10 Things You Hear About Ukuleles That Might Be Bollocks

The ukulele seems to attract more than its share of bullshit. So here’s a list of stuff – much of which I may have propagated at some point – that whiffs heavily of balls.

Some of these are written from a devil’s-advocate perspective and I haven’t made my mind up on some issues. So feel free to disagree with any or all of these in the comments.

1. It’s easy to play the ukulele.

There was a lot of this talk at Ukelear Meltdown. Their website embarrassingly declares that the uke can be, “mastered in a matter of months.” But that’s not as embarrassing as the act took to the stage saying how easy it was to play the uke, then went on to fluff chord changes so badly he ground to a complete halt on a couple of occasions.

The ukulele might be a relatively simple instrument to pick up and get going on but to make it an instrument you can do wonderful things on is, as with all instruments, very difficult.

For more of this argument, check out 10 Reasons It’s Easier to Play the Guitar than the Ukulele

2. Ukulele means ‘jumping flea’ in Hawaiian.

The story of Edward ‘Jumping Flea’ Purvis and his love of the instrument has become the default translation, but it has plenty of competitors. And it didn’t take hold until long after the ukulele pioneers were long dead. And Queen Liliuokalani herself said ukulele means ‘gift from afar’.

John King, who is the foremost scholar on this sort of thing, refers to George Kanahele’s five competing stories of how the ukulele was named.

It’s also worth noting that, as well as ‘flea’, one of the definitions of ‘uku is, “small, tiny.” which would seem to be a more likely candidate for naming. And there’s a theory it developed from the Hawaiians’ previous instrument of choice the Ukeke.

3. Ukuleles should be taught in schools.

The most worrying aspect of the current ukulele boom is how much their use has taken off in schools. Schools tend to be very bad at imparting a life long love of anything – I can’t think of a single thing I was introduced to in school that I still enjoy. I dare say if I’d been forced to play the uke at school I wouldn’t be playing it now.

If schools inculcated a life long love of a musical instrument, the recorder would be the most popular instrument in the country.

4. Ukulele festivals are a good idea.

I don’t want to rag on Ukelear Meltdown again – plenty of people obviously loved it – but it has convinced me to reduce my ukulele festival outing plans this year (possibly as far as zero).

It’s safe to say I have a higher ukulele-tolerance-threshold than most. But even I wouldn’t choose to listen to only ukulele music for three days straight. And there does seem to be a tendency to include acts for the instrument they use rather than any talent.

A ukulele festival really needs a very diverse bill to be interesting – something some of the line-ups I’ve seen this year don’t have.

5. The ukulele is a good instrument to learn before progressing to guitar.

While being able to play the ukulele is going to give you a good grounding for playing the guitar, the ukulele isn’t just a guitar with training wheels. It’s worth learning in its own right. There’s a vast gulf between what is most effective on a ukulele and what is most effective on a guitar.

If you want to play the guitar, learn the guitar.

My argument does collapse when you look at a list of people who started on ukulele before “progressing” to guitar: Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Brian May, Dick Dale.

6. Koa is the best wood for ukuleles.

Koa ukuleles come with a big premium these days. Just compare the prices of a Martin 2K and a Martin 2M.

It does look nice but does it sound any better than mahogany? Not to my ears.

7. Tenor ukuleles are louder.

Not always. The size of the uke is relatively unimportant compared to factors like wood, thickness and lightness of construction.

8. ‘Ukelele’ is a misspelling.

Not according to Merrium Webster or pretty much any dictionary you care to consult. ‘Ukelele’ is a perfectly acceptable variation.

9. You should write ‘ukulele with an ‘okina.

Some people are very vociferous about the use of the Hawaiian ‘okina when writing ukulele, even editing it in to people who choose not to use it. The second half of this article makes a great job of fighting pedantry with pedantry by pointing out that if you’re using ‘ukulele as a foreign word in an English text you should have it in italics.

10. Record labels are shooting themselves in the foot attacking YouTube covers and lessons.

If I was the head of a record company and desperate to preserve my moribund way of doing things, I’d be banning every tutorial, tab and YouTube cover as well. Anything to stop people finding out that a) you don’t need and A&R guy’s approval to make music and b) making music is more fun than listening to it.

Last Minute Addition: There aren’t enough ukulele competitions around.

This one was inspired by Ukulala’s post today about the benefits of ukulele competitions.

As a reader, I’m am very bored of ukulele competitions. There’s no real value to them in the long term. I’m never much interested in entering a competition where there’s a prize I could just buy if I wanted.

From the blogging perspective, competitions might provide a nice boost in traffic for a few days but they aren’t a substitute for putting in the hard work and building a site worth visiting.

View Comments

85 Comments

  1. Alec April 7th, 2010 6:07 pm

    Asking for trouble woodshed. With you on most, but didn’t you learn to read and write in school?

  2. Jon April 7th, 2010 7:04 pm

    I pretty much agree with everything you’ve said but I will say that compared to the horror of 8 year olds being forced to learn the recorder ukuleles in school are an act of mercy. Then again, at least here in California, all forms of music and arts education are being eliminated. It seems that the only thing kids need to learn is obedience.
    Ukuleles certainly are easy to master. They’re little and they only have four strings, just like violins.

  3. Howlin' Hobbit April 7th, 2010 7:10 pm

    Ha! A little contentious this morning? :-)
    Weirdly enough though, I agree with most of that.
    (but I think this is the last time I try to comment from my phone whilst on the bus.)

  4. byjimini April 7th, 2010 7:31 pm

    The problem with learning the uke in schools is the same with every instrument they offer to teach you – they get you to learn nursery rhymes and songs you’ve never heard of, instead of music you’re into.

    If my music teacher didn’t have a go at me for wanting to learn Crowded House’s “Weather with You” instead of his suggestion of “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, then I could say I’ve been a guitar player for 16 years.

  5. Craig Robertson April 7th, 2010 7:51 pm

    brav-fucking-o!

  6. todd April 7th, 2010 7:54 pm

    Go Al!

    i enjoyed…especially the uke’s actual meaning/translation bit and the school part…classic :)

  7. Phil Doleman April 7th, 2010 7:55 pm

    :-)
    Thumbs up from me on all of that!

    As for Koa being the best wood, I have loads of ukes made from unusual (mainly local, sustainable) woods. If you make it to Belper (provided number 4 hasn’t put you off!) have a go on my Longridge lacewood concert, which also blows the ‘Tenors are the loudest’ argument right out of the water.

    Oh, and I have just been roped into running a school uke club. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep it relevent to the kids.

  8. Paz April 7th, 2010 8:04 pm

    Hi Al,

    I added an update to your comments on my post at ukulala. The gist: you have a point about contests if you are talking about free giveaways, but there is real value in contests if they inspire people to explore their creativity.

    Peace!
    -Paz

  9. mictoboy April 7th, 2010 8:26 pm

    I agreed on most of that. And I half-agree about the school uke programme. there is a world of opportunity for teacher to spoil a potential love of the instrument. However, there are benefits to ukes in the classroom over recorders:
    1) the children can sing along with the songs they learn, which enriches the experience.
    2) you can mix up picking and strumming to make the process more involving for the pupil.
    3) I have never heard a recorder played by anyone other than schoolchildren. They are horrific sounding things, chosen purely for their (relative) simplicity as a gateway to ‘proper’ musical instruments. At least ukes can sound good when played well.

  10. Jules April 7th, 2010 8:31 pm

    Ok..enjoyed it all but talking of ‘bollocks’ ( you knew this was coming!) your point number three…
    I teach ukulele in schools here in the UK..8 schools a week, 17 classes and a ton of kids. Lots of different backgrounds and abilities. It took me 18 months to convince my ‘powers that be’ that this was a good idea. Now, a couple of years down the line and three of us do the job in our area and we’re over subscribed and deemed by various visiting educational inspectors to be doing a ‘good’ job.
    But more than all that is the greeting from the children each lesson-keen, loud, excited and interested.
    Sorry for your experiences Al, but please, anytime, come see my kids because I for one am trying to do it different!
    Best wishes…

  11. Paul Otteson April 7th, 2010 8:58 pm

    You know I love your site and your wonderful posts.. but I was taken a’back by some of these. I have been teaching bari ukes to my 4th and 5th grade students the past few years and have had an incredible response. I do see the ukulele as an appropriate instrument to prepare students for the guitar (or for further study of more difficult music on the uke). In many case, students pick up a guitar, become frustrated, and never pick it up again. The uke seems to be a more manageable instrument with a faster success rate.

    With that said, even if someone learns to play the uke in a matter of months.. they could spend the rest of their life truly discovering what it can do. It’s by no means a “kid” instrument, but kids can learn to love it too.

  12. J-Hob April 7th, 2010 10:58 pm

    Definitely agree on the first – the uke is a simple instrument to get started on, one of its greatest selling points in my book, but to get really good at it is far from simple. Probably as hard as any other instrument you could name.

    I do think that ukes should be taught in schools – they’re just so much fun and so more engaging than recorders, I genuinely think that they could get more children playing music. The real problem is the teaching, or the system within which the teaching happens. If you have a good teacher who is passionate about what they do uke lessons could be a real winner. Also the uke, above pretty much any other instrument, really embodies the playing for fun concept over playing to achieve ever greater levels of proficiency. Music should be about having fun!

    I have my first uke festival later this year, so will comment on that after my attendance there. That said I am pretty certain that I will enjoy all of the headline acts and am really looking forward to some of the workshops. There is maybe an over-proliferation of uke festivals this year, better to have fewer, and higher quality, festivals.

    At any rate in the last few years we’ve seen an explosion of ukuleles being used in music that you would not call ‘ukulele music’. I think this is a really positive step forward for the ukulele’s image in being considered as a serious instrument by a wider audience and not just something that is catered for by uke-only events attended by ukulele enthusiasts.

  13. JCMcGee April 8th, 2010 1:33 am

    Al’….I love you!

  14. Phredd April 8th, 2010 1:39 am

    Wow, I love this site!

  15. JCMcGee April 8th, 2010 2:15 am

    “3) I have never heard a recorder played by anyone other than schoolchildren. They are horrific sounding things, chosen purely for their (relative) simplicity as a gateway to ‘proper’ musical instruments. At least ukes can sound good when played well.”

    The appropriate response to this is:
    “Uuuugghhh….me go plop plop!!!”

    But I will grace it with a response..Some great recorder stuff out there…Baroque stuff is my personal fave.

    The main reason the recorder was chosen in the past as a school instrument was because of the low cost and because you didn’t have to tune the thing…the only thing more irritating than a room full of schoolchildren screeching on recorders is a room full of schoolchildren thumming (thump/strum) away at out of tune ukuleles….but now we have a country full of slave children making cheap ukes.

  16. JCMcGee April 8th, 2010 3:05 am

    Oh…and there definately are not enough UKE HUNT competitions.

    I’ve got a great idea for one:

    “Worst made video badly played and sung out of tune in a Scottish voice by a beardy bald man!”

    ….you could offer some great prizes, say a Kala U-Bass?

  17. mictoboy April 8th, 2010 7:51 am

    Jimmy, got any links to listenable recorder music? I’m prepared to be wrong, but I don’t think I am :)

  18. shobs April 8th, 2010 8:04 am

    with you on those Al. do schools want to teach the uke as a prelude to the guitar because they are smaller as well as ‘easier’? To those who have commented about the hunger with which the uke is received at school: I would be interested to know how many of those kids are still playing the uke 10 years down the line.

    I thought your post on ’10 reasons it’s easier to learn the guitar than the ukulele’ was spot on. The more I play the uke the harder i find it. Once my initial amazement – that I could produce a vaguely musical sound and manage three chords in a rhythmless row – wore off I realised how bloody hard the uke can be.

    Personally, what I love about the uke is it’s egalitarian nature. It is friendly and inclusive and demands a geek following if taken with respect. I love the uke community and the fact that groups play together in pubs rather than poncy music academies. Saying that, there is a lot of ukulele dross out there. Whilst the ukulele can be humorous it is not a joke; and the humour only works when it is delivered with skill and appreciation.

    As regards the comps: I’m with you on that too. Whilst it is always good seeing a sebi or seeso (to name but 2) performance, I’m sure those chaps would post anyway. And the rest can be embarrassing. Fortunately, I can say this safe in the knowledge that I’ve never been tempted to post my own horrendous renditions of something for the sake of pretending I have a chance greater than the other tuneless wonders.

    And that’s my tuppence!

  19. Michael (Backward ukulele player) April 8th, 2010 9:00 am

    I can supply an independent witness to ukulele having something to do with small biting things. The Rev Cheever in 1851 recalled how he was attached by hordes of ukulele in the Sandwich Islands

  20. Michael April 8th, 2010 9:19 am

    Sorry, that should read “attacked” by small biting things.

