The summer is gone. What happened to it? So fast. Not once did I sit around a campfire and sing Kumbaya. Come to think of it, haven’t done that for decades.
Not long ago, Ron Hale wrote a lengthy response (you can read it here) to one of UP’s posts. Thanks, Ron. It got me thinking – so much that I didn’t have a quick reply. But I have thought long enough and agree with some of what Ron wrote.
My response: the answer is in Kumbaya. You know, the song we sang around coffee houses, at campfires, at camp and generally whenever there were more than one of us humans gathered? No one sings Kumbaya anymore. But it has got to be the song that most exemplifies what we are seeking today, right now, with the ukulele.
The ukulele is a social instrument and we love it because it can bring us together to make music together. It is one of the few instruments that is portable enough for us to take where we gather with others to help us make more pleasant music with each other.
The ukulele has become a symbol showing that people want to be able to express themselves via music AND with others. The ukulele is a wonderful social instrument. Indeed the joy of playing triplifies (yes, even if there are only two) when it is played with others.
I agree with Ron that when we go to ukulele festivals, we have been putting the same people on stage. But we humans tend to do that. We like to put things on pedestals; have them stand apart. We also tend to forget them after a while. But eventually we remember them, dust them off, and put them back on their pedestals.
There’s nothing wrong with having standards of what is good ukulele. There’s nothing wrong with showcasing the best ukulele players. But it shouldn’t stop there. The ukulele, a symbol of engagement, needs to be played. Together. With others. In groups.
And so I agree with Ron to the extent that when we gather together with our ukuleles, we need to play together, and with perhaps, large purposes. Which brings me to Kumbaya — one of the easiest songs to strum three chords C, F, G and sing. Once upon a time you could count on everyone knowing this song. It’s not saying everyone is happy. Perhaps the opposite, it is a request for peace and presence. And in this day and age, we need more peace. If asking, “Lord, come by here” via song wouldn’t help in this life, you wonder what would.
Here’s a pdf version of the Kumbaya (although there are others) that’s being played earlier in this post. I arpeggiated the chords and added an A minor Native American style flute for the melody line and recorded directly into GarageBand.
Check the version of Kumbaya on YT — a prayer for those in Japan.