By Ted Parrish
One of the many wonders of the modern world has been the proliferation of ukulele clubs in almost every metropolitan area of the country. A Google search and a few inquiries at your local music store will usually direct you towards a group of ukulele enthusiasts. Let’s talk about what these groups do and why you should seek them out.
Most ukulele clubs meet weekly, often at a café or restaurant. There is a big circle of ukulele players of varying levels strumming along to tunes. The tunes are often chosen by a leader, and are written on paper (or read from a book) so that everyone can follow. Everyone sings along and has a great time.
Often these ukulele groups grow to be quite large, and are able to accommodate players of all levels. For example, one group I know has a meeting time half an hour earlier than the main group, for beginners who want to review chords and strumming patterns. Some others set aside a different time altogether for beginners. The folks who have been playing in the group for a while already usually assist the beginners.
Many clubs are asked to play (or “gig”) for public events. A big group (some have over 100 members) can create quite a ruckus! I know of another club that has a “performance group” apart from the main group, with players on their way from playing for a hobby to playing professionally. Some players just enjoy playing in the group and don’t want to perform. All are welcome.
No matter what your level of playing, uke clubs are a great way to enjoy your instrument and improve. Playing with others helps you learn and try new things, and playing in a group brings out the best in a song. You can always use the simplest strum and follow the chords to start, and try the melody or more advanced rhythms later.
Ted Parrish is co-author of Ukulele for the Complete Ignoramus