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Growing up, the ukulele was always a respected instrument. It’s a big part of our culture. It wasn’t until I started traveling outside of Hawaii that I realized people didn’t really consider the ukulele to be a real instrument.

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Most of my ukulele heroes were traditional players from Hawaii, like Eddie Kamae and Ohta-san. There may not be uke stars in popular culture, but there are certainly pop stars that play uke – George Harrison, Eddie Vedder, Taylor Swift, Train, and Paul McCartney.

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I always feel a little funny being in front of a lot of people trying to show them my approach to the ukulele, but I do enjoy it. I do get a little more nervous doing workshops rather than performing.

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Bill Gates recently picked up the ukulele. And Warren Buffett is a huge ukulele fan. I even got to strum a few chords with Francis Ford Coppola. It blows my mind that these people, who have everything in the world they could want, have picked up the ukulele and found a little bit of joy.

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I actually got to perform for Queen Elizabeth, and I got to meet her after the show. She said she thought my performance was beautiful and I got to shake her hand and it was just an incredible moment.

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The ukulele totally fits that whole hipster community or whatever you want to call it, but then at the same time it works great in nursing homes where senior citizens get together and play, and then as the traditional Hawaiian instrument with people doing the Hula and strumming the ukulele and singing.

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Sometimes I can’t think of a better way to end my day than coming home and just strumming my ukulele for a few minutes. I mean, I joke around and tell people that it’s an entire yoga session in one strum, you know?