It’s known as the ‘happy instrument’, is easy to learn and is one of the most popular musical instruments in Australia. With more than 200,000 imported every year, the appeal of the ukulele shows no signs of slowing down.
Every Wednesday morning in the GemLife Bribie Island music room, the cheerful sounds of ukuleles can be heard when members of the resort’s ukulele group get together for their weekly practise session.
The group now has 11 members, led by residents Kerry Duffy and Alan Miller, who took up the ukulele three and seven years ago, respectively, at the University of the Third Age (U3A).
“When we’re practising and the sales team is taking visitors through the country club, they’ll often stop and tell us how great the music is,” said Kerry.
“It’s a lot of fun and anyone can join. The more people that do it, the better – it hides the mistakes!” For Kerry, a holiday in Hawaii several years ago served as the inspiration for taking up the ukulele.
The island is synonymous with the instrument, though it originated in Portugal.
“I’d never played a musical instrument before. When thinking about retirement, I wanted to learn something new and everyone said ukulele is super easy,” she said. Although she admits her ukulele lay collecting dust for a while, Kerry eventually took up lessons at the U3A, where coincidently GemLife resident, Alan Miller, was also learning to play, although neither knew it at the time.
“I happened to see Alan at the country club, put two and two together, and we became friends,” she said. The pair now help other ukulele newcomers to learn the ‘happy instrument’.
“I’d encourage everyone to give it a go – even if they’ve never played an instrument before. You can get by with just a few chords and, with a bit of regular practise, it really is easy,” said Kerry.
“There’s lots of resources out there to help as well. There’s heaps on YouTube to watch and there’s beginner groups on Facebook too.”
The ukulele has devotees around the world with many celebrities playing the instrument including Dwayne ‘The Rock Johnson’, actor Ryan Gosling, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, and legendary guitarist Pete Townsend.
Ukuleles are affordable and can be bought for as little as $40 with mid-range instruments priced around $300.
The GemLife Bribie Island Ukulele Group meets in the music room Wednesdays at 8:30am and welcomes new members.
The ukulele group also welcomes donations of unwanted ukuleles.