If I was truly a real mayor of anything musical, my 2022 wish would be to declare the new year as the Year of the Ukulele.
Not going to happen.
But, in spite of that, the ukulele itself is flying off the shelves and into the welcoming arms of youngsters, hipsters and elders looking for some acoustic analog to balance the digital overload in their lives these days.
We baby boomers spent millions on consuming music with concerts and sound systems. Jon Baptiste calls this the commodification of music. Our grandparents preferred to spend their dollars making music collectively on upright pianos and fiddles and Sears guitars. Perhaps it’s time for a renaissance to get us back into the kitchen jam. Get eight people tomorrow buying eight ukes and by the end of January another jam is going to break out somewhere, I guarantee.
A few years ago, CBC hosted a fine debate on where should school music programs invest…the uke or the recorder. James Hill, a product of the legendary Langley Ukulele program gave a fine defence of the uke and Denise Gagne, a fine defense of the recorder. They were careful to say that both had value but to my mind, after it was over, I could not imagine a recorder jam breaking out after school.
Speaking of schools, the school across the street, a fine school indeed, is fundraising for $18,000 to buy a half dozen xylophones for a new school music program. I was not very good at math but a quick calculation in my head, had eighteen grand buying 200 ukes or more. Imagine the access, the personal touch, the joy, the jams and the possibility of 200 kids falling in love with a real instrument that would be a gateway to something even more exciting.
As I taught two uke chords and Jambalaya in ten minutes on the streets these past summers on the Mile, I saw so many people from so many walks of life surprised and delighted that they could be playing music so quickly.
The ukulele is a gateway drug to becoming a full-time user. You are warned. But if you are tempted, check out the good folks at UkeWest.com or any fine ukulele music program in our city.
Wrap your arms around an instrument this year and let your voice find a new role in your home. Warm regards on cold days.