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While recently visiting Florida, I had the opportunity to attend a practice session of Southwest Florida's Oo Koo Lay Lay ensemble. Wow! It was amazing. This group of ukulele players rehearse weekly and play for various community events. I was quickly impressed with their focus, talent, ability to have fun, and professionalism. It was obvious they enjoyed what they were doing.

Of course, a music group is only complete with a great director, and these folks had one. The director not only played, coached, and taught the ukulele but also led the singing and showed dynamic enthusiasm.

The ukulele, a miniature version of the guitar with 4-8 strings, is a highly versatile instrument. It's compact, easy to handle, and perfect for children. The basic sizes available are soprano (standard), concert, tenor, and baritone, catering to various playing styles and preferences. You can buy a cheap ukulele (for starters) for less than $100. The better the ukulele, the higher the cost.

But don't be fooled by its tiny size; the ukulele has a warm, smooth timbre and can instantly light up a room. That's why it's a favorite of famous names like Taylor Swift, Elvis, Ryan Gosling, and many more, enjoy their ukuleles. Do you know these famous people who played the ukulele? Neil Armstrong, the first astronaut on the moon, loved to play the ukulele. While quarantined for several weeks after returning from the moon, Neil spent much of his time strumming away on his ukelele. George Harrison of The Beatles was also a fan and is said to have collected hundreds of ukuleles. Tiny Tim topped the music charts in the late 60s with "Tiptoe Through The Tulips." In 2008, Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" remained on the Billboards Hot 100 for 76 weeks. Train's "Soul Sister" and Bruno Mars's "Count On Me" also utilized the ukulele in their hit songs. However, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" stole the hearts of many.

“Where words fail, music speaks.” — Hans Christian Andersen

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