You can now borrow a ukulele from EVPL! Like any material, you can place the instrument on hold and pick it up at your preferred EVPL location. To help you learn to play the ukulele, we’ve rounded up some resources.
Have you noticed a lot of interest in the ukulele lately? This tiny four-stringed instrument from Hawaii has been around for more than 140 years. After becoming firmly entrenched in Hawaiian culture, then becoming a craze on the US mainland in the early twentieth century, then becoming seriously kitschy in the early rock era — somehow, the ukulele has become, well, kind of cool.
And while we’ve seen the rise of true virtuosos on the instrument, like James Hill and Jake Shimabukuro, what’s making it popular today how easy it is to play, how it can be used to accompany the single voice, and how it can work with all types of music. It’s both portable and affordable, too.
Another big reason for its popularity is a good amount of celebrity attention. I first noticed the uke decades ago, when Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters sang to one in The Jerk and George Harrison played one in the Beatles Anthology. Today, we have folks like Zoey Deschanel and even amateurs going viral with their own videos. And Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, after buying a ukulele on impulse while vacationing in Hawaii, ended up with a Grammy for his CD, Ukulele Songs.
So what makes it so appealing for all sorts of people, from young children to retirees, to learn to play the uke? It’s mostly because it’s easy to hold, has only four strings, and is tuned in such a way that many chords are easy to play and easy to remember. There are tons of songs that can be played with only a few chords, and you don’t have to know how to read music – just learn how chord diagrams work. And there are plenty of resources to help you learn, both online and at the library.
The uke comes in several sizes, with the smallest called the soprano. This is the one that children and most adults start on. (Adults with larger hands and fingers might be more comfortable with the concert size, which also tends to have a louder and fuller tone.)
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