May Singhi Breen


From 1923, she appeared on the radio as an ukulele player, accompanied by pianist Peter DeRose (whom she later married). Since 1931 she tried (for a long time in vain) to join the union of musicians as a ukulele player; they refused on the grounds that the ukulele was not a musical instrument.

For the next 13 years, from 1923 to 1939, they were billed over the National Broadcasting Company network as „The Sweethearts of the Air.“ Peter played the piano and Miss Breen the ukulele, and they introduced a new inimitable style of singing in which they helped popularized many of the songs that de Rose wrote during this period.
Miss Breen, who later became Mrs. Peter de Rose, wasn't exactly enarmoured with the first ukulele she bought. She tried to exchange it for a dress that caught her fancy a day or so later but the manager of the department store turned thumbs down on her suggestion. So, probably out of spite, Miss Breen mastered the ukulele and became the recognized authority on the pint-sized Hawaiian guitar, supplying most of the ukulele arrangements that were printed on the popular sheet music of the 1920's.1)

She was one of the first people to write ukulele arrangements for the printed editions of popular songs. The Sheet Music Consortium has no less than 1,044 of their arrangements; the earliest is from 1915.

In 1925 she was the first to record a ukulele lesson on a disk.


Singhi Breen, May: New Ukulele Method for Beginners and Advanced Students. New York: Robbins 1950.


May Singhi Breen: Ukulele Lesson

Ihre Ukulele ist gestimmt in D6.
Her ukulele is tuned in D6.

Jack Burton: „The Honor Roll of Popular Songwriters. No 71 — Peter de Rose“. In: The Billboard 16.9.1950, p. 45