I was happy to see this week that the ukulele has gained another library-related fan – Bill Barnes of the “Unshelved” comic strip. Evidently Bill, who homeschools his kids, was one of a multi-family homeschoolers’ camping trip, and several families included instrumentalists – and there were plenty of sing-along sessions. Those sessions inspired Bill to take up an instrument himself.

But when choosing an instrument, he had some conditions:

  • I’m lazy and undisciplined, so it needs to be easy to learn.
  • I travel a lot, so it needs to be highly portable.
  • It needs to feel fun, so that I’m inspired to practice and play.
  • I love to sing, so it needs to be a good accompaniment instrument.
  • I’m a cartoonist, so it needs to be inexpensive.

Guess which instrument, as I’ve been saying here for some time, meets all these criteria?

Check out his post on the Unshelved blog. And if you haven’t yet picked up a uke, take a look at his list once again. If you have any music in your soul at all, who can resist?

Somewhat less library-related, but just as much fun, is this story from the Worcester (MA) Telegram site: “Ukulele lovers stand tall.” It’s a great run-down of the story behind the huge boom the uke has experienced worldwide in the past few years – almost all of it inspired by the Internet. I played the uke for nearly thirty years, thinking that everyone else who played an instrument played the guitar or piano or trumpet – but not the uke. I never came into contact with another uke player until around 1998, when I discovered that ukulele fans were posting on the Net.

It’s a perfect example of the “Long Tail” (or “Short String” might be better) phenomenon – a niche group of widely scattered but passionate folks who have finally discovered each other and put together festivals like the “Uke-stock” mentioned here.