Ukulele Journeys

What is YOUR ukulele journey?

People take up playing ukulele for lots of reasons – for fun, as a challenge, to meet new people, to stimulate their brain cells, to keep up with their kids and grandchildren.  Why did you pick it up?

You might have started playing a $35 ukulele in your back bedroom, or by attending a beginners’ class somewhere.  Once you got over sore fingers, there are many different directions to take with the world’s friendliest musical instrument.  We plan to ask you — our members — to tell us about your journey and what the uke has done for you.

Steps along the way

Here are some examples on steps you might have taken or could take.

  • Attend a live BUMS jam or try a jam you haven’t been to before.
  • Attend workshops run by BUMS, at festivals or by private teachers.
  • Access YouTube videos to improve your skills – fingerpicking, strumming, playing melodies.
  • Upgrade your instrument to sound better and play more easily.
  • Play for your family.
  • Practise so you can do an open mic at a jam or on BUMS Online.
  • Join a BUMS community band for regular practice.
  • Perform in public.
  • Join in BUMS Online jams and tutorials.
  • Find a ukulele buddy or buddies to play with.
  • Take singing lessons.
  • Learn how to use internet resources create song sheets with lyrics and chords.
  • Form a band with other BUMS.
  • Learn to use a microphone.
  • Amplify your uke.
  • Record yourself and edit your videos.
  • Try a different style of ukulele – banjolele, baritone, ubass, or an eight string or a six string uke.
  • Develop on percussion skills.
  • Run workshops for other musicians.

There is a no doubt that ukulele brings people together to have fun.  Just look round at all the smiling faces at a jam (Can you remember back in February?).  There are few other musical instruments where players join in like this.

What do you get from playing?  What’s your story, and what has ukulele done for you?  Write us your story or get in touch with Peter Grace to chat about your journey.  We’d love to hear from you.

1 reply
  1. Peter Ransom
    Peter Ransom says:

    On a whim I bought my first ukuleles back around 1981. In those days I played banjo and guitar in the Caxton St. Jazz Band and I really had no idea about what to do with my purchase! I actually bought two ukes – both 1923 Kumalae sopranos., solid koa construction with friction tuning pegs. They belonged to a chap who had, amongst other things, been a scriptwriter for The Man from UNCLE. He had bought both instruments from the factory in Hawaii while working in a band on a cruise boat operating between the USA west coast and the Hawaiian islands. Sadly, he’d had a stroke and could no longer play. So I became only the second owner of these little gems. I still have one, but it needs a little TLC – at 97 years, who wouldn’t?

    This acquisition didn’t lead to any great passion for the instrument. Every two or three years I would play one or the other for a few minutes and then put it away. There was a missed opportunity, though. In 1997 I transferred to Hong Kong and a uke would have been ideal to play in my tiny apartment.

    After 18 hectic months in HK and then a stint in Japan, returning to Brisbane was good for me in many ways. I met and later married Jennie, restored some lovely vintage cars and eventually, in 2011, went along to BUMS at Coorparoo with one of my little Kumalae ukes. Not exactly a light bulb moment, but I realized that here was an opportunity to play and sing with like-minded people. After the rather restrictive trad jazz genre I could perform virtually anything I fancied, be it rock, latin, pop, C&W or whatever. Now, years later, we’re in isolation for the moment and I suspect everyone’s busting to get back to the friendly and relaxed jams that bring us together.

    For me, years later, I’ve settled on the concert uke as my preferred instrument. Presenting the occasional set at our jams is something I really enjoy, along with doing open mic spots. Appearing at uke festivals as GIRT BY C gives me the opportunity to present material that’s a bit different, usually very old and requires a lot of work to get it right.

    Putting a couple of songs up on BUMS’ private Facebook page has been challenging. I can get it reasonably OK from a technical perspective but playing, singing, recording and actually publishing can be confronting! Should I have bothered? Why can’t I smile? Does anyone like my stuff? Look at the chords I fluffed! But as the man said, the sun still comes up each morning, and since I’ve survived the challenge I’ll probably go again.

    Stay tuned… Peter R.

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