View Full Version : this is what inspired me to take up the uke

Al Davison
11-07-2016, 01:07 PM
Carrie Rodriguez - Seven Angels on a Bicycle

She's actually playing a Mandobird but I thought it was a uke so, I wanted a uke from then on. ;)

11-07-2016, 01:20 PM
I heard Humoresque Op. 101, No.7 played fingerstyle on a soprano. The guitar and banjo were feeling a little stale and that instrument had a sweet and pure sound that I could not resist. I am glad that I came across that performance. I have never found that one since, but it is still my inspiration. I have had plenty of inspiration since. The most inspiring thing now is playing it and enjoying the sound coming from it.

11-08-2016, 05:07 AM
Not much inspiration I guess. I am surprised that there not floods of stories.

I am inspired over and over again. So many great players and styles. I spend a lot of time in the Czech Republic, so hearing one of their great compositions, (see above), played beautifully on an instrument that I hadn't really thought of in a serious way was inspirational to me, but it definitely did not end there. It is such a joyful instrument that is suited to a great variety of music.

11-08-2016, 06:01 AM
Why not.

What inspired me was playing guitar from a teen to my early 30's I figured everyone and their brother, sister, mother and daughter played guitar. It was time for something different. Plus the ureka moments had gone with the styles I play.

Now a few days short of 38 I have the ureka moments back well at least for the right hand, claw hammer etc.

Now my story is 99% ukulele 1% guitar playing in the year. The little instrument has truly taken over and recieves daily play.

11-08-2016, 07:19 AM
Got one for Christmas

11-08-2016, 07:43 AM
I had been a long time guitar player, wanting to branch out on a different acoustic instrument. One day, I came across a YouTube video of Joe Brown playing "I'll See You in My Dreams" on a ukulele during the Concert for George (Harrison) after he passed away. It was so touching that I had to learn that song on the ukulele.

If you haven't see that YouTube clip, you gotta go see it.

11-08-2016, 07:47 AM
After playing guitar for almost 50 years, about 3 1/2 years ago I was leafing through a Musicians Friend catalogue and came across a ukulele that looked like my Fender Telecaster guitar. The uke was only $60 so I bought it to just hang next to the guitar for fun. A couple of weeks later I received a post card from the Los Angeles Music Center for their summer play-along series that I've attended for guitar, but this time it was for ukulele. Since I had a uke, I decided to sign up and got online to learn the basics.

The play-alongs had about 300 attending and it was so much fun, I actually joined two uke groups within a week. After a year I had to drop out of one, but going strong playing bass uke with the other. BTW, I haven't touched my guitars since taking up the uke.

11-08-2016, 07:55 AM
There was no performance or artist that triggered my desire to take up the ukulele. I had turned forty, took a hard look at my life, and decided to add some depth and width to it: learning a musical instrument. I ruled out everything that was electrical (wanted to get away from computers, the need for power outlets, and so on), and wanted something that was minimalist/portable and affordable. I liked the sound of stringed instruments, but didn't want something as serious (and potentially disruptive) as a violin, or metal-stringed like a mandolin (these also didn't look affordable, though I didn't expect to spend as much on the ukulele hobby as I eventually did), so I went with the ukulele.

Joyful Uke
11-08-2016, 09:01 AM
I had been a long time guitar player, wanting to branch out on a different acoustic instrument. One day, I came across a YouTube video of Joe Brown playing "I'll See You in My Dreams" on a ukulele during the Concert for George (Harrison) after he passed away. It was so touching that I had to learn that song on the ukulele.

If you haven't see that YouTube clip, you gotta go see it.

While that wasn't what started me playing ukulele, I've got to agree. It's a very touching tribute to George, and well worth taking a listen.

Joyful Uke
11-08-2016, 09:05 AM
I was looking for a distraction while my dad's health was failing. One friend in particular kept talking about ukulele, so I decided to give it a try, with the goal of just strumming a little bit daily as a distraction.

What got me really trying to do more than that was, probably like many here, discovering what Jake was doing with a ukulele. Not that I'll ever reach anything close to that in ability, but it sure moved me beyond just a bit of casual strumming, (or at least trying to move beyond that.)

Croaky Keith
11-08-2016, 10:50 AM
My inspiration was retirement. :)

11-08-2016, 11:57 AM
About five years ago, as mother nature welcomed my wife and I deeper and deeper into the "Golden Years", we finally admitted to ourselves that we would never achieve any of our goals with guitars. While watching PBS one night we saw a group of ukulele players of both genders and all ages on a world wide tour. The thing that really got our attention was the smiles and the pure joy on their faces as they performed. The music and the experience was truly uplifting. We agreed that this was our "Eureka" moment and soon after, ordered two Kala baris, pulled up Ukulele Mike on You tube, and and became totally addicted. Over the these last few years we have enjoyed building our 4 song books of several hundred oldies, and built up our small stable of excellent baritones, tenors, and even a banjolele. Our daily afternoon jam is the highlight of our day. I can't imagine what our lives would be like now without our little friends to "sing" to us.

