Never Played a Musical Instrument Before? Try a Ukulele | Senior Focus | Max Greenberg | Palo Alto Online |

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About this blog: I developed a special interest in helping seniors with their challenges and transitions when my dad had a stroke and I helped him through all the various stages of downsizing, packing, moving and finding an assisted living communi...  (More)

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Never Played a Musical Instrument Before? Try a Ukulele

Uploaded: Oct 26, 2017
Ukulele-mania is sweeping the senior community. The simple, handy, 4-string uke is proving to be a relatively easy instrument for folks who have never played one to pick up rather quickly. There are uke jam groups formed and forming as we speak. I came across one that meets every Friday at a member’s house in the area for a couple of hours and it is great fun. I play the mandolin and was invited to join in (as look as I didn’t play too loud) and it’s working out swell. My particular jam group plays mostly from The Santa Cruz Ukulele Club which has hundreds of members (maybe thousands.) The Santa Cruz club meets every Sat morning at 10am to play together on the beach near The Crows Nest restaurant in Santa Cruz. They get about 150 members each time! Imagine that. But you don’t need to go all the way down to Santa Cruz to join in a ukulele lover’s group.

First thing if you’ve never played a uke before is to get one. You might go into the Gryphon Stringed Instruments store 211 Lambert Ave, Palo Alto and look at their selection. They are extremely knowledgeable about all kinds of stringed instruments and have a nice selection of ukes for all levels. You could try West Valley Music store on Castro Street in Mountain View. They have a few there as well. And then there is of course the big store in the sky, Amazon, that offers a huge selection. The downside there is you don’t get to try one out before you buy it.

IF you’ve never played before a few lessons would help get you started. Just learn 3-4 simple basic chords and a simple strumming style and you’ll be off and running playing your favorite songs. Youtube is full of easy to follow uke lessons for all levels including the brand new player.

Have fun with it. Playing music (and a uke) is one of the most enjoyable, therapeutic, social and fun things you can do, ESPECIALLY if you never played an instrument before and never thought you could. I firmly believe anyone can learn to play the ukulele. Give it a try.

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Posted by David Uke Player, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Oct 26, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Closer to home there are at least two active beginner level ukulele groups, smaller than Santa Cruz but well attended and run by hardworking and dedicated enthusiasts.

The Yahoo Group "UkeJam", meets the 2nd Monday of each month for a free "play and sing along jam" at Dana Street Roasting Company in Mountain View, from 7pm till 9pm. There is a lesson from 6:30 to 7:00 and there are even some loaner ukuleles available. The jam that follows uses a provided songbook of popular American music from the 40's to the 90's. The first hour emphasizes the starter lesson then branches into more advanced music after the break. An open mic is available to the brave.
Here is a link: Web Link

Mountain View Library hosts an free Ukulele Play and Sing Along on the last Monday of the month, except this month - there is a special Saturday October 28th: SPOOK-ULELE: Costume Party & Halloween Jam Web Link Normally it meets from 6:30 to 8:00. Loaner uke are available.

Posted by Gale Johnson, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Oct 27, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Avenidas offers classes as well.

Posted by P.A. Moore, a resident of another community,
on Oct 28, 2017 at 10:10 am

Uke jam sessions at Avenidas now take place at Cubberly Community Center on the first and third THursday of each month, from 2 pm to about 3:30 pm. We sing and laugh and play and have a lot of fun. The group has an eclectic song list - Tom Petty, Fats Domino as well as classics.
Everyone is welcome and beginners are encouraged to attend. Playing along with a group is a fun and easy way to improve on the uke!

Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown,
on Oct 28, 2017 at 8:52 pm

Great advice! I am not musically-inclined. My husband, on the other hand, plays the guitar and piano. One of his friends from high school is now a well-known guitarist in Nashville who also writes columns for guitar magazines. He apparently loves the ukulele and encourages prospective musicians to give it a try. He emphasizes just how quickly someone can learn and master it too. The great thing is that it sounds wonderful!

Posted by Member, a resident of Palo Alto Orchards,
on Nov 3, 2017 at 11:47 am

Thanks for all the good advice and enthusiasm!

Posted by Max Greenberg, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 27, 2017 at 9:00 am

Max Greenberg is a registered user.

Thanks to folks who wrote in about various options for learning ukes, playing ukes, getting a uke. It's a wonderful wide world of ukulele playing going on. Gelb Music in RWC has a nice selection of ukes too. Uke ON.

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