Uke Moments - Your "Love at First Strum" First Encounter with the Ukulele

decaturcomp

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First video I made playing uke was Sept 15 2011 so about two years ago. I've made 327 more since then including a more recent version of this one which seems more sophisticated in some ways (for the horse racing season).
 

decaturcomp

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Great story!
Do you have any video?
Seems like you've posted some here, right?

For me, it was going into music stores with my BF who would be wanting to pick up some software or strings or whatever. Having failed miserably at a short attempt at learning guitar 30 years ago, I'd just wander around the store while he was getting his stuff...and once I ended up in from of the Lanikai ukulele display. "Hmmm," I said to myself and gently ran my finger over the strings. (For a wonder, the store seemed to have them all tuned up pretty well.) "Hmmm," I said again. "That sounds rather...nice." *strum* "And, hey, it doesn't hurt like guitar strings! It's...nice. Pretty! WANT!"

So my friend found me standing there gazing in rapture at the ukes. "Maybe I'll get one, they don't cost that much, and maybe I could actually learn to play it. I think they aren't supposed to be hard to play."

"Well, if you get one, don't get one of these, get a good one. Get a Kamaka or something."

So when I got home that day I went and googled Lanikai and Kamaka and found this site and learned about setups before the week was over I'd ordered my first Kala from HMS.

I still can't really PLAY, not in front of people, but I keep at it and it makes me happy every time I pick one up.
 

decaturcomp

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Great story! I'm glad this happened.
Personally, I don't know if I'll ever be able to sell my main guitar the way you did but I do play uke as almost my only instrument for the last couple of years.

Great thread.... I think I shared before..but I played guitar for over thirty years, and my husband liked to sing with me sometimes...so I saw a performance of Jake online and couldn't believe what one could do with the uke...and I decided to buyt a uke for my husband for Christmas as a surprise, because I thought it would be so wonderful if he learned the uke so we could sing and play together.... When it arrived, my husband was not that interested, so I picked it up to try and learn something and encourage him...After a few days, I was hooked and fell completely in love with the uke... I also discovered that I could play the uke for hours and not get back aches. (Due to a bad back, I was finding it always increasingly difficult to play the guitar without back and shoulder pain).. Anyway, eventually I sold my guitar and never looked back.....and my husband and I still sing together, but now it's with the uke instead of the guitar...
 

decaturcomp

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...and, that's a good point.
I don't care about becoming a virtuoso but I LOVE playing music with other folks. In my case I play a uke with folks on other instruments a good portion of the time.
I suppose I think of the Seasons as a major part of social playing, too although we don't actually meet IRL all that often.

WRT to The Mighty Uke - no complaints about the movie, it's great. But I saw it about a year into my uke journey, and I noticed something about it. The movie seemed to focus on two aspects of uking - virtuosos and the social element. I am no virtuoso, and don't play with other people, for the most part, but play frequently for myself and make recordings.

So there is more to the uke as a musical enabler than was shown in the film, but it would be a pretty boring moving showing guys sitting in chairs in their office . . . .
 

decaturcomp

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Not surprised you're a pro, Doc. I always expected as much!

I have played music since I was about five or six years old, with the piano as my main instrument. I also play tuba, diatonic accordion and guitar, as well as the ukulele. I got a ukulele in my early teens, and treated it as a toy, and when I was 19, in 1983, I moved away from home to study. Then I quite simply forgot about the ukulele. I studied Music, English and Drama, got an MA in Music, and went on with my work as a jazz/blues/folk pianist - which I still do. I have had an interesting career so far, but the uke was nowhere in my musical world.
Then, in 2011, that film you've been talking about was shown on Norwegian TV. I suddenly realized that I had indeed myself at one time played the uke, and that I'd forgotten all about the very existence of the instrument. I ordered a cheap soprano, and was stunned by the sound and feel. I started watching ukulele videos on youtube, and discovered this web site and forum right here. It's a very beautiful thing. But the film - 'The Mighty Uke' - was my turning point. Believe me, I will NEVER forget about the ukulele again, if I can help it.
 

Gumby Ya Ya

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I would occasionally buy myself a new instrument when I had enough money, of course gas as opposed to uas. Then for my birthday, the first one sober in long, long time, I had gas bad, and all I had money for was a small instrument, aha I've seen ukes for around $30. I soon found out that's more for cheap toyish ukes, but I was able to spend around 70 for a decent uke - just about the only uke I could find in Mpls at the time. Then hooking up StrumMN and playing at Lake Como watching others smile as they walked by, then playing at a wedding, able to make the bride's dream come true w/ Iz's Over the Rainbow.
 

