The Golden Age Of The Ukulele
If you grew up in Australia, chances are you or someone in your household has had to endure this testing experience before.
Imagine, you finish a long week at work. You’re balancing all the demands of your work life plus the hectic schedule of family life. You’re so glad it’s Friday, you can finally get home and pour that glass of wine that’s been beckoning you since 4. You open the door and just as you’re about to put your feet up, you hear the sound that brings dread to households around the nation…
Out from your child’s bedroom, comes the shrieking notes of “Frère Jacques” from their new recorder. They’ve just started learning it in school. They’ve got a concert on Monday. Welcome to your weekend. "Frère Jacques"- out of tune- in jolts- incomplete- in shrieks... for 96 HOURS.
“HONEY!!”, you scream, rushing over in agitation, opening the door, only to find your innocent child concentrating, beaming up at you with pride… “I’ve got to learn Hot Cross Buns next!”
The issue of recorders being possibly the most annoying sound in the universe, whilst simultaneously being the most accessible and therefore popular, has been plaguing Australian societies for decades.
However, we finally have a solution and parents across the nation are rejoicing. Meet the humble ukulele which is winning Australian hearts by storm.
Enjoying a surge in popularity, The Australian Music Association estimates that annual ukulele imports to Australia have hit 200,000. That’s 50, 000 units ahead of the next most imported instrument- the classic acoustic guitar!
Teachers trace the ukulele ‘s popularity back to the fact that it is versatile. It can be played alone or in groups as well as being easily transported.
Originating from the tropical Hawaii, the ukulele seems to have a certain ‘happiness’ to it’s serene sounds. Inf act, some claim that it was the Hawaiian musician, Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s, cover of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ in the 1990s which grabbed the world's attention.
And enthusiasts say the hype seems to be sustained. Not only do you get an instrument for as little as $40, there are many great festivals and ukulele playing clubs popping up around the country for young and old. John Maddison, who builds ukuleles in Albany, goes so far as to claim “You never see sad people with a ukulele”.
So let’s bury the recorders and rewrite the scene. You come home to melodious music… you don’t understand… are you in Hawaii? You open the door and there is every member of your family on ukuleles, laughing along, beaming with laughter and happiness. They hand you a ukulele and you all live happily ever after.