With the ukulele now one of the most popular instruments around, musicroom caught up with Steven Sproat, the author of a new ukulele tutor book for intermediate players, Starting Ukulele: The Next Step, on his latest book and the relative lack of learning resources for players after they’ve conquered the basics.
Hello Steven! The Next Step follows on from your beginner book Starting Ukulele. How does the new book compare to its starter title?
“Starting Ukulele: The Next Step is the best book on learning to play the uke that I’ve written so far. It doesn’t just carry on from where Starting Ukulele left off—the content and advice inside is completely fresh and new for the series, based on my experience as a teacher, workshop tutor and player of the ukulele for over forty years.”
What makes the book useful to players who are past the initial beginner stage?
“It fills a void in today’s tutor market. Whilst beginners are well catered for, those players who have mastered the basics and are now ready to take their playing further are almost abandoned in comparison. This new book, whilst being easy to follow and make use of, is above all else, packed with the advice, techniques and ‘know how’ that intermediate students need to know.
The book covers all the areas vital for developing players wanting to take the next step up, as well as looking at some of the more obscure and overlooked issues such as advice on finger nails and novel practice methods using a sheet of cardboard!
The clear, colour layout and audio CD guide also give players all the audible and visual examples they need to hone their technique and take the book’s lessons fully on board.
I’m really proud of it. The publisher has done a great job with the layout and style and I’m sure it will appeal to intermediate players looking to expand their playing even further.”
How does the CD help students connect with the information and advice inside the book?
“There’s a great tune that features a tango/salsa beat, and it’s a great example for the Flamenco stroke—one of several right hand techniques covered in the book.
The popular techniques the book champions include “The Triplet”, “The Flamenco” and even an alternative to The Flamenco! Being able to hear a demonstration of a technique or exercise alongside the book’s text and full colour examples is a great benefit to learners.
I really love the songs we’ve included in the book. There’s one of my own songs, Full Circle, that was featured on BBC radio 2 several times and there’s even one from Nicky Campbell. He’s more widely known for his BBC broadcasting and interviews on BBC Five live but he’s also an amazing and accomplished musician and songwriter.”
Finally, what are your thoughts on the popularity of the ukulele today?
“The ukes popularity seems to have grown with each and every year this last decade and now even major guitar manufacturers have started producing ‘high end ‘ukes to have a slice of the action.”
Thank you for your time Steven!
Steven Sproat is one of the UK’s foremost ukulele players and has even taught celebrities such as Frank Skinner, Harry Hill and Sir Tom Courtenay to play the ukulele themselves.
Steven is also a talented singer songwriter and performer and will be touring with Jools Holland And His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra this summer. Check out his website, stevensproat.com, for more information.
Check out the YouTube clip below of Steven performing at the New York Ukulele Festival: