The ukulele has experienced a turnaround in fortunes lately, with it managing to shake off its novelty value and establish itself as a more mainstream instrument.
Once considered to be the smaller, less glamorous brother of the guitar, it has enjoyed a return to the mainstream of late with everyone from school children to city workers plucking away.
In fact, with the worldwide success of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain teamed with the instrument appearing on popular television drama Skins and on tracks by bands such as Noah and the Whale, it is no surprise that there has been a spike in interest.
The instrument is straddling mainstream and cult audiences, with ukulele groups in most cities. It has even replaced the recorder as the starter instrument in many primary schools.
George Hinchcliffe, one of the founding members of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, has seen the ukulele rise and fall in popularity, although speaking to the New York Star newspaper, he admitted that “the current wave is crazier than ever before”.
Its compactness, portability and capacity to allow budding musicians to learn and perform simple tunes has helped it to remain in the public eye for many years.
Gemma Cullingford, co-founder of the Norfolk Ukulele Society, told the BBC that part of the instrument’s appeal lies in the fact that it is a great, easy, instrument for young people to learn.
“It is diverse so that there is something for everyone,” she explained. “The fact that it’s so fun to learn makes it addictive to play. Playing with others is really good motivation too.”
Meanwhile, it has been reported that an increasing number of city workers are taking up the instrument, which was first popularised by George Formby, as a way of relieving stress.
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