  21. Paul Moore April 8th, 2010 9:36 am

    Paul here, who rarely posts and looks at Uke sites , Sorry .. I agree with a lot you say having plinkty plonty away for well over 30 years. Ukes come in and out when i played it i was laughed at a lot but enjoyed Great. Anyway i will get to the point re schools As you know i teach kids here in Israel to Jewish and Arab kids for the UFP project . The key is not forcing the kids , when i start a group at least half drop out , so the ones that remain what to play thats the difference in good teaching for Ukes and the Arts etc. Look at all the Eco playgrounds and Recycling that is done at school … If it is forced then it may fail in its final message. i could go one but will not for now . More to say maybe later . Best paul>
    > > http://ukulelesforpeace.com/ http://paulmooremusic.com/
    > > Paul Moore
    > > The Last Homely House
    > > Harashim
    > > Western Galilee Mountains
    > > 24954
    > > Israel Tele 00972 (0) 4 980 3314
    > > Cell phone 052 8928787
    > > Watch The Latest U TUBE Ukuleles For Peace Doco
    > > Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYqv5zV7cxo
    > > Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2PPF-CfNTU Out takes
    > > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnTSb-d4wC8

  22. Olly April 8th, 2010 9:38 am

    haha – very nice! As a teacher I pretty much agree about the schools thing – My head asked me to set up a small orchestra, wasn’t going to happen!

    What about the people who learnt guitar first, then went over to the uke? if you are going to say that you “progress” from one instrument to a harder one, surely there are only a handful who went from uke to guitar – how many went the other way?

  23. Paul Moore April 8th, 2010 9:45 am

    In passing as well I have Supported Fulham FC for over 50 years despite being born in Romford and not being a big Football Fan . The press always call Fulham Unfashionable . the press also called the Uke the same … it seems both are having a surge … I will always play the Uke even if this current craze dies likewise i shall support Fulham in my Humble way

    RE MY LAST POST

    sorry i did not edit that post so there is a lot of mistakes …. i am sure you will get the picture though. Paul

  24. Paul Moore April 8th, 2010 9:51 am

    Olly, As it happens i have 2 kids that went from Guitar to Uke , and have 3 of my best Uke players now with the Orchestra for 6 years playing Trombone( a girl) Clarinet, and Piano as well as UKe ..
    Guess i am lucky .
    Also, Its who the Teacher is that counts always !!
    Best paul
    PS Going the other way is fine , Like many of the 60s performers when they mellowed and aged they returned to their first instrument the UKE!

  25. Waldinho2000 April 8th, 2010 9:56 am

    Just re: the schools issue it is my opinion that the reason people don’t play recorders right the way through life is more because they sound so god awful that no human ear could ever their sound.

    That said, most music teaching in schools is about excellence – grades, big public performance, etc… – and not enjoyment, and that is the key problem there. I think the uke could be part of the solution to that problem…

  26. Phredd April 8th, 2010 10:06 am

    This would be the perfect time to share Ralph Shaws thoughts on getting kids interested in music.

    http://theukuleleentertainer.blogspot.com/2009/11/ue-13-getting-kids-interested-in-music.html

  27. Olly April 8th, 2010 10:14 am

    Paul, I agree that it is the teacher that counts, but I’m not a music teacher ;o)

    Waldinho, I thought that post was quite amusing!

    Anyhoo, as Al said people say the uke is easy. Anyone considered that those who generally say that either don’t play “because it is too easy and not a challenge” or are actually quite good who happen to be skilled at it? Those are my two deductions, Mr Holmes.

  28. Paul Moore April 8th, 2010 11:00 am

    Olly, I am not a “Teacher ” just became one when i started this project, and i keep my lessons basic . My luck stems from playing in a variety of bands and making a living that way for a long time now , I am also a one man band that has always used a Uke and lots of Junk for a long time . As well as shows for Adults I drifted more and more into Kids shows for schools and kindergartens to Special Education . This gave me a special relationship with kids > Its a gift from the Great unknown as luck would have it.
    When i teach i am pretty outrageous , i wonder if they would allow my unorthodox ways in the UK . A lot of the kids here in the Middle East are fairly wild and undisciplined ,when i compare seeing once some Uke teachers at work in the East End of London a few years ago . i hope to get on the Road and get out there and play see for my self what’s happening more in the UK . Keep up the good work , tell me where are you based?? Maybe if its in my travel lines i could pay you a visit next time i am over Best paul.

  29. Chris Double April 8th, 2010 11:21 am

    You appear to have been ‘un-interviewed’ by live ukulele – the interview is 404 and not listed in the menu. Maybe just an error on the site…it’s available from Google’s cache though:

    http://tinyurl.com/yhyxhc7

  30. Jon April 8th, 2010 3:04 pm

    LOL this is the reason I like your site. You are a no BS kind of guy.

  31. Boz April 8th, 2010 3:37 pm

    Nothing like being a tad contrarian to get a rise out of the troops. No lack of opinion on all ten of these. I certainly experienced a lot of ham handed teaching in school with regard to my musical background but made the personal connection with music that helped me overcome some tyrants and bores. After playing guitar for fifty some years I’ve come to the ukulele with a mixture of wonder, and joy and only on the occasion pull out the guitar.

  32. Christine April 8th, 2010 4:28 pm

    As someone with short, but agile fingers, I have to say that it is physically easier for me to play ukulele than many other instruments. I’ve played piano my whole life and know my theory. I tried to teach myself guitar, but my little hands won’t allow it. Ukulele feels like it was designed for me!

    That being said, I’m still a beginner, so I’m struggling to learn basic fingerpicking and strumming techniques, but at least I can reach most of the chords!

  33. Woodshed April 8th, 2010 6:37 pm

    Alec: I did. But I write in a completely different way to the one I was taught in school. And I also have a problem with the way reading is taught in schools. When I was at school, all reading was taught through fiction – which makes it very boring to people like me.

    Jon: I think disobediance lessons would be more productive.

    Hobbit: By coincidence, I wrote most of this post on the bus. I love the modern world.

    byjimini: One thing I am grateful for is that my school never tried to teach me to play guitar.

    Craig: Thanks!

    todd: Glad you liked it.

    Phil: I’ll be there. It’s a good excuse to go to the chip shop as much as anything ;)

    Paz: I do think you’re right there. The only thing that annoys me about those contests is that the right person (i.e. my favourite) never wins.

    mictoboy: This guy certainly has some recorder chops.

    Jules: Glad to hear it’s going so well. I think there’s a big difference between kids choosing to play an instrument and everyone being forced to play one. Believe me, you don’t want me anywhere near a room full of kids.

    Paul: Baritones would certainly make for a smoother transition to guitar, I’ll conceed that.

    J-Hob: I’m pontificating on a subject I know nothing about here, but I think the problem with teaching is that children are all treated – more or less – the same. There needs to be more emphasis on letting children follow what they’re interested in – which is pretty much impossible in classes of 30 or more.

    Jimmy: I love me too.

    Phredd: I love me too.

    … more comments later…

  34. Sam April 8th, 2010 7:23 pm

    Wow.. are all ukulele enthusiasts this snobbish? Seriously folks, this is a lighthearted instrument. I agree that it’s not just for kids, but lets face it.. it’s not the hardest instrument in the world to play.

