highly portable, the uke is a very convenient instrument for adults and children.
- With only 4 strings, it's an easy instrument to handle.
- The 'beginner' chords are simple to play and remember. You don't need to read music or to have any previous musical experience to play them, although it probably helps. 
- The majority of popular songs use only a few chords and once you know them, it's fun to play along. Check out the Axis of Awesome "4 chords" video which is both funny and interesting if, like me, you don't know much about music, or these magic chords that make up so much of our pop culture.
- YouTube is packed with really great ukulele tutorials. The majority are song based and many have different versions for different levels, so a beginner can play the chords with a simple strumming pattern, while a more experienced player can try the fancy stuff. With new songs being posted all the time there's something for everyone.
- Social media is a huge enabler. Take a look at the #ukulele tag on Instagram and you'll see hundreds of new photos and videos added each day. 
- Ukulele groups are popping up all over the place, so there's also a 'real life' social aspect if you'd like to play along with others. I discovered that there is even a uke group in our sleepy village!
- It's possible to pick up reasonable beginner instruments for a small investment (£25 - £35 or less if you don't mind the colour).

The school term ends on Wednesday and our holiday plans include daily ukulele practice. It's something the children and I can do together and it's fun to be learning something at the same time. I'm also thinking about some uke-related craft projects... If you play too, leave a comment and tell me about it.

PS. If you were visiting to see the next instalment of my Handmade Wardrobe Project, it'll be posted mid-week (all being well with my sewing plans!) as we are having a weekend of celebration for my boy's birthday. 


  1. My husband is very chuffed with you. He has been playing guitar since Slash was a kitten, but every now and then he picks up his ukelele too. Personally, I think it's very Hawaï :-)

    1. Hahaha - my husband only plays the Xbox so he is completely bewildered!!! :D

  2. Aloha,

    Must be a virus. Ever since I saw the documentary on Jake Shimabukuro, I've wanted to play the ukulele. He's done for the ukulele what the Yoshida brothers have done for the shimasen.


    1. Oh he is amazing! His playing gives tingles up my spine!

  3. ha! i got bitten by the uke bug last year when a friend came to visit and brought an *extra* uke with her! it's added so much joy to life! my boyfriend plays guitar and even he is considering "downsizing" because it's so portable and fun. there seem to be so many more uke groups in the UK that meet up in pubs... i'm jealous! i may have to start my own in my little town. anyhoo, welcome to the club!

    1. I love that - an *extra* uke!!! Wonderful! There seem to be a lot of yarn-crafters who also play the uke...?


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