(This is a guest post by Ted Parrish, co-author with Wayne Erbsen of our newest book, Ukulele for the Complete Ignoramus. It was be available on August 17, 2015)
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.
For beginners and intermediate players alike I always recommend that you work on your own between club sessions. The new book that Wayne and I wrote, Ukulele for the Complete Ignoramus, has all of the basic chords, strums, songs, and information you need to build your skills and become a ukulele player. It is also a good book to use in a club setting, with complete lyrics and melodies for dozens of familiar songs.
Keep on strummin’!