“Are you really taking that?” When you’re packing for college, sometimes a little ruthlessness is needed. If there are clothes in your closet that haven’t seen the light of day for 6 months or more, what makes you think you’re suddenly going to start wearing them when you get there? Also, do you really need two games consoles? It’s a sad fact of life that musical instruments (especially if they’re seldom played!) are often the first casualties of any cull when deciding what to take and what to discard. We’re obviously biased, but we think that’s one hell of a shame. That’s why we’d like to throw an idea out there. If there’s one musical instrument you should take with you to college in the fall, it’s the ukulele: even if you’ve never picked one up before. If you don’t own one: you should. Here’s why. 1. Ukes are where it’s at Don’t get us wrong: there’s definitely nothing wrong with guitars or sets of decks. The thing is though, they’re hardly original. Unless he plays like Johnny Marr or sings like Nick Drake, when a guy gets a guitar out it’s nice but it’s kind of predictable. Produce a uke at the end of a night and you’re onto a winner. First off, everyone’s smiling. Next thing everyone’s singing. At the end, everyone wants a go on it. 2. Pick it up and play Ukuleles are definitely hard to master. The flipside though is that it’s easy to pick up the basics. If you’re a guitarist already, you’ll be getting a decent sound out of a uke almost instantly. Even if you’ve never held a musical instrument before, within a couple of hours you’ll have enough three chord progressions under your belt to build up quite a decent repertoire of songs. Play any style From Beyonce to Bach, the uke music is out there – whatever your preference in terms of either tab, basic chords or standard musical notation, you’ll find the song you’re looking for. Take it anywhere Ukes are tiny. They take up no room in the trunk and won’t waste precious floor space in your room. Better still, tuck a ukulele under your arm when you’re on your way to the beach or to a party and you’re good to go. Nothing to plug in There are dads up and down the country who’ve carried a Marshall amp up three flights of stairs to a dorm room (often a 8 hour interstate drive) only for their kids to use it solely as a makeshift coffee table. You just don’t get that with a uke. 6. Not going to break the bank Check out the prices. You can pick up a decent beginners’ ukulele for less than the price of many a guitar case. If you lose your sax or keyboard, it’s kind of a big deal. Leave a uke on the subway and it’s not the end of the world (financially at least). Start a ukulele orchestra What do you mean, your college doesn’t have one? You need to get onto that right away!