I run a regular ukulele band at Coda Music Trust in Dorset as well as teaching ukulele in schools, performing in care homes, and on the radio.
The Coda Ukulele Band has evolved into an accomplished group who can engage and entertain audiences of all ages. The band, which has an extensive repertoire of popular classics and original material, has performed at numerous festivals and public events, including the Milford on Sea Music Festival, Eastleigh Mardi Gras, Forest Arts Centre, Mudeford Arts Festival, St Mary’s Stadium Southampton, Winchester Ukulele Festival and the Bournemouth Proms in the Park. They have also played live on BBC Radio Solent, joined a successful Guinness World Record attempt, completed a 24 hour fundraising ‘Ukathon’ and released a CD of original material entitled ‘Lucky Old Ukulele Me’.
Please look at my YouTube channel for free ukulele tutorials and Coda Ukulele Band rehearsal videos:
Why play Ukulele?
I’ve heard it’s really easy
It’s certainly easier to get started on – there are less strings to deal with than a guitar and the strings are made from nylon (easier on the fingers). You can master 2 or 3 of the easier chords, and be strumming along to a well known song within a day.
If you want to maintain that initial enthusiasm and interest, you will want to work towards acquiring more skills:
- different strumming/rhythm patterns
- different time signatures (including faster tempos)
- playing songs in different keys and in different styles and genres
And after that, you might start moving onto reading ukulele tabulature and
playing chord melodies. The more you learn, the more enjoyable it becomes.
I’ve heard they’re really cheap
The really cheap ukuleles need to be avoided! They won’t stay in tune for very long,
the strings will be no better than fishing wire, the machine heads rough and inconsistent, and the overall intonation awful. You may not even get through one verse of a song without drifting completely out of tune!
Better to borrow a good one for a few weeks, and then spend some money if you decide it’s for you. For a reasonable starter ukulele like a Brunswick expect to spend £50-£80, or a good mid-range Kala £80-£100. Avoid anything that’s around the £20 mark.
You’re never too old to play or start learning an instrument
The famous Spanish cellist, Pablo Casals, who was still playing in his 90’s was asked by a young reporter ‘Why do you still practice six hours a day?’ Casals answered, “Because I think I’m making progress.”
He had no way of knowing at the time, but his instinct was entirely correct!
With the advent of brain imagining technology , we now know that the human brain, unless affected by a medical condition, maintains the ability to modify its structure and function throughout life, regardless of our age – learning has no ‘too late’ date.
And there are lots of other positives
It’s brilliant for playing in groups and mixed abilities can play together and
help each other improve. The fact that you can join and play in a group, will motivate you and keep you playing.
It’s very portable and can go with you on holiday in your hand luggage. You can start a collection, but be careful you don’t get UAS (Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome)!
Performing at the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Proms in the Park
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