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Thread: Ukulele Business Still Booming: Good News

  1. #11

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    Lest people get too discouraged about the ukulele being for the old folks in the crowd (a group to which I belong), my wife and I saw the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain yesterday for the second time, this time in Lincoln, NE. Before the performance there was a short lecture by someone active in the local ukulele scene, and he mentioned that he'd recently visited an elementary school for a workshop. There were 400 kids in the auditorium, and he asked how many had an ukulele in the house. Fully half raised their hands. There's hope for the future! Incidentally, the concert was fantastic.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    Canberra, Australia
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    Back in the 70s when I was growing up the music stores here in Australia didn't carry ukes and the only ones I saw were really bad unplayable Chinese ukulele shaped objects in discount stores. When I was working as a clown in the early 80s I found a slightly battered nice uke missing a tuning peg at a goodwill store and got a second hand guitar tuning peg on it and got playing.
    A bit later the music stores brought in the actually playable Chinese made Mahalo branded ukes. The one I bought for my son is actually made of a stiff cardboard/ fibreboard and has reasonable action, intonation and geared tuners. A few of the schools round here have also replaced the recorder with the uke.
    As an aside I was looking at cheap ukes in the shops the other day and noticed that they were made of ply on the inside rather than fibreboard. I guess either ply is now cheaper or the people doing the ordering got fussy. I am not quite sure how they are getting the surface so smooth though. They might have fibreboard or paper on the outside.
    My friends call me Titch. I have been known to clown.
    Ian Titulaer is my normie name.

    https://sites.google.com/site/titchtheclown/

  3. #13
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    Feb 2019
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    Here in Hawaii 'ukulele playing is common in all age groups and is far from just being a senior thing. People understand you need to do something in your spare time beyond diddling your dad burn iPhone. I still see teens walking around town or hanging at the beaching strumming an 'ukulele!

  4. #14
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    Apr 2017
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    Quote Originally Posted by sequoia View Post
    I agree that the uke groups that I've seen and played with tend to be older and even elderly. One time I thought a guy died mid song but he only fell asleep. On a more cheerful note, I've sold some fairly high end ukuleles to parents for their kids. The kids really respond and seem to love them. One 8 year old girl has gotten quite good actually. Also here in Northern California, many schools use the ukulele in their music classes because of its affordability and portability. When I was a kid we were required to learn on the recorder flute which everyone hated and who still plays the recorder?
    It’s interesting to me how social trends diverge in the ‘English’ speaking World. At the end of the day the members here comment on how they find things around them and that’s good. From what I generally read I detect that playing music and music education is more valued in the USA than it is in the U.K. In the U.K. we are loosing our music shops and whilst some trade goes on-line (instead of local) the customer base is shrinking too. Whilst there are exceptions live music making does appear to be in decline and focused towards older generations - that’s my experience here in the U.K.

    Where does the Uke fit into that social trend? A small percentage of schools in the U.K. do use the Uke in music teaching, that’s at Primary School level and maybe as a replacement for Recorders. Both instruments have their merits and drawbacks, the Recorder is played by quite a few older folk in the U.K. but it isn’t as popular as the Uke. At Secondary School very few pupils now choose to take Music as one of their examined subjects, few study it past say thirteen (I believe it stops being compulsory at that age) and school music departments are funded accordingly. I digress here but whilst there are many valid reasons for young folk to avoid taking music as an examined subject i think that it should be offered as an ‘enrichment’ topic instead. Maybe there are a few capable young players but I’ve never come across any near me, and I’ve also never seen anyone ‘hang-out’ with their friends playing Uke - or anything else - in a public place.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 04-15-2019 at 09:28 PM.

  5. #15
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    Oct 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Greenbag View Post
    ....The Uke club’s that I belong to have only a small percentage of members that are under retirement age in them....

    ....the music is typically made by older people and our days are numbered, and so it might be for the Uke too, in the longer term.....
    But how many of those older people were playing the ukulele in primary school? Very few would be my guess.

    One of the reasons so many older people play the uke is that it is relatively easy and inexpensive to take up, even for people who have little or no previous musical experience. It's perfectly possible that many of todays five year olds will be looking for new hobbies in their retirements (if they can ever afford to retire), maybe they'll all take up the uke.

    And for what it's worth, my 17 year old son plays both ukulele and guitar and so do many of his friends. They may not be getting together and singing "Five Foot Two", but they're still making music.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Greenbag View Post
    Whilst there are exceptions live music making does appear to be in decline and focused towards older generations - that’s my experience here in the U.K.
    I think it might depend very much on the area you experience. Recently I played an open mic in Norwich UK (population 130,000), and pretty much the whole audience was aged under 40, and most of the musicians under 30. A dozen performers, 10 guitars two ukes.

    I also played in a pub in a rural Suffolk village, 80% of the audience 60+ and most musicians 40+, all guitars except me. And in my local small town (population 15,000) the audience averaged around 40 years old, again the performers were all guitar players except me.

    I'd say those numbers pretty accurately reflect the local populations - cities younger than towns, younger than villages.

    From observation, I'd say the current popularity of ukuleles is not about performance, but about private satisfaction (playing at home) and social gatherings (uke groups playing together for group satisfaction, not as a public performance). Which is no bad thing either.

  7. #17
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    Interesting observations from all.
    Here in NZ there are a whole lot of community groups which meet regularly. They're mostly old folks like me trying to enjoy one final musical experience before dementia, arthritis and cataracts take their toll. However, with the advent of cheap Chinese ukuleles, most schools have moved from the recorder to the ukulele. Kids love it because now they can sing as well as play and it fits neatly into the Maori/Polynesian style of music making which is strong here.
    You don't see many top of the range overseas brands in NZ (Kala is dominant) but there are a few very good local uke makers who produce creditable instruments.
    Miguel

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    I think it's taken some time to get over the Tiny Tim phenomena.

    The good thing I see is that the public perception of the ukulele seems to be moving away from that of a novelty, and toward being just another musical instrument.

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