First Strums - Picking Up the Uke!
When I do sit down with it all I do is check the tuning is correct using my trusty little Snark tuner, and read a few pages of the book/cd combo I am using to learn it. Like all my other experiences with Native Ground (the same people who taught me the fiddle and whose methods I have used to teach hundreds of others here at CAF over the past five years) I am once again treated to a casual and fun way of learning. The book expects the reader to not know the first thing about tuning, reading notes, or even playing a kazoo (Ergo the title, Ignoramus) - so the stakes couldn't be lower folks. If you want to learn an instrument and feel you just can't - I dare you fail at this. You won't.
Wayne Erbsen’s books are made to be digested in small doses, and they down easy. You can read all you need to know to get strumming in fifteen minutes. And not just how to play it, but the history and culture around it. I learned is a Hawaiian creation based on the stringed instruments of Portuguese immigrants, shortly after the American Civil War. So as far as acoustic music, it’s a new kid. I like that.
I’m impressed by this little instrument. It’s a soprano uke, so the smallest of the four sizes available to play (and probably the size you think of when you picture it). Just four nylon strings over a tiny guitar-shaped frame. When I strum them I find myself momentarily transported. I am not the Jimmy Buffet type. I’m much more drawn to rocky coasts and colder climate than the home of this instrument, but it’s 86 degrees outside with 70% humidity and there is something really whimsical playing this tropical instrument with a cold drink in a hammock on a hot day.
I'll update with videos of my first songs and more details on how I am learning a few minutes a day. If you want to learn along with me, you can, and help support a company that supports Cold Antler! I got an email from Native Ground letting me know they are selling the exact same package they sent to the farm - Uke, Book, and CD as a set for $59 plus S&H. (It's the same set you see in this post's picture.) You can call them and have music delivered to your door at (800)752-2656.
More every week on my summertime adventures with this new little friend. And good luck to those of you willing to strum along with me across the internet!