  35. LonnaB April 8th, 2010 7:42 pm

    Bravo for number three. It’s refreshing to see that sort of attitude outside of the homeschooling community. Nothing gets people more worked up than suggesting that on many levels schools are not good places for kids to learn anything worthwhile or desirable.

  36. Mike April 8th, 2010 8:30 pm

    Love this! When I hit the lottery you get your pick of any five ukes. That’s a promise!

  37. Phil Doleman April 8th, 2010 9:26 pm

    A lighthearted instrument? Only by it’s reputation as an instrument played by music hall acts , I hardly think it’s coinsidered lighthearted in Hawaii, for example.
    It isn’t the hardest instrument to start to sound good on (compared to, say, a violin), but it isn’t easy to play WELL, because playing any instrument well demands practice, ear development and hard work. Like Al’s experience, every single uke player that has told me the use is easy to play has then gone on to show me how badly they can play it! Aside from the physical issue of pressing down strings (which is soon overcome with a little, dare I say it, practise and commitment!), it’s no easier than any other 4 course plucked instrument (e.g. mandolin, tenor banjo), and trust me, a badly set up uke is physically harder to play than a well set up mandolin or tenor banjo.

    For an instrument that is so easy to play, I see so few John Kings, John Kavanaghs (RIP both), James Hills, etc.

  38. Jim D'Ville April 9th, 2010 1:05 am

    Ukulele festivals are useful because:
    1: See the great players like James Hill
    perform and get inspired by them.
    2: Meet other like minded ukers and share techniques.
    3: The workshops.
    4: Travel. The Melbourne uke fest gave me an excuse to visit Australia!

  39. 0R4NG3 April 9th, 2010 2:01 am

    Okay.. this is my first time commenting and I really hope I do a good job.

    First of all, Your amazing for bringing this up. I tell my ukulele hating friends this all the time but none of them listen to me.

    Second, I LOVE YOUR WEBSITE!

    Third, Read Second and Repeat

    Fourth, You have given me everything I need to play. Thank you for the variety and amazingness over the past month that I have been looking at your blog.

    Fifth, Look At Second Again.

    Sixth, I hope to comment more in the near future!

  40. JCMcGee April 9th, 2010 2:09 am

    God recorder music?

    Well, at 2.45 into this vid’ her’s the best bit of recorder music you’ll ever hear recorded at 1am in a Hong Kong Rock club:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roexvcBm6h4

    Then there’s this stuff:

    Recorders & DOGS:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erkUjkoAIIg

    Recorders & Zombies:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roexvcBm6h4

    Recorders & LOVE:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mVn98FPBHQ

  41. melissa April 9th, 2010 2:16 am

    Mahogany? Really? The ones I’ve tested sounded subdued, as if the wood wasn’t sure yet what had happened to it.

    Only bringing this up because I’m trying to figure out what kind of wood to use for a commissioned uke. Just met a wonderful woman luthier who wants to make a uke or two (very inexpensively, too!)

  42. Craig Robertson April 9th, 2010 2:25 am

    aargh. Melissa: you should take another listen to a good mahogany ukulele. Mahogany has a wonderful tone in a ukulele. Koa has a lot of honk and bark, and it does get loud, but more tone comes out of mahogany.

    but, like anything else, it has to be GOOD mahogany.

  43. Woodshed April 9th, 2010 8:26 am

    shobs: It’s definitely going to be interesting to see how ukes being taught in schools is going to change things in the long term. They’ve been doing it for a long time in Canada and it’s certainly produced plenty of long-term players.

    Michael: It’s a helluva way to die.

    Paul: You mention that half drop out and that reminds me of something I’ve noticed. The half that drop out seem to be the male half. Why is that?

    Olly: As someone who went from guitar to uke, I agree.

    Waldinho: I think you’re right about the emphasis on excelling but I think that schools are far too entrenched in the way they are to change.

    Chris Double: Ha ha ha, thanks for pointing it out. It was certainly up when this post went live. It’s a shame they just took it down rather than arguing their case.

    Jon: I’m full of BS, believe me.

    Boz: Glad to hear you managed to find your love of music.

    Christine: I think the physcial thing is a big hole in my ‘If you want to play guitar, learn guitar’ arguement. If a kid wants to learn guitar but is too small to handle one, then the uke is a good place to start. But, yeah, if you’re already grown…

    Sam: No, I’m easily the most snobbish.

    LonnaB: In the unlikely event I ever have kids, I expect I’ll be joining that community.

    Mike: Thanks! Good luck with the lottery.

    Jim: 2 and 4 are definitely minus points for me.

    OR4NG3: I hope you comment more in the future too! Thanks for joining in.

    melissa: Yes, really. I do like mahogany for its tone. But it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If you don’t like it, go for something that suits your style and the way you want to sound more.

  44. Paul Moore April 9th, 2010 9:25 am

    Woodshed, Yes Even here its the Boys that seem to drop out sooner even though some may stay a year. The Arab boys seem to drop out more . Right now the core Orchestra is 14 kids only 2 are Boys there are a total of around 50 kids in all participating in the project . It has been high as 80, then it was far to mad being the only teacher . I guess there are 12 boys and 20 girls in the beginners and second + years. I think it may have to do with Peer pressure? and the lack of practice Boys want to put in . what is amazing is that the orchestra now has 9 kids who have been at it from age 7 8 and 9 who are Teenagers now and still very much involved . Of course a handful of girls have left as Boys now play an important part .Some also as their fathers insisted that they play more a role in the Household ( sigh)
    Some Boys left to play Guitar , but all of them that did gave up shortly afterwards . whats important is the friendship that has developed between the Jewish and Arab kids and Families .. Their is Hope yet . The Uke is a most Powerful Tool for co operation !!

  45. 0R4NG3 April 10th, 2010 12:12 am

    Thank You! I Think I WIll!

  46. Ian Emmerson April 10th, 2010 11:48 am

    Truly magnificent post Al. Mahogany – good wood. Uke easy? No. Snobs in uke are more commonly snobbish about it being low-fi, easy and accessible than about treating it seriously. The result is a lot of people saying it’s easy to play who can’t actually play it beyond a very basic level, justifying that with hogwash about that being the actual purpose of the instrument, making a virtue of mediocrity or even rubbishness. The same people lower the expectations across the board. That’s the fun. Balls. No other instrument I can think of makes a virtue of amateurish playing, poor quality instruments and not even necessarily being in tune.

    Loved the comment about ukefests having people on the bill for the instrument rather than the ability to play it.

