Stretching • Ukers moved on in Waikiki • Sultans of Green Soprano
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Tools of the trade
Some time back I posted an article about ways of minimising strain and pain from playing uke. Sure enough, I haven't been following my own advice lately and am unsuprisingly suffering for it. Many stretches later and a fairly futile attempt to use the computer mouse with my strumming hand, the wrist felt better and the forearm was pacified. It's also useful to remember that unlike fretless instruments, clamping the string onto the fretboard isn't what gives notes their pitch, it's the string pressing on the fret wire, so you rarely have to press as hard as you think. Optimal finger placement and as little pressure as possible is the key.
Another potentially relieving activity I tried, was to play ukulele right-handed (using a right-handed uke). If you're a ukulele teacher, or an experienced player, and not fully ambidextrous, give this a go. It will remind you what it is like for someone who has just started! Even though I know where to put my fingers on the fretboard, there was not a neural connection to be had between my left hand and my musical cortex (I made that bit of the brain up) and so speed and sonic clarity was completely absent. Likewise, strumming was bumbling and I couldn't even hold the instrument properly.
Whilst on the subject of sidedness, this week, a man and his wife attended my uke group for the first time. The man's wife is just getting started on uke and he hadn't intended to play, but brought his uke anyway and after a while joined in. This fellow has obviously been playing for many years, and I was gobsmacked to see, plays left-handed on a right-hand strung uke. Humble pie with chastened sauce now being served!
Uke playing retirees in trouble with the Waikiki police
In March this year, a group of retirees - described as mostly 'snowbirds', having relocated from Canada or cold northern parts of the USA - who have been playing ukulele regularly at Waikiki Beach for 20 years, were moved on by the police. They weren't haranguing passers by or getting into punchups over whose turn it was to solo. 'On The Beach' had just decided the traffic noise was too much and were using an amplifier so they could hear themselves. Someone complained over. Here's the local news report which is sympathetic to the ukers cause and contains a couple of clips of them. 

A story of the incident in the Huffington Post includes another clip of the group playing 'I Walk The Line' in 2012 with the gravelly singer on mic (didn't get caught this day!) and a nice bit of slide ukulele playing. As the HP concludes:
"Spreading Aloha? Or disturbing the peace? You be the judge."
Sultans of Swing solo on the Ukulele
Found this clip of the solo guitar bits of Dire Straits classic Sultans of Swing, played with style and ease on an unassuming green soprano uke. Turns out the virtuoso is Kye Gratton, a guitarist, composer and music teacher from Sydney. Go Kye!
and stretch, and play, and stop, and stretch
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