Life as a performing musician and music teacher has certainly changed since the outbreak of COVID-19. As well as music venues sadly shutting their doors and festivals being cancelled for the foreseeable future, social distancing laws have put a stop to face-to-face music lessons and school bands. These, like many educational services, have been forced into the online world. Thanks to technology, I have been able to continue all one-on-one private lessons and also primary school ensembles in the online world.
While there is nothing quite like an in-person lesson, it turns out that there can be some advantages to online learning: distance is no longer a barrier! As long as you have a computer with an internal camera and microphone, an internet connection and your instrument, you can have your music lesson or play along with an ensemble from the comfort of your home.
For those of us who are fortunate enough to be in a relatively stable environment, another positive outcome of the the lock-downs is that we now have more time to devote to creative pursuits. With the physical and psychological benefits of music being well-established, it would seem that there has never been a better time to take up (or restart) music or pick up a new instrument. In fact, it has been reported that during the COVID-19 lock-down period, online instrument sales have increased. In particular, sales of ukuleles in Australia have increased by up to 700%!
Why is the ukulele such a popular instrument?
1. The ukulele is simply a joyful instrument to play
2. Ukuleles are relatively inexpensive to buy
3. The ukulele is a very achievable instrument to start playing, for both beginners and as a second instrument for experienced musicians.
It is relatively easy to learn a few of the basic chords on uke and start playing your favourite songs. However, the ukulele is also an incredibly versatile instrument and the sky really is the limit to the genres and styles of music it can be used for. As well as strumming the ukulele to accompany your own singing (or another vocalist), the ukulele can also be played beautifully in instrumental-only music, whether in a solo, duet, or ensemble setting. I am a great fan of instrumental ukulele music, and over the years I have arranged and taught a great deal of well known classical pieces and jazz standards for solo ukulele and for ukulele ensembles.
Due to the increase in ukulele group enquiries I have received recently, I have decided to start three new online ukulele ensembles for my students to play in:
1. Next-Gen Uke: for ages 7-12.
2. Strum’n’Sing: for grown-ups. Beginner, intermediate and advanced players are welcome to join in, strum along and belt out rock, pop, folk and country ‘bangers’!
3. Ukulele Orchestra: for intermediate and advanced players of all ages. We will use finger-style techniques to explore jazz, classical, movie-theme music and more.
To get involved in weekly online meetings, go to the Contact tab on my website or send an email to email@example.com and I will get in touch.
I look forward to hearing from all of you keen uke players and building up the online ukulele community!