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Blog: A Million Ukeleles

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On the way into work this morning i was thinking about ARTS FUNDING. Okay, i was ACTUALLY imagining doing a BIG INTERVIEW and having "Things'll Be Different" brought up, and then being asked exactly WHAT would i do... er... and then outlining my REASONABLE PLAN to become ENNOBLED (temporarily, until i get round to democratising the House Of Lords, as stated in THE SONG obviously) and become Arts Minister, abolish ARTS FUNDING and introduce HIBBETT TICKETS (this isn't the time or place for that one...). This is why i have got into SODUKU on long journeys, it keeps the BRANE busy. ANYWAY, abolition of Arts Funding is favoured by ME because to GET any you have to fill in loads of forms and, crucially, know the KEY WORDS involved to GET any, so that the actual CA$H would, i would suggest, be MUCH more likely to go to The Middle Classes who know how the system WORKS. Hey! Call me crazy, but I've SEEN the Local Paper stories about "Local Band Gets Arts Council Help" and they always seem SUSPICIOUSLY well kempt and ALREADY in possession of EXPENSIVE EQUIPMENT.

But then I thought "HANG ON! But then HOW DO we get THE KIDS into the beautiful and health-giving world of music?" I considered my own MUSIC schooling, which PUT ME OFF the very IDEA for several years, because it was so BORING and HORRID. Learning to play "Yellow Bird" on the xylophone for weeks at a time did NOT inspire me to go out and ROCK, and playing scales on the RECORDER didn't either. It sometimes seems to me that Schools, and indeed THE MUSIC ESTABLISHMENT, actively try and DETER most people from getting involved in music. Just look at the ridiculous arcane terminology that's STILL used (Muslim Preachers may well be persuaded to preach in English, but I doubt they'll ever get Music Teachers to do it), and don't get me STARTED on the LUNACIES of having different instruments playing in different "keys". PAH! Small babies DANCE in the womb, but we are excluded from music from an early age by an establishment that OBSCURES itself in language, BORES us with awful sounding instruments that can't play anything interesting, and then anybody who isn't deterred YET is forced to either play INCREDIBLY DULL yet DIFFICULT pieces of music on an INSANELY EXPENSIVE piece of FURNITURE (i.e. Piano), or a VIOLIN, with a guarantee it will sound HORRIBLE for at least the first couple of years of playing it.

Is it any wonder, i say, IS IT ANY WONDER, that SO MANY people say "Oh, i'm not musical, i can't sing"? We can ALL sing, there's only about 12 people in the COUNTRY who are Actually Really Medically TONE DEAF, the rest of us are PERFECTLY able to sing, but have been PERSUADED that we can't, and made to feel BAD about it. OR! OR! "Trained" to sing in that horrible KARAOKE style - goodness me, the British Voice is a multi-faceted, many accented thing of DELIGHT and INNOCENT BEAUTY, but everywhere we go it is DERIDED and DROWNED out by people EMOTING in a variety of unreal accents heard off the radio or BELLOWING in a tortured "classical" facsimile of the long dead. All children EVERYWHERE can sing, and they do so in their own UNIQUE ways and voices. My friends, let us sing AS THE CHILDREN DO, in our OWN ways. It's GRATE!

AHEM. RANT over... temporarily. So yes, this led me to think "But what would you do about it Hibbett? What would you replace Recorders, Xylophones, Pianos and Violins with? What IS there that's easy and FUN to play, that you can play recognisable and ACTUALLY PLEASANT TO HEAR songs with almost instantly, that can also be used to write NEW songs or versions of songs in the charts, that can lead on to OTHER instruments if need be, that is PORTABLE by children, and that is WELL within everybody's price range?"

All together now: THE UKELELE!

Imagine it! A whole generation of children introduced to the delights of The Ukelele! CLASSROOMS all belting out THE TUNES OF TODAY, then going out into the playground and playing their OWN songs, or songs off the telly. THE KIDS, they LOVE the music - look at RINGTONES for heaven's sake - and this way they could make their OWN. The money NOT spent on subsidising Posh Kids In A Recording Studio, or Daring Musical Theatre, or OPERA for heaven's sake, could buy A MILLION UKELELES, to be PRESSED into the EAGER young hands of a new generation of MUSICALLY ENABLED YOUTH! (NB not Musical Youth, necessarily). The pleasure and the beauty of the REGIONAL SINGING ACCENT could be CELEBRATED and ENCOURAGED - goodness me, i grew up on several summer holidays worth of GEORGE FORMBY films on BBC2 at my various Nans' houses, they are RIPE for enjoyment by kids. George Formby as CORE to a new history curriculum! "Emperor Of Lancashire" on the GEOGRAPHY SYLLABUS!

All right, maybe not the latter, but i think you see my point. As I thought of all this i thought also "Hey! SONG IDEA!" and the CHORUS came STRIDING into my brain, also VAGUE STRUCTURE and also THE EXCITING CHORUS BEFORE THE END: "I heard a million ukeleles, strumming still. I heard a Million Ukeleles... COMING OVER THE HILL!" HUGE drum fill, into A MILLION people PLAYING UKELELES and MARCHING towards us! I actually became deeply MOVED at the idea, i am not ashamed to admit it.

I also felt i was CHANNELLING Chris T-T (i would say "I felt Chris T-T in me, but that gets worrying close to SINGER SONGWRITER SLASH FICTION: "Just then i caught the eye of Winston Echo..."), as it does bear similarities to his GRATE SONG "Giraffes", in a sort of Inspirational Metaphor kind of way, so we shall have to SEE how it PANS OUT as an actual song, but still - STICK IT IN THE MANIFESTO, i think it's a WINNER!

posted 11/8/2005 by MJ Hibbett

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