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Author Topic: Calling all ukulele players  (Read 37907 times)

Tom

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Calling all ukulele players
« on: March 24, 2011, 08:05:49 PM »
Reviving an old topic ....

I was recently invited to attend a practice session of a local ukulele group, and was inspired by their music. I was also excited to hear they play only 4 or 5 chords on a 4-string instrument. I asked questions of a couple of my musical friends and, in an email to a member of the group, expressed an interest in trying to learn to play the ukulele.

Yesterday I had my first unofficial introduction to the instrument. A near-neighbor has a house full of ukuleles, and he sent me home with one in addition to a ukulele 101 DVD.

I had a concern about my (lack of) dexterity, but figured I'd give it a try. It's going to take quite a bit of  practice, but I'm still hoping to fulfill a long time desire to play an instrument to accompany myself while singing.

Oh, and a uke doesn't take up much room in the coach.
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seilerbird

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2011, 08:29:37 PM »
If Tiny Tim can play a ukulele then you should be able to play a ukulele.

Seriously, if you do a Google search on Ukulele lessons you will get lots of hits for free online ukulele lessons.

It is really easy to play the uke.

Ned

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2011, 08:48:54 PM »
Quote
If Tiny Tim can play a ukulele then you should be able to play a ukulele.

And Tiny Tim knew the lyrics to every song ever written.  The man was an incredible musician.
-- Ned -- Fulltimer 1997-2013
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unclebuck123

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2011, 09:09:28 PM »
When I was a kid my dad bought an old pipe organ from a church. We moved it piece by piece into our garage and spent years rebuilding it. I used to open the garage door and play Toccata and Fugue in D minor.  When we turned on the blower motor the lights used to dim. When I played  large cords the lights would dim. The 16' bass pipes were laid on the floor and we used pool hoses to connect the chests together.

Using the pedals took years to master.


Tom

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2011, 01:13:04 AM »
Quote from: unclebuck123
Using the pedals took years to master.

As someone who's foot coordination is even worse than my hand coordination, I couldn't begin to imagine what it takes to master the foot pedals on an organ.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2011, 01:26:31 AM by Tom »
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mike eddleman

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2011, 04:09:59 AM »
Never tried a organ. I play the piano. Have a electric Baby Grand. Guitars 6string and bass. Got into building them at one time. Ended up with 13 hand made at one time. Gave all of them away to grandkids except one. Played the drums , Started at about 10 years old and just sold my electric set about 2 years ago. Arthritis in my hands make it hard to play anything anymore.

geodrake

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2011, 06:59:45 AM »
When I retired I begun taking classical guitar lessons.  I explained to my instructor at the beginning that he had his work cut out for him as I didn't have enough rhythm to even be catholic.  Took the lessons for four years.  I don't play for other people, just my own pleasure.  Some day I need to learn to strum.
George Drake

Pierat

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2011, 12:10:20 PM »
Recently, I saw a used '03 Magna for sale online with an 88-key keyboard built into a cabinet in the bedroom.
We Have Hung Up The Keys!
Washington State

FrankNSharon

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2011, 12:18:36 PM »
Tom,

Here is a little inspiration - don't underestimate the Ukulele...

Jake Shimabukuro playing Ukulele http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qadUoaWkRW8

Frank

Jeannine

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2011, 02:03:52 PM »
I recall a few years ago ago taking keyboard lessons with a guy who told me he was brought up playing an organ, and explained how difficult it was vs playing the piano or keyboard.

Before I take my music over to my neighbor's house, any suggestions from experienced organ players?

I'm a pianist who used to play an organ once in a while.  The big difference is that the organ doesn't have a sustaining pedal.  That's the pedal that makes the sound "linger" on a piano.  On an organ, when your finger leaves a key the note cuts off.  As a result, it is more difficult to play smoothly on the organ.  Your fingers have to learn how to make a smooth transition from one key to another.

