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Jake Shimabukuro, an inspiring ukelele virtuoso

There are so many talented, amazing musicians in the world, but it’s quite rare to see someone like Jake Shimabukuro. He’s a ukelele virtuoso who plays a variety of music with this simple, four-string instrument which he calls an “underdog of all instruments.” I saw him at a concert a couple weeks ago and was blown away by his incredible techniques and his ability to create such a powerful and beautiful sound with an instrument commonly known as an icon of relaxing Hawaiian music. He played “Thriller, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Ave Maria,” among many other complex songs, and he poured his soul into every piece with his very creative and original arrangements.

What I truly admire about him is his love and passion towards his instrument like no other. It’s not an overstatement to say that he singlehandedly brought the ukelele to a whole new level. Who would have thought that a Spanish flamenco music or a classical music by Bach could be played by ukelele? He is constantly challenging himself to do the impossible, the unimaginable with ukelele. And with Jake, there is no end to the possibility of what a ukelele can do. He is showing us that ukelele’s potential is much much greater than anybody could have ever imagined.

And that was what touched me the most. I learned from him that if we pick one thing we love so much that if we pour all our heart and soul into it, then not only can we overcome the perceived limitation (such as the physical limitation of having only four strings!) but we get showered by endless imagination and creativity that we transcend that which we love so much to a new level, a new reality that we never knew existed.

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