There have been a few ukulele books published over the last few years (dang, even I wrote some), but when you hear that a performer from the Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain is writing one, then my ears pricked up. He will KNOW what he is talking about. I've been lucky to have a look at an early copy and can tell you now that it comes highly recommended.
Get Plucky ( A reference to the inspired cover of Get Lucky that Will put out, complete with chicken noises) describes itself as a Quick And Easy Guide To All Things Ukulele. And that word 'All' is kind of important here. Sure there are chord books out there, tuition books, ukulele history books, but Will has chosen to squeeze in all bases in this beautifully presented tome. After a very nice foreword from the UOGB's George Hinchcliffe we are off with some background to Will, a brief introduction to the uke, a look back at the original ukulele greats (and yes Formby Fans, he's in there) but thankfully also looking to the stars of the present day
We have a look at ukulele history, the boom, the decline and the current revival and to the future in which Will describes the uke as being able to reinvent itself if the time comes for the nay sayers to claim it is dead and buried.
We look at celebrity uke players, and not just the usual faces, but really interesting pieces about some names that I have to admit were new to me.
The book then switches to tutor mode, but throughout is done in a very simple and easy follow way. How to buy one, how to hold one, reading chord boxes. etc. We have some songs to play along to, and many one chord songs for absolute beginners. All are recognisable, but then some that I have never seen in a beginners song book for any instrument (Sweet Home Chicago, Midnight Special). And NO Folsom Prison! (Actually, there is a reference to Folsom Prison in the book, but its not what you think.. I won't spoil it for you though). And as you progress you can move to the advanced section where Will looks at strumming variations, Inversions, alternate tunings and more.
Throughout it is written in plain english with an undercurrent of Wills wit and humour. As a grumpy blogger it is also refreshing to see Will prepared to speak his mind too (like me he thinks Hawaiian shirts should be kept to a minimum, knows that not everybody holds a special place in their heart for George Formby and that the term 'uke-tastic' is a crime against the ukulele), but then the book oozes encouragement and good humour so this is not a case of Will being argumentative. Hmmmm, perhaps I should take notes.
Oh - and he also, like me, thinks there is no rule against plectrums.... but we've been over that on this site before....
As someone who seems to spend all my waking hours immersed in the ukulele, I learned much from this book and that pleased me immensely. The tuition sections are not prescriptive and throughout Will does not bark at the reader that it MUST me done this way - quite the opposite. He is clearly a champion for putting fun and making music above being a purist. My kind of guy.
I really think there is something in here for everyone (and yes, in his Reference section he gives a plug to this very website calling it a 'Hive of Ukulele Activity' - I am just making that clear for when someone 'ah yes Barry but you WOULD say you liked it wouldn't you? - My answer to that is, 'Yes I would, because its a damn nice book'...)
And a final word on that term 'nice'. It's beautifully presented and illustrated throughout. Nice glossy pictures, beautiful cover and illustrative doodles by Jonny Hannah - hats off to him.
I started this review mentioning that there are a good few uke books out there, but no 'catch all'. Whether you are just starting out or a seasoned pro, I cannot think of a reason why you wouldn't like this one on your shelf. Highly recommended.
Get Plucky With The Ukulele by Will Grove-White is published by Cassell / Octopus Publishing and is released in the UK on 6 October and the US on 4 November priced £14.99. Available at all good retailers. Some Amazon links below who are taking pre orders plus a link direct to the UOGB which gives Will a fairer deal!
|Credit Will Grove-White|