Friday, October 26, 2012

Ukulele1 HiRes.jpg
Martin 3K Professional Ukulele

The Ukulele is a stringed instrument, usually played with the bare thumb and/or fingertips, or a felt pick.  It was developed in the 19th Century.  It's correct pronunciation is 
play /ˌjuːkəˈll/ EW-kə-LAY-lee;[1] from Hawaiian: ʻukulele [ˈʔukuˈlɛlɛ])

We tend to say "you" kulele -  it should just have the "oo" sound at the beginning.  Did you know that ukulele means "jumping flea"??

The history of the introduction of the ukulele to Hawaiian culture is interesting.  Here's the tale, taken from 

Long ago, a ship came from Portugal carrying a small four stringed instrument. When the Hawaiians saw a boy playing this instrument, they loved the sound that was coming from it. They also noticed how fast his hands were moving on the strings--like jumping fleas, so the Hawaiians named this instrument "ukulele," meaning "jumping flea." Since then it has become part of the Hawaiian culture. Portugal is a small country on the Iberian Peninsula of southern Europe. It also shares the same boundary as Spain. Portugal is about 15,000 miles away from Hawai'i and it took four months, twenty-two days to get to Hawai'i.
The first Portuguese in Hawai'i were sailors that came on the Eleanora in 1790. In 1878, many more Portuguese immigrants came to Hawai'i on the ship Prisilla. In 1879 the ship Ravenscrag came to Honolulu. My great-great grandfather came with his family from Portugal in 1883 when he was nine years old. The Portuguese came to Hawai'i to work mostly on the sugar plantations.
João Gomes da Silva was a passenger on the ship Ravenscrag along with 350 other immigrants. He brought along his braguinho--that is the Portuguese name for the ukulele. He did not know how to play it, so he loaned it to João Fernandes, another passenger, who came from the island of Madeira. When João Fernandes got off the ship in Honolulu harbor, he had the ukulele, and while he waited in the harbor he played and entertained the Hawaiian people that were there. That's when they called it the "ukulele." João Fernandes also played for King Kalakaua, Queen Emma, and Queen Lili'uokalani. He played for a three day luau in Waimanalo, and many other places. He made the ukulele very popular with the Hawaiian people.

The upper grades in music have been talking about the ukulele and viewing videos.  Since it's my planning time, I get to hear it too!  Here's one of my favorite videos that they watched on Monday!