Jeannine
2009 HitchHiker 37CKRD
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Tom

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2011, 03:23:22 PM »
Thanks for the link Frank. Definitely inspirational.
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Tom

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2011, 02:08:30 PM »
I'm still trying (some might say very trying). I purchased my own tenor ukulele and case, tuning device, books and music. Coordination (concurrently rub belly and pat head) is a real issue for me, as is the dexterity to achieve correct fingering and to switch between chords. I practice for 30 minutes to an hour every day, sometimes more, and I'm taking up offers from accomplished ukulele players for 1 on 1 tuition.

Occasionally I want to switch back to learning/practicing the keyboard, but I think I'll stick it out with the uke a while longer.
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seilerbird

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2011, 03:40:44 PM »
On your list of things that you bought I noticed one glaring omission, a metronome. You should ALWAYS practice with a metronome to develop your sense of rhythm and timing.

Changing chords is difficult for everyone. The most experienced of us still have to fake it when changing chords because the strumming pattern is just too fast to allow you to change chords in between strums. Let's take a typical rhythm strum of straight eights. In other words standard 4/4 time strumming twice per beat. It would go "one and two and three and four and" strumming down on each number and up on each and. Now let's say you start strumming a G chord on count one and then switch to a C chord on beat three. You would strum a G chord on "one and two and", then on three you would change chords. But since you are strumming so fast you would end up just giving the strings a stroke without any fingers down but since your fingers will be down a short time after you strum the sound of the open stings will be muted. Then you will play a nice sounding C on "and four and". Some lucky people are fast enough to be able to change chords fast enough to get a clear sounding chord on three and I am jealous of those people. The rest of us will go GGGGclkCCC.

Now the way you learn to change chords is to start with a metonome going REALLY REALLY slow, 40 beats per minute at the fastest, and pick any chord change that you see commonly used in a song and practice changing between those two chords for a half an hour or so. Use any strum you wish, but the straight eights described above is a good one to start with and change chords every two beats. GGGGCCCC would be one bar. Always start with a down strum and then always strum up down up down. When you can do the change at 40 then go up to 50 and even faster. Try this with as many chord changes as you can find.

Tom

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2011, 04:45:14 PM »
Thanks Tom. Whenever I've sung with a group, and even when I showed up for my first ukulele practice session, folks have always told me I've got a good sense of rhythm. So I've never considered using a metronome. I have one built into both keyboards, but honestly wouldn't know what to do with them. That was until I read your message.

Thanks again for the advice.
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jack r

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2011, 02:41:14 PM »
Tom

Don't forget a can of wd40 to take care of the instrument.

jack

Tom

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2011, 03:04:01 PM »
Jack,

The WD40 is in the gig bag ready for use any time one of the notes or chords doesn't sound right.
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seilerbird

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2011, 03:15:33 PM »
Jack,

The WD40 is in the gig bag ready for use any time one of the notes or chords doesn't sound right.
Just don't try and lubricate anything with it. 8)

Tom

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2011, 04:53:27 PM »
Not for lubrication; It's to displace the water (sweat) from my fingers  ;)
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Tom

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2011, 08:05:24 PM »
I've only been playing (practicing) ukulele for just a few short weeks, but today was my first "gig". As a group, we attended a small ukelele festival (very small by some standards), and all the attending groups performed five numbers. What a blast!

The host group has over 100 players, and they have a couple of very talented uke players/teachers. I learned so much during the teaching sessions. I blanked out during the performance, but I know our performance, complete with its flaws, wasn't the worst.

Bottom line is that I learned a lot, including many things I didn't even know I didn't know.

Our local group are the folks in the "blue" Hawaiian shirts.

I asked one "photographer" to snap a shot of our group while we were all together as a group (i.e. when I wasn't behind the camera), but his picture (of me) came out a bit blurred.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2011, 08:20:55 PM by Tom »
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seilerbird

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2011, 08:10:36 PM »
Sounds like a blast, Tom. I have been playing guitar most of my life and I can only think one thing that is more fun to do. Why didn't you video the session? I would have loved to hear what you all sound like.

Tom

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #20 on: April 30, 2011, 08:17:50 PM »
Quote from: seilerbird
Why didn't you video the session? I would have loved to hear what you all sound like.

