Glendale Ukulele School of Music
We are excited to announce that we have added Ukulele lessons to our program. Our School of music is located in Glendale, Arizona and offers guitar lessons, piano lessons, voice lessons, drum lessons, violin lessons, and ukulele lessons. If you are unsure what the ukulele is exactly, continue reading to learn more about this fascinating instrument and the benefits that come with taking ukulele lessons.
About the Ukulele
Did you know that the ukulele wasn’t actually invented in Hawaii? That’s right, it was brought to the island by Portuguese sailors. Originally from Madeira, these explorers landed in Hawaii in 1879 where the instrument really found a home. Before that, it was called the ‘cavaquinho’ or ‘machete de braga’ in Madeira.
Now we know where the instrument originated, let’s explore more about the ukulele!
The Ukulele and Hawaii
While Hawaii isn’t responsible for introducing the instrument, the two are synonymous with one another today. Why? Some believe it to be the role of King Kalakaua. Not only did he save the national identity of the beautiful island, but he was also a keen supporter of the arts. Once he learned of this tiny instrument, he would have it played during royal events. If history tells us anything, it’s that what happens in a king’s court quickly becomes popular everywhere else.
Over the years, the ukulele became Hawaii’s national instrument and it is now deeply ingrained into the culture.
What about the instrument itself? When it comes to the ukulele as a stringed instrument, the internet is riddled with misconceptions. For example, the first thing we’ll say is that a ukulele is NOT a small version of a guitar. Although there are certainly similarities, the tuning is completely different. Ultimately, this means that even experienced guitar players would need to learn entirely new chords and finger positions.
With four strings, G-C-E-A is the standard tuning. Therefore, if you were to attempt guitar chord shapes on the ukulele, it would make an awful sound. If you want to learn the ukulele, many will tell you that it’s easier than a guitar. This being said, there is still a learning curve that even Brian May would have to overcome.
Types of Ukulele
With a simple search online, you’re likely to find ukuleles of all different sizes and names. For example, Soprano is perhaps the most common. When people talk about owning a ‘ukulele’, they will almost certainly be talking about this type. From here, the next is a Concert ukulele. With two extra inches in the length and scale, this brings a slightly different tuning. Suddenly, it opens the door to G3-C4-E4-A4 tuning.
From here, we find the Tenor ukulele. Again, this adds another two inches to the scale but three inches to the length. Once again, there are more options for tuning with the Tenor ukulele. Finally, a 19-inch scale and 30-inch model comes with the Baritone ukulele. With the Baritone, there is one common tuning – D3-G3-B3-E4.
Choosing a Ukulele
We know the history and the different types, but how do you choose a model and start your playing journey? Essentially, it all comes down to tone. The bigger the ukulele, the deeper and louder the tone (generally speaking). While the Baritone almost reaches a guitar in tone, a Soprano will be much higher. For us, we always advise people to visit a music shop and listen to the tone of each. Also, there are videos that compare the sound of every type.
In terms of quality, it’s all about the material. With good tonewood, like Koa, you will get the sound you want (with added durability). Elsewhere, other popular materials include Maple and Mahogany. As long as you don’t just go for the cheapest model on the market, you should be in good hands.
Here are some fun ukulele facts to end:
• Both Paul McCartney and George Harrison have expressed love for the ukulele
• The first syllable is pronounced ‘oo’ not ‘you’
• The ukulele gained in popularity during the Great Depression
• Elvis played the instrument in Blue Hawaii