Are ukulele players more dedicated?

RafterGirl

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One of the instructors at a uke fest: "Get twenty ukuleles together, and you have a party,. Get twenty guitar players together, and you have a fight." :D

This made me laugh. I’m in Florida for TBUG & a family visit. Hundreds of uke players from all over the US, Canada, and even Australia doing workshops and playing together. Jamming together until 2am. A huge ukulele love fest.
 

Peter Frary

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Another aspect to be considered is that the ukulele community's goals are less lofty. Many people here are completely content with strumming cowboy chords and singing, and they don't seem to have any aspirations to move up the neck. Most guitarists I know have the rather more difficult goal of mastering their entire fret board. The harder goal perhaps sets the stage for higher attrition.

I have noticed that trend on the mainland. Hawaii ukulele players tend to be a bit more technical and are often the soloist in club bands, doing the job of the lead guitarist with fills and burning licks. Plus, all the studios, schools and local ukulele competitions encourage development of soloistic, often flashy technique.
 

Kenn2018

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I recently read and heard that guitar sales are declining significantly. Companies, such as Gibson, are in financial trouble. And interest in learning to play guitar has been waning.

The most cited reason is that tastes in music have changed radically. A large part of the present-day youth and millennials look to Hip Hop and Rap music rather than rock and roll. Electronic music made on computers is also popular. Whether as the backing music or as the form itself. Guitar heroes are not as big a deal as they used to be.

The second factor for guitar's waning popularity was said to be the rapidly escalating prices for guitars. Especially entry-level instruments that sound good. (Though I think Asian mfgs may be changing that dynamic.)

Of course there are still Country Music fans, Folkies and Jazz lovers who want to be able to play the genres they love. And they will fuel the demand for guitars for some time to come. It just won't be as high as it once was.

'Cause the times, they are a-changin'...
 

mjh42

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When I asked my Harley riding buddy why he bought a Magic Fluke Flea instead of some other instrument..........he said, " Because it fits in my saddle bags." :)

He tried guitar, he tried mandolin, maybe some other instruments.....the Uke has stuck with him......

I'm three or so years into my own playing of the uke..........I'm having fun.......I'm learning......I'm playing tunes I want to play......gives me something to do that I enjoy during the long winters, I do play all year for sure.....

Tried a guitar when living over seas years ago....had no real resources or help so I did not follow up....have had access to guitars for 20years plus.....no real interest to grab one and play......

My wife is a life long musician.......kinda of a music snob at times.....she wanted me to take up cello........oh well......she usually puts up with my 4 stringer...she does like the sound of my Koaloha.....got kinda of angry when I bought the Godin.......she can pick them up any time really and out play me.....but the ukes are mine.....

If I stop I'll have to sell off my gear......but who wants to stop....happy to have found something I can play....with potential to improve as i put time and effort into it...

I think that part of it is the act of playing music......people want to be part of the music....not just a spectator......sure I can sing in my church or community choir.....maybe a community orchestra or band of some type, we have them here......we have a rich Scandinavian music and dance community as well as others I'm sure. Most folks are not making a living off the music....people want to play and play with others......If I can learn one instrument.....play it within the communities I want too....then I'll keep doing it....for some that's the uke.....for others the guitar....and so forth....I don't have to go pro to become the player I want to be....
 
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At a Saturday jam, Ukulenney was hosting a session. He asked the 50 or so participants
Who started playing a guitar?
Over 40 people raised their hands
Then he asked,
Who is still playing a guitar?
Maybe 1 person raised their hand.
And most of the people had been playing ukulele for more than 5 years
 

Kenn2018

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When I asked my Harley riding buddy why he bought a Magic Fluke Flea instead of some other instrument..........he said, " Because it fits in my saddle bags." :)

He tried guitar, he tried mandolin, maybe some other instruments.....the Uke has stuck with him......

I'm three or so years into my own playing of the uke..........I'm having fun.......I'm learning......I'm playing tunes I want to play......gives me something to do that I enjoy during the long winters, I do play all year for sure.....

Tried a guitar when living over seas years ago....had no real resources or help so I did not follow up....have had access to guitars for 20years plus.....no real interest to grab one and play......

My wife is a life long musician.......kinda of a music snob at times.....she wanted me to take up cello........oh well......she usually puts up with my 4 stringer...she does like the sound of my Koaloha.....got kinda of angry when I bought the Godin.......she can pick them up any time really and out play me.....but the ukes are mine.....

