December is here! The prepared gift givers have already wrapped their Christmas goodies and you… Well, if you’re like me you need a few ideas to get you started.
Here are the things I feel most ‘ukulele players would be excited to get their hands on this holiday season. Some are new releases, some are tried and true accessories that stand the test of time. Share your own ideas in the comments!
Arpeggio Meditations For Ukulele Book
By Daniel Ward
One of the coolest new books on the block, Arpeggio Meditations For Ukulele is a collection of 16 ingenious studies to build hand coordination, strength, and musicianship. Daniel has done a fabulous job covering a wide range of skill levels, moods, chord changes, picking patterns and more in this 30-page book.
I had a Kala stand at one point and really liked it for a smaller uke on a tabletop.
Planet Waves NS Micro Tuner
Tiny, accurate tuning that’s bright enough to see in the daylight. Pick from two versions that can live on a headstock or in a soundhole. The headstock version also includes a built-in metronome and reference pitch shift (430-450hz).
A strap helps support the uke while playing. There are several types that help hold the instrument in various ways.
If the uke in question has strap buttons, any guitar strap will work. Ernie Ball makes a classic, cheap, and light one that comes in many color options. There are also high-end leather straps and hand knitted versions you can find on Etsy. The sky is the limit.
‘Ukulele Chord Shapes Book
By Brad Bordessa
My own contribution to this list. In ‘Ukulele Chord Shapes I explore a seldom-discussed method of approaching the fretboard. Included are more shapes, easy-to-understand theory, and chord knowledge than you can shake an ‘ukulele at!
Lessons – The Gift That Keeps Giving
‘Ukulele lessons are a hard thing to justify spending money on when you have access to free content on the internet. But the structure and discipline that a good teacher can give to a player’s musical journey can be very important.
The best lessons are in-person. The physical learning space is, without a doubt, the most beneficial environment for acquiring new skills. Teachers often work in 4-week chunks of time – a great gift certificate timeframe, depending on cost. Be sure to get referrals and solicit recommendations before you commit.
There are also several ‘ukulele courses you can join for a modest access fee. This is mostly unpersonalized, but also much more affordable. Each has its focus and unique presentation.
- I work for James Hill as an admin for The Ukulele Way, which I feel is one of the best courses available – though I’m probably pretty biased. There’s a community page and great support from myself and the crew (including James) for any of the lesson content or technical troubles you might have.
- The guys at Ukulele Underground have probably been doing video courses the longest and have a large collection. Probably the most “hip” operation you’ll find with lot of popular songs and flashy techniques.
- The new kid on the block is Artistworks, in which Craig Chee & Sarah Maisel are the instructors. It has opportunities for video feedback as part of the curriculum.
People get bent out of shape looking for the perfect strings, but only a very stubborn person isn’t going to appreciate the chance to try a new set. And you never know, it might be their next favorite thing!
I recommend brands like: Worth, Southcoast, Aquila, D’addario, and Savarez, to name a few. Each has their own flavor. Make sure to get a set that will fit the player’s ‘ukulele.
Anytune Slow-Downer/Pitch Shift App
I’m pretty low-tech when it comes to music, but I find myself using Anytune quite often these days when learning songs. It’s fabulous for slowing down the tempo of a recording or even changing the pitch (invaluable for singing the song in “your key”).
The free version does all that, but Anytune Pro also gives you advanced EQ options and REFRAME which allows you to isolate instruments based on their place in the mix (how does listening to just the uke without the band sound?).
A New ‘Ukulele
If you really want to go all-out this year, the folks at your local music store would love to send you home with a new uke for your loved one.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that human connection is the most important thing about the holiday season. It’s a privilege to express affection with gifts.
Consider writing a song. Consider hosting a sing-along. Consider cooking dinner for the less fortunate. Always remember to appreciate the little things. And have a very merry Christmas, Hanukkkah, Winter Solstice, or whatever you and yours celebrate. Let’s celebrate!