Saturday, April 23, 2011
U is for Ukulele Lady
As a complete non-musician, and a woman stubbornly hanging onto her very elasticated prime of life, I've started learning to play the ukulele. When I went to the shop to buy one I told the guy I was a complete beginner. 'There's no such thing as a beginner on the uke,' he said. 'Anyone can manage it.' I thought that was encouraging, and nice of him not to tell me my hands were too small or my fingernails too long. He didn't ask me was I nuts to contemplate annoying the neighbours at my time of life. He didn't forewarn me about the PAIN I'd suffer in my finger-tips.
A group of five like minded people gather at my house and we follow instructions from my husband, who plays well and spends hours on YouTube watching those who play better. He very patiently guides us through the tablature he's drawn up for us (and even transposed for one left-handed player) and we struggle through the pain barrier in an attempt to make the cheery, chirpy sounds we heard on stage when we went to see The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain perform. Of course, we're not
there yet. But I do have a few tunes under my belt.
I'm avoiding the George Formby sound. Not because I don't admire his skill, but because at my age I need to be taken more seriously if I'm ever going to convince the younger generation in the family that I might one day be able to join them in a jamming session.
I like some happy songs (oh, doesn't that sound sad) but I think the ukulele particularly lends itself to poignant and slightly mournful songs. Or maybe that's just because they're slower in tempo and therefore easier for me to keep up with everyone else.
So far I've mastered: The Tennessee Waltz
Yes Sir, That's My Baby
Oh Won't You Stay... (from Dirty Dancing)
The Peanut Vendor (don't laugh!)
Putting on the Style (Lonnie Donegan)
Oh, Lonesome Me
And I'm working on: A White Sports Coat and a Pink Carnation
I'll See You in My Dreams
Love Letters Straight from Your Heart
Lover Come Back to Me
Plus, I have tickets to see The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain once again... so I have to work on Beethoven's Ode to Joy for the audience participation section. That's what started this whole thing in the first place.
I've only been strumming for a couple of months and I've never had so much fun in my own front room.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GLBI21X-aM UOGB at the Proms
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02-gXysqDo8&feature=related Jake Shimabukuro plays Michael Jackson's THRILLER
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqaYmQZgrB4 Jake Shimabukro's Let's Dance