11-08-2016, 07:02 PM
(asked and answered here on UU previously :))

35+ yrs of playing all kinds of instruments, starting with violin, drums, piano, electric guitar, acoustic, classical guitar, electric bass, upright bass, tenor sax, trumpet, bugle, harmonica, either in school, in private lessons, or on my own, and in bands, ensembles and practice groups...all along the way...

then soon after hurricane Sandy, and 3 weeks with no power, and only playing my classical guitar by day and listening to NPR by night, when the power, phones and internet came back, I found myself on YouTube and indulged in the following videos:

1. James Hill live performance of 'Billie Jean', and a dozen or so other videos he did

2. Jake Shimabukuro's TED Talk w/ 'Bohemian Rhapsody', then his original 'Weeps' vid in Central Park, NYC

3. John King's YT vids of classical songs on his NaluMusic channel

all combined got me to dig out of the closet the old Harmony baritone that my grandfather (passed away in 2010) gave me when they moved to Florida back in 2003.

I looked online how to tune it, etc, and many questions, all kept bringing me to this forum. From there has been a steady flow of OCD about all things ukulele.

11-10-2016, 06:00 AM
I was inspired by having the flu.

11-10-2016, 06:16 AM
Jake playing "Bohemian Rhapsody" came across my Facebook page. I was stunned. The next day I was at Guitar Center knowing absolutely nothing, buying a Luna Tattoo concert uke. I was in a moderate depression that had lasted for a year or more. Ukulele lifted the depression. The combination of making music myself, progress in learning, a large available repertoire of music from when I was a kid, and the pleasant sound of the uke itself all sucked me in. I hadn't played an instrument since I was 12. I did try to make a few chords on my son's guitar but that went nowhere. Yet now at age 60 I was playing and singing and feeling happy. What a gift! That was four years ago and I'm still a happy player.

Al Davison
11-10-2016, 03:47 PM
Well, I started this with my brief story about Carrie - it's true but...
The rest of the story is that I was a mediocre guitar player for about 25 years. Never once felt like a musician - just a solid "mechanical" player. I sorta quit cold turkey when I realized that I just wasn't enjoying it any more.
I took up hand percussion - congas, bongos, bells, shakers, tambourine, etc. on a lark. It turned out that I was actually a very good percussionist and finally felt like I was actually a musician. I played for more than 10 years - not much any more. The problem with percussion is that it's almost no fun unless you have a full band to play with and I just got tired of that scene.
So, I played nothing at all for a few years...
When I got inspired to try the uke, I discovered that I loved it! And, best of all, I really enjoy just playing by myself.
I prefer to play with others but only casually. The joy of making music without any performance goals or any requirement to be in a band has really brought out the best in my enjoyment of playing music again.
Now, I play music just because...
(Full disclosure: I also bought a guitar because some songs just sound better on it and it's a fun challenge to go back-and-forth. I rarely play it, though. And, my buddy roped me into playing clave' and bell in his salsa band one Wednesday per month with no rehearsals. That's kinda fun but, I'd rather be playing uke.)

11-11-2016, 02:08 AM
On a cold snowy Sunday afternoon in March of 2014 I was flipping channels and stumbled upon "The Mighty Uke". I was gobsmacked by the sounds James Hill and Jake were making.......this was NOT the Tiny Tim sound I associated with the uke. I bought one and did a local group lesson with in a week of seeing that documentary. I joined three local uke jams and the rest, as they say, is history.

I have made many new friends including a lot people right here. I love the fact that I can now make music. Friends and neighbors enjoy hearing me play and I am asked to bring the uke to cottages and camping trips. It has brought a huge amount of pleasure to me and helped to broaden my circle and enrich my life

11-11-2016, 03:01 AM
I played guitar since I was a teen, and added banjo and mandolin when I was an adult. About 7 years ago, I was in a music shop in Southern California and they had a big display of ukes. I didn't know much about ukes, and I wondered if I could play one. I tried a few guitar chords and was surprised that they worked relatively well. I sat and noodled that uke for about an hour while my girlfriend tapped her foot (she hadn't come to California with me to watch me sit in a music store :)). I decided to buy it, and never looked back.

11-11-2016, 03:11 AM
I visited Hawaii and it changed my life.

I did a lot of music in high school and college, vocal and low brass. Then came grad school, a career, a child, then twins. Twins are awesome (and awesomely exhausting). When they turned four my in-laws took us to Maui. I bought a tenor uke. And then I got a soprano uke for my daughter. I know what it takes to be good at an instrument, so I started practicing every day. Then I bought a flea. Then came playing for the kids at church, followed by starting a uke club at my kids school, then praise band at church.

Ukulele brought music back into my life and gave me music that was portable and way more socially compatible than low brass. I've connected with my kids over it (they all play uke in addition to their violins/cello) and my kids friends (most of whom now play uke). I've got friends I make music with - and that is a gift for an engineer.