Peterjens

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Never laid hands on a musical instrument.
Retired at 59 and wifey told me I need to exercise my brain or dementia might set in.
Hanging out by the pool on The Big Island in April 2013 and heard the sweet sound of ukulele being strummed.
Only four strings? - Hmmm, I can do that.
My brain is out of its comfort zone but there is hope.
But importantly, my soul is being fed.
 

bunnyf

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For me, it really was love at first strum. I have always loved music, but had no success with any instruments that I tried over the years. My husband was in bands in the 70s,doing gigs when he was in his 20s and could always grab a guitar and play a little something (even though he was a bass player). About 10 years back, on a whim, don't know where the idea came from, but I got him a Lanikai baritone uke for his b'day, thinking..hey, it's portable, affordable, guitar-like..he'll have some fun with it. Well...not so much so, he just wasn't very interested(granted we were busy with work and six kids). Any way, I retired a couple of years ago and somehow, even though we downsized and got rid of most of our stuff when we moved from NJ to FL, I somehow managed to hang onto that uke (it didn't even have a case..what was I thinking?). It must have been meant to be.
So I break out the uke after we were settled here and try to get my hubby interested in it now that he has free time. We had seen the movie "Sideways" and heard the song by Citizen Cope and he said "That would be a good one to learn to play." So now I was on a mission. At that time, I barely knew how to turn on a computer and knew next to nothing about stringed instruments. Somehow though, I managed to blunder my way onto a website and got the uke chords (now, I can't understand what was so difficult, but at the time, I really had NO idea how computers worked). I hand-copied the words and chords out and even drew chord diagrams (didn't know how a printer worked either). Guess what? He wasn't really all that interested in checking it out. So, there I was with my stuff neatly written out on a legal pad for nothing. I looked at those little chord diagrams and I thought "what the heck, I think I might be able to do this, after all there's only 4 simple chords and the song is real slow..let me give it a go" And you know what? I wasn't half bad. It surprisingly sounded quite a bit like the tune and I could play and sing (my playing was actually better than my singing). I couldn't wait to look up some more songs and the love affair continues. I play every day for a few hours for the past 2 years, and while I am not good, I get a world of pleasure out of playing my uke. I guess I was lucky that my husband didn't just grab up that sheet music and go to town. I might have left him to his own devices and never have discovered for myself the joy of the uke.
 

myrnaukelele

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Well...I play the ukulele because way back in 1980(?) a friend mentioned that if I mixed all the letters of my name around it spelled Myrna Ukelele. Really. My user name is an anagram for my real name. (And those of you who keep correcting my spelling by putting in two Us are just wrong lol! I spell it the way I spell it because it's an anagram and I only have one U in my name :eek:). Anyway, I was in my 20s and just starting to play guitar and bass in bands and at festivals. Voila! The perfect stage name. But how could I have a stage name like Myrna Ukelele and not play the ukulele? So I picked up an old Silvertone and some May Singhi Breen uke books (no one played ukulele back then and the internet was not really around yet). I taught myself old standards -Ukulele Lady, Tiptoe Through the Tulips, 5'2, etc. I'd start or end my solo shows with uke tunes but I'd mostly play guitar. That was about the extent of my uke playing for many years- just for fun and always a soprano tuned ADF#G. Fast forward to 2010. I'd wanted a tenor guitar for awhile. I ended up accidentally buying a Favilla baritone uke instead. One strum of this beautiful uke and I was hooked. I couldn't stop strumming it. And there was internet now!! All sorts of sites with ukulele info/chords/songs/other people who played ukulele!!! I found UU and contracted a case of UAS and started buying ukes like crazy. Realizing that everyone else played in GCEA opened up a whole new world. My poor guitar now sits lonely in its case because I can't stop playing my ukuleles.
 

iamesperambient

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Okay, Lily, UkeyDave, and Ginny encouraged me to start this thread, which grew out of Season 88 (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?87582-Season-88-of-the-Ukulele-Forget-What-You-Know!/page5).

I said, "I started playing uke only on August 31st, 7 weeks ago. Except for a very brief flirtation many years ago with a too-hard-to-play guitar (which remains against my wall, unplayed, to this day), and an even briefer one with a Strumstick, I have never played a stringed instrument before. For some reason, this was the right instrument at the right time. Loving it. Having fun. Learning as fast as I can."

Lily (ukuLily Mars) replied, "I love that you say the 'uke was "the right instrument at the right time." I think that's true for many of us."

And I shared my "origin story" and said, "Now I think we need a new thread for people's first 'uke moments'."

