“The ukulele has become one of the most widely played instruments in the world, and for good reason,” says Jim Kayser, the former teacher at the Manhattan-based music school School 31. “It’s well-suited to the modern world. Although it has lots of traditional notes, the instrument has a broad range of sound, and a large variety of players and listeners.”
Kayser was one who taught many students at School 31, including some newcomers like Tanya Fecund and Alex Leggio, who played the ukulele in the early 1980s before switching to trumpet.
Kayser says the ukulele is a good instrument for beginners because it requires no formal lesson and involves a few different playing techniques. “If you just sing along to the melody, you can hear the notes easily,” he says. But some advanced students of the instrument say it should be played in the same way as a band instrument.
“Ukuleles are very versatile instruments and allow the student to pick out the unique notes,” says Jeff Kitzel, the former professor and current dean of students at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. “Even the most technically skilled band player is often a mediocre student of the ukulele — because the instrument makes it easy for the student to do it.”
Some professional lessons for the ukulele, such as those offered by L.A.-based Professional Lessons or a new NYC-based ukulele teacher, aren’t as easy to find. But “someone with a love for music and curiosity has always been able to find them online,” says Paul Roviano, creator of ukulele classes for the New York City area.
Even with all the classes taking place online, “you only need a few hours in a week to get the most out of this instrument,” notes the ukulele teacher on the ukemeister Facebook page of Toronto’s John Bock’s School.
He says many students begin as beginner, but that advanced ukulele students usually begin to practice before a performance. “For a very simple ukele, you can play a simple melody like, ‘Swan Lake,’ then add some other simple chord structures, and you’ll be on your way to a simple sounding music box,” he says. “To make this ukele sound as good as possible, it is important that there are no unnecessary notes
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