Colouring-in • Uke Kids • Brains moving • Tennis • Blue Skies • Derick 
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Long-time ukulele teacher and performer, Heidi Swedberg has just published the Colour-Along Ukulele Book (USD$15), which teaches ukulele in a very fun way, has related pictures to colour in and is comes with recordings of the songs. Read the interview with Heidi in Ukulele Magazine and see an inside page from her book - it looks great. There's definitely potential for a package deal - book, uke and set of 72 Derwents.
Ukulele Kids Club
After guitarist Corey Bergman and his wife Edda lost their son to an infection in 2010, Corey began playing guitar in hospitals for children. The children were curious and keen to play his guitar but it was too big, so he gave one patient a ukulele instead and she loved it. This was the start of the Ukulele Kids Club, which is currently in 500 hospitals across the US. Music therapists do the teaching and the children get to take their uke home afterward. Read about this truly wonderful programme's beginnings here.
There is a fledgling branch in the UK and all proceeds from this year's Ukulele Festival of Scotland (May 6 - 8, featuring James Hill amongst others) are being donated to Ukulele Kids Club UK.
Helping dementia circumvent ya
Professor Kaarin Anstey, director of the Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing at the Australian National University says it's never too early, or too late to get your brain into shape to prevent or alleviate the onset of dementia. Read what she has to say about it here, and don't forget that learning new songs, trying to master new or challenging techniques, as well as playing in groups is more of a help than sticking to a few well-worn C, F, G7 numbers. Thinking up dodgy rap rhymes for headings may or may not be in the cognitive assistance armoury.

Game, set, mismatch?
I admire people who the devote the time, skill and commitment needed to make their own ukuleles. Because ukes are small and an instrument of the people, the mere thought of making one lets loose torrents of ideas which might not otherwise be put into practice. One of these is the Tennis Racquet Ukulele, shown step-by-step throughout its construction. It was made by UK based electronics engineer, musician and luthier Daniel Hulbert who says "If you want to build instruments, just start building". Good advice. Read an interview with him here.
It's a pity he's discarded the strings - after you're fifteenth attempt at changing from Fm6 to D+, hitting a tennis ball with the back of the uke could be very therapeutic, as could, conversely, playing a verse and a chorus between sets.

Blue Skies 
This great song has been covered by many famous vocalists. One very well-known version recorded by Willie Nelson in 1978 brings to it a sensibility worlds apart from the crooners, jazz singers and musical theatre performers who have usually sung it. Irving Berlin wrote it in 1926 for a musical and as 24 encores of the song were requested on opening night, it proved a huge hit. It's available on other sites, but not (that I'm aware of) in this fairly forgiving key. Irony of ironies, Irving Berlin, who dropped out of school at age eight to work, had singing ability and taught himself piano but could only ever play in one key. One of America's greatest ever songwriters has one of its most incredible immigrant stories, viewable here at what-did-we-know-before-Wikipedia.

I've given this songsheet a different layout as the lyric content is brief enough to allow it and I think having the chords separate from the lyrics helps you remember both more easily. All the arrangements I listened to were different so I've done one which is close to most with room to move and the songsheet link is to Nina Simone doing a live version.
Ukulele performance | Derick Sebastian | TEDxSantaCruz
Derick Sebastian is a young Hawaiian ukulele player who tours the world and plays not unlike Shimabukuro. The touching story of how he took up ukulele is covered in detail on his site and he mentions it briefly here in this TEDx talk and impressive performance.
There's a story in every ukulele.

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