Tag Archives: mahalo ukuleles

How to get kids interested in music Part 1 – Preschoolers

Many parents ask us how to bring music into their children’s lives from an early age so they are used to seeing and playing instruments and will be able to progress naturally to learning to play. Here are a few of our top tips for making music with very young children:

1) Buy small percussion instruments. Try to explore different methods of making sound such as shaking and banging. Also, vary the texture of the sounds so you have a mixture of instruments suitable for different types of music making.

2) Play along to a favourite TV theme tune together and choose children’s TV programmes which regularly contain a song and/or dance number to play and sing along to. Instead of just banging away, encourage your child to match the rhythm and dynamics (loud/quiet) of each song and to choose an instrument that fits it best. Or read a story together and use your instruments to make sound effects. Try to be imaginative and explore the different sounds you can get from each instrument!

3) Draw on any experience you have yourself, even if it’s a little while ago! If you can sing or play, make time to do this so your child gets used to seeing it. Your first instinct will probably be to keep small children away from an expensive instrument but instead, teach your child to handle your instruments gently, even if they’re too young to play it.

4) Many people are surprised to find that you can introduce children as young as 2-3 to a simple instrument like the ukulele. Ukes are cheap, very easy to learn and great starter instruments for all the family to learn together :-).  For more info on starting to play the uke read our blog here.

5) Most areas have music groups and classes aimed at very young children and their parents. If you’re in the North East, Sweet Symphony School of Music and Piccolo Music are great places to start making music with your children.

Why not pop into enjoymuzic – your North East Music Shop and see our great selection of percussion and ukuleles?

Ukulele Lessons in Seaton Sluice & Bedlington

We’re often asked where there are local ukulele classes for complete beginners and more advanced players.   Learn to play your ukulele at local, reasonably priced courses starting very soon.  They’re run by a lovely lady called Diane who hosts them in Seaton Sluice & Bedlington.  Places are limited so don’t delay, call us at enjoymuzic for Diane’s contact details on 0191 2966544.  No need to read music!  You will need your own ukulele but we have some great quality beginner ukes in stock now.

Brunswick Ukulele Sizes
Brunswick Ukuleles from enjoymuzic

Learning music is cheaper than you think!

This time of year is a worry for many parents whose children are fired up with the idea of starting to play an instrument. There’s no need to spend a fortune however. Here’s a quick idea of the starting prices for beginner instruments at enjoymuzic this year. And remember, a bit of friendly advice is free so if you have any questions before you buy, just pop in!

Ukulele packages from £16.99
Recorders from £3.50
3/4 Guitars from £34.70
Flute & Clarinet outfits from £120 (or rent for just £36 for 3 months!)
Trumpet outfits from £135 (also available to rent)
Violin outfits from £79.99
Touch Sensitive Electronic Keyboard outfits from £139
Digital Pianos outfits from £324

There’s loads more to see instore and we’re open every day!

Check out our more detailed tips on buying a guitar, choosing a beginner flute or which ukulele to buy!

Which ukulele should I buy? (Part Two)

So you’ve read ‘Which Ukulele Should I Buy Part One’ and hopefully you have a clear idea of what size you need to buy but there are soooo many brands, finishes and price ranges out there, so here are a few of our preferred ukes for you to consider….

Things to look out for:

Friction pegs v. machine heads – Ukuleles, like most folk instruments, all had friction pegs until relatively recently and many well respected brands such as Ozark have stuck with this tradition. If you’re new to playing a stringed instrument however, we would always recommend that you look for one with machine heads (like a guitar) as friction pegs tend to slip and require some maintenance. Ask the shop to explain the difference if you’re not sure.

Laminate v. wood – There’s nothing wrong with starting out with a cheap laminate ukulele and seeing how you get along but be wary of paying too much for one. Real wood ukes are surprisingly inexpensive and sound so much better.

Accessories deals – You will need a tuner and maybe a bag or a stand for your ukulele. Ask the store if they offer any discounts or accessories bundles.

