February 1, 2020
2nd February is World Play Your Ukulele Day (if you didn’t know). Not something we’d usually pay much attention to, but for the enthusiasm of one of our people, Cinzia Soro, who tells us why she never travels without one and shows us her unique, custom designed Heathrow Airport-inspired uke.
The essential travel accessory
The ukulele is a fun and feel-good instrument, and a great way to learn, play, share and enjoy live music. On top of that, it’s small, light, and easily fits in the overhead locker. That’s why I love taking mine with me on my travels. It attracts fellow travellers and locals alike, and the sound is the perfect accompaniment to a rum and coke at a beach barbecue. Best of all, it’s a great conversation starter and has been the catalyst for many memorable moments.
A bit about the ukulele
The ukulele evolved from an instrument called the machete de braga that was brought to the islands of Hawaii by Portuguese sailors in the 1800s. It’s thought the name ukulele is a translation of ‘gift from afar’ and it has since become synonymous with the South Seas.
Ukuleles have been enjoying something of a resurgence in recent years, with sales booming and ukulele festivals taking place all around the world. And it’s no wonder. These lovely little four-stringed instruments (that are definitely not ‘small guitars’) are cheap to buy, appeal to all ages, and are remarkably easy to learn. You can go from never having picked up a musical instrument to playing a song in just an hour. I have been teaching myself with YouTube and Instagram videos since October 2017. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s not about playing perfectly and singing perfectly but something that everyone should do because music makes you feel better. Music is for everyone and not just the ‘talented. Everyone should take advantage of what good comes from it, especially on a mental health level both playing by yourself or using it as tool to socialise.
Ukuleles come in all shapes and sizes, in acoustic or electric versions, including the classic ‘Flying V’. Famous musicians including Elvis Presley, Roger Daltry and Joe Strummer have played the uke, and George Harrison was a massive fan who encouraged everyone to own and play one. The uke has, over the years, given us a number of avant-garde performances. How about Kate Bush playing Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’ on a uke? Talking of rocket men, astronaut Neil Armstrong was also known to play, seen here just having arrived home from the moon. For something different, and to see how popular ukes have become, check out the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain playing Nirvana’s Smells like Teen Spirit
The Heathrow ukulele
Ukulele art is a big deal, and even featured at the 2016 Royal Academy of Arts summer exhibition. Among my collection of four ukuleles is a special art ukulele hand painted by Jason, a talented colleague from the Heathrow operation. The custom design features Heathrow’s two runways, correctly labelled 27R and 27L, plus a world map, and most importantly, on the head, a map of Heathrow’s most important destination, my home island of Sardinia.
To visit some of the gorgeous Caribbean destinations shown in my video visit our website. If, like me, you’re planning on a trip to Hawaii, the home of the ukulele, you can get there by flying to Los Angeles or Seattle on Virgin Atlantic and then with Delta onwards to Honolulu, details of all these fight are now available on our website.
Happy Play Your Ukulele Day!