Dick’s Improved Ukulele Method

I obtained a copy of Dick’s Improved Ukulele Method as part of a bundle that included a 1920’s C.F. Martin Style 1 Ukulele, which you can read about here.  This 1924 publication is the second of three books on playing the ukulele that I am aware of that were written by Richard W. Konter.  The first book was Dick’s Ukulele Method and the third was Dick’s Ukulele System.  Konter became well known in the 20’s for his participation in the Byrd’s Expeditions that flew over the North and South Poles.  On Byrd’s flight over the North Pole, Konter smuggled an ukulele into the plane, which is now on display at the C.F. Martin Museum.  You can see pictures and read more in the recent Ukulele Magazine article A Historic Martin Ukulele Visits The Arctic.

The book was issued in a large format 9″ by 12″  in size. It has 44 pages, the last two are advertising for the distributor, Edward B. Marks Music Co of New York.  It has a greenish cover with dark blue printing.

The first thing of interest is that this actually recommends today’s gCEA tuning.  The formatting of the music is a bit of a challenge, numbers representing the chord to be played are inserted in the lyrics.  The notation used is one similar to Nashville Notation.  You have to know that when playing the Key of C a 1 means the C chord, 2 is F and 3 is G7.  The center page is a chart that provides the appropriate chords for other keys.

There are also pages the discuss how to change the key using a capo and how to tune the ukulele in other keys including D, G and F.  And there are several more pages on music theory.

Most of the songs were arranged by Konter and every page has instructions that should be read and understood before going to the next page, even if you don’t want to play that particular song.

I enjoyed reading through this, a fascinating bit of history from the Golden Age written by one of the people that helped spread the fun of the instrument in the 1920’s.


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