11-11-2016, 03:11 AM
George Harrison

11-11-2016, 03:32 AM
George Harrison

Favorite answer........ :music:

11-11-2016, 03:51 AM
Sometime ago, maybe 10 to 15 yrs ago I read an article in a magazine about Iz. Started my thinking about the ukulele. Also read that George Harrison was a Uke fan. About 5 or 6 years ago I started looking for ukulele videos online, especially jazz videos. Then I looked at various ukulele manufactures for entry level ukuleles, found out that Blues Angel Music a local music store carried a variety of ukuleles. Stopped by on a Friday was told to come back on Sat. Morning for a free beginners class. Came back took the class and stayed for the jam session with the local club and walked out of the store with my first ukulele. This was in September of 2013. Been in love with the Uke and Uke stuff ever since.

11-17-2016, 08:58 AM
I got to 35 and noticed I could not play any musical instrument. Took a couple of guitar classes at the local community college. 2 years later my wife and I went travelling for 6 months, including 4 months in Europe. Decided not to take the guitar - too bulky & awkward for travel on Eurailpass & no itinerary. A month later we walked into a music store in Salzburg & bought a Hohner uke for around $35.
Favorite uke memories from the trip:
1. On the ferry from France to Ireland, playing on deck while my wife sang. We met several folks who wandered by & stopped to listen. Later in the bar, several of us were sitting around sharing a loaf of French bread from a bakery in Le Havre, plus smoked salmon and a bottle of Irish Mist from duty-free. One Irish fellow spoke up and said, ". . .so this is the famous Irish hospitality, is it?"
2. Another bar in a camping resort in Cartagena, Spain, playing and singing Christmas carols on Christmas eve. My favorite was the 4-language version of Silent Night.

11-17-2016, 09:13 AM
awesome thread everyone!!! great answers.

I read an article about ukulele in a magazine, and I visited the hora factory in the summer and I have itchy fingers as regards buying instruments.

Also - my main instrument is accordion, and its not portable, PLUS I'm aware at some point in the future I won't be able to comfortably play the one I have. So another diddy instrument seemed to fit the bill. Never thought I would love it so much so quickly ...

11-18-2016, 02:23 AM
I once posted the story of how a horrible classical performance experience kept me from publicly performing for a long time, and how the ukulele helped me regain confidence in my musical ability.

What I didn't mention in that post was how I decided on the ukulele. At that time, 2008, I was really into webcomics. I'm modestly talented as a cartoonist, and always wanted to work artistically. So I was reading a lot of them, listening to podcasts, and picking up whatever books I could about the medium. One artist who I heard on a podcast was Scott Kurtz. Scott, who is a rather big man, said that it would be funny to see him play the ukulele. I think he was likening it to the effect of Chris Farley... "big man, tiny coat!"

The offhand mention made me laugh, and I started googling ukulele videos. It wasn't long until I came across artists like Jake Shimabukuro and John King. I realized that the ukulele was more than just a joke instrument. It was actually capable of being really expressive and beautifully played.

So I ordered one, using a gift certificate I had from amazon, and never really looked back.

11-18-2016, 04:46 AM
I started playing guitar when I was 13, picked up the bass at 17. In the years between now and then (I'm now 28 coming 29) I always felt frustrated at what I perceived at a lack of progress, and at times, a lack of enjoyment when learning. A few months back, I was with my wife in town and she needed to pop into a music shop to pick up some sheet music and I spied the ukuleles on the wall. I thought to myself, "Maybe it's worth trying to pick up a new instrument for something different."

So I got a £30 Mahalo Soprano uke, and found I was able to make quick progress on it. More than anything, I was enjoying it - I enjoyed playing it, I was even enjoying learning the theory side of things again. So I ended up upgrading to a concert Laka VUC50 and haven't looked back since.

11-18-2016, 07:09 AM
I bought a 5-string banjo as an addenda to my Antoria guitar (bought new in the early '70's) but never really got to grips with it. Was googling around one day and found reference to playing a ukulele in "claw-hammer" style ... the style I'd always wanted to achieve on the banjo.

Bought a ukulele, learnt claw-hammer, applied that to the banjo ... good to go :music:

Now I've got eight ukuleles, 10+ guitars, two mandolins, a couple of dulcimers and a scattering of other bits and pieces ... never should have bought that uke !!

11-18-2016, 09:05 AM
Now I've got eight ukuleles, 10+ guitars, two mandolins, a couple of dulcimers and a scattering of other bits and pieces ... never should have bought that uke !!

That is hilarious!! My post uke acquisitions; 5 more ukuleles, 4 guitars, and 2 madolins, and I'm contemplating a dulcimer?:confused:

What brought me to the uke was my son. He asked for a green uke and a fedora for his birthday 5 years ago. He didn't really get on with it much, but man did I! Then I saw Jake Shimabukuro's while my guitar gently weeps and the the rest is history!