Samantha is a recording artist & writer based in Nürnberg, Germany (by way of California).

Why Everyone Should Have a Ukulele

Why Everyone Should Have a Ukulele


Ever since visions of Elvis Presley and grass-skirted beauties on moonlit beaches graced our two-tone RCAs (ok, I wasn’t around then, but I asked mom), we’ve been obsessed with the ukulele and it’s symbol of the idyllic Hawaiian life. Beyond that, it's become a tool for good vibes and easy music-making.

I’ve always loved the ukulele, but since I’ve been carrying around a new weight, baby weight, its tiny body has really come in handy when I want to strum a few songs. Plus, who doesn’t want to learn an instrument that means “leaping flea” in Hawaiian?

If you’re a traveler, a mom-to-be or have a family, here are some benefits of having your own ukulele on hand:

1. IT'S EASY TO PLAY For you “non"-musicians out there (which isn't true- anyone can learn to play music), many songs you hear on the radio, classics or lullabies are only a few chords and can be easily learned on the uke.   Most people get bogged down with the idea of learning the guitar. I hear, “I tried to play but then gave up. It was too painful for my fingers!" That’s because guitar takes a good month of practice to develop muscle memory. Totally worth it, but if you are looking for an easier way, the ukulele is a simple string alternative.

2. IT FITS IN YOUR BACKPACK Or weekender. Or stroller. Have uke, will travel. Simply much easier than lugging an acoustic guitar to the beach. On a bike. And falling flat on your face in front of a mass of people on the Venice Beach boardwalk.

3. THEY WON'T BREAK THE BANK Just make sure to invest in a uke that won’t go out of tune every 5 minutes. I have a  Cordoba which is a performance uke, but you can get away with something great for $40-$50. For tuning, there are some great guitar apps that have tuning settings as well as chord positions for ukuleles.

4. IT'S HEALTHY! Studies show through learning an instrument, not only are both the left and right areas of your brain engaged, but you are getting a "full-body brain workout" which has long-term positive effects. Check out this TED-Ed video to illustrate. For moms, the resonance of the uke is higher than the guitar which is a more pleasing vibration for your baby, or the baby in your belly. Many studies have also found that your baby will start to listen and actually memorize words, songs and sounds from around 23 weeks gestation onwards. The amniotic fluid in your uterus is a great conductor of sound!

5. UKULELES ARE FEEL-GOOD INSTRUMENTS Who doesn’t want to listen to Jack Johnson all day, anyway? Ok, I may be biased, but learning some of your favorite tunes on the uke turns any gathering into a beachy affair that gets everyone wiggling their bubble toes.

6. IT'S ALL IN THE FAMILY What better way to spend time with the kids than making music together? Bonus points: the ukulele is small enough to get their little hands around and learn themselves. Growing up in a musical and creative environment paves the way for happiness and success down the road.

So, I hope I've convinced you to go out and get a little leaping flea of your own.

Next assignment: Video. Learn 4 lullabies on the uke in 5 minutes. (I promise.)
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