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Mysteries of vernacular: Ukulele - Jessica Oreck and Rachael Teel

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When 19th century Portuguese travelers landed in Hawaii with a small four-stringed guitar, a member of the king’s court, nicknamed Jumping Flea, or ukulele in Hawaiian, took to the instrument. Jessica Oreck and Rachael Teel explain how an affinity for the ukulele gave the instrument its name.

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Jessica Oreck
  • Producer Rachael Teel

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
The ukulele (sometimes abbreviated to uke) is a member of the guitar family of instruments; it generally employs four nylon or gut strings or four courses of strings.
Here's an exhibition about the ukulele at the Museum of Making Music.
You've probably heard this song. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole re-popularized the ukulele with his incredible rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
Music is a powerful communication tool--it causes us to laugh, cry, think and question. Bassist and five-time Grammy winner, Victor Wooten, asks us to approach music the same way we learn verbal language--by embracing mistakes and playing as often as possible.
Like an actor’s script, a sheet of music instructs a musician on what to play (the pitch) and when to play it (the rhythm). Sheet music may look complicated, but once you've gotten the hang of a few simple elements like notes, bars and clefs, you're ready to rock. Tim Hansen hits the instrumental basics you need to read music.
Theories about the etymology of ukulele abound. The Metropolitan Museum of Art examines a few of the theories, including the one listed in the video.
This book by Jim Tranquada and John King is a great resource for the various ukulele theories and origin stories.

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New York, NY
09/25/2013 • 
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TED-Ed Animation lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Jessica Oreck
  • Producer Rachael Teel

Share

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