What Is a Ukulele?

Learn about the ukulele from music teacher Jarret Delos Santos in this Howcast video.

Aloha, my name is Jarret Delos Santos and I was born and raised in a little town called Hana on the east side of Maui. Playing the ukulele and teaching the ukulele gives me a chance to perpetuate our culture. So today, we’re going to be talking about the ukulele. We’re going to talk about the ukulele and some of stories behind the ukulele in the beginning part — how it came to Hawaii. In 1879, we owe the existence of the ukulele to people that came over from Portugal. They brought a very, very small instrument called a machete, and it was actually a very — much smaller than the soprano. And luckily we had three cabinetmakers on that ship. And they duplicated the instrument, brought it along, played it for the Hawaiians. Hawaiians really liked the sound. Later on they made it a little bit larger, and they changed the types of chords on it to a G C E A. You know, the royalty Kalakaua, the King of Hawaii, really loved that instrument, and requested that ukulele be a part of — a lot of our songs and dance that we did. And finally in 1886 it was played for the first hula dancer, and that’s really the beginnings of the ukulele in Hawaii.