Ukes for GFC • Wellness • Quality Plastic • Distant (easterly) Sun
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Today is Anzac Day in Australia (and New Zealand), the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in WWI and a day to remember those who have served and died in military service. The Anzac spirit, embodied by courage, mateship, and sacrifice, is strongly embedded in Australia's national identity. Although I can't find any attribution for this photograph other than the caption 'Australian soldiers in WW2 taking a spot of R 'n R with ukulele', I think the rugged portability and musical bonding that go hand in hand with ukulele are a good fit for the Anzac spirit.
Going Cheap
The town of Nambour in South East Queensland, just west of the Sunshine Coast, is undergoing the same sort of ukulele boom as many other parts of the world, but they put it down to economic difficulties. According to a local music shop proprietor, ukuleles first started marching off the shelves during the Global Financial Crisis and it hasn't stopped. An economist has a view about it too and puts in his two cents worth at the end of this recent news article.
Don't get sick, get well (with music)
I've just discovered that there's a thing called 'recreational music making' or RMM (you know it's important when there's an acronym involved). Everything from 'Weekend Warriors', an Australian programme which helps adults join and perform in bands recreationally, to drumming circles and keyboard instruction fall within its reach. There are a number of RMM teacher resources books as well as courses available for the general public and in workplaces. It seems that RMM sprang from Music Making and Wellness programmes initiated by the late Karl Bruhn, who was a musician, executive of the Yamaha Corporation of America and according to a short article, Presidential Advisor to the American Music Therapy Association. The co-author of the article, Dr Alicia Ann Clair is a leading Music Therapist and Gerontologist. Dramatic Benefits of Group Music Instruction Are Just Beginning to Be Understood was written in 1999, some time before the uke boom (or the GFC), but the dramatic benefits will be very familiar to anyone who plays with a ukulele group!
Plastic fantastic
We briefly looked at 3D printed ukuleles last week, but if you haven't snagged yourself use of a large, expensive 3D printer yet and you want to take your uke into the surf/pool/spa, one of the new breeds of plastic uke might take your fancy. Here are reviews of two quality 2016 models.
Distant Sun
In the Anzac spirit I've included a New Zealander in this issue - Crowded House front man and songwriter Neil Finn. Distant Sun is a beautifully melodic Crowded House song and so here's a songsheet for it. They play it in Eb but you can see in the clip of Neil Finn performing on acoustic guitar that he has a capo on the third fret and is playing it in the rather easier C. The songsheet is in forgiving D for the uke, where it works just fine and a bit of octave swapping can be done for the vocals, as is often required to encompass Mr Finn's deceptively wide range. Like most Crowded House songs, the harmony possibilities are wonderful!
If you're not sure about the intro strumming pattern that's provided above the chords, listen to what Neil does, it's almost identical.
We've tried to appropriate him for ourselves,
but the accent's a giveaway.

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