The Benefits of Standing when Playing the Ukulele

Many players always sit when they are playing their ukuleles.  While this is fine when doing this for your own pleasure or at ukulele group sessions, it is not ideal in a performance situation and it is better for you physically to stand.

We are repeatedly being told by health care professionals that sitting around for long periods is bad for our health and that it is important to keep moving.  Sitting for a long time can make you feel more tired than when doing some physical activity.  Playing the ukulele standing up allows your body to move easily in time to the music and is a fun way to lessen sedentary behavior.  In addition, it is more difficult to sing strongly in a sitting position because this can constrict the diaphragm.  When standing up you can take deeper breaths and it is easier to sing and maintain breath control, something that is also good for the health.

Standing uke drawing copy

In a performance situation it is usually necessary to stand, especially when playing with a large group that takes up the whole stage or where there are several players on a small stage.  Often there is not enough room for everyone to sit, or a supply of chairs to make this possible.  If there is no stage at all or one that is low, standing puts the players above the audience and makes it possible to connect with those beyond the front row.  It is easier when standing to share music stands amongst several people if needed.  This also allows  different song leaders on a set list to change positions on stage without any fuss.

Some people find it difficult to play standing up, often because they find it hard to hold their ukulele without resting it on their seated body.  It can be tricky balancing your uke without any support, especially the larger sizes, so the obvious solution is to buy a strap.  If you have a strap button at the base of the uke, you can use the kind that is a smaller version of a guitar strap and tie the top end under the strings above the neck.  Also smaller Mandolin straps are sometimes suitable.

If there is no button on your ukulele it is not recommended that you have one attached, as there might by no internal support into which you can drill the hole.  Doing so might cause damage to the body of the ukulele and rather than taking this risk it is better to use the kind of strap that hangs around your neck with an end that hooks into the sound hole to hold the uke.  Various types of ukulele straps can be purchased from the same music stores that sell ukuleles, or you can choose from the vast assortment to be found online.  Having a strap will allow you to learn to play the ukulele in the standing position and contribute to your enjoyment and performances.

You can build up your stamina by standing for short periods, then increasing the length of time as you get used to this position.  Once you can play the ukulele while standing, you will find it is much more fun to be able to move around with the uke, and you will feel more energetic and healthier as a result.

Note: If you need to sit for health reasons make sure that you have frequent breaks from playing and move around.

Kat & Zilla

Bayside Ukes members

Advertisements

Happy Holidays

Now the Easter break is upon us it is time to get in the holiday spirit and kick back, relax and play your ukulele.  Gracie Allen had the right idea in the 1939 movie Honolulu.  In this clip she is playing her ukulele and singing the song “Honolulu” to Eleanor Powell.  It then gets really crazy and they go “tapping” all over the deck.  So Hollywood but great fun.

Happy Holidays.

Bayside Ukes

I Took my Uke to a Party…

After several years of singing and playing the guitar I decided to buy a ukulele so that I would have a smaller, more portable instrument to carry around.  As seems to be the case for anyone who takes up this instrument, I became obsessed with the uke and had some lessons.  Then the fun really started.

Unlike in that old Gracie Fields song I Took My Harp to a Party but Nobody Asked Me to Play, you don’t need to hide your uke under your coat.  The little ukulele actually attracts an audience, as I discovered when I took my ukulele to play a few songs at a picnic with some friends.  After this great day, where we all had a lot of fun together, these friends began to ask me to bring the uke along to parties and other social events.  The happy nature of the ukulele sound seems to break down barriers and encourages people to participate and we would have sing-alongs with lots of laughter and conversation.  This also gave me the opportunity to perform some of my own songs, which I have been writing for years, in front of a non-threatening audience.

Playing the ukulele has opened up my life to new people and experiences, especially after becoming one of the founding members of Bayside Ukes, where I have met a great bunch of friendly ukulele obsessives like myself.  In belonging to this group, I have learnt so much from playing with others and have become more confident when performing before complete strangers.  Helping to organize a ukulele group has also allowed me to make a small contribution to my local community.

