I’m always up for a sing-song; although admittedly, I haven’t the voice for it. However, there is something magical about the ukulele.
I didn’t know when I bought my son a ukulele from the music shop for £19.99 that I would be the one using it.
Despite this, I was warmly welcomed even with my son’s bright pink ukulele, which needed to be re-tuned after every song or tenth strum.
Within a couple of weeks of playing the ukulele, I could actually hear the chords from the ukulele clearly. I could recognise the tune that I was playing, where the words would go and also how to improvise and provide the song with a flourish of additional strokes, thus providing the rise in tempo and creating rhythm. All these new musical techniques were picked up from a couple of lessons and this greatly boosted my confidence so that I wanted to play more songs and work my slow fingers over the notes as my eyes read and my fingers recognised the new chord shapes.
Needless to say, some three lessons later I was happy to splash out nearly four times the amount again for a lovely soprano ukulele.
I was provided by e-mail with a few songs each week from the library of songs that were played by the group. This was ideal as, when I was eventually given the link to the PLUC members’ resource area, it was quite an ordeal to manoeuvre around. But after a few attempts I soon got the hang of it. This link has proved really useful, especially if like me, you are not familiar with most of the songs. I would often search for the song on YouTube, listen to the original and then search for a ukulele version. If I liked this version I would save it to my favourites list of ukulele songs and then when I am practising I would use these as a guide.
There are also videos of our weekly sessions, on our members’ area, which can provide some accompaniment, so that once again, whilst you are at home you can strum along and practice your fingering technique. However, mostly I like to learn more chords and try and get my finger positions correct as this is still to date my greatest need. Another great need is finding more practice time, as I always feel that I’m not getting as much practice time as I would like.
I think the best thing to do is to have your ukulele at arm’s reach so that you can just practice strumming the chords you know and take time to learn new ones – and try moving your fingers between them whilst reciting which chords you are playing as you do this.
Otherwise, Tuesday evenings seem to roll around and you are picking up your ukulele for the first time and wondering where all the time went.
I enjoy the Dr Uke Songs with Ukulele as he has a page for beginners which lists a progression of songs that takes you from two chords upwards. This is a great way to learn new chords in a controlled way; the downside is that you cannot choose which songs you want to play, as the list is already established.
I would say this has been an easy, enjoyable experience in learning to play the ukulele. There’s been absolutely no pressure from the Tuesday evening sessions; if anything it’s been quite entertaining with lots of good humour and fun.
When I play at home, or even down the phone, to my family members I am quite tickled to hear them express surprise and a few comments of how good they think my playing is, which is very nice to hear. Mostly, I always have a willing listener in my son who, on occasion, sings whilst I play and most definitely does a better job of this singing than I do. (SMILE.)
Other PLUC Tales: More Benny Hill Than James Hill – Dave P; I Never Liked The Uke – Steve H; Long-Distance Strummer – Gail; New Uker! – Sheila; The First Rule Of Uke Club… – Anthony; Ron’s Progress; Probably The Most Fun Instrument In The World… – Jos; It’s Been A Year – Part 2 – Jeanette; From Classical To PLUC – Andrew; A History Of The Ukulele – And Its Part In My Downfall – James; Santa Rides Again – Alan F; Steph’s Story; Ron’s Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome; Uncle Ron’s Legacy… – Wee Kheng; Dan’s Story; Five Years & Loving It – Simon; My Ukulele Origins… – Rufus; Why Ed Started Playing The Ukulele; Ron’s Song; It’s Been A Year… – Jeanette