Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bari Ukulele Love

A couple years ago I was thrilled to get a gorgeous Greg Bennett baritone ukulele for Christmas from my husband. 
He bought it at a really cool shop downtown called the Halifax Folklore Centre.

Photo credit: Halifax Folklore Centre. Click on image for URL.

The first year I hadn't been making much progress teaching myself to play. I might be creative in a lot of ways, but the musical niche of my brain was the size of a pin-head, and very dormant. Ten months later at the Dalhousie Christmas Craft Fair I came across an old acquaintance who was the music teacher at a private school I used to teach art at. I told him about my bari uke, and asked if he knew of anyone who taught uke lessons. To my great surprise, he turned to his daughter and asked if she wanted to learn how to paint. She said sure! And just like that we had made the best barter deal ever- to trade music lessons from him for art lessons for his daughter! This month marks 1 year of weekly private lessons, and I am forever grateful for this amazing life enriching exchange.

I know several chords now, some strumming and picking patterns, can finally sing and play at the same time (very challenging!), and am now trying to learn an entire song without looking at the chords or my hands. I'm almost there! The song is Halellujah, by Jeff Buckley. I'm playing it using these chords, in a picking pattern on strings D-G-B-E-B-G and it sounds lovely. Have a listen to pirateunder40's beautiful version I found on YouTube. It translates very well to my baritone ukulele...

I'm also trying to figure out how to pick Vetiver's Rolling Sea. I really, REALLY, love this tune. The cords I'm using can be found on Ultimate Guitar's site here. If there's anyone out there who can translate the picking pattern for the introduction into 4 strings, I would love to give you art in return. Email me: and we'll work something out! 
Here is the YouTube live version by Vetiver...

The first Monday of every month, dozens of ukulele players get together at Celtic Corner in Dartmouth at 7pm for 2 solid FUN-filled hours of music playing and singing. I went for the first time this month and blown away by the entire experience. It was funny, crazy, energizing, intense, and I can hardly wait until next month to do it again! Check out the Halifax Ukulele Gang (H.U.G.) for more info if you're thinking of joining. I have lots of practice to do because I am the only one with a bass among a see of 50 sopranos, so when I mess up it's really obvious. 

Learning to play an instrument at this age is a very slow process, but a little practice every day goes a long way. 
I am totally in love with my Bari Uke :)


  1. The HUG is great, isn't it? And the uke is such a lovely experience. I'm an "older"learner as well - finally signed up for lessons with Long and McQuade and glad I did thought the teacher can't understand why I smile so much during lessons...
    There are a lot of concert-sized ukes at the meeting, too - and I know a lot of the players play baritones as well -it's just so crowded that a smaller uke fits in better among all the elbows! Good luck to you!

  2. Yes, that's so true, there is not an inch of space for an instrument wider than the shoulders because it's so crowded there. I felt very self-conscious, not only because of the large size of the baritone, but also because of the bass sound that stands out among the sopranos. Unfortunately, it's the only uke I own, and have spent the past year learning the bari chords, which are different than the other size uke chords. I really want to keep going, but the size of my uke (in such a space) is definitely a major deterrent! Regardless, I'm so grateful for the private lessons, and have learned of a few friends who also have ukes, so maybe we'll just get together and jam together until someday when H.U.G. moves to a larger room. Happy playing!


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