If I stop I'll have to sell off my gear......but who wants to stop....happy to have found something I can play....with potential to improve as i put time and effort into it...

I think that part of it is the act of playing music......people want to be part of the music....not just a spectator......sure I can sing in my church or community choir.....maybe a community orchestra or band of some type, we have them here......we have a rich Scandinavian music and dance community as well as others I'm sure. Most folks are not making a living off the music....people want to play and play with others......If I can learn one instrument.....play it within the communities I want too....then I'll keep doing it....for some that's the uke.....for others the guitar....and so forth....I don't have to go pro to become the player I want to be....

Have you shown your wife any of the James Hill & Anne Davison videos? Both are classically trained musicians. He has decided to concentrate on the Ukulele and she plays the standup base. Together. They have some albums out together as well. Perhaps that will help.
 

Rllink

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I think that part of it is the act of playing music......people want to be part of the music....not just a spectator......sure I can sing in my church or community choir.....maybe a community orchestra or band of some type, we have them here......we have a rich Scandinavian music and dance community as well as others I'm sure. Most folks are not making a living off the music....people want to play and play with others......If I can learn one instrument.....play it within the communities I want too....then I'll keep doing it....for some that's the uke.....for others the guitar....and so forth....I don't have to go pro to become the player I want to be....
This is true for me. The spring of 2014, when I first started playing the uke, our neighbor would have a fire out in their back yard on Friday night's and six or eight of us would get together there. People started wanting to sing sixties and seventies songs around the fire so I started bringing my ukulele to accompany them. It was great fun. Still is great fun. I would say that was a huge turning point in my ukulele journey. If not for that I probably would have lost interest in it a long time ago. But playing at those bon fires set in motion pretty much everything I do with the uke.
 

RafterGirl

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This is true for me. The spring of 2014, when I first started playing the uke, our neighbor would have a fire out in their back yard on Friday night's and six or eight of us would get together there. People started wanting to sing sixties and seventies songs around the fire so I started bringing my ukulele to accompany them. It was great fun. Still is great fun. I would say that was a huge turning point in my ukulele journey. If not for that I probably would have lost interest in it a long time ago. But playing at those bon fires set in motion pretty much everything I do with the uke.

This is similar to my ukulele path. I got one to take camping & learned the basics from YouTube. Then I found my local groups and a whole new world opened up. I found folks to play with, and teachers to learn from. I got up the courage to join the band at church, and I’m working being a better open mic performer. TBUG this past week was my first large scale uke festival, and it was so much fun. At the same time, I got to meet my 8 month old great niece in person for the first time. Nothing better than playing & singing for her.

Playing just for myself is cool. Playing along with others is cool. Playing for others is cool. I always feel like I’m making progress & having fun.
 
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To build on several points already raised, it is easier and cheaper to get into ukulele than most other instruments and once started you find a very welcoming and forgiving attitude toward beginners or those, like myself, who aren't great players. My perception is that with most other instruments you have reach a higher level of competency before you can participate in group play on a regular basis.

I've even found that in the local uke groups. I don't feel like I've progressed much and the local uke groups play things so far over my playing level that I kind of gave up. Found a guy who does great group lessons though, so let's see what happens. I don't want to just strum (I like bluegrass, country and things to fingerpick) so maybe that's why I have a harder time fitting in. For some weird reason I've found it really hard to get the strumming patterns people use. I'm getting all kinds of Travis picking down though
 

Rllink

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I've even found that in the local uke groups. I don't feel like I've progressed much and the local uke groups play things so far over my playing level that I kind of gave up. Found a guy who does great group lessons though, so let's see what happens. I don't want to just strum (I like bluegrass, country and things to fingerpick) so maybe that's why I have a harder time fitting in. For some weird reason I've found it really hard to get the strumming patterns people use. I'm getting all kinds of Travis picking down though

For several years I said that I didn't want to do a strum-a-long group, but then I got invited to do one of their performances at a senior center by a friend and I was hooked. I like the weekly get togethers fine and I've learned a lot about keeping time. Also I don't just strum along with everyone else. There are always little bridges and intros to learn. Not everyone does those. Some people fingerpick the tunes while the others strum. Some play bass. Not everyone has to be doing the exact same thing, in fact it comes out better if everyone doesn't. But one of the groups has a travelling team and I enjoy that a lot. There is a half dozen to a dozen who travel around doing little performances at senior centers, farmer's markets and the like. It is a fun group. We joke around a lot. The leader has a great presence and makes it fun. That is what attracts me the most and keeps me coming back each week. Plus I just like talking about ukuleles to like minded people.

