I first met Dan “Cool Hand Uke” Scanlan in 2003 when I travelled from Australia to America for the Ukulele Hall Of Fame Museum Expo in Rhode Island. We became friends instantly and I’m so glad he’s decided to share his vast uke knowledge with the world in his new book How To Play Ukulele: A Complete Guide For Beginners.
Now, firstly, if you’ve been playing for a few years, please don’t be deterred by the title – Dan’s packed a lot into this extremely helpful guide and I’m confident most people will get something out of it.
The book is broken up into the three basic elements of music: rhythm, harmony and melody, and its clean, uncluttered design – complete with clear diagrams – makes it very easy to follow. While most beginners’ books include the basic anatomy of the uke, Dan goes one step further and touches on often neglected but vitally important aspects, such as string height.
There’s a good variety of strums on offer, as well as an excellent section on understanding chords. While the information can get quite technical, Dan has an uncanny knack of explaining it simply and concisely. My favourite chapter is fittingly entitled “Doo-Dads” and contains useful techniques such as muffling, hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides – the stuff that will set you apart from other casual players.
I also love that the book is dotted with interesting facts and breakouts on ‘Ukulele Heroes’ and also includes a solid history of the instrument, which is foolishly missing in many other titles.
From choosing your first uke to the business of learning a song and embellishing it, How To Play Ukulele is a one-stop shop for the aspiring musician. Thanks, Dan!
Order your copy here: simonandschuster.com/books/How-to-Play-Ukulele
By Cameron Murray