Interested in joining the Sandy ukulele group?
We meet on a Friday evening at the Sandy Baptist Church Hall between 7-9pm and you really will be most welcome. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions.
I’ve never even picked up a ukulele before. Can I still join?
Yes of course. We have several members who have joined in this way. We don’t actually “teach” you to play ukulele at our Friday night sessions. We practice songs and on the way you will gain valuable experience playing in a group and practicing rhythm and timing. You will be expected to practice the songsin your own time. You will of course be surrounded by like-minded people, who will be more than willing to help you.
Can I join and bring my bagpipes to play along?
Unfortunately we have to say no to this! It is fundamentally a ukulele band and we don’t have banjoleles, guitars, keyboards, brass instruments etc.. Although many of our talented members can play other instruments we only allow ukuleles to maintain our unique sound. Ukuleles only please!
How long before I can join in at a gig or concert?
You may have joined us from other ukulele groups, as many have, and you might be a great player. However you will need to know the way we play our songs before you can expect to gig with us. You will never be “auditioned” as such but beginner or seasoned player we need to know that you’re not a playing disaster. Don’t worry the “playing disasters” are very rare!
WHAT UKULELE SHOULD I GET?
The choice is bewildering, with many different shapes, sizes and flavours to choose from. We recommend you come along and have a play and demo from the large variety we have amongst our members, we love showing off our instruments. It’s always good to know what you want before you buy and members can often recommend the best place to purchase one. If you’re serious about having a go at learning the ukulele I would steer clear of the “toys” you can buy for about £10, normally brightly coloured. They won’t stay in tune and sound just awful. It will massively impede your learning and you would probably give up very quickly. You really don’t need to spend the earth to get a half decent ukulele. There are Baritone, Tenor, Concert and Soprano ukuleles, and these can have 4, 6 and 8 string varieties. There are fully electric versions, electro acoustic versions and fully acoustic. They can be laminated or all solid wood. They also have “super versions” of each. These can have the body of one type but the neck of another. Try before you buy. Also the sound will differ depending on what strings you use. It’s a nightmare of a choice. What would suit you? Come along and find out.
The same can be said of the ukulele accessories. I thoroughly recommend an electronic tuner. Most players can learn to tune by ear but its almost impossible in a noisy environment such as a concert or practice session. I have several stringed instruments and they all have the same make of tuner attached to them. They clip on to the headstock and never leave the instrument.
Any tips for the budding beginner?
1. You need to be a Team Player
Playing in a group, if you've never done it before, is a different experience to solo playing. It can be far easier and at the same time a lot harder. On your own you can play at your speed and tempo and interpret the song how you want to, and make as many mistakes as you want. Obviously in a group you will need to be able to play at the pace of the group. At the speed, tempo, rhythm, style and accuracy dictated by others. Oh and have fun.
2. Play your instrument - it will help - you'd be surprised!
3. Practice with a metronome
Music is all about timing and rhythm. So many beginners get caught up with learning the chords and totally ignore their strumming hand. Many I see still just seem to run their hands up and down when strumming. I liken it to painting with a brush, just all random strokes with no set pattern. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting those strums right. To this end I recommend the use of a metronome and use it every time you practice. Get the beats right. Learn timing and rhythm and you will quickly progress and well on your way to becoming a great group player. Being out of time with the rest of the group is a very big no-no! Everyone can hear you if you’re out of sync.!
4. Get those fingers moving!
Fingers as “dainty as a ballerina” or as thick and chunky as a packet of walls extra thick sausages? You really will need to get them moving. You will need the manual dexterity required to get your fingers into positions you never thought possible. You will be shown these exercises at group sessions on a Friday. Find some simple ukulele scales on the internet and practice them! Practice with a metronome and very gradually keep increasing the speed. Unstiffen those snorkers and who knows where it will take you! (Hopefully not casualty Dept)
5. Join as many groups as you can
A lot of our members belong to several ukulele groups as well as choirs and other music groups. it’s a great way to improve fast. Once you’ve been bitten by the ukulele bug it’s hard to get cured!
6. Don't keep your ukulele in its case
Odd thing to recommend I hear you cry! If it’s in its case it’s out of sight and out of mind. If I’m learning a new song or section I can grab it every time I pass and have a quick couple of minutes. (Don’t forget the metronome). It's no good hidden away.
7. Learn one song and learn it well
The temptation will be to gather the music for all your favourite songs and have a go at playing them all. Get a simple song and by that I mean one with about 3 easy chords and learn it properly, so you can play the entire song without mistakes and use the correct timing and rhythm. Learning the next song will be easier.
Ukulele V Banjo Ukulele
Over the last few years the popularity of the ukulele, has grown very quickly although many people still have a stigma about this instrument. I ask myself why? The main reason I can think of is non-ukulele players associate the ukulele with George Formby and his type of song. “When I’m cleaning windows “. The same sort of stigma is also associated with amateur radio and the Tony Hancock sketch... “Can you hear me in Tokyo"
Yes, George Formby did play the ukulele but he’s better known for playing the Banjo Ukulele which is a completely different type of instrument.
The Ukulele is a small looking guitar. The Banjo Ukulele has a round base and has 4,5 or 6 strings and the sound is completely different.
As a ukulele group we do not play any George Formby music or songs, but our own style of rock and roll and pop covers from the last 50 decades.