Ukulele & Languages

Different countries,
Different cultures
one common language... the ukulele.

2010 : A Ukulele Year In Perspective

31 2010

As the year 2010 comes to a close, it is time for me to look back and reflect on another amazing ukulele year.

Before doing just this, let me wish you all a very happy and enriching New Year 2011.

I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank all the readers who have subscribed to Ukulele & Languages. Seeing my growing number of subscribers is a big encouragement to carry on.

As this is going to be a rather lengthy post, and because I know many new ‘Christmas ukulele players’ will mostly be looking for information on how to play, I have chosen to organise my review of the year 2010 according to the categories of my site rather than chronologically.

I hope this is a good way for newcomers to get an idea what’s on the blog and for everyone to quickly gain access to what they are most interested in.

The last part of this post, which falls under the Ukulele & Languages category will be a more personal look at the major ukulele-related events that I have experienced in 2010.

Ukulele Beginner : Learning to play the ukulele

As a new player, it can prove very frustrating to type the keywords ‘Ukulele Tutorial’ in YouTube and hope to find videos which really do explain something.

This is why I have compiled a few posts with a selection of valuable ukulele tutorials, providing proper explanations.

7 ukulele tutorials for strumming and fingerpicking

5 thoughts on learning fingerstyle or classical ukulele

5 tutorials to play barre chords on the ukulele

Improve your ukulele technique : a tip by Herman Vandecauter

Ukulele World Tour : Ukulele playing around the world

Another focus of this blog is to look at what people make out of the ukulele in different parts of the world.

The Weekly Ukulele World Tour posts bring you a selection of ukulele videos in various languages from different cultures and are a great way to travel around the world if your budget doesn’t allow you to do so in real life.

I have compiled a list of the interviews I have done this year, so enjoy meeting ukulele players from around the globe:

Eugen, Ukulele singer and songwriter from Ukraine

Ukulele SunnyBoy, Alpine Ukulele from Switzerland

Gawasiman, Ukulele arranger from Japan

Ukulollo, Ukulele player and Video making specialist from Italy

Svavar Knútur, a Guitar and Ukulele Troubadour from Iceland

Amelia Robinson from the US and her ukulele experience on the Pearl Qatar

Marcelo Mendes E Os Bacanas from Brazil

Les Poupées Gonflées from France

Ukulele Albums

The highlight in the Ukulele Albums category this year is the review of Craig Robertson latest CD, Better Liar.

Thanks to Craig for all the exchange of ideas this year and for his precious tips on overcoming stage fright (even when the stage is just your own living room and you’re just playing for family/friends)

Here is Undead from the CD Better Liar for those of you who don’t already know Craig Robertson. It’s good know that he is working on a new CD which should come out very soon.

Language Fun

This category of the blog focuses on languages, funny translations, anything that has to do with toying with words in various languages, dialects, and different accents.

The amount of posts I publish in this category really depends on how much travel I do in a year as trips abroad are a main source of language fun.

Most successful posts of the category this year are :

The international language of swearing. This is a post I particularly enjoyed writing.


Funny shop names in the Netherlands

Ukulele & Languages major highlights of 2010

Here we come to the more personal part of this post. Just like last year, I am really impressed at what consequences playing the ukulele has had on my life in 2010.

The one thing I am most thankful for this year is having managed to convert my best friend to the ukulele. Playing with him on a regular basis has been a most enriching experience, and my ukulele skills have improved much more in the last few months playing with him than they had before trying to figure out everything on my own. I am really amazed at how much playing together fuels each other’s creativity.

Here is a cover we’ve had fun working on:

Paint It Black Ukulele Cover

An important event this year has been the visit of Herman Vandecauter. Herman stayed a weekend here and shared many tips, fixed the action of my uke and accepted to do an interview for the first Uke Hunt Podcast. There was so much to learn from him! He treated us with a home concert on both the ukulele and the classical guitar.

Another excellent time this year has been the visit of Alex from the COULE. We played a great ukulele trio and this triggered many laughs. We’re looking forward to your next visit, Alex!

I am very thankful to my favourite ukulele blogger, Al from Uke Hunt, for his continued support and for being an inspiration to carry on. Thanks to Al‘s very own writing style, my repertoire of idioms and dodgy English expressions is kept alive and I often find myself grinning when reading his posts.

Al really surprised me this year when he did a cover of a tune I had written (by ear), Year Shift.

Year Shift as covered by Al :

Back in April, I attended the PUB (Paris Ukulele Bazaar) where I was very pleased to meet Ken Middleton, Lorenzo, and my friend Alex from the COULE.

Another good friend of the blog is Lou Armer, who’s been doing the excellent Uke Hunt podcasts.

Lou did a ukulele show for the Chorlton Arts Radio back in May this year and I was honoured and really nervous when she asked me for an interview.
Lou promised on Tumblr that she would do proper recordings in 2011.
We are all looking forward to hear those recordings, Lou!