First time players and children: If you’ve never played an instrument before and you’re going to take up the ukulele, then good on you! Keep it cheap and cheerful with a Mahalo soprano ukulele package. There are loads of cheap ones around but we really rate the Mahalo brand for good value playability. If you’re confident you’ve selected the right size for you and would like a better sounding one, Mahalo also do an entry level wooden ukulele with a smart padded bag which is available in all the standard ukulele sizes. Brunswick is a slightly more expensive but better quality brand which is worth a look. They do ukuleles in a popular shade of mahogany or the more unusual blond maple version.

For guitarists: If you or the person you’re buying for already play guitar then it’s safe to say that a soprano ukulele is likely to seem too cramped and fiddly. Go straight in for a concert or tenor size. Brunswick do some beautiful real wood ukuleles at a great low price and there is also an electro-acoustic option at less than £100. This is ideal if the person already plays electric guitar and enjoys playing through an amp.

Of course, if you want to hit the ground running, the easy thing to do is choose a baritone ukulele which is tuned like a guitar. Again, the Brunswick Baritone Ukulele is a good value buy but Ashbury do a great Baritone too.

Intermediate players: As you approach the £100 – £200+ price bracket, a whole new world of ukuleles comes into consideration. When you’re ready to pay this kind of money, you’ve probably been playing for a while so the best advice is to get out there and try as many as you can. It’s also a good idea to decide whether you think an electro-acoustic ukulele would be of any use to you, rather than finding your perfect uke and having to pay someone later to fit a pick-up for gigging or just experimenting with changing the sound through an amplifier.

Regardless of the brand, the ukuleles we really love are all made from Pacific woods like Curly Mango and Koa. The trees grown in that Hawaiian region are much sought after for ukulele building and tend to carry the specific twangy tone associated with original ukuleles.

One of the best brands at an intermediate price is Kala but you may want to look at some of the big guitar names (Martin, Gibson, Gretsch) who have all been outputting some great ukuleles recently. If you fancy something that looks a bit different, try Riptide.

There are plenty of other options including the pineapple shape and also the classic ‘George Formby’ Banjo Ukulele like this one from Barnes and Mullins which is often the first thing people picture when you mention ukes. Great sound but try before you buy! They’re heavier than they look and can be a bit awkward to keep in tune.

Which ukulele should I buy? (Part One)

Ukuleles come in five sizes. Here’s a quick round-up of the features of each and some of the reasons you might choose them…

Brunswick Ukulele Sizes

Soprano Ukulele: The smallest ukulele is often mistaken for a child’s guitar or toy. In fact, it’s a versatile instrument which is easy to master and ideal for adults and children. For anyone who is starting to play for the first time, the soprano uke is the perfect choice because they’re cheap and often come in a variety of bright colours. The easy chord shapes are a great lead in to starting to play the guitar. Start playing uke with your child at around 3-4 years old and get one for granny too!

Concert Ukulele: The concert ukulele is the next size up from the soprano. It has a longer fretboard so it lends itself better to more advanced playing. Because the tuning is the same as the soprano uke, many people, particularly men, who start with a soprano uke graduate quite quickly onto the concert size because it gives them more room to manoeuvre. The concert ukulele will normally ‘sound better’ than a soprano ie: it offers more resonance, and is great for both chord and melody playing. The perfect choice for someone who already plays other instruments or who has been playing a cheap soprano ukulele for a while.

Tenor Ukulele: The tenor ukulele is also tuned in the same way as the soprano and concert models, meaning that players can switch between the three with relative ease. The tenor uke is bigger than the concert ukulele. In some ways, it is the most versatile of the uke family as there are various string sets readily available with different combinations of wound and nylon strings and high or low G string. This makes it easy to find the sound you like best and also means it can be adapted easily to be a melody or a chord instrument. Great for guys who still feel cramped on the concert size and anyone who likes a slightly more guitar style sound.

Baritone Ukulele: The baritone ukulele is tuned like the top four strings of a guitar (although you can buy strings for it which are tuned like a standard uke). The baritone uke is very popular with guitarists who find it easy to pick up and play and because it tends to have two wound strings, it sounds very like a guitar. The compact size makes it a perfect travelling companion. It’s also a good harmony instrument, often used to play the harmony line, or chords, in a ukulele group.

Bass Ukulele: The largest of the ukulele family is the most expensive and least mass produced. Normally only used to give extra depth to the harmonies in group playing.

Visit Part Two for our top tips on the best brands of ukulele to buy and how to get the best uke for your budget.