Playing the ukulele

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Ukulele playing grey nomad
Keith H enjoys playing the ukulele in his caravan

Packing for the Big Lap is a challenge for all grey nomads, but it can be triply so for music-loving travellers. When space is tight and weight is an issue, some of the instruments that could so easily bring untold fun to a night around the campfire tend to fall victim to commonsense.

The piano is an obvious non-starter, the same could be said for the delicate harp, and it would be a brave caravanner or motorhomer who risked the wrath of campsite neighbours by breaking out the drum kit!

The harmonica is an obvious favourite for mobile grey musos and, increasingly, so too is the ukulele. Its compact size and musical versatility earning it place in a surprising number of grey nomad rigs.

“My ukulele lives in our caravan and comes away with us on all of our trips,” said Keith H. “I’ve been playing the guitar for 50 years and still have four that I play regularly at home … but the ukulele takes up much less room than a guitar while travelling.”

And Keith is far from alone. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a growing number of travellers are turning to the four-stringed uke for musical satisfaction on the road. Indeed, the organisers of next month’s Cairns Ukulele Festival say they expect large numbers of grey nomads to be among the attendees.

“Playing the ukulele is great pastime for any grey nomad to enjoy, whether a beginner or more experienced player,” said Keith. “With a little perseverance, it’s quite easy to learn how to play and most music stores stock a range of ukuleles varying in price from $25 to around $200.”

Keith recommends staying away from the very cheap models as they are really only ‘toys’, and says an instrument costing $50-$80 is quite adequate.

“I play at almost any time of the day but find that I play mostly while dinner is cooking in the evening, sometimes while partaking in a pre-dinner glass of wine,” he said. “On our travels I have had the occasional musical interlude with other people that enjoy playing.”

Keith recalls one recent occasion in which a guitar player in the next campsite at Port MacDonnell Caravan Park asked to join him for a jam session.

“We spent a few pleasant hours going through his repertoire of songs from The Beatles to Bob Dylan, along with a few old jazz numbers,” said Keith. “He was impressed by how versatile my ukulele was … so much so that he decided that he was going to buy one.”

And Keith reckons with this link on favourites on his laptop, he’ll never run out of songs to learn to play while he’s travelling: https://www.chordgenome.com/easy-ukulele-songs-beginners/

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