Outside interest: playing the ukulele

Written by: jez Abbott
Published on: 16 Jul 2014


How did you get into the ukulele?

I am not trained in music but enjoy it. My limited musical knowledge, however, failed me with a few instruments and unlike the guitar, which I laboured with for some time, the ukulele is a very liberating instrument. I belong to an amateur band called the D'Ukes of Rutland, which has 30 members, is led by a musically minded lorry driver and plays at events such as festivals, village fates and at my wedding. None of us has formal training, just a bit of musical knowledge.

What does it involve?

We practice every Monday night in the Railway Inn at Oakham and go through play lists for the next gig – in this case the Rutland Water Food Festival. We are not a manicured band and have a repertoire of more than 200 songs including jazz, Beatles tracks and some oddities such ACDC hits and a few 60s favourites.

Why do you do it?

I like playing music and working closely, but not too seriously, with other people. I enjoy coming together with others who have a shared interest and doing something creative and democratic: we sit in a circle, each choosing a song to play.

What’s the toughest thing about it?

Trying to get a group of 30 people to play in time can be hard, we often find one half is playing at a different speed to the rest on the other side of the room but the audience can see we are trying.

What’s the most rewarding thing about it?

Getting out, playing my instrument and having fun

Are there any similarities between your day job as a planner and playing the ukulele?

Ukulele players are an eccentric bunch. In my job I work with neighbourhood planning groups and they too can be slightly eccentric. In our music we are not striving for perfection but the best answer for as many people as possible, and we invariably get the best results when everyone chips in  – I see definite parallels here with planning. 

Do you have any unusual interests or hobbies that you would like to tell us about? If so, please email planning@haymarket.com.