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Ukulele Psychologist

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Picked on in Pitsburg.

My mother-in-law is always complaining. Lately she’s begun complaining about my ukulele and my playing. This is the last straw. Her comments are completely untrue and unwarranted. I feel that she does this just to anoy me. I am seriously considering placing her in a retirement home. The problem is that my wife says that I will miss her one day. Do you think this might be true?

Ukulele Psychologist

Dear Picked,
Don’t let your mother-in-law put a damper on your enthusiasm for the ukulele. Keep playing and enjoy the instrument. In answer to your question though, yes it is true that you might miss her one day. If you do, simply reload and shoot again.

Love my ukes

Dear Ukulele Psychologist,
As Duke Ellington would say, “I got it bad and that ain’t good”. I’ve got UAS bad. Help!

Ukulele Psychologist

Dear Love,
Does the following sound familiar? I haven’t got a tenor yet. This one is a once in a lifetime price. Vintage ukuleles are so hard to come by in this condition. I just need a handmade Hawaiian one made of Koa. If you suffer from UAS (Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome) the perceived need to own many more ukuleles, then you have come to the right place. You are among friends here and will not be judged. You should pat yourself on the back. Admitting you have a UAS is healthy but be advised, there is no cure. You’ve got it bad and it’s all good.

Hungarian in Budapest

Dear Ukulele Psychologist,
I want to remove the strap button on my soprano ukulele. The button is a terrible eyesore. It is unnecessary and the look of it greatly upsets me. What would be the best remedy to treat the hole made by the button?

Ukulele Psychologist

Dear Hung,
You can use peanut butter to fill up the hole, that way you can always have a snack if you get hungry. If you have a peanut allergy, you can try using a mushroom instead. At any rate, you should stop obsessing over it. Focus on the music and on enhancing your ukulele skills. Good luck and happy strumming.

Grossed out in Goose Creek

Dear Ukulele Psychologist,
My 14 year old brother, I call him The Potty Mouth, is a big fan of the ukulele. He composes songs and plays his ukulele whenever he can. The problem is he only plays and writes songs with filthy and inappropriate lyrics. He’s disgusting. Whenever I invite a friend over to the house, he pulls out his ukulele and grosses them out. He finds this funny and when I complain he just laughs. What should I do? – Grossed out in Goose Creek

Ukulele Psychologist

Dear Goose,
Your parents may not be aware of the extent of your brother’s behaviour and how much it upsets you. Discuss the situation with them. Don’t give your brother the response he wants (getting upset or irritated). He’ll eventually tire himself out and give up on his shock value tactics. You might also try to channel his creativity in a positive way. Some people however, never grow out of being gross. If this is the case, you might try wiping boogers on his ukulele when he begins to play.

Filling Out in Finland

Dear Ukulele Psychologist,
My mum’s dog attacked my ukulele teacher. I tried to help him but one thing led to another and now I think I’m pregnant. What should I do? – Filling Out in Finland

Ukulele Psychologist

Dear Fill,
Send the dog to obedience school. Once it’s trained (and muzzled), make it the ring bearer at your wedding.
Honeymoon in Hawai’i. Fall in love with the island life. The ukulele teacher can get a job teaching tourists how to play. Once the baby is born, teach it to love nature, to surf, to appreciate good food, good coffee, good music, and Ohana.

Nick of Time

Find out if the teacher was playing any non dog friendly tunes (we’ve all done this). An ultrasound is advisable as in such situations, it’s probably gonna be triplets.

Wright Course of Action

Obviously she’s been practicing. At any rate she should plan a luau and name the kids I, IV & V. Also, she should buy the baby a Nano Uke. The kid needs something to play, and a soprano is too big for a newborn.


I’m a ukulele teacher, we need to re-construct the crime …


She should try changing strings and just keep playing E7. Apparently this can get you through anything.

Not a Uke Fan

Dear Ukulele Psychologist,
My sister is coming to visit. She has a severe case of UAS and obsesses about the ukulele all the time. My little girls are getting bigger, seven and ten. I don’t really want them to be introduced to this “instrument”. I can’t stand the sound of the wretched thing. Exposing my young children to the ukulele is not an option. How do I avoid it? – Not a Uke Fan

Ukulele Psychologist

Dear Fan,
Easy! Make a deal with your sister. Tell her that if she refrains from playing or speaking about her ukulele during the duration of her visit, that you will buy her tenor Kamaka as soon as the visit ends. I assure you that she will not stay for very long. Make sure that you keep your end of the bargain though. She is after all your sister. By the way, your aversion to the ukulele is pathological. You should seek counselling as soon as possible. My colleague Mrs. Zarnicky, is available for this sort of thing and she is currently accepting new clients. Here is a link to her contact information:

