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Strumming Straight to the Heart: A Ukulele Love Story

Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel teach Ukulele on ArtistWorks. You can access lessons with them here. Below is a paraphrased conversation with Craig and Sarah, where they discuss their love story, the Ukulele, and how one led to the other. Share your own music love story on social media using the hashtag #strumtogether.  

Q: The Ukulele School is the only school on ArtistWorks with two instructors, what’s it like working together? 

Sarah: "It’s pretty great, actually – though we like to laugh and joke about how hard it is. Working together with students is always such a joy! We are each other’s sound boards, and this means that the students get advice from two teachers. I feel, the more perspectives you can give the students, the easier it will be for them to reach their goals."

Craig: "I think our students will agree that’s it’s been nice to be able to receive feedback from both of us. There was a quick learning curve on how we approached the concept of an ‘ukulele school differently but Sarah and I love how it organically came together after many hours of talking through everything. From our goals for our students, to how we want to build the school in different phases… There’s so much variety and so many possibilities that this platform lends itself to."

Q: Did you meet through the Ukulele? 

Sarah: "We DID meet through the uke. Our own individual careers were doing well, and we were working the Festival circuit. We had a mutual friend who got us in contact, as I was on a string quest."

Craig: "I helped her with her G string issues..."

Sarah: "That’s true… I was looking for a really good unwound G string for my uke, and he actually sent me a set of strings. When we first met in person, it was during the crazy rush of the NAMM Show [a music conference], and we didn’t get a chance to get to know each other.

Then we kept getting hired at the same festivals, and since Craig loves collaborating with other artists, he and I started doing a few songs together. People thought we were a couple before WE did; it was pretty funny. BUT eventually, fate happened and we fell in love, after about a year of folks thinking we were together, hahaha!"

Craig: "Yes, we were so lucky that all the stars aligned when they did. As we both had our own sound and careers before meeting each other, we were both a bit nervous about creating something new between the two of us. Luckily people seemed to like the new sound!"

Q: How has playing the Ukulele together affected your relationship? 

Sarah: "It’s the reason we are together. I’d say that the uke has truly transformed our lives, not just because it’s how we found one another, but it’s also how we have found some of our closest and most treasured friends. At our wedding reception, we were on stage giving our “Thank You’s”, and it was amazing to see friends from all over the world – most of whom were met due to this tiny instrument."

Craig: "We are already lucky enough to be able to do music for a living but we are even more blessed to be able to do it together. Like anything in life, special moments become unforgettable when you have someone to share them with." 

Q: In general, do you think music has the power to bring people together?

Sarah: "Absolutely! We see it all the time in our travels. Though I feel that the ‘ukulele is special- it’s non-intimidating, easy to strum, and friendly sounding. Because of those things it makes the instrument a particularly good vessel at bringing people together. However, the undercurrent of it all is MUSIC – and that’s universal."

Craig: "We have seen music heal, transform and open new worlds for people. The ‘ukulele especially such a wonderful way to introduce music to people of all ages." 

Q: Do you think your marriage helps you bring passion to your playing, while recording or performing?

Sarah: "It certainly does. Though, the biggest part of it is knowing that the other person isn’t going anywhere. We know that, through thick or thin, the other will be there for us, and it has truly solidified our bond as musical partners."

Craig: "Yes. Almost every single aspect of our music is intertwined with our relationship." 

Q: Besides to each other, who in your life has music connected you to?

Sarah: "Honestly – we have made the most cherished friends (from around the globe) because of this instrument. So many amazing people have opened their homes and hearts to us. I’ve never known anything like this- and it’s all because we have a common bond- we play the ‘ukulele."

Craig: "So many people around the world that we got to play, eat and enjoy life with… it’s absolutely mind boggling how many people this ‘ukulele has connected us with." 

Q: What’s your favorite love song to play on the Ukulele? 

Sarah: "Oh wow… That changes all the time. I’d say currently I love “My One and Only Love” by Guy Wood. I also really love performing “Center of My Mind”, a song our producer, Tyler Fortier, wrote. It’s one we always perform, and it’s a very sweet tune from our last album."

Craig: "I agree. (happy wife… happy life?)"

Read more about Ukulele at ArtistWorks:

Ukulele Songs You Can Learn in One Week or Less

Ukulele Tuning: A Complete Guide

ArtistWorks Student Spotlight: Teko in the Ukulele School

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