It’s hard not to smile when you hear a ukulele. This is the mantra teacher Claire Nicolson works by at the newly formed Kensal Rise Ukulele Massive, and it’s not a bad way of thinking about the music. Hannah Bewley joins in for a jam.
I AM not going to lie.
It’s quite difficult typing this the morning after.
My amateur fingers are not used to three hours of intense ukulele practice but the numb feeling was totally worth it, I will just be economical with the letter ‘w’.
The Kensal Rise Ukulele Massive has pitched up in the area and is warming up for the start of an 11-week course in the new year.
To tune in to how much interest there is in the area Claire Nicolson has been running drop-in classes for anyone and everyone and they have proved very successful as the word spreads.
As it took me more than a year to learn the three opening (and very simple) chords to a Libertines song on the guitar I didn’t think I would prove an instant prodigy on the ukulele.
However, after two hours of what I would like to call jamming at The Mason's Arms pub in Harrow Road, as a group I think we had nailed You Are My Sunshine.
Claire, a singer and musician in her own right, is an enthusiastic teacher and said: “I trained myself, I played the guitar anyway and I do a lot of singing. I play the keyboard as well and I thought, why not learn something new. It was a year ago that I went to one of Sam’s classes and since then I have decided to move back to London and thought I could set one up here. It didn’t take me long to pick it up but I still have a long way to go. It is one of the simplest instruments if you are looking for something to learn.”
The club comes under the umbrella of The Fabulous Ukulele Club, which was set up by musician Sam Brown, and has gone from strength to strength.
There are now four other clubs as well as the Kensal Rise club, the The International Ukulele Club of Sonning Common, The Jumping Flea Club, The Peoples Ukulele Brigade and the The North London Ukulele Collective.
Claire is also setting up a club for South Kilburn, the South Kilburn Ukulele Liberators and ran a club in Norfolk.
She said: “I had a class in Norfolk as well. They all got really good and we did a gig at the end of it. We will do a concert at the end of it for family and friends. People can join as we go along, but it’s good to get in at the start. It is very much a social thing, it is good fun. The moment you hear it, it puts a smile on your face. I really do enjoy playing it and teaching as well. My mother was a music teacher and it is funny that I got in to it as well.”
At the class we learnt You Are My Sunshine as well as I’ll Fly Away, which is sung by Alison Krauss on the soundtrack for the film O Brother Where Art Thou?
Many songs are easy to convert for the ukulele and end up a simple collection of chords.
By the end of the night everyone had mastered F, G, and C chords and had caught the bug for more.
Krissie Nicolson said: “I really enjoyed the class, it was good fun. I loved the choice of songs, I really like the bluegrass music. It has been a really good practice, I do other things with my friends and I am quite musical so this is really complimentary to that.”
Courses will start in the new year and the first class is free.
For more information go to www.thefabulousukuleleclub.co.uk
And if you are wary about the numb fingers, why worry? Waltz down and give it a whirl.