Also we have smaller groups that get together less formally outside the regular weekly meets, not every week. They are fun as well. I would suggest that you find people in your group that are at a similar level who like to play a similar kind of music and get together.
 

Jerryc41

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...the local uke groups play things so far over my playing level that I kind of gave up.

I know what you mean. My very local group will pick a song with a dozen or more chords. We'll play it badly, talk about it, and play it once or twice more. Not much fun in that.
 

Nickie

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Raftergirl, I'm so glad you made it to TBUG. That was our only festival for several years. Now, we also have Uko-de-Mayo, World Ukulele Day, Uke It Out, and Uka-Palooza. TBUG is still the biggest, although WUD 2019 hosted upwards of 300 people.
TBUS has several jam sessions each month, and several open mics. I think we actually have about 1,000 members, although Meetup and Fakebook show way bigger numbers.
Being able to go to something and play with others creates momentum. People stick with it.

I think I've persisted because, unlike my other instruments, I learned enough with the uke to start an ensemble, which has become fairly successful playing for old folks. Then, last year, I started another group that plays in the Shriner's Childrens hospital, and plays for individual hospice patients as assigned by the nurses. There are at least 4 other pretty decent ukulele ensembles here now.

I've met 2 people who quit playing ukulele, that's it. I've met bunches of people who sold their guitars.
I think I have taught at least 100 rank beginners how to play 5 chords, strum in unison with a group, and then show the desire to continue. Lots of them show up at TBUG!
 

jer

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^ A thousand members? Wow. I didn't know any uke group had that many people. Very cool!
It sounds like you've played a big role there. Nice!
 

70sSanO

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For decades the guitar was the dominant instrument and formed the base for most popular music regardless of genre. I think that status has diminished some as music tastes, Rap, Hip Hop, ??? has become more popular. Regardless of what Fender says, I don’t think the guitar is as popular as it once was.

As to whether the ukulele will retain more players, I think a lot has to do with the age demographics playing the instrument. I would think that there are fewer young people, teenagers, taking up the ukulele than there are adults. I’m not involved in too many uke groups, but the ones I’ve gone to are not exactly playing the latest cutting edge music.

Put a relatively easy to play instrument in a non-competitive environment (in a large group you don’t even have to play all the chords) and play generational familiar music and you can’t miss. Playing in a uke group is nothing like playing in a bluegrass group. I’m not saying there are not extremely talented ukulele musicians who can master the most complex techniques, but for the masses, the ukulele is about the perfect instrument to learn and stick with.

John
 

Peter Frary

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That's interesting the ukulele is attractive to older folk on the mainland. Here in Hawaii the ukulele is played by pretty much all ages from elementary school kids to retired seniors. It's not unusual to see teens playing ukulele while walking down the sidewalk. Plus, it's integrated into DOE curriculum and there are ukulele teaching studios galore. Is it more popular than guitar here? I don't know but enrollment numbers in my guitar courses is about the same as the ukulele so it's pretty even at the college level. Across the UH system, the most popular music performance classes are usually piano, not voice, guitar or ukulele.
 

ampeep

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Guitars are definitely harder for beginners to play. Believe that's one reason.

Ukulele groups tend to have a wide range of abilities, from total beginners to those that are pretty good. With groups having several different instruments, (guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, steel guitar) the level of proficiency is much greater. The fact that ukulele groups tend to be more welcoming probably contributes to the popularity of ukuleles.
 

kkimura

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I've even found that in the local uke groups. I don't feel like I've progressed much and the local uke groups play things so far over my playing level that I kind of gave up. Found a guy who does great group lessons though, so let's see what happens. I don't want to just strum (I like bluegrass, country and things to fingerpick) so maybe that's why I have a harder time fitting in. For some weird reason I've found it really hard to get the strumming patterns people use. I'm getting all kinds of Travis picking down though

I know what you're saying, when I first started with the local uke group everything was over my head. I spent a lot of time fingering chords without strumming to learn without disrupting the group. Now five years later there's still stuff that I struggle with but hopefully I'm blending in better than before.
 
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