Ukulele phase 🎶✨🏝
Today I want to share with you my excitement about the ukulele that appeared in my household 🤩.
If you want to know why and how it happened stay with me, and if you want to jump straight to the ukulele-themed playlist head to the links below:
This month, I ordered a ukulele as a birthday gift for my husband Tomek 🎁. For quite a long time I’ve been looking for something that will match the criteria of an easy-to-start hobby that doesn't involve a screen. Ukulele meets them perfectly. It’s small (can be put in a backpack), has fewer strings than a guitar (4 not 6), and the Internet is full of tutorials on how to play it.
After solid research, I’ve picked a concert ukulele that has a larger neck than the classic soprano one and serves well as a beginner instrument to a tall person with big hands (Tom is almost 2 meters). When the delivery came I couldn’t wait for the day of the opening. I was a bit nervous if Tomek would like this idea, and if he won’t get overwhelmed. Seeing his surprised face and immediate reaction to pluck the strings made me thrilled!
From the day one Tom started to learn the different chords, strumming patterns, finger positioning and how to hold the ukulele properly. He totally got the hang of it and now he’s playing the ukulele almost all the time. It’s such a magical instrument - even randomly plucked strings sound cheerful, give an ease and stimulate the brain 🧠✨.
After a couple of days, I decided to give it a try myself, and I got into it as well. I'm excited to see how much progress we can make and how good we can eventually get at playing it. For sure the learning process won't be totally easy, but it will definitely be worth it - we’re both up for the challenge. Thanks to the Yousician app we are practicing every day in a fun way. If you’re a beginner too and want to master the ukulele, guitar, piano, bass, or singing it’s a great thing to start with. 💯 recommend it!
Let me know if you ever played ukulele or another instrument? Are you self-taught or had a tutor? It would be great to hear your story!
▶️ History of ukulele
When we hear “ukulele” the first thought is usually “Hawaii”. But in fact, the ukulele originated in Portugal. This four-stringed instrument of the lute family became popular in Hawaii in the late 19th century. The first ukuleles were brought to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants in the 1880s. These early instruments were called "braguinhas" or "machete de braga", and were similar in size and shape to the modern-day ukulele.
The ukulele quickly gained popularity in Hawaii and became a staple of Hawaiian music. The word “ukulele” means "jumping flea" in Hawaiian and is said to have been given the name by King Kalakaua when he saw a performer playing the instrument and remarked that it looked like a flea jumping around the fretboard.
In the early 20th century, the ukulele became popular outside of Hawaii and was brought to the mainland United States by vaudeville performers and other entertainers. The ukulele became a popular instrument in American pop culture and was featured in many Hollywood films of the 1930s and 1940s (be sure to check out who George Formby was here), and later on. It was such a popular instrument that even Neil Armstrong was a player.
The fact worth mentioning is that George Harrison (from The Beatles) was absolutely crazy-skilled ukulele player:
The uke is now enjoyed by people all over the world 🌐.
▶️ Most famous ukulele players
Israel Kamakawiwoʻole was a Hawaiian singer, ukulele player, and musician. He is most famous for his cover of "Over the Rainbow", which became a massive hit after being featured in the film "Meet Joe Black".
Kamakawiwoʻole was born and raised in Hawaii on the island of Oahu, and his music often incorporated elements of traditional Hawaiian music, as well as reggae, jazz, and rock. He became one of the most popular musicians in Hawaii, and his album "Facing Future" became the best-selling album by a Hawaiian artist in history. Kamakawiwoʻole died in 1997 (he was only 38), but his music continues to be popular, and "Over the Rainbow" has been used in numerous films and television shows.
Jake Shimabukuro is a ukulele virtuoso and composer from Honolulu, Hawaii. He is known for his fast and complex finger work, as well as his use of extended techniques that include playing percussive and rhythmic elements on the instrument.
He has been playing the ukulele since he was four years old and was inspired by his mother, who was also a musician. Shimabukuro has released several solo albums, as well as collaborations with other artists, and has toured internationally. He has also appeared on television and in films, including the documentary "Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings" which chronicles his life and career.
