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When we start playing ukulele a world of unforseen possibilities opens up.

I’m not exaggerating! This happened for me, and I’ve seen it working like this for many others.

Beyond performing

There’s a common attitude that making music is about performing, whether it’s solo or group. It’s true, you can get on stage and do great performances on ukulele.

But the ukulele can take us to many more places than this. Fun and exciting places, that don’t quite fit into the category of performance.

Looks like fun

Sometimes people come to my ukulele classes to learn specific things.

Like the early childhood teachers who want to be able to play kids’ songs at work. Or the guy who loves to play the blues.

But others sign up because ukulele is on their bucket list. They’ve seen people playing ukulele and it looks like fun.

Or they’ve always wanted to play a musical instrument and never had the chance.

New opportunities

Here are some of the amazing things that you can do with a ukulele, pretty much straight away.

You don’t have to put this off till after you’ve reached a certain level of accomplishment.

You can jam with a friend.

If you have a friend or family member who’s a guitarist or ukulele player, you can get together to play. If they’re a guitarist, get them to use your song charts, with ukulele-friendly chords.

You can join a ukulele group.

Or start a ukulele group, if you can’t find one to join that suits you. You don’t need great musical skills to start a group – just some chord charts and a bit of organisation.

You can play ukulele with babies and kids of all ages.

Most kids’ songs have easy chords. Parents, grandparents, early childhood educators and primary school teachers all find ukulele very handy.

Music with dementia groups

The ukulele is a wonderful asset for music making with people with dementia.

I made music with my mother, Sue, in the dementia facility where she lived for four years. Here’s a link to my post about my experiences, Songs to Remember.

I’m delighted to report that two years after Sue passed away, my friends Lois and Linda are continuing to have fun leading regular ukulele singing sessions at Shelly Beach Lodge.

Parties and celebrations

You can start by playing Happy Birthday To You at family birthdays.

Not far beyond that, a few ukulele players plus song sheets is an easy way to get a party rocking. It’s a party in a basket!

Music in the workplace

I know of players who have started a lunchtime ukulele group at their workplace.

It’s fun and a great stress-buster, and new people are always wanting to join. They also get invited to play at workplace events.

Music at Christmas

Playing Christmas carols on ukulele brings live music magic into seasonal events. This year some staff members in one of the wards at Waikato Hospital are taking their ukuleles to work and singing Christmas carols with their patients.

Write songs

The ukulele is a wonderful instrument for song writing. You just need a few chords, a tune, a strum and some words. Voila!

To make it even easier, try customising a song for a particular occasion. Pick a popular song and change the words to fit the person or event.

Music in the neighbourhood

 You can take your ukulele and jam in the park with friends on a summer evening. And your music will be welcome at neighbourhood events.

The music you love

Most important, you can play the music that makes your heart sing.

When you can play ukulele you can say, “Oh I’d love to play that song.” And very often you can!

Sometimes it might turn out to be surprisingly easy – three chords and an easy strum.

Sometimes it might be a bit trickier, like Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. But that will spur you to practice and get better.

It’s such joy to be able to play a song that lights you up.

Hi, I’m Alice

I’ve been in love with the ukulele since my mother, Sue, taught me three chords when I was six. 

I teach ukulele to people all over the world via Zoom and Skype. If you happen to live in Hamilton, New Zealand, I also teach group ukulele classes.

You can find out about my group classes by clicking here.

Here’s a link to book a free, no obligation 15-minute chat to find out how I can help you. https://alicebulmermusic.as.me/free-15min-chat

Alice Bulmer music
Photographed by Brooke Baker