Quickie by Emmjay

…So the one good thing to come out of the ill-fated trip to Hawai’i was that Emmjay bought himself a Waikiki Ukulele Company soprano instrument – the classic beginners uke.

Yesterday he went to the first of two beginners classes at Sydney Community College under the direction of maestro John Chandler.

Under John’s expert tutelage, after one hour, I shit you not, a dozen or so complete beginners were under way .  not only playing…. but playing more or less together.

Emmjay said that he cannot remember having that much fun straight off the bat.

We learnt tuning, how to hold the uke properly,  basic strumming and a half a dozen 2, 3, 4, 5 and six chord songs – This Ole House, When the Saints Go Marching In, You are My Sunshine, Five Foot Two (an absolute classic where we started off slowly and practised a bit, then sped up.  It was hilarious, exhiliarating fun.  We also had a good go at Ain’t She Sweet and two of my old favourites – Pearly Shells and King of the Road.

There was a good mix of youngsters and old farts … and as you will see from the attached clips, there is nothing pretentious even at concert standard.  The ukulele is somehow just a really funny and very sweet door into DIY music.  And it can be dirt cheap – a workable beginners’ instrument costs about $35 and the inter web tubes are chockers full of easy to follow tunes and clips.  It also pays you to buy an electronic tuner – a  $20 device that clips onto the use headstock and tells you when each string is in tune.  New ukes and nylon strings take a while to settle down  and we had to check and adjust the tuning on ours about three times in 5 hours.

There are many uke groups around the country (and the world) who welcome absolute novices up to seasoned pros, clubs that meet informally on a regular basis – curiously, often at pubs and bowling clubs – and believe me it is MASSIVE fun.

Here for your amusement – a couple of the “we sure can play but we certainly don’t take ourselves too seriously” greats….