Friday, March 8, 2019

Ukulele - The "Yes You Can" Instrument!

Don't think you can play a musical instrument?  Wanting something that is easy to play, flexible, and capable of many different genres?  You definitely need to check out the ukulele!

As Nikki and I get ready to teach our ukulele class on Saturday, I find myself answering questions about the ukulele on an almost daily basis.  The ukulele is popular right now, but many people don't know anything about it.  I am constantly reminded, each and every time I teach one of these workshops, how the ukulele is made for practically every genre of music and every age of player.  The ukulele is definitely an adaptable and easy to play instrument!

How do I know it is easy to learn?  I have taught group lessons at nursing homes and retirement centers for people who have never played before.  If they can learn in one lesson in a group, you can learn, too!  I'm not saying everyone will be a ukulele prodigy, but if you want to have fun and play a little, the ukulele is a great choice!

The ukulele is the right size.  It comes in four different sizes, to be exact!  They are, from smallest to largest:  soprano, concert, tenor and baritone.  So, it doesn't matter if you are five years old or 75 years old, there is a size that will fit your hands!

The ukulele is very portable.  You can take it backpacking, play it in the car, put it under the seat or in the overhead bin of an airplane, or hang it on the wall in your apartment!

If you are looking for something affordable, look no further!  As of the time I am writing this, you can get a decent, very playable ukulele of any size for between $40 and $100.

The ukulele only has four strings, so chord shapes are easier to make and you don't have to stretch so far to get them.  And since the strings are nylon and the string spacing is wider, it is easier on the fingers than a guitar.  If your fingers are older and a little stiff, the ukulele is still probably do-able for you.

And ukulele has several chords that can be made with just one finger!  With a one-fingered C chord and a one-fingered F chord, a person can play an unbelievable number of two-chord songs!  Here are just a few:  Skip to My Lou, Jambalaya, Take Me Back to Tulsa, He's Got the Whole World in His Hands, Born in the USA, Achy Breaky Heart, This Old Man, and many more!

Need something quiet?  Don't want to disturb the neighbors or fellow housemates?  The ukulele is a very quiet instrument.  Need to make it louder?  You can get an acoustic/electric ukulele, or fit the one you have with a transducer and plug it into an amplifier!  There are small, portable amplifiers that run on a battery and fit on your belt.  You really can take a ukulele anywhere, acoustic or electric!

You can get a different variety of sounds with a ukulele, too.  If you prefer something very mellow, you would probably prefer the largest of the sizes -- the baritone ukulele.  It is tuned just like the first four strings of a guitar, but the nylon strings give it a softer, warmer tone quality.  If you like twangy, you can get a banjo ukulele!  These come in different sizes as well, and you will get a very different sound out of a banjo ukulele because of the banjo head.

Already know how to play a guitar?  Wanting to learn guitar?  The ukulele is the perfect instrument for you!  The baritone ukulele, since it is tuned like the first four strings of a guitar, has the same chord names and same shapes as the guitar -- just fewer strings.  It is easy to go back and forth between these two instruments, and the learning curve is much less.  The other three sizes -- the soprano, concert and tenor sizes -- have the same chord shapes but different names for the chords due to the different tuning.  This still makes it easy to go back and forth between the guitar and the ukulele because all you have to do is learn the new name for the already know the shape!

So go pick up a ukulele!  Give a ukulele as a gift!  Sign up for lessons or a workshop, or take a look on YouTube!  This is definitely the "Yes, I can" instrument!