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By Jamie Houston. “Arm the World with Ukes Not Nukes”
You would think that with a statement like that, I would be some political throwback from the 60’s, but no, I’m very much here in the present, and not really politically minded. I am however, very passionate about ukuleles. As an instrument, you could call it the ‘gateway’ instrument, as it opens the way to so much fun and above all, it is very easy to learn. My love affair with this ‘little flea’ of an instrument started a couple of years ago in a friends’ backyard around the campfire (BBQ!). Before too long, there was a whole group of us with ukes, all eager to learn. In no time I was strumming out the chords to ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. A star was born (somewhere!). In fact it was these gatherings that spawned the North Coast Ukulele Collective, of which I was a co-founder.
I am now a lover of all things ukulele, and have a vision to put a ukulele into the hands of every person on the planet, which will of course bring about world peace! How can you not smile when playing a ukulele, or when confronted by someone with a ukulele? Imagine if our soldiers in Iraq were armed with ukes instead of guns? The other guys would just down weapons and join them for a sing-song, chanting “Ukes not Nukes!” – I can see it now.
My ultimate vision is for everyone to discover the joy of playing ukulele, but this will start in schools with the children, and will grow as their families and friends get caught up in the ‘uke hype’ that is currently taking the world by storm. The far north coast of New South Wales is a melting pot of musical and cultural styles, so lends itself perfectly to the formation of a new musical community known as Uke-topia. Hey, I like the sound of that – we could all wear Hawaiian shirts and just play ukulele all day while having the love of the people support us in our quest to achieve Uke-vana.
The happy ending to this little tale will come about when I set up an Organisation that can promote my vision and receive donations from other uke lovers to sponsor children into ukuleles. I will have a factory churning them out by the thousands, and every recipient will get free lessons given by a band of roving uke-a-holics from my “Uke Can Do It” Teaching Academy. Watch this space…
By LOVE MY UKULELE FOUNDER Jamie Houston – Written May 2007 and published in an online magazine “Music. Play For Life” put out by Music Council of Australia. Jamie now resides in Wellington, New Zealand