Jim D’Ville, the Play Ukulele by Ear specialist, interviewed me for his blog and asked me really interesting questions about the similarities between learning a language and learning to play a musical instrument. You can read the interview on his site.

Other than that, my UAS (Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome) has been pretty acute this year, with the acquisition of 3 new ukes, a wonderful-sounding Koaloha Concert Pikake, a Kala pocket uke (so easy to carry around even when you’re business travelling) and more recently, a Pono MB baritone ukulele to add a bit of variety to the family.

I wrote an original (by ear again) for my baritone uke which I had the pleasant surprise to see featured on Jeff‘s Humble Baritonics blog.

What an eventful year ! Let’s hope 2011 will have as much in store. Well, I am not planning to buy 3 more ukes though…

With a new year coming along, now is the time for you to express your wishes on what you’d like to see on Ukulele & Languages in 2011. Please leave a comment to let me know!


  1. Leslie on the 31st of December 2010 @ 21:18

    HI & Happy New Year
    Do enjoy the postings you do and am learning a lot. I am 76 yrs old, started uke 3 months ago. Getting into classical tabs. Need to understand theory more and what I am looking at.
    Can you include a section on theory please.

  2. Jeff / Humble Uker on the 31st of December 2010 @ 22:39

    Thank you Armelle for your unique ukulele perspective. I am pleased that you too have tried the baritone ukulele. Your video was fantastic and as a friend would say “Sweet Nothings” just playful joyousness. It is nice to have a “uke friend” that shares and creates a wholistic inclusive environment that treasures diversity. I have never become proficient in any other language besides english but know some Swedish, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, and very, very little Mandarin Chinese. Blessings to you.

  3. George Stone on the 1st of January 2011 @ 01:17

    Interesting review of your year blogging I have really loved the Paint in Black song, you’d sing it? lovely even the dark of the song, cheers ukulele mate!

  4. Armelle Europe on the 1st of January 2011 @ 09:25

    Leslie: Thanks for your comment and a Happy New Year to you too. Good luck with your ukulele learning process!
    Is there anything in particular regarding theory that you are struggling with?(send me a mail and I’ll see if I can be of help).

    Jeff: Thanks for the lovely comment, Jeff and gott nytt år, ukulele vän!. You’re doing well on the language side of things, I often see videos in different languages on your blog too.

    George: Glad you enjoyed our Paint It Black cover (yes, I am the one singing).
    I hope you will post some ukulele videos in Spanish. Best wishes for 2011 for the Spanish Ukulele blog!

  5. herman vandecauter on the 1st of January 2011 @ 13:26

    Wow a nice summery of last year’s activities!
    And for all of you a happylele New year!

  6. Armelle Europe on the 1st of January 2011 @ 14:06

    Herman : have a brilliant 2011 too, with many concerts around the world!

  7. Al on the 1st of January 2011 @ 23:03

    Happy New Year, Armelle.

    Thanks for all the fantastic posts last year. And for all the shoutouts and kind words. It’s been a pleasure to help you along the way.

    Can’t wait for all your 2011 posts.

  8. Armelle Europe on the 2nd of January 2011 @ 11:15

    Al: Thanks for your very kind words, Al.
    Note to self: bookmark your morale boosting comment to read it next time I feel like packing up!

  9. Lou on the 3rd of January 2011 @ 00:34

    Great round up, Armelle. Congratulations & I hope 2011 is even more successful for you! Thanks very much for the props & for all your support this past year. This is one of my favourite ukulele blogs so next time you feel like packing up, just let me know – I’ll soon give you a good talking to!

    Thanks for doing what you do & more power to your elbow :)

  10. Armelle Europe on the 3rd of January 2011 @ 21:07

    Lou: Thanks a million for the support and the kind words, Lou. I’m looking forward to hearing your 2011 EP’s!

  11. Judy on the 13th of January 2011 @ 16:24

    A goog and Happy New Year to you, Armelle. What a great post to capture all the many things that can happen in a year. I hope to read as many inspiring activities for next year! I especially like the title of the post. It really is amazing where our ukulele perspectives take us. Little instrument. Big journeys. Again, the best to you this coming year.

  12. Armelle Europe on the 13th of January 2011 @ 18:01

    Judy : Thanks for the wishes and a very Happy New Year to you too with plenty of ukulele events to keep your perspective :-)
    The ukulele is a truly amazing little instrument and playing it does have far-reaching and unforeseen consequences!

  13. Rob (Sanfordandsong) on the 14th of January 2011 @ 19:07

    Happy Uke-Year to you, Armelle!
    Thanks again for the features…it’s all very appreciated.


  14. Armelle Europe on the 14th of January 2011 @ 19:41

    Rob: Happy Uke Year to you too and I hope you’ll make many more great videos for me to feature on Ukulele & Languages this year.

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