    As to schools, etc. it doesn’t actually matter. The uke is a musical instrument. There isn’t a ‘movement.’ There is no need to evangelise and push the popularity of the uke as though that was a political act. The goal isn’t domination, or even acceptance. There isn’t a goal. For some it’s a proper instrument; for others it’s a novelty; for yet others it’s a bandwagon. It isn’t a bloody social phenomenon though (Ukes For Peace is an exception, but that isn’t about furthering the uke – it’s just a means to a different end).

    Play or don’t play, teach it or not. But don’t think the world would be a better place if everyone had a uke, and the word has to be spread far and wide. It wouldn’t, and it doesn’t.

    My two’penneth.

    I

  47. Woodshed April 11th, 2010 2:28 pm

    Ian: The whole ‘the world would be a better place if everyone played uke’ thing was nearly on the list along with all the ‘aloha spirit’ thing. The main argument being that I play ukulele and I’m a total twunt.

  48. Emily Reeve April 12th, 2010 5:05 am

    I have no idea what a “twunt” is, Al. Sounds horrid, though.

  49. Andrew Robinson April 12th, 2010 12:40 pm

    Lots of good points, thanks for that, Woodshed.

    I was fortunate enough to learn sol-fa in junior school, and I’ve never looked back.

    I play and teach uke (as well as guitar and viola da gamba) and my wife teaches recorder. Her classes are small and all her groups sound gorgeous.

    Some decent recorder playing:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VK13g3twALc&fmt=18

    (a representation of chaos)

    or this (more sedate but scintillating)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDw-X3gbmuA&fmt=18

    At first glance a twunt would appear to be an intensified twit?

  50. DWUke April 13th, 2010 2:47 pm

    Re: Ukuleles in Schools. Hmmm … Have you ever heard the Langley Ukulele Orchestra? I know these kids are the cream, but ukes in schools seem to work. Good things about ukes in schools: you can play melodies; you can chord along with other instruments; you can sing and accompany yourself. Can’t do that with a recorder. Nope, I’m not a music teacher, but a senior citizen who just started playing the uke.

  51. Elaine April 14th, 2010 5:14 am

    Hi folks, Elaine, here, organizer of the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival. (Yes, that’s ‘ukulele with the ‘okina–out of deference to my Hawaiian friends.)

    I just wanted to say a few words in defence of ‘ukulele festivals AND contests and take advantage of a shameless opportunity to plug our upcoming festival (September 11 – 12, Beringer Vineyards, St. Helena, California) http://www.winecountryukefest.com

    For me it’s really just an excuse to throw a huge party here in the beautiful Napa Valley,invite some really incredible musicians into my life for a very short period of time, and, ideally, listen to some great music. Last year the best music was being made right in my very own kitchen as James Hill, Victoria Vox, Ralph Shaw, and Kimo Hussey created an impromtu quartet to fill in for an act that was supposed to play at our luau but cancelled at the last minute. (In the end, no one missed the act that cancelled.) You can’t pay for that kind of listening experience.

    Anyway, that probably would not have happened but for the festival bringing all this amazing talent together. And that, I think is one of the great things about ‘ukulele festivals in general: just get all the right ingredients together and wait and see (and hope) what miraculous things might happen. So far we’ve been incredibly lucky in that regard.

    Plus, the musicians really appreciate (and need) the work and the exposure the festivals give them. And, because the concerts at our festival are free, we can expose so many more people (and many ‘ukulele virgins) to them and their music.

    We also have two stages going throughout the day and I pretty much take all comers on one of them. Last year we had everyone from the Calistoga Wildcat Flea Band playing “On Top of Spaghetti” to Brittni Paiva. It was a great opportunity for those young kids! And no one was forced to listen.

    About the contests. I use them shamelessly to promote the festival and satisfy some other need I might have. Last year I held two: one was an ‘ukulele prize for whoever came up with the best logo design. And, fortunately for me, a number of professional graphic designers found out about the contest and entered. As a result, I ended up with a professionally designed poster and logo that would have cost hundreds of dollars otherwise. The designer who won was delighted with his ukulele and the sponsor who donated the prize enjoyed the publicity, as well. It was win-win. The other contest was for the best You-Tube Commercial promoting the festival. Again, it was free publicity for us and fun for the people who enetered. What’s the harm in that?

    So, it is that time again and we will soon be looking for a poster for next year’s festival (September 11-12). The prize is in hand–a lovely-sounding Sonny D–and details will be posted on the website very soon.

    So, stay tuned…..

  52. Woodshed April 14th, 2010 8:10 am

    Emily: It is horrid. Don’t look it up, I wouldn’t want it to spoil your innocence.

    Andrew: Thanks for the links. It’s based on two words that are definitely more intense than ‘twit’.

    DWUke: I think you’re right to point to Canada as an example of successful use of uke in schools. The one think I’d point to their is their use of non-reentrant, D-tuned ukes. Which is the sort of strange decision you get when big institutions are involved.

    Elaine: I think you make a good point about the collaboration part. The exposure part I’d take issue with a little.

    A lot of uke festivals draw both their acts and their audience from within ukulele community. So no one is coming into contact with anyone new. I think a lot of acts would be better off building their audience outside of the uke community.

    This is where I can say something positive about Ukelear Meltdown. The audience was a good mix of uke players, locals and fans of individual acts. And the bill had people I knew and people I had no idea about.

    On the contests, there are plenty of designers who would find harm in design contests. And some who would say they’re illegal.

  53. Howlin' Hobbit April 14th, 2010 3:45 pm

    Woodshed – Before getting to my main rant I’d like to point out that you probably didn’t type your post on a relatively cheap phone with your thumbs on the teensy keyboard and a Mario Andretti wannabe at the wheel. :-)

    Re: ukefests and the “ukulele community” – In the past I have been contacted by two ukefests (neither of them Elaine’s I hasten to point out). Both of them wanted me to pay for travel, rooming, AND THE FEST ITSELF out of my own pocket for the “exposure” I’d gain by being one of their listed attractions.

    Errrmmm… no.

    I don’t require a big profit — I figure I’ll have fun meeting folk I’ve only known online and such — but I simply can’t nor won’t go way into the red. I figure if the peeps throwing the fest want me on their stage(s) I’m worth being paid enough to at least break even.

    As for the ukulele community, there’s a rather largish one here in Seattle and environs and if you count up all the folk from said community who’ve shown up at any of the numerous gigs that I have played over the years, either solo or with one or the other of my bands, you *may* run out of fingers but your toes are safe.

    Oddly enough, the folk who hire me/my band will pay good cash money and the non-uke phreak folk who show up seem to dig the music. I guess you don’t have to shred like Jake to be entertaining to the rest of the world.

    Good thing, that last. Because I can’t and don’t really want to.