Now I have joined with a fellow ukulele devotee.  We sing harmonies and play pop songs together.  Recently we were asked to entertain around 60 people at a birthday party. After overcoming some pre-performance nerves we really enjoyed ourselves.  Afterwards another ukulele player, who we did not know, came up and said how much he liked our singing and playing and we had a wonderful chat about the joys and techniques of learning to play the uke.  We also inspired one guest to get their ukulele out of the cupboard.  The ukulele is a fantastic icebreaker, as so many people are just taking it up themselves or know someone who plays the uke.

Who would have thought that this small instrument could have such a big impact on one’s life?  So don’t sit at home with your ukulele.  Get out there and share your enjoyment of playing with others.  You never know where this will lead.

Kat

Bayside Ukes member

 

Start Your Working Day With a Ukulele Song

Play your ukulele on Monday the 14th March to celebrate the Labour Day Holiday in Victoria.

We have the Eight Hour Movement of 1856 to thank for introducing the eight hour day to Victoria.  The group advocated 8 hours of work, 8 hours of recreation and 8 hours of rest.  So let us celebrate those 8 hours of recreation that gives us the time and energy to play our ukuleles.

In 2015 a happy ukulele song really brightened up the morning journey to work for these commuters in Perth, Australia. What a great way to start the working day.

So get out there and play your ukulele.

Happy Labour Day, Melbourne and Victoria.

Zilla

Bayside Ukes Member

Beware Uke Sizings

Being a self-taught uke player (ukist?), I found there hasn’t been any shortage of help on the web for learning techniques of playing.  Ukists around the world are generous beings, sharing their skills and knowledge to help their fellow humans join the fraternity of world ukists.

There is, however, a shortage of information on one matter: uke sizes.  I’m not talking about the difference in size between soprano, concert and tenor ukes.  That info is widely available.  I’m talking about the variation in size between ukes of different brands and how this can impact on the player.

The first uke I ever bought was a tenor Lanikai.  I bought it online (from a local store) and was very happy with it.  In fact, this is the uke I use mostly today.  After having this instrument sit in a green Woolworths shopping bag for months, I decided to buy it a proper home.  So I ordered a tenor uke gig bag from the same shop.  When it arrived in the post, I was quite cross when I discovered it was the wrong size for my uke – it was way too small.  When I rang the shop, they told me that it was definitely a bag for a tenor uke, however, I was told that it was common knowledge (!) that Lanikai ukes are larger than the standard uke.  Luckily enough, the music store was kind enough to swap it over with a case (a better quality one, at that) which fitted my slightly over-sized uke.  Moral of the story, always take your uke along when buying it a new case.

There is yet another sizing matter people need to know about.  After fitting my Lanikai with a low G string (my preference for playing strummed chords), I bought a different brand uke so that I could keep the high G on it to play tabs that need a high G.  I tested out ukes during a local uke festival.  Price right, tone good, so I bought the uke (it also came with a bag!).  I’ve been taking this uke out from time to time when I have the urge to play something more complex.  Trouble is, I wasn’t really getting much better at the harder tabs.  Then I realised that part of the issue wasn’t me – my newer uke actually has a much wider neck and fingerboard than my Lanikai.  I measured the fingerboard of the new uke at the nut and it was 3.8cm, compare to 3.4cm on my trusted Lanikai.  For someone with short fingers like me, this makes a real difference.

So why, you may ask, does a short-fingered person like me play tenor ukes?  I was totally inspired by the sound made by Jake Shimabukuro on his tenor uke.  Here’s one of my favourite performances of him playing his uke:

It’s not very likely that I’d ever play anything that complex – especially with the minimal amount of practice that I do – but hey, one can dream about it.

Mirrie

Bayside Ukes Member