Ukulele Lessons

Ukulele is a great instrument for kids or adults.  It is addictive.  My tenure with Lake Lure Classical Academy is testament to the success of this instrument with kids.  I have seen some amazing things happen when one kid shares their knowledge with another and the uke is perfect for it.  I dare you to buy a ukulele and leave it sitting around and not feel compelled to pick it up and play it!

The ukulele is similar to guitar but only has four strings which makes it a little easier to play chords in the beginning, especially with smaller hands.  There are a bunch of modern ukulele players out there doing everything from pop and novelty to avant-guarde.  Plus they come in various sizes and colors so you can find just the right instrument for you.  They’re also incredibly affordable so if you only have a budget of $40 you can get a playable instrument.

I played the Ottawa Folk Festival a few years back and was amazed at this young uke player named James Hill in the tent next door.  Check out Jake Shimabukuro too.  I might describe him as the “Bela Fleck” of the ukulele.  Also, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole may be the most recognizable ukulele player with his hit version of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” coming from a family of traditional Hawaiian musicians but also infusing his music with elements of Reggae.  His music is distinctly Hawaiian.

Jack Johnson is also smitten with the ukulele.  There’s a fun version of “banana pancakes” on you-tube that my kids worked on for their ukulele class.  Jason Mraz is also a modern-day uker.

The uke comes in four sizes and two tunings:

Soprano, concert, and tenor are all tuned the same.  Pick one that fits your size.  The concert is perfect for me.

Baritone ukulele is actually a four string guitar and tuned to the four high strings.  It has a deeper tone more like a guitar and is a good choice if you already play guitar and are scared of learning new names for chords.  To my ears it doesn’t have the charm of the other ukes.