Why the ukulele?

You might be wondering… why the ukulele? Why not play the guitar? Why do you love this thing so much?

There are a million reasons; and I’m limiting myself to a thousand words.

I had a guitar about a decade ago. I took a handful of lessons. I wanted to learn to play but just couldn’t get into it. Then the instrument itself ended up with bad memories wrapped around it… and well, if you read my previous post about love languages, you know that I’m an acts of service person; and I just don’t want items with bad memories around me.

A long time before Grace Vanderwaal became a star I started thinking, for some reason, that I would like a uke. Ingrid Michaelson plays one. Train uses one in some of their songs. It just seems like something smaller than a guitar and… well… maybe it’s time.

I mentioned in passing to my husband that I might like one for my birthday.

He created a monster. 🙂

Ever since it came in the mail (and for some reason I named that first one “Bob”) I played it every day. I watched YouTube videos on how to strum. I already knew chords from playing the piano as a kid, and I did my best to apply that to songs.

I wrote down lyrics and chords to my favorite songs. I started to learn them by heart. I played all the time. I couldn’t wait to get home from work to hang out with Bob.

I brought it on trips with me. (If you’re careful, a ukulele case can fit easily into the overhead bin of an airplane.) It went to Las Vegas, Alabama, and Key West. I brought it on cruises.

Suddenly I started getting dragged up on stages. A lead singer would see me with it on my back and say, “Hey, can you play that thing?” and then pull me up on stage to play. I played on stage on various cruise ships and at various bars, though completely accidentally, wherever I went.

Some of these things I’ve mentioned before. The point of this whole story, though, was this:

Why the ukulele?

– Four strings, instead of six, makes it a little easier to learn.
– It’s much smaller than a standard guitar, so it’s lighter and easier to tackle. (I’m kind of short.)
– It’s a lot easier to travel with. People don’t look twice at my carrying it around on airplanes and such.
– I love the way it sounds!

Today I’ve got a newer uke than Bob; the new one is electric, and I’ve aptly named it “Rick.” I’ve plugged it in a couple times I’ve been dragged on stage, and I’ve also plugged it in at a couple open mics. It’s nice to be able to adjust the sound just the way I want it. More recently, I’ve been (slowly) learning how to use Garage Band, and I’ve been plugging my uke directly into my computer.

If you have the opportunity to get a ukulele, you should do it. You can get into it easily without spending a whole bunch of money. Here’s a link to Rick on Amazon.

Keep making music, and your heart will soar.

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About Susan Pitman

Susan is an artist who grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Texas. She writes songs, short stories, and books. You can follow @susanpitman143 on Twitter.

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