The Subtle Power of the ‘Ukulele

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 for almost every song under the sun…)

Soon after discovering the chords for Coldplay’s song “Viva La Vida” on line, I realized that many of my favorite pop songs have a surprisingly simple structure.

Four chords!

Sometimes three chords!

Image by Ulrike Draper from Pixabay 

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 plus 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!


8 thoughts on “The Subtle Power of the ‘Ukulele

  1. “Almost invariably the mood in the room shifts to something lighter…” Yes, the power of the ukulele, and also the power of you, Will!

  2. Fun, fun. My favorite day in Hawaii was stumbling upon a ukulele class being held at a state park in the open air veranda. I started my hike to ukulele music with it in the background and returned with it serenading me to my final step.

  3. I collected records (mostly old 78s) for six decades, over which time I collected many “Ukulele Ike” (Cliff Edwards) records. Here he is in a fun clip performing GIVE A LITTLE WHISTLE. Hope you enjoy.

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