Then everyone said, "Do it!" And now I have.

Please share yours!

- Wendy of Uke Can 2!

I started playing guitar when i was 14 (im almost 32 now)
than around 15 i got a bass. I played in various bands on guitar
or bass and tried my hands in different genres. The guitar never full spoke to me
as an instrument it just seemed so ordinary.

Than one day about 10 years ago i heard the magnetic fields
and heard ukulele fully for the first time and i knew what instrument
it was but never knew the uke could be used in indie rock in such a
unique way. I quickly went out and bought a ukulele and picked up
the chords (the basics) over night. I obsessively played for years
and finally got myself a martin soprano ukulele. I ended up selling my martin
in a time of need and quickly regretted it and still do to this day. Anyway
i got upset and ended up getting a baritone electric guitar and played in a doom
metal band, than that stopped and i started making ambient music using the baritone
guitar. I had been making that music for years and still do, but recently one day i said
'screw this guitar crap i want to go back to playing an instrument i feel comfortable with"
so i sold my guitar and bought a les paul uke, and 2 other sopranos. Now i have my baritone
konablaster and I'm planning on getting a tenor, and acoustic baritone (and a bunch of others)
UAS to the max!

Anyway no plans on looking back on guitar in my opinion screw 6 strings 4 is where its at!
 
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Okay, Lily, UkeyDave, and Ginny encouraged me to start this thread, which grew out of Season 88 (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?87582-Season-88-of-the-Ukulele-Forget-What-You-Know!/page5).

I said, "I started playing uke only on August 31st, 7 weeks ago. Except for a very brief flirtation many years ago with a too-hard-to-play guitar (which remains against my wall, unplayed, to this day), and an even briefer one with a Strumstick, I have never played a stringed instrument before. For some reason, this was the right instrument at the right time. Loving it. Having fun. Learning as fast as I can."

Lily (ukuLily Mars) replied, "I love that you say the 'uke was "the right instrument at the right time." I think that's true for many of us."

And I shared my "origin story" and said, "Now I think we need a new thread for people's first 'uke moments'."

Then everyone said, "Do it!" And now I have.

Please share yours!

- Wendy of Uke Can 2!

First, what a great thread! And your rendition of Deed I Do is magical!

I don't know how I missed ukuleles for so long. I scrimped my earnings from a Saturday job and bought my first guitar at age 15, self taught myself a few chords on mostly four strings and managed to muddle along like that for years. But I didn't pick up a uke until forty years later when Mr Notgeorgeformby gave me a pineapple soprano as a present last Christmas. That proved too tricky to finger but something must have clicked because I recently upgraded to a tenor and that was my Love At First Strum moment. Given that I played guitar on four strings I don't know why it didn't occur to me sooner to go for a four stringed instrument. Doh!
 

tainauke

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Great thread!

When I was 9-11 years old, my parents wanted me to learn an instrument. I wanted to learn the piano, but they wanted me to learn the guitar. So, I tried to learn the guitar. In 2 years, I must have changed 4 or 5 times teachers; my former teachers moved a lot. But one thing was consistent, they all wanted me to learn blues (which I don't like) and my mom forced me to learn Beatles songs because that's what she liked.
I wanted to learn REM or Nirvana songs (it was the early 90s), but persisted, hoping that someday I would learn something that I liked.

After 2 years of not at all enjoying myself, and "learning" things other people liked, I quit.

I never wanted to go back to music and believed it would always be the same way: people forcing you to learn things you don't care about, just because it's how they were taught. I felt discouraged; felt that I was no good for music and had no talent. Though I enjoyed music, I never tried to learn, until...

My boyfriend started to listen to a lot of hawaiian music with the ukulele on it, and then in France Iz's most popular song "Under the Rainbow" started to be played on the radio. I enjoyed this and thought that it didn't sound too difficult.
I searched the internet and fell in love with this instrument. It's small and unassuming, but with so much potential. I dove 2 feet into this beautiful musical world and haven't looked back since!
 

UkeCan1

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Add photos and video if you have them!

Decaturcomp made an excellent suggestion a while back, which I just added to the opening post, and hereby remind you of if you missed it:

I highly recommend adding photos and videos of your earliest days if you have them!

Loving the participation on this thread ... wish I had time to respond to you all. Really wonderful to hear all your joyful stories!

Thanks so much for playing,
Wendy
 

FiL

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I'm really enjoying this thread!

I think this is the earliest video of me on uke, warbling my way through Iz's big hit:


This was recorded in March 2009, during a break from a recording session with my former experimental band One Note Drone, which did not feature ukuleles at all.

