Ukulele - it’s a rediscovery of who we are

The words ukulele and revolution are found together quite frequently these days, and there’s a hint of humour in the contrasted terms. However, we really are in the midst of a revolution. Even if you don’t play ukulele, around you there are hundreds who do, and they are a movement, a tide, an agent for change disguised by the innocence of a small, happy-sounding musical instrument.

Read More

How the numbers stack up

For a while there, ukulele seemed like a fad, but more than a decade on, it hasn’t gone away and doesn’t look like bowing out. The reasons for this are multiple, but I think universally human aspects such as belonging, bonding, gaining confidence, achieving and enjoying the brain’s reward responses from playing music together are what sustains group ukulele playing, in particular. This is reflected in some facts and figures from around the traps…

Read More

Music, emotion and motion

As a team, these three can contribute not only to our wellbeing, but to better treatment outcomes when we’re mentally ill or in physical pain. They can play a vital part in the development and maintenance of our cognitive abilities. With every technological advance, we see more detail of how our brains function and respond, bringing to light and in some cases proving what many of us believe - that music and humanity are intrinsically entwined.

Read More

Bigger can be better...but smaller has its own advantages

Big ukulele ensembles are great for certain kinds of arrangements and ways of working together,
but smaller groups travel to the beat of a different drum.

Read More

One method to memorise a song

Techniques for remembering how to play songs can include making sense of chord progressions, using lyrics as mnemonic devices and the even pairing emotions conveyed by the melody with the chords. The way I remember Willie Nelson's 'On The Road Again' uses a little of all three!

Read More

What strum pattern should I use?

 

Lists of ups and downs are a good start, but really 'feeling' the music and experimenting will start you on the path of making your own strum patterns.

 

Read More

Staying in time, all the time

If there's no drummer, bass player or conductor, how do members of string ensembles play in time with each other?

Read More

That song done me wrong

No matter who writes a song - a singer/songwriter starting out, or a skilled professional working to commercial imperatives - 'breakup songs' can tell a slightly different story to the one that’s being sung.

Read More

Good reasons to play songs you like

Repertoire choice is an important for ukulele groups to not only learn, but connect. Although meeting the challenge of new songs and the skills you need to play them can be part of the fun, there's nothing quite as satisfying as learning a song you love, or even discovering you love a song once you play it.

Read More

Musical communication, for the people

Being able to play music by ear is a truly liberating gift, but most of us need varying amounts of extra information to play a song or a piece of music. Chord and lyrics sheets, musical notation, tabs and the blessed YouTube are the currencies most used by ukulele players these days, depending on our requirements and skills. But our chosen method of musical communication should not define us!

Read More

Best place to strum?

Where is the best place to strum a ukulele for maximum volume, and why?

Read More

Learning songs gets your brain going

Our brains are inextricably linked with our musicality, whether it's intentionally exercising them to learn a new song, or letting teenage brains exercise themselves while the music sinks in!

Read More