Monday, May 17, 2010


Well, I've caught it..... Ukulele Fever.
I have heard it runs rampant here in Hawaii, but I never expected I would catch it. It all started about 15 years ago when my mom bought me a little "touristy" ukulele to decorate my home with! My house is all Hawaiian-Tiki theme, and she thought a little ukulele would fit right in.

I have never played a musical instrument in my life, and was never planning on playing the ukulele either. It looked adorable sitting on the stereo cabinet -- strictly home decor!! Then, when I got back into painting and had to have my Hawaiian music playing in the background, most of which includes the Ukulele, I thought it would sure be fun to be able to play.

Here is the little tourist ukulele that became the unknown start of my
"Ukulele Fever".

As luck would have it, I was at the library one day, thumbing through their DVD's. I came across a
"Teresa Bright Beginning Ukulele" DVD
and thought.... why not?
So, I brought it home and picked up my little tourist ukulele and tuned it to "my-dog-has-fleas" as best as I could. I tried to follow Teresa's DVD and was becoming frustrated. I did not know how to read music, didn't know the first thing about chords and counting and all that stuff, but I do know what SOUNDS right (and my playing did not!!). But, I kept at it and tried over and over again.
It was almost like trying to learn a foreign language. And then, all of a sudden, it started to click. My brain was beginning to memorize the different chords and my fingers were starting to hop automatically to where they needed to go. It almost started to sound like music..... almost.

Like I said, this ukulele was strictly bought for decorative purposes and was far from containing any real musical quality, but I played it all weekend long and was getting better and better at it.

This is when I caught THE FEVER!!! Mother's Day was coming up and Brighton wanted to buy me a decent ukulele. I was all for it! There were two different ones that I really liked and I couldn't decide between the two. We brought both home, planning on trying them and seeing which felt better to me, and I would return the other one. Well, I tried them both, and I did like one over the other. But then something funny happened. Dean picked up the other ukulele that we had planned to return, and HE CAUGHT THE FEVER!!! He also had never played ukulele before, although when he was young he had played a few musical instruments and knew a few chords.

We decided to keep both ukuleles and spent the day watching the Teresa Bright DVD over and over again. Her teaching style is amazing and it was so easy to learn the different chords. By evening, we both could play the three Hawaiian Songs on her DVD. We were amazed with ourselves!!! If I knew it would be this fun, I would have tried it years ago!

Here are our new (and improved) Ukuleles. They are made of curly koa and I think they are just as beautiful to look at as they are fun to play!

I love music, and to be able to play something on the ukulele that is even semi-recognizable is so thrilling!! We keep the ukuleles setting on the stereo cabinet, just as our little home decor uke before them. But now, whenever we walk past, we have the urge to pick them up and start strumming.
It is so fun to be able to do something together that we both enjoy.

We recently signed up for lessons so that we learn CORRECTLY how to play. Unfortunately, the ukulele takes up a lot of my time now, I need to make more time for painting. But it really is rather addicting! The other day, I was in the middle of painting, listening to my Hawaiian music, and this song came on that I thought "This would be fun to try to play on the uke". I dropped my palette knife and grabbed my ukulele. Slowly but surely, just by ear, I figured out the basic chords needed to play the song. And about 2 hours later, I had figured out the entire song and was playing it over and over again, totally forgetting the fact that I had been in the middle of a painting!

That's what Uke Fever does to you! It gets in you and you can't get rid of it. And I don't want to get rid of it. I have found something new that I love to do, and it has opened up a whole new musical world for me!

Teresa Bright is a famous Hawaiian singer and ukulele player here on the Island of Oahu. If you want to check out the DVD I used to learn how to play, click on the picture below. I highly recommend it if you want to learn to play Hawaiian Music on your Ukulele!


LisaBongZee's Island Dream Life Website


Felicia Kramer said...

Lisa - you really do have the bug!! On my NEXT visit to Hawaii you must play for me.

Valerie Boersma said...

I love listening to ukulele music (not counting Tiny Tim!) and I think it is so cool that you guys are learning to play them!

Is a you-tube video on the horizon?:)
If so...look out Lady Gaga!

Artsnark said...

what fun! Can't wait to see your You-Tube premier :D

Marionette said...

What a fun post!!!! Your ukes are beautiful! I think you should combine your two passions and paint a portrait of your two ukes together like you have in the photo!!!

I know what you mean about them being addicting. That's why I have been putting off getting into my uke seriously. I know it will eat into my painting time. Now that we have some stuff out of the way, we are going to try to learn from the DVD as well. I also have a few other books and my sister-in-law knows how to play. I'm trying to get her to give us some lessons LOL!