Here are some practical tips from Gail, who is always busy travelling around from her home in Colchester (where she plays in a U3A class and also in a group Ukulele for Fun, who do little gigs, mostly for old people’s homes) and her family, looking after her young grandchildren in Catford & elsewhere. So she is used to carrying round all her equipment effectively between locations and playing under different conditions! She’s also an avid crafter, doing knitting and other hobbies, and makes use of equipment she has from those activities to create some cheap and functional items for her uke-playing.
Hopefully you’ll find some of these useful, particularly if you’re going gigging. We always take clothes pegs to keep our songsheets firmly in position, especially when playing in the open-air, but Gail has come up with several more of her own suggestions here:
- Use a yellow highlighter for certain things to make them more readable, such as the chorus, any chords printed in faint red or new chords to you.
- It’s useful to have a pencil, rubber and piece of paper at the ready to note changes to the printed chords in a song, new intro/outro, useful bits of info regarding all sorts of things to do with music and other playing tips.
- Other recommended ukulele-based little extras to keep handy are a clip-on tuner and a rubber stamp to print the little chord layout diagrams neatly on your sheets.
- You can get a small fold-up book stand for your folder or tablet cheaply from Poundland, so you can prop up your music to see it more easily.
- A clipboard is useful to prop up single songs on your Poundland book stand (stopping them from flopping over).
- I have also acquired a flexible tube with a little torch on each end that bends round your neck. You can aim this at the songsheets in a dark area, such as the pew of an old church with no overhead lighting. But do check the batteries aren’t dead first as it’s more efficient with working batteries! This tip was on the recommendation of my friend who has sight problems.
- A large nappy carrying bag makes a useful carrier for the folding book stand, clipboard and all my songsheets that I keep contained in a large folder.
- To make a uke strap, first use a drill carefully to fit a strap button screw into the base end of the uke. Then you can attach a home-made strap which can pass under the strings at the fret end – a nice shoe lace would work well or some Petersham ribbon. If you use one of those quick release side clip buckles from a haberdashery shop or eBay, like found on a pushchair, then it’s easier to get on and off.
- Label your carrying bag and uke case with a luggage label for when you leave it behind so other group members know who has lost it!
- Print two copies of a songsheet instead of one, so if somebody hasn’t got one you can help. It’s a good way to thank people who have kindly passed one onto you – with songsheets ‘what goes around, comes around’ I have found.