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Riding the Ukulele Wave... Almost.
By James Hill

This Spring I took the time to travel across North America, performing and teaching in dozens of schools and meeting hundreds of students and teachers. From Halifax, where the Canadian ukulele program began, to Toronto, where a new generation of ukulele teachers is hitting its stride, to Victoria, where a long line of ukulele believers is merging with a new crop of recent converts, ukulele is on the march.

And all along the way, people ask: "Why now? Why is the word 'ukulele' suddenly on everyone's lips and wishlists?" I can't answer this any more clearly than the average surfer can explain the physics of ocean waves. But one thing has become clear: the current "wave" of ukulele enthusiasm is not a wave at all. It's a swell.

A swell is a big bulge of water that gathers mass as it moves toward the shore. It's full of potential, full of energy and promise. But a swell is pretty much useless until it breaks; you can't ride a swell.

No, to catch a wave you have to stay ahead of the swell (paddle, paddle, paddle), get good position (paddle, paddle, paddle) and have a little luck on your side. The ride starts only after the wave has crested and broken. That's when you zip down the front of the wall and into the hallowed "green room." That's when all the preparation and hard work pays off.

Sure, interest in the ukulele is swelling but the wave hasn't broken yet. So, what are we going to do until it does? Are we going to wonder why school boards won't give us the funding we need? Are we going to be satisfied with staying "one lesson ahead" or our students? Are we going to let politicians determine the fate of our school music programs?

No. We're going to paddle.

James Hill
Editor, Ukulele Yes!

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