I started playing the ‘ukulele three years ago after attending a class in Harvard Square led by the marvelous Danno Sullivan.
Since then I have been strumming on an almost daily basis — thanks to Danno’s lyric/chord handouts, the wonderful Daily Ukulele songbook, and the amazing group mind that is the internet (where one can find chords and lyrics and probably a demonstration video for almost every song under the sun!)
Soon after discovering the chords for a Coldplay song on line, I realized that many of my favorite pop songs have a surprisingly simple structure. Four chords! Sometimes three chords!
And thus my humble life as a budding songwriter took root…
I had written lyrics in the past with a friend who is a pianist, and I had collaborated on a couple of songs with another guitarist friend (again as a lyricist).
And many years ago I had co-written a couple of songs with bandmates in a pop/rock band.
But until I picked up a ‘ukulele, my songwriting efforts had been restricted to what I could cobble together using Apple’s blessed GarageBand program — songs consisting of my vocals accompanied by various loops and samples from the Garageband library.
In the past three years I have written a bunch of ukulele-based songs.
And in the past month I have attended three singer-songwriter open mics — daring to perform my original songs while accompanying myself (solidly but not very gracefully) on the ‘uke.
Deep breath in.
Deep breath out.
In addition to helping me tap into a stream of songwriting creativity, the ‘ukulele has also given me a new way to hang out with my mom, with my dad, and with other friends and family members.
I just pick up a ‘uke, open up a songbook, and start strumming. Almost invariably the mood in the room shifts to something lighter and (literally) more harmonious as everyone starts to hum and sing along.
I find this to be amazing.
And I am very grateful.
Hurrah for the subtle power of the ‘ukulele!