Monday, 7 September 2015

Ukuleles at the Library

 Ahh. The ukulele. The little instrument seems to speak to everyone. What does it say to you? Unsure? Maybe you just don’t speak ukulele. Well, neither do I really, but I'm starting to learn. If you have even a passing interest in music, maybe you would like to learn too.

The Annapolis Valley Regional Library has just added a few ukulele songbooks to the library catalogue. They have hundreds of easy to play songs in an easy to follow format to get you started. Now you just need a uke. More about that below. 

    Even you’ve never played an instrument, the uke is a great place to start your musical journey.  

Here’s why:

1. They are small. They are physically less challenging to play than, say, a, full-sized guitar, and they take up less space than other common beginner instruments (I’m looking at you, piano).

2. They (can be) affordable. You can get a fun beginner uke that is better than a toy for around $40.00. I splurged and got a Kala concert ukulele that I’m very happy with for around 140.00. My advice to anyone starting out is to figure out your uke budget, and then add $15.00 to buy a clip-on tuner too. If you play the ukulele, you will have to tune it. A lot. This can suck the fun out of playing especially when you are in a group of other uke enthusiasts and everyone is trying to tune at the same time. On the other end of the spectrum, you could spend over $5000.00 on a Martin uke at Long & McQuade. If you can afford to go that route, just make sure your uke budget is $5015.00.

3. Great intro to theory and skills that transfer easily to other instruments. Rhythm, chords, scales, intervals, dynamics, fun. All the important stuff.

4. Fun: We picked up a few brightly coloured ukes to take to programs and events this summer. They were magnets for both kids and adults. They make people smile. We strummed. We sang (or tried to). We talked too. Sometimes about music, maybe about the Summer Reading Club. One little girl wrote and performed a song about Scaredy Squirrel on the spot. Never had a lesson in her life.

6. Relatively quiet: I’m sure the 16 year old me would have found a way to make my poor ukulele sound like a combine tractor running over a bicycle, but at least it would have sounded like it was happening at a distance.

7. Community: There is just so much sharing. There are endless online tutorials on how to play popular songs on the uke. Meet-ups, clubs, workshops and festivals are also sprouting up all over the place. Groups like the Halifax Ukulele Gang are very inspiring and helpful. They have songbooks and resource lists and clearly do what they do for the love of it. Liverpool is hosting the 6th International Ukulele Chilidh this October 22nd-25th. People are getting together, learning, socializing, and sharing their enthusiasm for a common interest.

The Annapolis Valley Regional Library is forming our very own ukulele club. The Bridgetown Ukulele Group (B.U.G. for short) is starting up in (you guessed it), Bridgetown on Monday, September 14th. We’ll meet at 7:00pm at the Bridgetown & Area Library. You just need to bring your enthusiasm and your willingness to have a good time. This will be our first meeting, so we'll talk about the basics, learn some basic chords and strums and go from there. You can bring your own uke or try out one of ours. It will be a free program for anyone aged 16 and up.

Registration appreciated!
For more info, email us at

--Jai Soloy, Community Engagement Assistant 

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