Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Ukulele renaissance

I joined a ukulele orchestra on the way to work last week.

Wait, back up for just a minute.

In a previous life, I used to run a lunch time ukulele orchestra. There were 15 regulars in its heyday and less as time went on, but for half an hour each week, a random group of workmates would congregate in a quiet room and strum along to cheesy pop songs with silly grins plastered all over our faces. I stand by what I said way back then: you can't take anything in life seriously when you're playing a purple ukulele.

It kicked off something of a minor ukulele obsession, much to my musician father's embarrassment. "You don't play in public, do you?" he checked. But ukuleles were all the rage at the time in certain circles. The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain showed the world how it was done and other local ensembles had a go at imitating them. Sunday ukulele clubs popped up and everyone was in - or it seemed like they were. This post, where I shared a graphic of common ukulele chords and a ukulele masterpiece played by Jake Shimabukuro, remains the most-clicked post from my blog with a massive 62500+ hits since I first uploaded it in 2009.

But times change and things move on. The ukulele is less retro-chic now and more "so 2010, darling". Haters gonna hate and all that! Yet, here I am a few years later dusting off my ukulele, resurrecting my wiki, photocopying song charts and remembering how much fun it is to get together for a short musical oasis in an otherwise hectic and stressful week.

This time it will be different, though. I've promised myself I will simply turn up to play each week and will not end up running the group. Repeat: I will not end up running the group. I may chart a song or two, introduce a few new chords, teach a couple of intros and endings, get the group to practise some basic chord progressions. ... but I will not end up running the group. Uh huh. No way.

Old habits die hard.

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