- How would you introduce yourself in a few words?
- My name is David Chen, I'm an ukulele educator and player from Taiwan and now live in Shanghai.
- What kind of music background do you have?
- I got my masters' degree in Music Technology from York University in the UK, and also I had been working as a part-time singer in pubs when I was an university student.
- How and when did you first encounter the ukulele?
- I had been an engineer for 10 years, when I started to learn ukulele in 2008. At that time, a doctor who was specialized in autism asked me if I were interested in music therapy. Since then, I had been looking for musical instruments which are good for those kids. One day, I found that ukulele is a great one because it's very easy to learn and to play.
I published my first ukulele tutorial book in 2010 - 24 lessons for the beginner - which is the best selling ukulele book in Taiwan and China. In 2011, I met Kimo Hussey in Hawaii, I was so fascinated by his music and traditional Hawaiian two finger style, I started to learn from Kimo, and released my 2nd book: Ukulele Two Finger Method.
As I think that ukulele is a new instrument, there are so many interesting things to explore, I have been building up an ukulele educational certificate system, they will be released later on this year. Also, I teach ukulele lessons in enterprises such as the well known company Alibaba where we also have set up an ukulele club to relax their employees.
Since 2008 we have hosted ten Ukulele Festivals in Taiwan and four in Shanghai.
- What are your experiences, how well does the ukulele suit music therapy?
- I remember that one autist kid who was not able to speak but when he held ukulele, he just followed me to play and sang. Later on, the kid's verbal ability is improved gradually and finally became a talkative boy. This inspired me so much, that I quit my engineer job and became a full-time ukulele promoter.
- What do you like about the ukulele?
- I like ukulele because of its beautiful sound which makes me feel relaxed and also it is very easy to carry around. As I like traveling, so ukulele is really a perfect company for me. Also, there are so many ukulele clubs around the world, you can easily make friends with it.
- Is there any music style you prefer?
- I like all sorts of music, mostly pop songs, and Jazz music.
- Any musician who inspires you?
- Kimo Hussey is my ukulele mentor and also the one who inspires me most. I met him in 2011 in Hawaii, his unique style of playing and beautiful music attracted my attention and I had decided to ask Kimo to be my mentor. Since then we became very good friends and travelled around the world to have concerts and workshops together.
- In many videos on your YouTube channel there are kinds and even entire classes are playing the uke. Is there a school program in Taiwan that uses the ukulele?
- Yes, when I was in Taiwan, I used to run ukulele teachers training program in the Taiwan Normal University also we had several weekly ukulele programs in kindergartens and primary school as after school programs.
- You also perform a lot. How much time you spend on tours?
- As I like traveling and sharing music, beside regular teaching, I travelled nearly more than 1/3 of my time. Besides China, I also travelled to Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and other countries to perform and teach ukulele.
- Have you ever been in Europe on tour (as an ukulele player)?
- As for my trip to Europe, I performed in the Czech Ukulele Festival last year with my mentor Kimo Hussey. I really enjoyed that because the venue was so beautiful and also I met so many nice players and ukulele friends. After the trip, we had two more concerts, one in Vienna and the other in Munich. As those cities were so rich in history, what we enjoyed is not only music but also a great culture experience.