    One last thing. A number of people worldwide in the community have indeed been very supportive and kind, and I am very grateful to them. It’s just not that large a percentage of an already smallish and specialized crowd.

    So, yes. It’s much better (if you’re trying to establish yourself as a professional act) to build your audience outside of the uke community.

  54. Emily Reeve April 14th, 2010 11:54 pm

    Now for my more serious comment. Regarding “Ukulele should be taught in school”:

    I started learning ukulele to accompany songs in my storytime. As everyone knows not only do kids enjoy music, but it helps build early literacy skills. At first, my storytime kids were distracted by the ukulele (it being new to them and all) but eventually, they started singing along and even started laughing at me when I made mistakes (little punks!). Of course I would let them play with it afterwards too, if they were interested. But I think the important thing is having the children exposed to different instruments (a colleague of mine plays autoharp at her preschool programs). So, considering the recorder has been used traditionally in schools for fricking EVER, changing things up a bit couldn’t hurt.

    Unfortunately public schools tend not to have enough $$ to afford multiple instruments for every student.

    I think parents should be more influential in promoting a love of music and not rely on schools to do that for them (not that music programs should be cut out).

    So ukulele, autoharp, the much-dreaded recorder…throw in some pots & pans, egg shakers, a melodica just ANYTHING to get them excited about making music!

  55. Ian Emmerson April 16th, 2010 2:54 pm

    The fests thing depends, I think, on the purpose of the fest. They’re for enthusiasts, by enthusiasts, usually attended by enthusiasts. They have very little to do with ‘professional advancement’ of acts and ‘exposure’. They’re nothing like playing to non-uke crowds. I personally find ukefests more difficult to play, but as a social event I love attending. And at uke gatherings I’m always blind drunk by the time I get to the stage! That doesn’t (often) happen at muggle gigs.

    I don’t really count them as gigs, as I get carried away with the social and ‘playing with the toys’ element, and can’t for the life of me treat it like a professional engagement. It is one of the situations that make the conflict between being a pro and an enthusiast particularly obvious.

    They are a great medium for socialising, boozing, jamming, and for trying out gear you wouldn’t normaly get an opportunity to get your hands on.

    Comparing them to gigs in the real world, however, is apples and oranges. I don’t think you could play exclusively ukefests as a professional circuit (though some seem to, bafflingly). You need to be in the real world too.

    (P.S. Thanks for not savaging our little get-together last week Al!)

  56. cheerios April 16th, 2010 3:33 pm

    One band that mixes good recorder playing into
    it’s music is the German medieval pagan folk band
    Faun. Lots of good videos of them, but the simplest place to start is their YT channel Fauntube. Now…

    1. Agree. But this is never going to change. Ukes
    are sold on this basis, lots of them. People are
    enticed into ukulele clubs on this basis. There is
    just too much vested interest in telling people that the ukulele is easy to play. But sooner or later the early pace of improvement slows down and
    people are forced to analyze their feelings about the instrument. And this is not just a musical matter, but a social one, too, as the social benefits of the uke are vital to people staying with it or leaving it when they realize it is just
    like every other instrument and must be practiced.
    Those one-chord and two-chord songs amuse for only so long.

    2. Yes, but “jumping flea” is just so much easier than reproducing John King’s research in every single reference to the meaning of the word “ukulele” and so this will never change, and
    getting all worked-up over it is pointless.

    3. Distressing to see all the anti-school comments. Maybe I’ve just been exposed to
    propaganda, but every photo I’ve seen of children
    playing ukes in school is full of smiling faces and
    the trailer bit I’ve seen of Mighty Uke is full of
    smiling, happy school kids and their instruments.
    Try to imagine James Hill not having been taught in school.

    4. I’m not a fan of music festivals of any sort really. Too long, too many people, too much walking around, etc. Maybe there are simply too many ukulele festivals and not enough good performers to go around. But there is something about the ukulele and its status as a fun instrument that
    tends to get people to perform in a less than professional manner, as if it’s all just a big
    joke and everyone, audience and performers are
    just there to have one big party and who really
    cares about that music stuff anyway. So anyone expecting serious performances is going to be
    disappointed.

    5. Did any of the stars actually progress directly from the uke to the guitar, or did they just play the uke early on in life and then later learn the
    guitar? John Lennon played the uke early in life, but I don’t think it had any bearing on his learning guitar.

    6. I’ve ranted about woods enough and don’t ever want to do so again. My point is that audiences don’t give a [fill in expletive of choice] what wood a uke is made of, they care about
    the music. Ukers should adopt the same attitude. I don’t recall guitar players being so obsessed with woods as ukers are. And buying multiple ukes to get multiple sounds is, well here I go again, so I’ll stop. But one more time – no one in the audience cares about the wood. NO. ONE.

    7. Don’t care.

    8. Of course. Would never accuse Uni of not being
    able to spell.

    9. Never have and never will. Why don’t you start
    editing one in and see what reactions you get? How you write it, of course, is a much tinier issue than how you say it, as far as people being stuffy.

    10. Making music, on any level, is indeed more fun
    than listening to it on any level. Playing a Beatles song with starts and stops and imperfections is still better than listening to
    them play it perfectly. Every single time.

    Are competitions uke-specific things? Are there
    similar guitar competitions? I pour through YT
    virtually every day and the number of videos that
    turn out to be contest entries is mind-boggling.
    The nature and types of competitions is staggering.
    Who thinks this stuff up?

  57. MC Safety April 16th, 2010 5:00 pm

    I agree with most of what is said in this post. I’d just like to add my two cents on a few of these ideas.

    1. It’s easy to play the ukulele.

    Like any instrument – be it guitar, violin, recorder, harmonica, or washboard – the ukulele can sound absolutely incredible in the hands of a practiced, competent player. And becoming a practiced and competent player is NEVER easy.

    But on the other hand, since everyone should have the opportunity to make music, and since most people are not going to put in the time necessary to become masters of an instrument, it’s at least worth noting that the ukulele does hold certain “ease of play” advantages over other similar instruments. Which brings me to…

    3. Ukuleles should be taught in schools.

    My mother is a music teacher, and I’ve been forced to sit through countless hours of 4th graders butchering folk songs on the recorder. And that’s fine, because that’s how you learn to play an instrument. We can’t all be child prodigies. Now, the discussion of whether or not schools fail to instill a love of music in kids is a minefield. I agree that there is a significant failure to instill a love of music, but I disagree that if schools were succeeding, we’d see recorders everywhere.

    Recorders are used in schools for the exact same reasons that ukes are now being considered. They’re cheap, and relatively easy to pick up. When learning anything, it’s important that you have early success, and both these instruments offer that in spades. The difference is that recorders are not popular in the mainstream at all. If you teach a kid to play recorder, he’s probably not running home to show off his mad chops to his older brother. On the other hand, as the ukulele grows more popular in the mainstream, we have a chance to make a real connection between their experiences with music in and out of school. And that’s how schools can instill a love of music.

