How to Sing Your Way to Happiness

Contributed by: David Craig

When I returned from my vacation, I was delighted to find the wonderful article by Hans Boldt (Happy Strummer In the City, Whig-Standard, June 16).

I began playing and singing with the “Uke” (ukulele) when I was in high school and when I came to Queen’s , I found it was a great ice breaker and magnet for musical freshmen. When we took the obligatory ferry trip to Wolfe Island during Frosh Week, I of course took my trusty Uke along and sort of saddled off to a corner and started strumming and singing. Very soon two guys joined me — and could they sing-much better than I — and before we knew it, we were harmonizing.

We soon got into Swing Low Sweet Chariot (with a bit of a beat), then Ain’t She Sweet andUp A Lazy River and more of the tunes of the era.

Eventually, some girls gathered around, some singing and others just smiling and offeing spontaneous applause. I thought ‘hey’ maybe we’re onto something here. We were invited — yes invited — to some of the girls’ residences to entertain. That was the days of the big old houses where girls lived, such as Gordon House, before Adelaide Hall and Victoria Hall were built. We always got a feed of homemade cookies and cake and coffee (no booze then, we were only 19 and the drinking age was 21).

We became quite self-assured and pinned a name on ourselves — The Queen’s Men (The Kingston Trio was already taken) and sometimes sang a cappella (no uke). In our second year, we were featured in the Queen’s Revue, in an article entitled “Falling Leaves” and had three encores. We also were invited to sing on CFRC — wow! Unfortunately that did not go well because we started Red Sails In The Sunset ” in the wrong key — pitched too high — and the tenor just about choked trying to hit the high note. We weren’t invited back.

But the ukulele has an even more special place in my heart. I met >a girl on a blind date and we were both a bit nervous so I reached in the back seat of the car and I picked up my ukulele >and started to strum and sing to her. She looked at me understandably strangely and without saying it, but I could imagine (geez, who is this character who plays a uke and sings to his date) Fortunately, she was musical and we kept dating and I kept playing and singing to her and eventually went through four ukuleles, but it must have worked because she has been my wife for almost 58 years now.

So fellows, get yourselves a Uke, tune it up (along with your vocal skills) and strum and sing your way to happiness.

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