Five years ago I first picked up a ukulele, having bought a wonderful Collings pre production concert uke in New York. After 18 months of playing around with it, I decided to get some proper instruction. I eventually found a local teacher, but I was amazed at the lack of available teachers for a 1 – 1 basis.
I have often blogged about how the uke can be mostly a focul point for social meet ups and strum alongs and there’s definetely a place for that. In fact this Friday I’ll be sound engineer for a local uke group playing an evening of cover versions. I’ve done this many times before and its a fun night.
I also read today that Sore Fingers were struggling to get more than four people to attend their skills development workshop in 2019. They need a minimum of ten people to make a class viable and so far only four have shown definate interest. In a country where there seems to be a “uke festival” every few weeks, this seems like a terrible response but it does confirm my theory that many who pick up the uke, do so just to learn a few chords and strum along with friends. Most festival acts play cover versions and some attempt the comedic quirky route which personally I’m not a fan of, but there seems to be a real appetite for that. Yes, there are some workshops, but these are usually 60 minutes only and at the last one I attended the presenter commented “I really thought we be a lot further on than we are” during his slot, clearly surprised at the lack of musical skills from the audience.
There’s a lot of uke discussion online and an abundance of questions asking for advice. Many seem to think that watching youtube videos is the way to go, but I would always advise seeing a live human being. Phil Doleman remains a beacon of hope for ukulele education and wrote an article for the site here – http://www.originalukulelesongs.com/thoughts-learning-play-uke-internet-phil-doleman/
Matt Stead also is a driving force in teaching the uke in the UK and his Uke Room is a great place to learn and develop skills. You can find him here https://theukeroom.com/
Overseas James Hill has been a driving force in showing people the possibilities for the instrument and is once of the few ukulele players that crosses over to attract wider publci appeal.
Personally I think the ukulele is a brilliant instrument, and my hope is that the UK ukulele community can generate enough enthusiasm so a 2019 Sore Fingers workshop can take place. I guess we’ll know by the Friday deadline…