    4. Ukulele festivals are a good idea.

    Any festival that is centered around the love of a particular instrument should be planned carefully. Too much of a good thing can be a very, very bad thing. Such an oversight seems particularly odd in the light of the ukulele, an instrument that complements other instruments so damn well.

    Hopefully, as the ukulele moves more mainstream, we’ll start to see even more skilled players, and ukulele festivals will be able to fill their performance dockets with artists that are worth our time. Until then, I expect to stay away from ukulele festivals.

    5. The ukulele is a good instrument to learn before progressing to guitar.

    Just wondering if you might have some some specific links/articles concerning your claim that these artists – Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Brian May, Dick Dale – started out on the ukulele. Not that I don’t believe you. The evidence would just be very helpful for a presentation I’m about to give.

    Yes, I’m basically asking you to do my research for me.

    6. Koa is the best wood for ukuleles.

    Forgive me for sounding overly sexual, but it’s not the wood, it’s how you use it.

    8. ‘Ukelele’ is a misspelling.

    Let’s consult the bastion of vocabulary knowledge, the Oxford English Dictionary…

    Look at this, the OED’s oldest quotation uses the spelling ukelele. So, I guess that’s entirely valid. This is the kind of silly absolutism I can’t understand. It’s the nature of language to vary and change. Why would we fight that?

    That’s all I have to say really, though I could go on for a long time about the education stuff, since that is my future career, and I do sit in class for hours a day listening to professors tell me how to revolutionize the education system.

  58. Woodshed April 17th, 2010 4:51 pm

    Hobbit: I think that’s a good strategy. If an event can’t afford to pay performers they should probably rethink the event.

    Emily: I think you’ve got the best method: use an instrument yourself and see who takes an interest rather than force everyone to play one.

    Ian: I wasn’t there long enough to offer any opinion on it. But it was good to shake a few hands and try a few ukes.

    cheerios: Thanks for the mention of Faun. Good to see them busting out the hurdy-gurdy.

    MC Safety: Various levels of verifyability. Brian May talks about it here. This is reportedly Eric Clapton as a kid. Wikipedia has three references for its mention of a ukulele. Here’s Dick Dale talking about his uke in an interview.

  59. Skulleigh April 24th, 2010 9:08 pm

    I am a brand new uke player, but I’ve played guitar since I was a teen. I think I already love it more than the guitar. I never thought about picking up a uke until quite recently.

    But as to whether ukes should be taught in school – if the number of people who still do an activity years after school was a good justification, we wouldn’t teach physics or astronomy in school.

  60. Steve May 21st, 2010 2:11 pm

    Delayed reaction:

    Much of the “uke movement” is akin to the poetry scene in American (during the mid-80’s through early 90’s) where “poetry in the schools” became a mantra and goal. Also, similar to the “uke movement” poetry was and is very much a Vanity Press incestous affair, even on the more successful college/university level, where friends hype each other’s poetry, get readings, teaching jobs, and grant. Many seem to learn that now familar upperward inflection at the end of phrases delivery style…”uke festivals” embody this mentality but go further, IMO. Why? Because what they reveal in the midst of 3 days or even 3 hours is that for a lot of the attendees there is underneath it all a not so subtle disdain for popular music, forgetting that in the Golden Era and later the uke was about popular music. Abstracted from an organic context such as Hawaiian music (though I am not a fan BTW of Hawaiian paternalism which at times to this day feels free to be unapologetically anti-haole, though the instrument was inherited from the Portuguese)the uke during this current wave becomes a cult and almost religion for too many beyond even earlier (and current) novelty status. It’s an instrument and tonal option.

  61. Gail August 24th, 2010 1:09 pm

    Some interesting comment here.

    I am surprised no one has mentioned that the reason recorder is taught is to teach children to read music.Here in New Zealand we have music schools that teach orchestral instruments.The children (usually around aged 6-7)must learn the recorder at least a year usually two, so they have a good grasp of reading music before they progress to an orchestral instrument.However…having taught the recorder in a music school my own never learned it!I have heard some very good recorder groups and know people who have sat their ATCL etc on recorder.
    I played a uke as a child and they are having a major revival here with Ukes in schools and also many adults forming groups.

    I am about to get into trying to be a “really good ukulele player” having played the piano and violin to a fairly advanced level.I know that will be a challenge and won’t happen overnight.So yes….easy to get a few chords out….but no definitely not an easy instrument to play well.

  62. Woodshed August 24th, 2010 5:01 pm

    Gail: That’s a good point. Of course, any musical instrument can be used to teach reading music (including uke) but I suspect that it is being taught much less in ukulele lessons. I have nothing to back that up with (I stay as far away from schools as I can).

    Good luck with your challenge.

  63. Recumbentman August 25th, 2010 11:59 am

    Educationalists constantly confuse themselves.

    What should be taught in primary schools is singing by sol-fa, which gives the best grounding for learning staff notation. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A1339337

    What you learn on the recorder (when it is taught right) is breath control and tuning. What you do on a uke should be taught by ear, with chord diagrams introduced next, then chord names, and only after that should staff notation be introduced.

    The greatest hang-up in music education is blind faith that staff notation is the real thing. It’s not. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A1921114

  64. Woodshed August 25th, 2010 11:10 pm

    Recumbentman: Some interesting points – sounds like good sense to me.

  65. irish September 15th, 2010 10:43 pm

    Add John Lennon to the list of people that learned ukulele before guitar. :)

  66. Woodshed September 20th, 2010 10:16 pm

    irish: He might have been a great songwriter, but I wouldn’t really class John Lennon as a great guitar player.

  67. Mike September 21st, 2010 12:48 am

    John himself would agree with you. He once said, “I’m not technically a good guitar player, but I know how to make a song rock.” The fact that we all know his name 40 years after his band broke up suggests that he had something going for him! But I’m leaning off topic — my apologies.

  68. jerry June 1st, 2011 8:22 pm

    misconception about Ukulele? it’s just a toy & only good for comic music like Tiny Tim. It is somewhat easy to become a player, much more difficult to become a master musician.

  69. Woodshed June 2nd, 2011 10:19 am

    jerry: Thanks. Yeah, that’s definitely one of them.

  70. jerry June 6th, 2011 11:28 pm

    so, I got here saying if I posted to this blog I would be entered in a contest to win a Uke, I don’t see any mention of that? what’s the deal?

  71. Woodshed June 7th, 2011 12:26 am

    jerry: I’ve never had any sort of contest like that. Where did you read that?

