Yes, it’s true. I am one of those who has embraced the ukulele. I should confess that I have more than one. Indeed one of my stable has a most excellent pick-up, allowing it to be plugged into an amplifier, sometimes through a Wah-Wah™ pedal and wound all the way up to 11. If my neighbours come hammering at my door of an evening, I can’t hear them. Life is good.
In my earlier years I had piano lessons. This opportunity became available at age 12 when my Big Sister disappeared to attend boarding school and access to the family’s piano became available. Unlike Big Sister I didn’t really have a gift for applying 10 fingers coherently to an array of ebony and ivory. Indeed it was all a bit arduous. Mr John Thompson’s method was OK, followed by a prescribed selection of material for grade examinations. Practice was all about mastering those and applying a bunch of black dots on things called staves to the keys in front of me. Playing for pleasure was never something that I connected with, so after molesting Mr Beethoven’s Für Elise for well over a year, I decided that enough was enough. I have not touched a piano for any purpose other than a spirited rendition of Chopsticks since I turned 16.
It’s a shame that I never connected with playing for pleasure or indeed playing because I wanted to, not because I had to.
I have always admired the ability some people have to sit down at a piano, or any other musical gizmo, and bang or honk out a tune. Indeed I have observed that some folk are so good at this they can make a living from it. There are even professional ukulele players!
I’m not sure quite what it was that drew me to the ukulele. But I am pleased I was drawn. The Internet has provided a whole range of useful material and contact with communities of similarly afflicted folks who believe that their ukes are legitimate musical instruments.
Most evenings I’ll grab a uke off its wall hanger, enhance its GCEA-ness, and then muck around with tunes old and new for a while. This process may even be therapeutic, as I appear to enjoy it. I have also become mildly evangelical.
Buy a ukulele and join the revolution! Don’t get a cheap one – spend more than $90 and you should be OK. As with other things in life, cheap is as cheap does. Spend another $30 and get an electronic tuner to do the GCEA bizzo. Fit Aquila strings, if it doesn’t come with those as standard kit, and Bob’s your father. Enjoy!
I have callouses on the tips of my left fingers. Je suis arrivé!