Uke in the Time of Corona


copyright Josie Elias Photography

It’s 13:33 and I’m still in my pyjamas. I should be about to start a guitar ensemble class but it’s been cancelled. All my teaching has been cancelled. Events cancelled. Tours cancelled. Everything cancelled. But I am happy to comply with the government guidelines. We need to stop the spread of the virus. We need to do everything we can to protect our NHS from being overwhelmed. Like many I live in a a high risk household. Like everyone I’m worried, anxious, perplexed, angry, indignant. My day is a veritable pantheon of emotions. Last week I spent 2 days hiding under my duvet. I’m over that. Now I am finding/seeking moments of joy (Skyping my mum and brother in Australia; waltzing round the kitchen with L; playing my ukulele; doing some tai chi; reading; watching a film.) I’m trying to stay positive. Stay sane. Trying to find a new reality.

I am also fortunate. I can stay at home.

My heart goes out to all the essential services who don’t have that option.

Staying at home, however, makes me feel useless. I worry about my income. Soon I will need to find online strategies for teaching. The internet is an amazing resource and there is huge potential. I’ll be okay.

But right now – now that I’ve emerged from my duvet – I also want to do my bit to help others. As a musician I’ve often encountered the belief that the arts are unnecessary, a frippery, not a proper job. As society looks to science and medicine to find cures and solutions we (artists) are asked to sit at home, wait and contemplate all our cancelled gigs. It’s easy to feel inadequate. I can’t even do my job. And, let’s be honest, performing artists relish the spotlight and the applause. No income. No applause. All of which leads to: Frustration. Anger. Resentment. Anxiety. Boredom. Despair. Etcetera… we could certainly add to that list! Basically I am devalued. I could easily be overwhelmed. The government is concerned about our mental health and rightly so. I am concerned about my mental health.

Call to Arms!

Now is the time when all artists – musicians, writers, or dancers – can show our true value to society. We can’t cure people but we can help to keep people occupied and positive. Creativity is a wonderful therapy! Even if it’s a vehicle for venting your rage. My strumming has improved no end!

Right now I am offering my 10 Easy Melodies for Ukulele booklet for free. It’s a good place to start if you are new to the ukulele, or new to reading tab and finger picking. Download by clicking the link here:

10 Easy Melodies for Ukulele

I have also started uploading some free tutorials on YouTube.

At some point I will need to start charging but for now I will just ask those who can to make an offering (no matter how small) by using the DONATE button.

You might also like to consider my publications.

If you are in the UK and want to buy a ukulele then I recommend Matt Stead at The Uke Room. This is a small, family run business. Matt is a friend and a great guy!


18 responses to “Uke in the Time of Corona

  1. Hi, and Happy St Pattie’s Day!
    Thanks for your post.
    We can’t do what we do either. Cancelled gigs and visits to hospital and hospice patients.
    It is indeed frustrating!
    We’ve decided to use this time honing our skills, what don’t kill ya can make ya better! Peace, love,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for such an enlightening message. I , too, am experiencing the same feelings of frustration and depression. To add to the current situation, I had surgery for a knee replacement in February, cancelled all my classes, engagements, allow time for recovery. This week I was to “get back into life again” only to be side-lined by the pandemic! Your suggestions on dealing with this came at just the right time. I have a small collection of simple songs and exercises that I have used in my classes. I will use this time to organize them, rewrite some and, eventually, have a small collection for beginners and intermediate students. Thanks, Peggy Mistak >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Sam, I very much appreciated this post. We are sheltering in place here in Northern California. Trying to keep ourselves entertained and managing our worries re: this virus and whether the market will run out of food. (So far so good)
    Your yellow bird tutorial couldn’t have come at a better time. It truly felt like sunshine. I am going to enjoy playing this.
    Thanks, Judy

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Could I share this with my local ukulele group? Keep positive, and I am making the most of the time to try and nail some of your Carulli arrangements 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the post, and for your wonderful books. May you be blessed with good health. Having an “attitude of gratitude” will also boost your immune system!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That is a wonderful email. In addition to making me feel part of the larger world, it inspired me to get off my behind and buy one of your books.

    Thank you for your contributions to my life!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: 10 Easy Melodies for Ukulele | I Love Classical Ukulele·

  8. Sam I wonder if in your enforced down time you might consider producing a list of your arrangements in conventional grading, beginners to 8th grade. Perhaps initially this could be just that, a list, but then consider producing a book with 4-5 pieces per grade with your notes for each grade. I am sure there would be a demand for such a publication from your many appreciative followers.


  9. Thank you, Sam, for your emails and inspiring ideas for learning! I’m Martha from Somerset. I enjoy singing and playing ukuleles (tenor and bass), and until recently I was very much looking forward to meeting you at the Uke and Voice weekend at Halsway Manor in May. Now that this isn’t likely to go ahead, it’s very disappointing. Hopefully we’ll meet on another occasion, but in the meantime, I look forward to receiving your emails and ideas! Kind regards, Martha ________________________________


  10. Hi Samantha, I am “locked down” in a neighboring county of Philadelphia and working my way through your 21 Studies to improve my ukulele technique. They are beautiful pieces! I ordered a few more of your books and I’m looking forward to their arrival. I’ve also been sharing your posts and tutorials with some ukulele friends of mine. I’m really looking forward to a future video tutorial series if that is in the works. Thank you for all that you are doing and know that you are bringing joy – and sanity – to many people around the world!


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