  72. jerry June 7th, 2011 12:50 am

    it was from Ukeeko or something & when I looked back the contest is closed so in part it was pointless, thanks FACEBOOK or GOOGLE.

  73. Carmichael July 18th, 2011 10:15 pm

    Hi Iv played the Ukulele Since christmas! I also play the Violin in school and I have to say agree with what you are saying! I taught myself the Ukulele because i have the freedom to play anything i like and (unlike the vilolin) get to play things iv actually heard before, because i have no teacher!

  74. Woodshed July 19th, 2011 12:50 pm

    Carmichael: Glad you’re enjoying your uke.

  75. Everly pregnant brother October 4th, 2011 10:24 pm

    Being a member of the wonderful 7 piece ukulele band The Everly Pregnant Brothers I have to agree with the point on
    Uke festivals.

  76. Kelsey July 3rd, 2012 3:05 am

    I’m putting my hand up here as somebody who started on Guitar and progressed to uke :)

  77. Anna Acevedo Lyman November 25th, 2012 9:51 am

    Old topic but still current! Ukes in the Classroom: Factor #1, Most of the schoolteachers teaching the uke in the classroom are not even hobby musicians. They have good intentions, but many have not the ability, and learning a bit of theory does not make you a musician or a real music teacher.
    I would encourage these teachers to go further than the annual weekend theory workshops (that’s just the starting gate!), And I’m sure workshop organizers would be the first ones to encourage them to go onto build some real musicianship by taking music lessons, learning different genres and playing styles, and putting in the practice time needed to build up one’s musicianship, if your intent is to model music to students in a way that attracts them to continue, that is what is needed, and those who do this get better results.

    Factor #2: Then the schools buy the cheapest ukes they can find (that won’t stay in tune for even an entire nursery rhyme!). We all know that 2 ukes of the same model can be vary widely in quality, especially if they are priced at $24.95!

    Factor #3: Then there are class sizes. Personally, I have a Bachelor of Music in Jazz, majoring in Voice and minoring in Guitar, and I did an extra semester in the Bachelor of Ed degree as well, just to see if I would want to be a band teacher as well as a performer. Well, class sizes!!!!!! Oh my!
    Years ago I taught introductory guitar classes at a university for 6 or 8 years, as part of the community ed department. That was in the days before electronic tuners, and I had to tune all the guitars before we started each class, never mind suddenly being expected to restring instruments.
    I finally drew the line at 16 students, so that I could ensure that each student was receiving sufficient training to be able to play to a certain level once the course was completed.

    Well,apart from some great successes in some programs, just combine some of the above factors, and you can see the possibility of things not going well, and why I’ve heard of some efforts in another town that resulted in young students disliking what they called the “puke-a-lele”. Of course music isn’t for everyone, but if a lot of students make fun of it, something needs to be improved. It has been said that “every good idea has something wrong with it…” that needs improvement. There is nothing to lose in tweaking a program, such as buying better ukes, or investing time to further one’s musicianship.

    Now about Koa, Mahogany, Spruce woods: Some woods create a bright tone, some a deeper more mellow tone. Personally, I have several ukes of different woods, and use them for different types of music, to get different results. My own advice is: Decide what you like and get it!

  78. Woodshed November 25th, 2012 11:49 am

    Anna: Thanks for the comment. Very interesting.

  79. Arlo James Barnes January 28th, 2013 7:02 am

    Is there a place for the ‘cheap ukulele’ ethic? For example, I enjoy Amanda Palmer’s Ukulele Anthem even if I don’t agree with all of the statement behind it.

  80. micki February 4th, 2013 12:07 am

    I might not be the norm (I’ve been playing different instruments since the age of 9) but I think Ukulele should be taught and encouraged in schools! I think I was born in love with music, and being able to be in the high school band was fun and a joy for me. I think we need more music and art in schools, not less; and yes, I do play the recorder (as well as the uke, guitar and other instruments) and love it!

  81. paul moore February 4th, 2013 7:59 am

    Micki, the older i get the more i think only that arts should be taught at schools ( do we need schools??)alongside the classics!! Cheers . This thread has a long life! PAUL. ukulelesforpeace.

  82. Amber July 8th, 2013 7:05 pm

    Hey,
    just reading the post here,and i’m 13 and go to school in England, and Ukeleles are really popular, and several of my friends bring them in on the bus, however, the reason people like them, as said before is because people can learn popular songs, and mates will just sing along, soo, having said that, If they did teach uke at school, they would have to make sure that they were teaching songs that people wanted to learn, Thank you though for opening that topic up, there is a lot wrong with the way that music is taught in scools…

  83. Amber July 8th, 2013 7:06 pm

    oops *schools

  84. Woodshed July 9th, 2013 11:20 am

    Amber: I think that’s part of the problem, though. It’s very difficult to find songs that an entire class liked. For teaching a song to a big group the process has to be enjoyable whether it’s a song you like or not.

  85. Sarah Kelly September 16th, 2014 5:28 pm

    …Hmmmm…Schools and UKES….Bravo Jules from 2010, in April. Serious whiff of bollocks in yer comments, UKE-HUNT, re the teaching of uke in school, but maybe that’s because it was written by a man…where as this comment will whiff of sugar and spice. Things that gave me a life long love that I first encountered in school….TOOTHBRUSHES…(my parents didn’t bother giving them to us…)…A clean pair of knickers EVERY day…(a whole NEW concept to me at the age of 5)…HOT school meals.. ( My mum was a crap cook)…chocolate crunch cake, ice cream, cabbage, Hungarian goulash, red marking pens- which I used to steal( we had NO pens at home)- Having stories read to me, ANOTHER FIRST and STILL greatly loved, CS.Lewis and all of his writings, Sport/ rounders/ running/ jumping/ hockey, football ( I was a great goalie and used to catch the ball in my kilt. The boys ALWAYS picked me as I was better than the lads)…
    and , to this list I would CONFIDENTLY add, that to HUNDREDS of children, all over the country, right NOW, a love for music and ukulele and singing. It will be growing, every day, thanks to Jules and James Hill and , yes, even me… The kids love it, can’t get enough of it, go out and buy their own, they cry when I go and cheer when I walk back in… I CAN’T GET THEM TO GIVE UP…. Just MAYBE people’s negativity about their OWN experience with a musical instrument leads them to conclude that ALL people have that experience. …Today we teach the kids contemporary songs/ tunes/ develop performance skill, use of mics and loopers and we encourage them to write their own songs and music. Just because music teaching is patchy is doesn’t mean that the entire nation is denuded…BUT, to get this enjoyment and commitment going the teacher HAS to be able to ….TEACH…and love the kids.. and be obsessed with ukuleles… (It is a BIG ask)

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