When I started this blog, it was with the sole intention of helping people start to play the ukulele. Being an Internet blog though, I'm just a bloke with a keyboard. I don't actually get to meet many people who read these pages.
I do know however, via emails I receive from readers, that I have given that little push needed to many new uke players. In that sense, the blog is doing it's job.
But what about people and friends local to me here in the UK?
Well, I have been delighted recently to see somebody pick up the uke totally from scratch, and actually stick with it. Rewind back a few weeks, and I was playing in what is becoming something of regular ukulele jam at our local pub. We started late afternoon, drank too much, and played for hours. By the end of the night there were a couple of dozen strangers left, singing along at top volume, all having a great time. Also there, was a friend of ours. He won't mind me admitting this, but not a musician. I think I also recall him taking the mickey a little too (which would be totally fair by the end of the night as the playing was getting rougher and rougher).
Fast forward to a couple of weeks later, and we are at the same pub, about to start a similar jam session, and in walks the same guy with a glossy black Mahalo uke. It turns out that the uke playing had been on his mind. He was with his daughter who had been bought this very uke but showed no interest in playing it. He asked her if he could borrow it, and she agreed.
So, he arrives, uke in hand, and proudly explains that he is going to give it a go. He explains he knows nothing about ukes, and asks me to check it over. I've been quite vocal in the past about Mahalo ukes, simply because I don't rate their quality control - too easy to get a bad one. This one was in great shape though, perfect action and intonation pretty much spot on too. It wasn't in tune, and the strings needed stretching, but I gave them a few tugs and got the thing in tune.
In that first session, he used his time to watch our technique, how to hold, where to strum, that sort of thing, and had a great time!
A couple of weeks later and we are back for a ukulele session. This time he had prior agreed to join in again. This was no fad - he had clearly been practicing! Has a nice strum action going, and knows the position of a decent handful of chords. His biggest complaint? Sore fingertips - I explained, it happens to everyone. Despite the pain, he played on and has vowed to continue. He is reading the various uke sites, including this one and Ukulele Hunt, and has started building his own collection of song sheets and chords to learn.
I'm delighted. This new player came completely out of the blue. Before that first night I'm fairly sure he didn't even know I played a uke or wrote about it on this site, so as such, this was no 'hard sell'.
So, best of luck to him - hope he keeps at it. If you are out there thinking about playing, then give it a go!
(hang on though, I haven't warned him about Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome yet... Oh heck..)