The important bit!
Ukulele 1 meets every other week on a Tuesday at 2 pm. We normally meet at Dunster Tithe Barn, but while COVID restrictions are in place, meetings are suspended. Please remember to check the Calendar in case of any late changes to schedule.
Our group is led by Bill Peters, and he may be contacted at 01643 821850, or by email at Ukulele1@minehead-district-u3a.org.uk.
Lockdown comes and goes so, like many people, we’re still being careful. A recent poll of the group showed that most want to return to playing together again – but with some caveats. Most respondents were happy to play as a group in the open air but we were split 50:50 on playing indoors. Some can’t re-join us right now, of course, as they live in a ‘vulnerable’ household, but all can continue to practise at home. And I think that most of us do. We are still trying new things every now and then, such as playing along with professional groups and singers. Now that can be quite challenging – but accompanying, say, Peter, Paul and Mary (remember them?) or Credence Clearwater Revival can also be very satisfying. And of course it means that we don’t have to sing, which is still a no-no as far as the Government is concerned. We’re sending out new songs by email, attempting new challenges and trying instructional videos on YouTube.
Meanwhile the search is on for a reasonably priced COVID-secure venue. No doubt we’ll find one eventually – but whether we do or whether we don’t, we’ll keep on strummin’!
About the Group
The ukulele is a popular instrument in the UK and when you start asking around, it’s astonishing how many people do actually play one. As a group we’re not at all surprised, as not only is the uke a fun instrument to play, but also in the right hands it can sound really wonderful. So on alternate Tuesday afternoons, we strum, we sing and we make a happy noise. (Well, at least most people who hear us play seem to think so…) And now some of us are even starting to learn fingerpicking in order to accompany the strumming. Wow!
We’re a friendly bunch and new players are always welcome. If you have ever wondered if you should give the ukulele a try, why not pick up the telephone or send an e-mail? The first 2 sessions are free and you can even borrow a ukulele for those first few sessions, after that there is a charge of £20 to cover 3 months worth of sessions, this charge covers the hire of the room.
We have the beginnings of a new songbook and, as of right now, it has 33 songs − some old and some new. Inevitably in a book of this sort there are one or two minor errors and we are currently trying out each of the tunes and correcting any mistakes as we go along. We encourage all of our group members to suggest new songs for the book so no doubt our repertoire will grow in the coming weeks and months.
What on earth shall we do now? Some of us were just starting to get together in groups of up to six for a strum and a hum (no singing, of course!) and what happens? Lockdown 2! At least now we have a bit of experience of how to keep the group going, so for the next few weeks we shall have to play our ukes at home and annoy – sorry, I mean entertain – our partners, our children, our cats and dogs, and maybe even the neighbours, if we leave the windows open. We can still strum along to CDs of our favourite artists, we can still learn new techniques via YouTube and we can still sit in a quiet corner and practise our scales or improve our chord changes. Or maybe we may sometimes simply noodle about and create beautiful music. Life’s not so bad if you play the ukulele. Maybe you’d like to come along and join us when the restrictions are lifted? Bill Peters
We’re still a-pickin’ and a-strummin’ our ukuleles – albeit in a rather restricted way. Some of us who are not shielding or self-isolating have got together in members’ gardens for a strum and a bit of a practice a couple of times. We’ve played tunes suggested by group members, and we’ve played along to songs on CDs – and that’s not as easy as you might think! So we’re doing OK, and the next obstacle we’ll have to overcome is the weather. We are already dealing with breezes that blow song sheets all over the place (fixing the song sheets to our music stands with clothes-pegs works quite well) but it is getting colder. Playing a ukulele with frozen hands isn’t much fun, so assuming the regulations permit, we may have to come indoors. Perhaps we ought to start thinking about practising Christmas carols…. Bill Peters