The title of this post came from Jan Fox’s words. Ms. Fox, 83, in retirement “took up line dancing, which she now teaches, and then a friend suggested learning to play the ukulele. Fox, who lives in Austin, Texas, did just that….”
“On my car radio recently a different sound for Bach: a solo string instrument somehow voiced in a way that conveyed a subtly informal but effective interpretation of the great German master. It was a ukulele. Really?
I checked further and found this has been going on a while: The English string virtuoso Richard Durant and some of his contemporaries have been playing classical masters on ukulele with brio. This goes against the image of the ukulele as a novelty instrument fine for beach parties or an afternoon sing-along reminiscent of funny old scenes in old movie musicals.”
“231 kindergarten students. Two to three times a week, each of its classes has 30-minute music instruction. Westlund teaches them basics for singing, counting in rhythm and playing simple instruments like hand drums.
By May, Westlund and teacher volunteers plan to start an after-school ukulele club at the Millwood center for those kindergarteners who want to learn more about playing the instrument.”
There are 4 basic sizes of Ukuleles and a number of variations.
Of the four, three are tuned alike (G | C | E | A). If three people each play a different size they will all sound good together (IF each is in tune). The pitch (or note) sounded for each is the same. The only difference is the tone of each (from treble to bass like turning the ‘Tone’ button on a stereo)
The Baritone is tuned like the top strings of a guitar (D | G | B | E). The chord shapes are the same as on a guitar (minus two strings). The chord shapes are also the same as on the other ukuleles BUT the names/letters are not the same – examples:
a G chord on a Baritone is the same shape as a C chord on the other 3 ukes.
A C chord on a Baritone is the same shape a F chord on the other 3 ukes.
A D chord on a Baritone is the same shape as a G chord on the other 3 ukes.
Confused? If so, it is okay. I suggest that you start with one of the other 3 and when you have that down pretty good, you can consider branching out to a Baritone.
The following ukes are easier to master because the strings are based on Middle C (the middle C of a piano) and the Key of C. In fact, the range is similar to that of a ‘Recorder’ that is often taught in elementary schools. More and more schools are switching to Ukuleles instead of Recorders in music classes.
Sopranos – the smallest and the traditional one that most people think of when they hear of the word, ‘ukulele’. Sopranos are usually the best choice for small children. Makala Sharks and Dolphins are great choices for children because they come in bright colors, are very durable and sound very good.
Concert – a little larger offers a few more inches of wood at the bottom to tuck under your arm and has a few more frets to expand the range of notes that you can play up the neck. From my current observation the Concert is the most popular size. Concerts are great for anyone from growing kids to adults.
Tenor – a little larger than the concert the Tenor is about half the size of a guitar. I sense that it is becoming more and more popular. It is particularly popular with Guitar players because it is not such a reduction in size from the Guitar. Many Ukulele professionals play Tenors.