I'm really pleased that ukulele player Joey Paul has agreed to write a guest post on Got A Ukulele. Those in the uke community, particularly those who frequent Ukulele Underground will know Joey and her endless enthusiasm for the uke. She writes:
The date on that first video was 24 September 2010, almost a month to the day since I first picked up an Ukulele. The Ukulele was cheap, purple, and named Astrid, the strings were nylon fishing wire (or something close to it!). It's been over eighteen months since I picked up that first Ukulele and tried to teach myself a musical instrument. I still can't sing, but I can play! I wanted to learn the Ukulele because it was something that, despite my bad lungs and health situation, I could play. I wanted to have the joy of music in my life again and I wanted it in a big way. I'd seen a friend with Ukuleles and I guess the only reason I knew what that purple 'mini guitar' was when I spied Astrid in the shop was because of her online posts.
Seven more ukuleles have joined my 'Ohana' since then and unless I'm working on University work or writing some chapters to my latest books, I'm playing an Uke and I'm never happier than when I'm strumming along to a new song. I started my blog - Joey@4Ukulele to document what would be a journey as I learned the Ukulele. The highs of a new ukulele, or a song learned and the lows of being too ill to play or something else stopping me from having my one-on-one time with one of my Ukes - all of that was going to be shown in the pages of my blog.
As I've already stated, my first Ukulele was a purple 'no brand' soprano Uke. It wasn't until I found out about this blog and from there went on to find Ukulele Underground that I realised how much of an improvement could be made to her sound. To me, she didn't sound bad at the time, but I had such untrained ears. So, after some advice from the good people of UU, I invested in some Aquila strings and put them on her. WOW! What a difference! I listened back to old videos to hear the difference and the sound was just amazing. She still had the occasional buzz (something that comes and goes, and i've never been able to find the cause of) but she sounded great. From Astrid came a new hobby and after her came Lilo - an Ohana SK10S - a great starter uke, came with Aquilas and sounded divine! Then came Rhea, a Luna Tattoo Pineapple Ukulele - again with Aquilas and I loved the sound she made. These were all laminate ukes, I was still dabbling in the shallow end of the Ukulele pond, and then came the surprise of my life.
Hoa arrived one day from the USA. I'd received a notice that I had a parcel and needed to pay the Customs Duty. I had no idea what it was but paid the Duty (or more to the point, my Dad did!) and then it arrived. A good friend of mine on UU, who I won't name as he likes his privacy, had gotten together some other friends of mine and they had bought me this ukulele. She's a Koa Pili Koko Soprano and my first solid ukulele. I was blown away not just from the kindness (you learn fast in the Ukulele world that people really do spread the Aloha spirit), but the sound from Hoa. I'd been playing about four months and even to my ears she sounded great and better than Astrid by miles. She came with GHS strings, which I'd been told would sound bad, except by my friend who had chosen them to be put on because he felt they sounded good and I had to agree. They definitely weren't as bad as some people had made out. I wanted her to sound more 'mellow' and was recommended Worth Brown strings which I put on her and it gave the sound I was going for. I've stuck with them! After Hoa came Hope, a Tanglewood Acoustic / Electric ukulele, then Kupuna - a Rosewood 100 Series Eleuke, and then Joy, a Flea in Poiple.
My most recent ukulele is Cora - she's a clearwater Vita Soprano Ukulele. I like the different sounds that come from different shapes and had wanted a Vita Ukulele. I prefer the Soprano size and also the Clearwater price compared to that of the Ohana. Don't get me wrong, I love the Ohana brand, I just have small pockets! She came with strings of unknown origin, though I would guess they were Aquila. But then she was also a solid spruce top with mahogany back and sides, and so I didn't want to use Aquila, I wanted to experiment. I thought about using Worth Browns again, but got some Martin strings from a friend as an early Christmas and Birthday present, so put those on her and she sounds great! So as you can see, I have gone from the really cheap starter Uke to the better starter Ukes on to the more expensive models. I'd say that I stand as an 'advanced beginner' or maybe even an 'intermediate player'.
To practice, at first I decided to learn one new song from the book 'The Daily Ukulele' a week and boy, how far I have come. Now I learn four at a time and the only thing that stops me from making four videos a day is mostly Uni work (which always has to come first), writing my books (http://www.joeypaulonline.com/ - one of my loves) or being unwell due to my health situation (the less said the better). I love that song book and have vowed not to stop until I have learned every single song. I even post one video a day over on Ukulele Underground as some of you will know. I'll never be the next Jake or Aldrine but I'm having fun, and isn't that the point of it all?
This video, one of my more recent ones, is a single piece in a long journey. Recorded on 19 March 2012, it's one of my favourites. I still can't sing, but at least my little ukulele is in tune! As I approach my two year anniversary (August 31st 2012) I can only hope to continue having as much fun as I've had in the past eighteen months. If you ever want to put a smile on someones face, hand them an Uke! As someone who lives with Fibromyalgia and deals with chronic pain, as well as M.E and a rare form of Asthma, it sure works for me! Even Fibro Duck thinks it's great!
I've come a long way since that first video, and I've even written eight original songs - something I never thought I would manage when I was plunking my way through Amazing Grace the nine hundredth time I practiced it - hey, I was only ever hopeful of getting that song done, not the massive amount since!
People ask me what I'll do when I finish going through the Ukulele Daily, how will I fill my time then? Simple - I'll buy the sequel!
THANKS SO MUCH JOEY- KEEP STRUMMING!