One of my first memories is singing along to Eric Clapton's 'Layla' (still my favorite song) in the car with my dad. Ever since I can remember, music has been the force that most strongly connects me with other people. I've been in choruses, musicals, and a few failed band attempts. I've cried listening to old folk songs songs with my best friend, and had more singalongs to "Bohemian Rhapsody" than I can remember. I've played open mics in other countries and sung 80's songs in the subway with strangers. When I think of the most positive experiences in my life, many of them have to do with music.
I started learning guitar from my dad when I was 16. When I played my first original song about going away to college for friends and they cried, I learned that I could actually connect with people on an emotional level through music. Since then, I've learned a few string instruments mostly through the internet. Ukulele is by far my favorite.
Why? So many reasons.
- They ALWAYS sound happy.
- They're super portable, I bring one almost everywhere I go.
- They come in all sorts of colors and patterns.
- They're much more affordable than other instruments.
- They're kid sized and arthritis friendly (I've been teaching my grandma).
- They're the gateway instrument. When you learn one string instrument, you can pick up another!
- They make people smile.
- You don't need to take yourself seriously on a uke.
- I could go on, but most importantly, they're relatively easy to learn.
So why did I attempt to make a website about ukuleles when I'm a cave person and tend to avoid technology? To connect with people all over and document my journey. I've also taught many people throughout the past few years and want to start keeping track and share their accomplishments with the world! In college I started a club called The Uke-A-Dooks, where people who had never played an instrument before could learn. Those who had stage fright could come practice playing with other people and gain confidence. College romances even formed over the 4 strings and romantic tones. We would perform silly covers at college functions and fundraisers. I became known around campus for shoving a uke in the arms of anyone who showed any amount of interest.
This past year I started the Crown Heights Ukulele Club. I've met so many new people from all walks of life. I've seen adults who thought they didn't have a musical bone in their body gain confidence enough to perform in front of families at the Brooklyn Children's Museum. I've even traded ukulele lessons for donuts and haircuts. My favorite thing to see is someone I've taught, teaching someone else. Spreading the joy of playing.
Now I want to spread it further and farther. I'm taking a journey to teach as many people as I can across the US, and I need your help! Do you know anyone who would want some free lessons? Coworkers? A school? Congregation? Random group of friends? I'm going all over and stopping in a lot of places. I'll also gladly accept any donations, or a place to stay along the way. Check out my gofundme.
As I go, I'll feature people I meet and the songs they play! Let's all connect through the power of music because ukuleles are one thing that can make anyone smile.
In the words of the incredible Amanda Palmer's song 'Ukulele Anthem',
"Ukulele small and fierceful
Ukulele brave and peaceful
You can play the ukulele too, it is painfully simple
Play your ukulele badly, play your ukulele loudly
Ukulele banish evil
Ukulele save the people
Ukulele gleaming golden from the top of every steeple...
So play your ukulele"