Ryan Gosling

Here you go Ladies & Gentlemen.

Feast your eyes on the very lovely Ryan Gosling, showing us all how it’s done whilst playing and singing ‘You Always Hurt the One You Love’ in the film Blue Valentine…

The Bride (Who Took Secret Ukulele Lessons), Unmasked!

If you’ve not been keeping an eye on our ukulele blog, you might want to see the history of this story, here. It’s a story of romance, love and secret ukulele lessons!

If you have been keeping an eye on our ukulele blog, you’ll know that Lorraine was teaching some top-secret private lessons (after the beginners course) to a bride-to-be, who wanted to surprise her husband by playing Ho Hey by the Lumineers on ukulele to him (and all their guests) at their wedding. She’d taken the course entirely in secret, and had been saying she was working late each Monday after work when she went to the course. For the private lessons, she made up all manner of excuses, including badminton (she hadn’t allowed future husband at-the-time to see the ukulele, so he had absolutely no idea), swimming, and dinner with a friend.

The bride-to-be has allowed us to unmask her true identity to you, right here and now, online, and she’s also allowed us to share a video and some photos of her special day.

The bride-to-be was Miss Amber Chung. Her married name is now Mrs Amber Moore. Her husband is David and she learned to play The Lumineers song, Ho Hey on the ukulele (with the lyrics re-written to suit their special day)  to surprise him at the reception on their big day. After a rehearsal, she upgraded to an electric ukulele, and contacted the sound man for the wedding to arrange for a microphone and DI box so that she could be amplified for all of their guests to hear her as well as her husband. As anyone who’s been learning for a few months will tell you, this is no mean feat. She is one determined, fun and lovely lady. We’re proud to share the story of her learning and her beautiful wedding day with you. Here you go!

Amber Moores Secret Ukulele Lessons

All of their guests enjoyed Amber performing

Amber Moore's Secret Ukulele Lessons 2

Her husband, David also enjoyed her ukulele perfomance.



Is the ukulele just a fad?

Someone asked me lately: “Is the ukulele just a fad? Are people getting bored with it now?”

I replied: “Is the cup of tea a fad? Are people getting bored with it now?”

OK, that may have been a tad on the facetious side but it got my view across very quickly, without me having to explain my reasoning or feelings about the issue. Since you’re here now, and I’m feeling a bit more reflective and maybe even a bit serious, I’ll tell you instead.

In short, no. I don’t believe that the ukulele is a fad. Yes, it’s experienced something of a renaissance in recent years, but I believe that the ukulele is an inclusive instrument, which allows impatient people like me to play a song they know within an hour, rather than having to spend years becoming accomplished enough to make a song sound familiar to others. I believe that the ukulele is a wonderful first instrument. It opens music up to those who believe that they are ‘unmusical’ (I don’t believe that anybody is unmusical, only that some people are more encouraged and then become more committed in their childhood) since millions of adults didn’t benefit from a good musical education in childhood, many of them yearn to be able to play something, but lack the time to spend years catching up with people who began piano or guitar as children. Many adults want to play an instrument and participate in a song with others quickly. The ukulele gives them that. It should stay firmly on the musical map.

The ukulele was my first instrument. For a few years it was my only instrument. Without it I’d be a mere consumer of music, instead of a participant. Nowadays, my very being and sense of self is based upon playing music. My existence before I was able to play anything was unfulfilled and sad. OK. That’s not technically true, but there is a nugget of truth in it. I feel that I’ve grown as a person through learning and committing to music, and that love would never have flourished without the ukulele. The seed was planted and now my life is very different. Whilst not everyone has the same experience that I did, most people find playing and singing with others therapeutic.

Ukulele Wednesdays, and then Learn To Uke’s very success is based on group ukulele playing and singing. I think that meeting up and playing ukulele in a group is a great thing. It’s a way to spend time with others, make music, forget about everything else and relieve stress. I believe that somewhere, very deep within the human psyche we have a need to play and sing with others. It’s ethereal and can take you off to another place, even if it does sound somewhere between a football chant and a cockney knees up at times. The point, is not to be the next One Direction, but to connect with others in a fundamental way. Years ago, people used to sing together frequently, whether they were; at Irish gatherings, the folk drop ins where lots of people bring an instrument and join in, or at Church, or around the piano with the family at home.  It was a way of life that isn’t seen often today, and I think our collective consciousness needs it. I don’t see any other instruments bringing as many people together so inclusively, so I feel that there should always be a place in our society for ukulele playing and singing. It’s a pity that it has been overused by advertisers, and the media. I hope that it has been, or does become realised as a seriously inclusive instrument, fun to play in a group with others and is not dismissed as easily as Jedward hair.

Jedward Hair

The Martini Encounter

Learn To Uke has turned out a number of performers and groups, who are happy to go on record and talk about their time with us and where it’s taken them to. In this Interview, we get to talk to one of our wonderful performing alumni groups, The Martini Encounter. If you’ve never come across this charming trio, you ought to check them out. They sing close harmonies, in a cheeky cabaret style. Tongue firmly in cheek, they offer a 1930’s take on older and modern classics from the Andrews Sisters to Blur, Cab Calloway and The Muppets. Their tagline reads “Permanently shaken. Occasionally stirred. It’s happy hour with The Martini Encounter” and I think this says it all!

Here’s our interview:

What was your first instrument?
Maud: well I do not profess to be an expert, though my acquaintances say I am quite the natural. As a small child I dipped my rhythmical toe into the water with my very own set of spoons. Things really just snowballed from that moment.

Why did you take up the ukulele?
Muffy: Well it’s just the most darling instrument. What’s not to love about a baby guitar?

How did you find Learn To Uke?
Binkie: A very amiable young man introduced me to the idea whilst showing me his g-string at the Royal George in London Town. I was instantly smitten.

Would you recommend them?
Muffy: Yes of course!
Maud: You would need to speak to our agent.

What was your favourite song to learn to play on the ukulele:
Binkie: Oh but we loved them all and now we have an all-encompassing repertoire ranging from Cab Calloway, The Andrews Sisters, The Bonnie Tyler, Blur and, of course, The Muppets.

They can be found at various theatres and venues across the UK. For their tour schedule see their website, twitter, or facebook accounts.