American Federation of Musicians socks back at ukulele

In an earlier post, I mentioned May Singhi Breen’s preparation to take on the AFM union to get their recognition that the ukulele was in fact a musical instrument. A report on her failure in this attempt appeared in the Herald Journal of 3 January 1932.

When she arrived with lawyer, testimonials and most importantly, her $125 (about $4000 in today’s dollars) ukulele, the powers that were would not even listen to her play. The AFM, represented by Joseph N Weber, said that the ukelele was a fun toy which isn’t allowed in orchestras, and anyone can make a noise on it in a matter of days [ed., I suppose anyone could make a noise on a piano in a much shorter time]. The ukelele would, in his opinion, never be recognised as a musical instrument — it was simply a novelty contraption which Ms Breen could play, he had been told, remarkably well.

I understand that the AFM has changed its mind on this important matter.

Published in: on March 18, 2010 at 6:22 pm  Comments (3)  
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A ukelele and a mental health scare

The New York Times of 16 July 1922 reported on a fellow who was chased by railroad detectives, captured and send to a Chicago “psycopathic laboratory”, all because he went for a walk carrying a ukulele; he wasn’t even playing the thing. Maybe there was prohibition on ukeleles after all.

Published in: on March 18, 2010 at 5:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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