Photo: beeboys/Shutterstock

How to Be a Ukulele Rock Star in a Few Hours

Music + Nightlife
by Michelle Schusterman Aug 10, 2012
Disclaimer: The term rock star is used here in its most sarcastic sense.

START THE WAY many aspiring musicians seem to start these days — googling “how to play the _____.” Scroll through the results and try not to think of what your college music professors would say if they could see you now.

Choose Pineapple Pete’s Uke School and take out your Lâg ukulele. Start the beginner lessons, which (thankfully) begin with tuning. Work on achieving balance in the playing position by holding the ukulele properly, then taking away the left hand. Drop the instrument on the floor. Continue your lessons in a carpeted area.

Within an hour, learn how to strum with your forefinger. Practice moving between a C chord, an F chord, and a G7 chord until you can cycle through them doing a shuffle strum without stopping (more or less).

Flip through the next few lessons and learn how to pluck. Stumble over the solo from “Wipe Out” a few times, then go back to strumming.

Decide it’s time for your first performance, figuring there are Grammy-winning musicians out there who don’t know much more than three chords either. Walk outside and say hi to the neighbor’s kids, who have set up a lemonade and iced tea stand on their front stoop.

Plop down on the steps with them and tune. Begin strumming out a shaky “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Smile as they sing along. A woman out walking her dog pauses to applaud and buy a cup of iced tea. Realize you are officially a busker and decide to add it to your CV immediately.

Flexing your fingers, launch into a haunting rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Afterwards, play “Twinkle Twinkle” again. The woman and her dog leave.

“What other songs do you know?” asks the girl (the oldest of the two).

“None,” you admit. “I only know three chords.” Momentarily feel a deep sense of shame at the realization that you have become no better than the thousands of dumbasses who have bastardized the djembe.

“Wait!” you say quickly. “I can do Wipe Out.”

Play it as fast as possible, accidentally plucking the C string so many times the solo is pretty much unrecognizable. Notice the kids’ smiles have become rather fixed.

Head back inside, having learned an important lesson: Encores are rarely a good idea.

[Editor’s note: The author received her lovely ukulele complementary from Lâg Guitars ($89.99-$149.99).]

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