Hooked in Côte Saint- Luc

Dear Ukulele Psychologist,
I have a major problem. I used to laugh when people mentioned UAS but I have a very sneaky uke teacher who has gotten me hooked on the tenor uke with a low G string. The way he does this is everytime I play a song on my soprano, an instrument I adore, he craftily suggests that I try the song on his tenor. Since it sounds so good, I find myself actually considering buying the tenor ukulele , I now have UAS.
Any advice? – Hooked in Côte Saint-Luc

Ukulele Psychologist

Dear Hooked,
Your ukulele teacher sounds like an extremely wise and intelligent individual. Do not underestimate the charm of a soprano ukulele though. All sizes of ukuleles have their own unique and wonderful characteristics and advantages. As far as your UAS is concerned, it is important to feed the addiction. I suggest that you drop hints to your significant other.
P.S. I assure you that your ukulele teacher would love to acquire a soprano ukulele if he does not have one already.
Best wishes and may your collection of ukes continue to grow and grow and grow and grow and….

Willing to Learn

Dear Ukulele Psychologist,
I love listening to the ukulele especially if it is played well. I would love to play the uke myself and feel that finding a good teacher would be the best way to proceed. I am 19 years old and not very experienced. My mother told me to be careful of men who play the ukulele. Is there any truth in this? – Willing to Learn

Ukulele Psychologist

Dear Willing,
Finding a good and experienced teacher is an excellent Idea. You might consider joining a ukulele club as well. You will gain experience there, at least as far as the ukulele is concerned. In answer to your question though, yes you should be careful of men who play the ukulele… and also be careful of men who don’t.
Mother knows best.


I’ve been going steady with this man for six years. He plays his ukulele for me every other night and says he loves me. I know I love him, but he never mentions marriage. Do you think he’s going out with me just for what he can get? – Impatient

Ukulele Psychologist

Dear Imp,
I don’t know…. What’s he getting? You should find out what kind of strings he uses on his ukulele. If he’s using fishing line, he might be trying to reel you in.

Hanging by an A String

Dear Ukulele Psychologist,
I recently got together with a friend who sings and plays the guitar and stupidly, thinking she knew what she was doing, I allowed her to tune my ukulele to her guitar. The disastrous result is that my A string is totally out of key and I cannot get it back to normal. Hence I will not be able to practice. Do you think I will have to buy a new ukulele? Please let me know since the sound of my uke is now horrific.
Hanging by an A string

Ukulele Psychologist

Dear Hanging,
Buying a new ukulele especially a tenor with a low G tuning, is always a good idea. Never let a guitarist touch your ukulele. These people often suffer from GAS (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome) and are therefore quite unpredictable. Though a ukulele and a guitar have different tunings, you can certainly both play together. Each musician will use the chord shapes and tunings unique to their respective instruments. You must however, maintain your GCEA tuning. Retune and you should be fine.
Good luck and happy strumming

Ukaholic in Nevada

Dear Ukulele Psychologist,
My wife and I are going for a trip to the UK. As I was placing my “travel” soprano ukulele into my luggage, my wife says “No”. So I asked her if I should bring it on the plane. Her answer was a resounding “No ukuleles on the trip!”
What should I do?
Ukaholic in Nevada

Ukulele Psychologist

Dear Ukaholic,
You clearly suffer from Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome. It is important to feed the addiction. You must buy a ukulele as soon as you arrive at your destination. Maybe your wife feels a little left out, especially if she doesn’t play ukulele. Get her a set of small percussion instruments to accompany you, like shakers, or a small tambourine. A cowbell would certainly be appropriate. If your wife complains, simply buy another ukulele. She will eventually catch on and learn to avoid making disparaging Innuendos about this wonderful little instrument.
Happy Strumming.

Rina in Rio

Dear Ukulele Psychologist,
I have been so traumatized by your response to Ukaholic in Nevada, that I have to go out and buy myself a new ukulele just to recover.
Rina in Rio


Dear Ukulele Psychologist,
I don’t play the ukulele, but a far superior instrument which also has 4 strings. They are tuned differently, however (to the ukulele, I mean, as well as to each other). I’m not willing to identify the instrument, in the interests of privacy, but I will say that it burns longer than a violin. I also tried the kazoo, but when I read the instruction manual I realized that it was too difficult. The reason I’m writing to you is to assuage my feelings of guilt in not wanting to play the ukulele, even though it is such an inferior instrument. Indeed, if you could recommend some mental exercises which could expunge all memories of the ukulele, this would surely assist me in playing in tune on my first love.
Many thanks in advance.

