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  • Writer's pictureRichard Lancaster

A Ukulele and Me

Updated: Dec 30, 2022

Have you ever had that magical experience when a tune or a song keeps coming back to you? The experts sometimes call it ‘sticky music’ because it never seems to leave your memory.

My first experience of this phenomenon happened 80 years ago when I was five. My father had developed a liking for the songs of the ukulele-playing singer, now long passed, George Formby. Our home was often filled with George’s renditions of ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows’ and ‘Leaning on a Lamp Post’ delivered via well-played, scratchy, 78rpm records. These were happy times, and I remember them well.

Nowadays, when remembering those good times, those song sounds return and I find myself humming the tunes again. In a mad moment of nostalgic reminiscing, I decided to buy a ukulele. I would learn to play it and sing those songs, dedicating the sound to the memory of my long-departed dear father. Confident in my decision-making ability, I soon scanned the internet in search of local music stores selling stringed musical instruments.

Rothwell’s ‘Nash Jingles’ specialises in the sale of guitars and ukuleles, so I soon talked to the helpful owner, Ian Nash, about my possible ukulele purchase. Ian is also an internationally acclaimed multi-music award nominee, having written, produced and recorded ten solo studio albums of progressive rock and blues. He also creates jingles, theme music, soundtracks and ringtones for corporate and individual clients. I left ‘ Nash Jingles’ with a handsome new $65 ukulele tucked underneath my arm.

So far, so good! And fortuned continued to favour the brace, for I found a ukulele teacher very quickly. Clontarf’s Keryn Henderson was willing to teach me the mysteries of how to play this miniature-sized guitar-like musical instrument, which I believe is better suited to be played by right-handed players. But teaching this ‘leftie’ was no deterrent to Keryn, who in a two-hour session was able to have an elderly, dinosauric-like lefthander pluck and sing Marion Sinclair’s 1932 classic song ‘Kookaburra’.

As I left the Henderson residence, I heard Keryn’s gentle voice reminding me not to exercise my fingers and to practice for ten minutes each day. She wisely emailed me instructions, which I then promised my heaven-resting Dad I would study properly. But I also told him that emulating George Formby may be far off yet!


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