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.