National Play Your Ukulele Day
National Play Your Ukulele Day is observed next on Thursday, May 2nd, 2024 (147 days from today).
On May 2nd bring out your ukulele and strum it all day long because it is National Play Your Ukulele Day.
Any fan of mini four-stringed instruments will appreciate your Ukulele Play Day on February 2. Honestly, we think there's never been an excuse to strum somewhere on the bridge or another sensational classic, but we love watching a music-themed day of the year. Let's revisit its origins and see how we can celebrate this day properly.
Interesting Facts about Ukulele
Ukulele is a globally popular musical instrument and a great way to enjoy music together wherever you are. You probably know your chords and strums, but do you know these fun facts about the ukulele?
So, before I tell you some very interesting facts about the ukulele, let me give you a brief background on the ukulele for my friends who are not very familiar with the instrument.
The ukulele is a stringed instrument similar to the guitar, originating in Portugal. It has a small guitar body and is fitted with four strings. Plucking and plucking these four strings produces sound. The strings in turn vibrate and are amplified by the resonator. This instrument is manufactured in the same manner as a full-sized guitar.
The development of the ukulele has been influenced by some instruments originated from Spain, South America, and Africa. When six string instruments were introduced in the 1700s, the popularity of the chord exploded. Although the ukulele is often associated with Hawaii, it was not until 1879 that the first ukulele was brought over from Portugal. Immigrants from the island of Madeira first brought to Hawaii a pair of Portuguese musical instruments in the late 1870s, from which the ukulele was developed.
- The ukulele was received the patent in Hawaii since 1917. Although the ukulele is often associated with Hawaii, it was not until 1879 that the first ukulele was brought over from Portugal. One of the Portuguese immigrants on board the Ravenscrag, Joao Fernandez, began playing a four-stringed Portuguese instrument called the braghuina. Local residents are so enamored with the instrument that they have made it their own.
- Locals in Hawaii changed the name braghuina to ukulele, which in Hawaiian means "jumping flea". The name reflects how the islanders think the fingers dance around the frets when it is played. Within 10 years of its introduction, the ukulele had become the most popular musical instrument in Hawaii.
- Developed from a four-string Madeiran instrument and crafted from Hawaiian koa wood, this instrument was very popular among Hawaiian royalty in the late 19th century.
- Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, loved to play the ukulele. In fact, after returning from the moon, he spent several weeks in quarantine because others feared he might have picked up strange bacteria while in space but he actually spent the rest of his life in space.
- The single "I'm Yours" of Jason Mraz in 2008 is the best-selling ukulele song of all time. After 76 weeks on Billboard's Hot 100, it broke the record for the most consecutive weeks on the chart. It is also the tenth best-selling digital download of all time in the US with over six million downloads sold.
History of National Play Your Ukulele Day
There are four main sizes of ukuleles, soprano being the standard size. The other most common sizes are ensemble, tenor, and baritone. There are also very small sopraninos, and large bass and contrabass. The ukuleles usually have four strings — G, C, E, and A — but sometimes the strings are paired together to have eight strings on the instrument. In Hawaii, they are traditionally made of koa, and higher quality ukes are often made of mahogany. Cheaper types are made of wood such as spruce or plywood, or plastic. Some ukuleles have been made from cigar boxes.
The ukulele evolved from a number of instruments, including the braguinha, cavaquinho, rajão, and machete, brought to Hawaii by immigrants from the Portuguese island of Madeira. The first ukulele was made in 1879. Augusto Dias, Jose do Espirito Santo, and Manuel Nunes are three cabinet makers who were responsible for creating many of them early. Hawaiian King Kalakaua incorporated them into royal gatherings, and they became widespread on the island about a decade after their creation.
Interest in the ukuleles in the United States was sparked at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915, and the instrument became popular in the United States during the Jazz Age and the Great Depression, reaching a peak popular in the mid-twentieth century. . Popular post-World War II hits with Hawaiian ukulele influences include "Christmas Island" by the Andrews Sisters, featuring Guy Lombardo and British Royal Canadians, and "Mele Kalikimaka" by Bing Crosby and Andrew Sisters. Elvis Presley released Blue Hawaii in 1961, as the soundtrack to the film of the same name. In 1968, Tiny Tim's version of "Tiptoe through the Tulips" peaked at number 17 on the Billboard charts. Even the Beatles used the ukulele in some of their songs, such as at the end of "Free as a Bird", and George Harrison was an avid collector of the instrument. By the late 1960s, the ukulele's era in popular music was over and it was mainly used as a children's toy. Even so, a few others continued to use it, such as Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon.
However, there was a resurgence of instrumental use in popular music in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's song "Somewhere over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World" received widespread acclaim. Jason Mraz's "I'm yours" became the best-selling ukulele-focused song ever, spending 76 weeks on the Billboard 100. Jake Shimabukuro also helped restore popularity in the Billboard 100 musical instrument by playing his virtuosity. Although not everyone is as talented as him, today is still the perfect day to play the ukulele!
How to celebrate National Play Your Ukulele Day
If you are interested in the ukelele, you know what to do. Play along to your favorite song, sing along with your loved one to a chill mix of their favorite tune, or learn something new. YouTube is a great resource and has a ton of videos that can help beginners learn how to play the ukelele. The last resort is to join a group, perhaps even form a band, or play live in front of others.
It is great to learn more about the history of the instrument, and although we've learned about the ukelele's origins, it has an interesting past that's worth our while.
ObservedNational Play Your Ukulele Day has been observed annually on May 2nd.
Monday, May 2nd, 2022
Tuesday, May 2nd, 2023
Thursday, May 2nd, 2024
Friday, May 2nd, 2025
Saturday, May 2nd, 2026