Harald Boxtart – This Man Is A Class Act

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Fellow Ukulele pHarald Boxtartlayers, I’m very honoured by the fact that I was asked by Mike Warren to write something about when, how and why I started playing the ukulele.

I’ve been playing the Ukulele for about 3,5 years. Before that I only played the Guitar. I had my first Guitar lesson when I was 13. About six years later I started studying classical Guitar at the conservatory in Zwolle, Holland. I graduated in 1993 and was offered a job at a music school where I am still teaching today. To be honest, I never had any interest in playing the Ukulele, and did not know any Ukulele players at all.

In april 2012, my employer noticed that the Ukulele had become more popular and thought it might be a good idea for me to learn how to play the instrument so that I could start teaching it. A colleage of mine let me borrow her daughter’s Ukulele.

So there it was, on my kitchen table. And I left it there for about a week. In its slipcover. Untouched. I didn’t really bother because I thought it wouldn’t be very interesting to play on just four strings instead of the six I was used to.

Finally, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, I gave it a try. At first I was looking for similarities and differences compared to the Guitar, and quickly discovered that the chord shapes were exactly the same (what a relief) but that the 4th string was tuned an octave higher.

Then I remembered I had an arrangement of an Abba song for guitar: “Does your mother know?” I wasn’t happy with this Guitar arrangement, it just didn’t sound right. So I tried it on the Ukulele, it made me smile and from that moment on I was hooked! The same thing happened with Bryan Adam’s “Summer of 69” The arrangement I made sounded much better on the ukulele
Then I started looking for Ukulele players on YouTube and watched videos of Ken Middleton, Colin Tribe, James Hill, John King, Jake Shimabukuro, Mike Warrren, Lil’Rev, Aaron Keim, Richard Heffner and many others. I heared music and sounds I never heared before, I realized that the ukulele had lots of possibilities and I felt excited in the same way as when I started playing the Guitar. Now, all of a sudden, I felt challenged and I wanted to find out what I could do on only four strings.

I discovered clawhammer and campanella. I practiced hours a day for a long period of time, of course benefiting from the fact that I’ve been playing Guitar for more than 35 years.
I started looking for original Ukulele music as well as writing my own material just to learn and explore new ways of playing, writing and arranging.

In the meantime I started giving Ukulele workshops and I sometimes use the Ukulele in my Guitar lessons. It always puts a smile on the face of he pupils!

So, after 3,5 years I consider myself a Ukulele freshman, compared to a lot of players who have been around for many years and who gave me a lot of helpful information and encouraging comments. Mike Warren being one of them. Thank you for giving me this opportunity Mike!

You can find Harald here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQ2qgYDKdAJhDPrcLkyOxmw

Thanks Harald for this great biography and your support.

Mike Warren


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