I love this quote by him:
“The ukulele makes people happy. I don't know why but when people hear it or play it, they just seem to smile more. I tell people the ukulele is the instrument of peace, because you can’t be angry when strumming an ukulele.”
Taimane is a Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso, singer, and composer. She has been playing the ukulele since she was five years old and is self-taught. Taimane has been described as a "one-woman tornado" and a "force of nature". She is known for her energetic and theatrical stage performances, which often include acrobatics, fire-eating, and hula dancing. Her skills are mind-blowing 🤯
James Hill is a Canadian ukulele virtuoso, composer, and educator. He is considered one of the world's foremost ukulele players and has been instrumental in promoting the instrument through his innovative playing style and composition. According to “Songlines” magazine he "gives the ukulele its dignity back without ever taking himself too seriously". You can check out his bio here.
Next to those ukulele stars, there are plenty of famous musicians that play it really well, like Eddie Vedder, Train…
…Gary Oldman, Dave Grohl, or Taylor Swift.
Eddie Vedder is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. He is best known as the lead vocalist, one of three guitarists, and the primary lyricist of the legendary rock band Pearl Jam. Vedder first gained public attention as a musician after the release of Temple of the Dog's only album in 1991. He is also famous for his work as a solo artist, and his contributions to the soundtracks of films, like “Into the Wild” (2007).
Not many people are aware that Eddie Vedder is also a great ukulele player. His second solo album, “Ukulele Songs” was released in May 2011, and is proof of that skill. Check out his performance of the song “Without You” at David Letterman’s show.
▶️ Bunch of my fave ukulele songs
Today’s playlist is full of them, but I would like to name the first couple of them and tell you why they’re special to me.
“La Vie En Rose” by Cristin Milioti
“La Vie En Rose” is a song very close to my heart. I love it in almost every version, but my favorites are by Madeleine Peyroux, Daniela Andrade (this one was the song of my wedding dance in 2019 ✨), and… Cristin Milioti from the “How I Met Your Mother” series.
“You and I” by Ingrid Michaelson
Ingrid Michaelson is an American singer and songwriter. Her work has been featured in a number of films and television shows, including “Grey's Anatomy”, “One Tree Hill”, and “Scrubs”.
I stumbled upon “You and I” by accident on YouTube many years ago. And ever since it became one of my all-time favorite songs ever, with the cutest and funniest lyrics about love 💖
“Don't you worry, there my honey
We might not have any money
But we've got our love to pay the bills
Maybe I think you're cute and funny,
Maybe I wanna do what bunnies do with you,
If you know what I mean”
“Living on the island” by Julia Pietrucha
My fellow countrywoman 🇵🇱, actress, singer, and musician, recorded it when traveling on the beautiful Bali island. This one and other songs from the “Parsley” album, were the soundtrack to my trip to Sardinia a couple of years ago. I consider it pure magic ✨ - it’s soooo freakin’ relaxing and summery.
“Island Song (Come Along With Me)” by Adventure Time feat. Ashley Eriksson
This one comes from the “Adventure Time” series about the adventures of Jake the Dog and Finn the Human. It’s cute, hummable, and joyful. Take a look at this final episode cut and hear this epic version of “Come Along With Me”, which includes a short discussion about the power of music 💥🎶👑.
“Riptide” by Vance Joy
“Riptide” is a song by Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy. It was released in 2013 as his debut single. Joy came up with the idea for the song’s melody when he was humming on his return home from grocery shopping. The song became a worldwide hit, reaching number one in Australia and New Zealand, and number six on the US Billboard Hot 100.
The song is about a relationship that is not going well, but the narrator is still hopeful that things will work out in the end. He compares the relationship to a riptide, which can be dangerous but is also full of beautiful moments. The song has been praised for its catchy melody and Joy's vocals. It has been covered by many artists, including Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran.
I really like this one for the howls, tempo, and the memories that it brings back ✨.
And that’s all for today, my friends. I hope you liked it and it made your day a bit brighter ✨.
Again, here are links for today’s playlist:
Have a great rest of the week! ☀️🙏🎶