RSS

Category Archives: Members’ Items

PLUC Tales – More Benny Hill Than James Hill

Dave Parnell's Holiday Uke

Dave Parnell’s Holiday Uke

I’m in sunny Vejer at the moment with my wife Chris. It’s nice here, and the locals are going mad enjoying their feria. With plenty of singing drinking and dancing it’s just the right backdrop to get me going…

I was watching a programme on telly a couple of years ago now about how to grow old gracefully, and keep your marbles longer, before going into full-blown old age stupidity! Angela Rippon and gang were extolling the virtues of taking up dancing, a foreign language, musical instrument, or some other hobby. Having tried the piano and realising my limited ability years ago, I told my wife I was going to take up the uke.

She laughed!

The next day I was in Normans Music shop in Eltham, looking at their many ukes. The shop owner was busy with one of his suppliers and eventually asked me if I wanted any help. I told him I was after a uke and he showed me a couple. He asked me who it was for. Feeling a little embarrassed, I heard myself say, “It’s for my son.”

The next question was, “How old is your son?” To which I realised, this hole is growing too big really quickly! Also realising I was now wearing Pinocchio’s Nose, at which point I burst out laughing and confessed:

“I’m sorry mate, I’m lying. It’s Angela Rippon’s fault. I’m trying to stop myself going old and stupid before my time by taking up a musical instrument!”

He had a good laugh with his supplier, then asked why a uke. To which I replied, “It’s only small with four strings. How hard can it be?”

I came out with a mahogany Freshman concert, chord book and tuner. The journey had begun. (I was about to find out how hard it could be!)

At first I started to learn some easy chords and tunes from books. These weren’t really tunes I wanted to play. I moved on to YouTube and tried out Ten Thumbs and the Ukulele Teacher.

I was doing this for about a year. Then one evening my wife said she’d found a uke club on the internet called PLUC. I knew I needed help, so went along, feeling apprehensive and hoping I wouldn’t be laughed at for my obvious lack of ability.

The first night, Jeanette welcomed me and asked Colin and Bob to guide me along. They didn’t think they’d be stuck with me for this long! But I’m glad to say, they haven’t told me to get lost yet.

From the first tune that night, I knew I’d come to the right place. All the tunes were upbeat and different styles. For the first few weeks I was conscious that I couldn’t stop smiling. Everyone must have thought I was mad. I felt that I ought to be clapping everyone – it’s making me smile now writing this, thinking about it.

That first night I just didn’t realise what a great bunch of pluckers I was walking into!

Before I joined PLUC, I thought that I was practicing but I have since realised I was only playing at it. I now practice at every opportunity. I have brought a sopranino on holiday and can’t put it down. The more I learn, the more I realise I don’t know, but I know that walking into PLUC hat night was the best decision I’ve made on the uke trail.

The only side effect I wasn’t expecting is I’ve now got five ukes and I’m on the look out for that special one. I hope I find it before I end up like Rufus and Kev!

I’d like to thank everyone at PLUC for their encouragement along the way. They’re all great individuals and it’s given me the motivation to aspire to a better standard.

All the best, Dave the sub-standard plucker.

Other PLUC Tales: I Never Liked The Uke – Steve H; Long-Distance Strummer – Gail; New Uker! – Sheila; A Tale Of Two Ukuleles – Tina; The First Rule Of Uke Club… – AnthonyRon’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 – JamesSanta Rides Again – Alan F; Steph’s StoryRon’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

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

PLUC Tips – Gail

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.

Gail's Essential Equipment - Nappy Carrying Bag, Clipboard, Handy Notes, Ring Binders, Book Stand

Gail’s Essential Equipment – Nappy Carrying Bag, Clipboard, Handy Notes, Ring Binders, Book Stand

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.
Gail's Essential Equipment - Stationery, Flexible Torch & Chord Cards

Gail’s Essential Equipment – Stationery, Flexible Torch & Chord Cards

  • 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.
Gail's Essential Equipment - Make Notes As You Go

Gail’s Essential Equipment – Make Notes As You Go

  • 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.

Gail

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

PLUC Tales – I Never Liked The Uke

Steve H with uke

Steve H with uke

I never liked the uke.

It sounded bleedin’ awful.

A really low-quality astringent taste in the ears. Not like the softer tones and fuller sound that my nylon string acoustic gave. So I put the uke back and had another look around the music shop in Lewisham High Street. I looked at harmonicas, banjos, bass guitars and the plethora of musical diversions offered in Eric Lindsey Music.

I was looking for something new. An instrument to encourage a little more playing, primarily by being a little more portable. Then I could take it to work and practice on the nursery class I taught. In the end, financial concerns brought me back the uke. It had a little tuner cleverly sunk into the side of the body. Yet, it still sounded dull.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
20 Comments

Posted by on January 22, 2017 in Members' Items

 

Tags: , , ,

Sweary Steve’s Christmas Message

This year it falls to Sweary Steve to give PLUC’s festive message. I’m sure everybody who knows him will appreciate the card he sent us all: Read the rest of this entry »

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 25, 2016 in Members' Items

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

PLUC Tips – Tina

Here is one of my favourite uke tutorial YouTubes.

This is by Ten Thumbs Productions. Tyler Austenfeld produces a wide range of ukulele materials – he does a couple of new song tutorials every week (from beginners to advanced; classics to the latest chart hits) in addition to lessons covering different playing techniques.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

PLUC Tales – Long-Distance Strummer

Last April I was in Catford for six weeks awaiting the birth of my grandson, Evan, and helping afterwards. I had been going to a Colchester U3A group and thoroughly enjoyed it, so was missing it.

I googled local ukulele groups and came up with the excellent PLUC. I knew where Lewisham Hospital was and discovered PLUC in one of those now rare places, the hospital social club.

The group were very welcoming and not over worried re my very amateur twangings. I enjoy the songs they do and appreciate the obvious talent there too. For me, it has helped my ukulele ‘alphabet’.

Thanks from Gail, Colchester.

Gail's Ukulele

Read the rest of this entry »

 
20 Comments

Posted by on February 7, 2016 in Members' Items

 

Tags: , ,

PLUC 2015 Top Ten – Dec

Steve J, Bob & Maria - Xmas 2014

Steve J, Bob & Maria – Xmas 2014

After much deliberation, we voted for Girl On Fire from Tina’s songs back in October. That joins Kevin’s three songs, as we felt they all had interesting aspects to work up.

Here are Bob’s selections for our final Top Ten. As ever, PLUC members please go & grab the actual versions we’ll be using from our Box (reminder: ask Ed, Steve or me if you don’t understand how to get Box to email you automatically as we post new songs etc in there). If enough people have printed them for this week we’ll play them Tues 8 Dec.& then again in the New Year to pick the one to keep & work on. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,