Finally spring has arrived, the sun is shining and it’s a glorious Melbourne day. Not a moment too soon for those who have been flagging with ukulele practice due to winter ailments or in the cold weather have lacked the motivation to pick up their ukes. Now it’s time to shrug off that winter malaise and become inspired.
For those who find it difficult to get motivated here are some suggestions that I find useful.
Have a goal. There might be a song you have always wanted to learn to play. Look around on the Internet for a version that suits your skill level or challenge yourself with a song arrangement that extends your playing style. Your goal might be to learn a new technique so look on You Tube for a lesson that you can immediately undertake to spur you along.
If you don’t already belong to a local ukulele group joining one will give you incentive to practice. There’s nothing like other enthusiastic players to keep up you interested with lots of new songs and playing tips. Belonging to a group may also give you the opportunity to perform which is a great way to stay motivated.
Attending ukulele festivals will also give you a buzz even if you don’t perform. Spring is the time when these start to appear on the calendar. Most places have their own unique ukulele festival (see our links page for ukulele festivals in Australia). At these events you can do workshops, see lots of great performances, view all types of ukulele related products and find plenty of inspiration.
One thing to keep you motivated is to remember that you don’t need to have perfect technique to be a ukulele player. It is more important to play the ukulele no matter what your skill level especially when you are feeling down in the dumps, as it will make you feel so much better.
So what are you waiting for? Just play it!
A song for inspiration: Johnny Nash’s I Can See Clearly Now covered by Natalie Gelman
On July 20 we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. Australia played an important part in beaming Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon to the world. The first eight minutes, 50 seconds of pictures were captured by the radio telescope at the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station near Canberra, ACT and then by the Parkes telescope, NSW (featured in the film, The Dish). This event brought the people of the planet together because it was broadcast live to the far corners of the Earth.
Ukuleles have a way of bringing people together, so what better way than to celebrate this historic event with songs on the uke about the moon, which has long inspired songwriters. .
The moon has always kept the human race under its spell and continues to play on our moods. A song in this vain is Blue Moon.
Most of us are earthbound and can only gaze up at the moon and enjoy its beauty. It can lead us into a dance and many songs have been devoted to this subject. Here are a couple.
And once man had walked on the moon this feat influenced songs.
Like the people of the world who gathered 50 years ago to watch the moon landing, let’s get together on Saturday to play some moon songs on our ukuleles and remember that time, as well as dream about the future space journeys of the human race.
It’s the first day of winter down under and next weekend marks the beginning of the ski season in Victoria. Many snow lovers will be heading to the Ski Resorts to enjoy the slopes. It has already been snowing heavily in the Great Dividing Range with the unique snow gum trees covered in snow.
Whether you enjoy these types of winter sports or prefer the warmth of the fireside, it is fun to celebrate the beginning of winter with some appropriate songs on the ukulele. In the Southern hemisphere this season is separate from the end of year festivities so it is nice to find and listen to songs that are only about the wintertime. Some of these are very beautiful like the following examples.
Firstly, a cover of Fleet Foxes White Winter Hymnal by Naomi.
Secondly, Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson’s Winter Song is covered by Katie Goffman and Beth Stafford Laird on ukulele with some lovely harmonies.
Thirdly, an oldie but a fun one to play is Let it Snow. Bosco from Ukulele Cheats shows you how.
While we may not get the severe weather of the Northern Hemisphere, Winter, especially in the Alpine regions of Australia, can be quite cold. Luckily it is easy to warm yourselves with some ukulele songs.
Let’s hope you all stay cosy this winter and can enjoy your ukuleles through the cold months.
If the bustle and stress of city life is getting you down there is nothing like a change of scenery to refresh the spirit, especially were there are multitudes of ukuleles. That’s a good reason to head to the Dandenong Ranges for the Hills Ukulele Festival next weekend.
On Sunday May 19 at 11am Bayside Ukes will be playing on the main stage at Emerald Primary School. For more information see the previous post on this website.
Here’s a song to get you in the mood for a trip to the hills.
We’ll be packing our ukes for the misty mountains, up to hills where the ukulele spirit flies! Come and join us.
Tomorrow in Australia and New Zealand is Anzac Day when we remember those who gave their lives in wars. To commemorate this important event here are some song covers on ukulele that deal with various aspects of war.
The following songs were all written about the Vietnam conflict and are still relevant today.
I-Feel-Like-I’m Fixin’-to-Die Rag, by Country Joe and the Fish, with it’s wonderful use of dark humour, was made famous by their performance at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. The following cover sounds great on the baritone ukulele.
Pink Floyd’s Us and Them, from the album Dark Side of the Moon, is a powerful and haunting song about war. The following version has been adapted for the ukulele.
New Order’s song Love Vigilantes (1985) about a soldier longing to return to his family has been covered by other artists, but none are as poignant as this raw and emotional ukulele version. I think it says it all.
Ukuleles, since the beginning of the last century, have become a popular instrument for those in the Services and when we play some commemorative songs on Anzac Day we can remember them.
Autumn in Melbourne
It is finally autumn in Melbourne after a long, long summer and the hottest March on record. Time for some ukulele songs that reflect summer’s passing. The following were all performed in Australia.
Probably the most famous song for this time of the year is Autumn Leaves. Here is a Jazzy version sung by Misty Henderson accompanied by ukulele and band at Uke Mullum in the northern NSW town of Mullumbimby.
A wonderful rock song with an Autumn theme and references to Lord of the Rings is Led Zeppelin’s Ramble On. Hope you enjoy this fun and gutsy version by Adelaide group, The Wheatsheaf Ukulele Collective.
Finally, one of the most beautiful Autumn songs is Harvest Moon by Neil Young. This delightful version is performed by Californian Dani Joy overlooking Sydney Harbour on a lovely day in May. Hard to believe it is Autumn in some parts of Australia.
Whether it’s Autumn or Spring where you are, it is fun to play songs that reflect the seasons. I’m sure you have your favourites.
An exciting ukulele band from Grenoble, France, The Big Ukulele Syndicate, fill their performances with movement, fun and fantastic ukulele playing. Check out the following video and you will get the picture. They are so entertaining.
Their facebook page is in French, but here is the link for those who can read the language.