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Is it just me or is the Washington Uke scene becoming something special? There are more and more young people and children picking up the Ukulele and getting enthusiastic about learning to play. A Ukulele is the perfect instrument for a beginner to pick up and play and it is filling that role more and more recently. Ukes are the user friendly and easy way to get started strumming strings.
With only four strings, the Uke isn’t intimidating - play the strings open and they sound great already. Most people are too intimidated to pick up a guitar and have a strum because they’re so big and bulky and it hurts to press your fingers onto the strings. With all these positives, there have been increasing numbers of schools using Ukuleles for music classes and because kids can learn themselves from Youtube, there’s growing numbers of players all around the Washington area and in wider Maryland.
The other great thing about Ukuleles is their versatility, from their traditional Hawaiian and Portuguese roots through to the jazz of the roaring twenties, a Uke can be used to accompany any number of other instruments and musical styles. It’s actually cool these days to cover the latest pop and hip hop hits on your Ukulele and the videos are going viral all over. These developments are great – the more young people can be empowered and enticed into playing music and making it their own – the more they can play together and in their own styles the easier they will find it to pick up other instruments and to make music for everyone’s pleasure.
The Strathmore Ukefest in August has become a great inroad to Ukulele culture for young and old alike and this year promises to be no different. A magnet for tourists and a fun packed afternoon for the whole family with all the bells and whistles that go along with it – but you’ll definitely hear more Ukes than bells and whistles though. The fest is a long way off still though, so you have time to practice. Even if you haven’t picked up a Ukulele before – there is no time like the present to get started and get into it, you will surely find others in the Washington area who have also recently begun their musical journeys – or a great player or two who can teach you some more advanced techniques in time for a performance.
With the weather getting warmer there are going to be more and more outdoor get togethers, barbecues, picnics and the like. I for one will be taking my Ukulele along and using the opportunity to practice and find out who else in my community is interested in learning too – or someone who can already play maybe and wouldn’t mind sharing. There are so many musicians around in the Washington area, I will hopefully get lucky and find a jam going on. Don’t be shy, show off your Ukuleles, and all the new songs you’re learning – that’s the best way to improve!
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