So, who is Rob MacKillop?

You might well ask. International Man of Mystery? Not quite. Just a Humble Servant of the Plucked String . Here's my story...

Born in Dundee, Scotland, quite some time ago...Round about my eighth year our Grandfather brought over from San Diego, California, a blue Gretsch ukulele, a felt plectrum, and the Mel Bay book. I and my three sisters fought over who could play it, and I and my eldest sister, Fran, beat the others into submission. I've associated the ukulele with extreme violence ever since (OK, only kidding). I spent many happy hours reading through the book, learning all the classic songs: Camptown Races, Down In The Valley, There Is A Tavern In The Town, etc, etc. I also remember an early avant-garde phase when I started experimenting by sliding a teaspoon up and down the strings. Ah, happy days... Here is a picture of the model - sadly not the one I owned, which has long gone - but this one looks identical and can still cause me to feel very nostalgic (thanks to whoever uploaded the photo - hope you don't mind me using it?).

Blue Uke

Then I turned to The Dark Side - I took up the guitar. Not much to report there. You can see the results from the links page: a few CDs, a few tours here and there, some lute playing, some baroque guitar playing, TV, radio. Clearly I had lost my way. Then one day...

I bought my twelve-year old daughter a cheap and cheerful ukulele and a small book of songs similar to the ones I had learned. In one weekend she learned six chords and performed nearly every song in the book. Having 'mastered' the instrument, she promptly gave up, and returned to her evil oboe studies. Maybe one day she too will return from The Dark Side ... [I have an mp3 of her singing Home On The Range, with a faux-Southern USA accent. If she refuses to return from The Dark Side , I'll upload the sound file for all to hear!]

So I started playing the ukulele again...

After a while I started taking students, and it quickly became clear that the adult students soon grew tired of the Camptown Races repertoire, and desired something more, shall we say, substantial. Being a nick-picky sort of teacher, I was uninspired by much of the uke literature out there, and decided to make my own fingerstyle arrangements based on what my students were looking for, and on what I would like them to explore. The results will be published by Mel Bay Publications

The ukulele is an extraordinary instrument, with a remarkable history. Apart from its well-practised use as a strummed accompaniment instrument, it is capable of real beauty, and the most delicate expression. It has as much depth as the Renaissance and Baroque guitars and lutes, and is worthy of serious study by all those who have a heart for music. Here endeth the homily...

Rob MacKillop
Edinburgh, 2009

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