Shine School of Music is now offering group classes for the Ukulele.
One of the most popular instruments today, and easy to master, we are hosting group ukulele lessons with a professional ukulele teacher, right here in Barcelona. Group lessons are a wonderful way to make friends through music and learn something new! They are also affordable! Lessons are for all ages!
Has the ukulele just caught your attention? Are you considering taking lessons to learn the basic chords of the trending instrument? Do you want to be the fun friend who starts the happy-go-lucky sing-alongs at parties? First you’ll need to know which one to buy.
There are four main ukulele sizes, but the smallest, the soprano, is the most iconic. The soprano is the size that most people associate with the ukulele. A few practice strums will immediately produce that classic ukulele sound and bring a smile to your face.
Sopranos can feel very small to many adults, however, with their traditional tininess making them a bit trickier to play than concerts or tenors. A concert or tenor size uke are good middle-of-the-road sizes that work well for beginners and give off a warmer, more resonant sound than the sopranos.
Try not to obsess about choosing the right size. Chances are you’ll find yourself starting a collection and owning ukes of every size before long.
There are a ton of different woods used to craft ukuleles. The most common is koa, a type of wood from Hawaii. Thus, most ukuleles that come from their birthplace are made from koa. It has a beautiful grain and generates a very warm sound, but note that koa is used on more expensive ukuleles. If you’re not looking to break the bank, but still want a uke that will stay tuned, you’re probably going to get one made of mahogany. A mahogany ukulele sounds a little bit softer than one made of koa, but it’s still a good wood choice.
There’s a bewildering range of ukulele brands available today. The brand you choose really depends on what your local music store has to offer, and your personal preferences and budget. Some brands that come to mind are:
Ashbury—good quality, entry-level ukes from a UK company
Kala—hugely popular in the islands and elsewhere, but generally with a big price tag
Kamaka—the oldest surviving ukulele maker, family-owned and Hawaii-based
When it opened in 2008, the Barcelona branch of the Shine School of Music was the first specialised guitar school in the city, offering classes in all styles of guitar—from classic to flamenco to electric—with qualified and experienced teachers in English, Spanish and Catalan. Today, they continue to provide guitar lessons to all ages and levels, but have also begun training students on a variety of other instruments including piano, ukulele, cavaquinho, accordion, clarinet, saxophone and more. Understanding that most people study music for enjoyment, as a hobby, the school delivers a simultaneously structured, creative and fun approach to learning an instrument. At Shine, people feel comfortable socialising, collaborating with other musicians and showcasing their progress.
Shine is also one of two music schools in Barcelona that offer intensive flamenco/guitar/piano courses to tourists looking for an educational holiday, along with being one of the few music schools worldwide to give private online music classes in a coherent and organised fashion for you tech-savvy musicians out there.
When it comes to the ukulele, Shine is keeping up with that trend, too. Not only can their teachers melt your heart with a few joyous chords and teach you how to delight friends and family with some melodies of your own, but the school in Gràcia sells ukes, as well. They sell mostly sopranos because “it’s the most popular,” said Shine’s owner Miloš. “The soprano is what everyone plays, what’s all over YouTube these days.” You can also rent a dynamic ukulele from Shine for 30 euros a month.
Once you’ve bought your first (or maybe your tenth!) ukulele, go to our list of top 12 ukulele songs to play, some time-honoured classics but others you may not have previously associated with the uke.
Not long ago, the ukulele, no more than a comic prop to accompany your lei and grass skirt, was an endangered species. Now in its third heyday, the ukulele’s powerfully cheerful sound is permeating the pop charts, serenading us during TV commercial breaks and showing up in YouTube videos by the thousands. The uke can even be heard in jam sessions on Barcelona beaches and has infiltrated some of the city’s Meetup groups.
A Brief History
Based on several small members of the guitar family, the ukulele was first developed in Hawaii during the 1880s by Portuguese immigrants. Roughly translated as “jumping flea”, the ukulele’s popularity spread to the United States in the 1920s. Thanks to the production of millions of inexpensive plastic ukuleles, their presence in popular music surged from the 1940s to the 1960s, but interest began to decline after that.
Don’t worry. There’s a comeback in our story. The ukulele reclaimed centre stage due to the enthusiasm for Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of “Over the Rainbow”. Since its release on the album Facing Future in 1993, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” has been heard so often on TV and in movies, young generations may not realise Israel actually redefined the beloved classic originally sung by Judy Garland.
According to the New York Times article “Ukulele Crazy” from 2011, “The trend, building for a decade and now reaching a saturation point, is being fueled by a mix of Hollywood directors, corporate advertisers, professional musicians looking for a new sound and amateurs who have discovered how easy the uke is to use”. Each group’s interest may be driven by different motivations, but they are all united in their belief that the ukulele, with its folksy sound, invokes joy and sincerity in an electronic guitar and auto-tune-obsessed age.
And why shouldn’t the ukulele be this year’s trending topic? Its dainty size makes it a great instrument to travel with. It’s easy for kids and adults alike to play. It provides players with instant satisfaction—being defined in some music circles as “idiot-proof”, anyone can learn to play in a short period of time. No matter how off tune you go, it never sounds awful because of the uke’s sweet-natured sound. Playing the uke will enlarge your circle of friends. And it makes you and those listening around you happy.
Even George Harrison was a ukulele lover, quoted as saying, “I love them—the more the merrier…So get yourself a few and enjoy yourselves”.
More recently, stars like Eddie Vedder and Jack Johnson have taken up the ukulele, and its featured prominently on the TV show Glee. It’s become a habit for Zooey Deschanel to strum one while crooning sweetly with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Tony Blair disrupts Labour Party conventions with one. The ukulele creates intimacy to scenes in Her and How I Met Your Mother. There’s even an eight-member Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain—originally formed as a bit of fun—that has given thousands of sold-out concerts across the world. We’ve come a long way from mocking the uke after Tiny Tim used it in his 1968 novelty song “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”.
Despite its higher profile, the ukulele still plays its role as an everyman instrument quite convincingly. “The ukulele has always fascinated me because it doesn’t intimidate other people,” said Hawaiian artist Jake Shimabukuro, whose career skyrocketed when his elaborate, introspective variation of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on a ukulele went viral on YouTube with more than 13 million views.
There’s no right or wrong way to play the ukulele, only your way. So get out there and start strumming!
We have just added a new video of one of our teachers Ivan Ilic performing with his band Tetra Pack.
Read more about Ivan on his Estudio Shine profile, and let us know if you would like to have classes with him. He teaches Contemporary Guitar including Jazz & Blues, as well as Electric (Pop&Rock/Heavy)and Acoustic (Folk) guitar.
You can catch one of his live performances by visiting his website.
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BACK TO SCHOOL
Shine Music School offers music classes and courses for students of all levels and ages.
You are never too old or young to begin music! At the Shine School of Music we understand that each student is an individual with distinct musical needs and preferences.
We offer students in Barcelona flexible lesson plans with creative content tailored to your level and music interests. Everything from guitar and piano to violin and the drums! It’s easy to sign up and start your musical journey now:
The school will contact you directly by email or phone when we receive your form. Once your registration payment is confirmed, we will set up your first lesson with your teacher. Lessons are conducted in our classrooms at one of our three locations in Gracia, Barcelona or online via Skype.
If you have any questions or doubts, explore our website or contact us directly.
About the Shine School of Music
The Shine School of Music offers music training with qualified and experienced teachers. The school provides quality music education for students of all ages and all levels. Now, students all over the world are learning music with the Shine School of Music. Participate in guitar classes, piano classes and more through our Online Classes.
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