Ukulele Psychologist

Dear Rhino,
I am truly sorry but you have one of the worst cases of musical snobbery I have ever seen. The close-mindedness of your letter suggests that you are a violist but your willingness to try the kazoo indicates that there is still some hope left for you. My advice is to listen to some of the great ukulele masters. You can easily find them on the internet. You might also visit a ukulele club. I am sure that the people there would be happy to give you some personal instruction. They will also encourage you to sing along with them. Practice singing and you will find that your kazoo skills will improve greatly. I know that you will find it difficult but try to keep an open mind.
Good luck.

Waxing Poetical

Dear Ukulele Psychologist,
Why do you criticize violists? I wrote this sonnet just to counteract your horrible viola mockery.

The Gift
There is a gift oft’ displayed before kings
And to a troubled soul brings joy perchance.
Its dulcet strains endow music with wings
And may romantic temperaments enhance.
While hearing it, senses are truly awed.
It’s form and splendour cherished by the wise.
The beauty of its’ wood is to applaud.
Be-times it makes tears well up in my eyes.
The viola transcendent and profound
Creates sonorous tones beyond compare,
Sublime emotions and distinctive sound.
Yet finding it in skilled hands is quite rare
For when I hear its haunting alto clef,
I think it might be better to be deaf.

Stifled in Manhattan

Dear Ukulele Psychologist,
I began playing the ukulele about two months ago and my wife can’t stand the instrument. I try to play songs that she likes and I even serenade her when she is in the bathroom. This upsets her even more and from the other side of the door she screams, “Stop that infernal racket.” The problem is that I love the ukulele. What should I do?
Stifled in Manhattan

Ukulele Psychologist

Dear Stifled,
I appreciate your enthusiasm but you are just a beginner after all. Perhaps you could give your wife some space. Practice in the basement or in another room of the house with the door closed, at least until you acquire more proficiency with the instrument. You might also want to join a ukulele club. You will be surprised at how much you’ll learn there and you’ll be playing well in no time. Acquire a bit more technique and your wife might even sing along with you. If all else fails, you might consider a divorce.

Still a fiddler

He should wait until late at night. Sneak into the bathroom, lock the door and play his instrument quietly, so no one can hear. I learned this method as a kid.

The Travaler

Stifled in Manhattan should tell his wife that the problem is the quality of the ukulele. He should tell her that he needs to go to Hawaii and to get the best instrument. He should ask her if she would would like to come along for 10 days and hang around The Turtle Bay Resort while he looks . But he should wait until January in Manhattan to mention it. By the way, “Stop that infernal racket” is mild compared to what I have heard.

Donald J. Trump

Yeah, a trip to Hawaii is a great idea and get her to pay for it.

I Studied Psyshology Too.

Stifled should take up the viola or the bagpipes for awhile, then switch back to the ukulele as a “compromise”

Wynton Marsalis

He should buy a trumpet…practice at midnight…in the bedroom…

Hula Boy

He should also take up wearing a grass skirt and a coconut bra too. She will change her tune.


Dear Ukulele Psychologist,

I had an argument with an abusive bone head who’s judgemental spirit has caused me much grief. He constantly criticizes my playing and as a result, I don’t have the confidence to play in front of him. Am I wasting my time with this instrument? I love playing the ukulele but every time this idiot shoots his mouth off, I just want to quit. I can’t seem to pick it up as quickly as some other people around me do. I love playing but his negativity is really getting me down. At least when I work on my cross-stitch, people don’t give me a hard time. Instead, they give me orders for the piece I’m working on. I need some advice because I love playing the ukulele
Thanks for listening,

Ukulele Psychologist

Dear Tina,
I think that you answered your own question when you said that you love playing the ukulele . We play the ukulele for fun and because we love the instrument. Everyone has a different level of skill. I can’t understand why you talk or listen to a person who exemplifies the opposite of everything the ukulele stands for. My advice is to keep playing, to enjoy practicing, and remember what I always say, “Happy Strumming”. Good luck!

P.S. I tried cross-stitch a few years ago. I used a beginner’s pattern of a cute owl. I messed up my count and ruined the whole thing, but my needle point wasn’t too bad.


Dear Ukulele Psychologist :
I am wondering if this is a real letter, or you are just stringing us along. I liked your advice regarding the Ukulele Abuser.
As a beginner, I never realized as I became acquainted with the Ukulele, that it could have such a profound impact on peoples lives.
So far I only know 2-3 chords, I can only imagine what can happen when I know 6.

Ukulele Psychologist

Hi Ben,
Yes these letters are real. If they weren’t Mrs. Zarnicky would never let me hear the end of it. (The names however, have been changed to protect the guilty.) I am glad to learn that you are progressing with your ukulele. Keep with it and you will be playing many more chords and many, many more songs in no time.
Best Wishes.