From the Ukulele Editor: Hot Fun in the Strummer Time


I get plenty of different answers when I get the chance to talk to ukulele players about what they might like to see in this magazine. They have favorite players they wish to see interviewed, or ask for a feature on the luthiers who made their ukulele. But above all, one request pops up far more often than all of the others—more songs.

On the one hand, the idea that ukulele players like to play songs may be the biggest “duh” of all—we’re insatiable strummers. Grab a songbook, flip it open to any page to begin playing, and immediately you’ve escaped the humdrum life of not playing ukulele. It’s fun, it’s nourishing to mind and soul, and it’s accessible to playing by yourself or in a humongous group. That’s why, beginning with the magazine you’re holding in your hands right now, we are letting you know that we’ve listened and you can expect to see more songs to play in each issue.

In addition to the skill-building lessons that we’re committed to delivering in each volume, we’re shooting to include a variety of different levels of music for players, such as this issue’s basic strum-through arrangement of a familiar old favorite, “Route 66” (p. 24 in the print or digital edition); a chord melody version of the “Down in the Valley” (or “Birmingham Jail”) by Grammy-winner Marcy Marxer; or Adam Perlmutter’s clever and elegant arrangement of the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.


Outside of this issue’s fresh dedication to music to play, we have a fun and inspiring “Summer Road Trip” special focus penned by contributing editor Jim D’Ville. As an in-demand workshop instructor, D’Ville has been all over the U.S. and knows the ukulele sanctuaries. It’s a bounty of insider knowledge and tips that will come in handy for any trip—not just the summertime ones. Elsewhere, Heidi Swedberg examines the increasingly common phenomenon of ukuleles in that last bastion of civilization, the public library; Audrey Coleman profiles Byron Yasui, a retired professor of music theory and composition with a deep love of the ukulele; and Lil’ Rev catches up with educator Curt Sheller.

I like to end these notes with a call to hear from you. Your feedback matters and I’d love to hear your ideas for the old, new, obscure, and popular songs you’d like to see us run in future issues. It could be a personal favorite or a knuckle-stretching workout that you aspire to someday play, so, what’s next?

—Greg Olwell