And I'm pretty sure this is my first recording that included a uke, probably from early 2005:

https://soundcloud.com/fil-wisneski/04-i-cant-believe

The uke used was a $20 First Act soprano.

- FiL
 

Brian W

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What a great thread! My first musical instrument was a baritone ukulele that my grandfather gave to me on my 12th birthday back in 1981. This was a hand-me-down that he had purchased for himself back in the 1960's. He hadn't played it much in years and found out from my parents that I wanted to play the guitar. At the same time, my cousin also gave me her old, beat-up nylon stringed guitar. I used that guitar when I started taking lessons, but that was after about a year of playing the ukulele so I could better develop my left hand. I didn't play the uke much after that, since it wasn't "cool" to me like the guitar was. Fast forward 32 years, and my daughter, who is 6, was bugging me to play the guitar like me, but her hands are just too small to comfortably finger chords on the neck. So remembering my roots, and how I started, I thought a ukulele would be a great starter instrument. I went to a local music store here in Raleigh and started "fiddling" around with various brands and eventually purchased a Mitchell concert size, along with some music books, to get her started. We did lessons for a couple months, but being a typical 6 year old, has gone on to other things. I, on the other hand, couldn't stop playing it. I would play that uke EVERY night after she went to bed, and was shocked to discover how incredibly fun it is to play. It has been such a long time since I felt so charged-up and inspired to play music, but that is how I feel when I play the ukulele. In fact I rarely even play the guitar anymore. What I love most is its bright and happy tone (you really can't be mad when you play it), plus the short scale makes it easy to octave notes that are only 1 string apart (you cannot do that on the guitar). I have since then settled on a soprano size, mostly because I like the traditional feel, tone, and relaxed string tension; plus I can take it anywhere, since it is so small. It is the perfect musical companion when I travel.
 

peaceweaver3

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I read the thread title and went, "Awww!" immediately taken back to my first ever uke. It was a high school junior year graduation gift from me, to me for surviving what I still consider the worst year of my life. I'd gotten a guitar for my 16th birthday, but couldn't wrap either head or hands around... Ok, I have 4 fretting fingers and 4 strumming fingers, and 6 strings? Not happening. It never did click, though I play a piano with, count 'em, 88 keys? Mine is not to question why!

So I went looking for a smaller stringed instrument, but without much hope or belief in success. I don't know how I found it. But the uke was a Lehua concert from Pegasus Guitars. It came in the mail 2 days into summer vacation. I had no Internet at home then, but the package came with gig bag and pitch pipe, and before leaving school Bob Gleason had told me to tune GCEA. So I did. And immediately, without even trying, found a C chord.

I took that uke on a cruise to the Bahamas, planes to Europe, used it as part of my Senior Project, and went through college with her.

Then, the tuition bill came, and she went. I'm not ashamed to admit I cried boxing her up. Ever since then I've toyed with the idea of another Lehua. But what if it's just not as good? I guess I'll never know.

Maybe a journey of 1000 miles starts with... a single chord?

Thanks for the reminder!
 

peaceweaver3

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snipped.
The guitar never full spoke to me
as an instrument it just seemed so ordinary.

... I ended up selling my martin
in a time of need and quickly regretted it and still do to this day.

... recently one day i said
'screw this guitar crap i want to go back to playing an instrument i feel comfortable with"
... Anyway no plans on looking back on guitar in my opinion screw 6 strings 4 is where its at!

I feel the same way. Also, I perceive all instruments now as valuable, "worth it" if you will, etc. But the question I always ask if I'm considering one, is, "Is that a sound I can hear myself creating?" If the answer is no, I continue to appreciate the instrument and/or musician, but don't play it. The uke makes a sound I hear myself making, a sound that is mine.

I ask the same question though, even about ukes. I love all ukes! But I'm close to very few. There is A Sound that is mine. And if a uke doesn't make that sound, I still like it as a uke. But not My Uke.

Same goes for tunings, and songs for that matter!

<Steps down from soap box with thanks for your kind attention!>
 

janeray1940

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I was seven. Wanted a guitar but kid-size guitars were hard to come by in those days, so I got a uke. Carried that thing around everywhere until I moved overseas with my dad and could only bring one suitcase. When I returned to the U.S., I was a too-cool adolescent and abandoned uke completely, only to waste many years trying to play guitar, bass, and piano. And sing. Badly. Very, very badly, and when I realized it, I gave up on music entirely for many years.

Picked up the uke again in my mid-40s and that was my real love at first sight moment - I've learned more musicianship in 4 years on the uke than an entire childhood of music lessons!
 

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