Tom, one of the host uke group guys was taking video, and I asked him if he was going to upload it to YouTube. He said "my granddaughter does all that stuff for me". Meanwhile, here's an older YouTube video of one of their songs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJryeYBV_8s

Not one of (my) favorite songs, but it's one of the few videos of the host group. Definitely not representative of the stuff I like or the stuff we played/sang today.

BTW they have this "hat" thing  ;D
« Last Edit: May 02, 2011, 10:36:52 AM by Tom »
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seilerbird

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #21 on: April 30, 2011, 08:47:53 PM »
That is really cool, Tom, I am jealous. Makes me want to buy a uke and move to Modesto.

Here is the ultimate ukulele preformance:

http://youtu.be/puSkP3uym5k

Tom

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #22 on: April 30, 2011, 08:54:59 PM »
Thanks Tom. Jake is a very talented uke player, but I hadn't seen/heard that performance. I can only watch in awe.

I hear that the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz is one of the largest, with some 250 players. I heard today that a few UK clubs got together and had 800 uke players jamming at the same time.
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seilerbird

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2011, 09:59:04 PM »
I lived in Santa Cruz for 7 years and I never heard of them. I would have joined in a heartbeat. In the past month I have bought 3 guitars, an amp and 8 instruction books. I have been playing every morning for three or four hours. I have turned the living room of my motorhome into a music room. I will take some photos soon and post them.

shastalake

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #24 on: May 01, 2011, 09:31:34 AM »

seilerbird

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #25 on: May 01, 2011, 09:59:02 AM »
Tom - I was wondering last night what type of ukulele you have. There are four types, soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. You said you are looking for a tenor. May I suggest a baritone instead. There are several huge advantages to a baritone. It is the largest of all ukes so it has the largest fretboard making it easier to fit you fingers onto the right fret and string. It is the loudest of all ukes giving you better projection. But best of all it is tuned to D G B E instead of my dog has fleas. This makes it a very simple matter to switch to the standard guitar if you ever should choose to do so.

And the quality of the uke is important. Cheaper ukes don't stay in tune, have very bad action (string height to the fretboard is higher, making it harder to play), and will be very frustrating. The major reason why most people don't get very far learning any stringed instrument is because of cheap instruments.

Here is a uke that I would recommend:

http://www.amazon.com/Lanikai-LU-21B-Baritone-Ukulele/dp/B0018TBEPW/ref=sr_1_1?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1304261746&sr=1-1


Tom

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #26 on: May 01, 2011, 10:21:28 AM »
Thanks Tom, much appreciated. I have a Lanikai soprano I purchased on amazon.com. Having borrowed a Lanikai tenor last week, I think it's a little too big, and I'm going to look at a concert.

One of the guys in our local uke club must have 100 ukes around his house; They're hanging on the walls of several rooms, stacked in cases, and sitting in uke stands in his living room. He loaned me an el cheapo Mahalo soprano before I bought the Lanikai, and he loaned me the Lanikai tenor. His wife (also in the group) told me yesterday that she'll have him dig out a concert for me.

This coming week I plan on visiting a music store (not local) that carries a good inventory of ukes, just to try various ones out. The gal who owns the store has ordered some additional models, including a few Kala tenors, for me to try.

A baritone isn't going to work for me, at least not at this time, partly because of the size and partly because it's tuned differently; I'd have to transpose all the music, which is more than my brain can handle right now.

Further down the road it might be fun to play a banjuke; A few of the folks in the group have them, and they're featured in some of the tunes we play.

Several members of the group have put some very expensive ukuleles in my hands, but I'm paranoid about damaging them, and haven't played more than a few chords before very carefully handing them back to the owners.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2011, 10:34:35 AM by Tom »
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seilerbird

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #27 on: May 01, 2011, 11:47:59 AM »
A tenor is the next best thing to a baritone. When you finally do get the uke of your dreams I would suggest spending a few extra bucks and having a guitar tech check the set up to make sure it is intonated properly (this insures the strings are in tune with each other). Let us know what you end up with.

Tom

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #28 on: May 01, 2011, 01:09:08 PM »
Will do Tom, thanks.
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Luca1369

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Re: Calling all ukulele players
« Reply #29 on: May 01, 2011, 01:17:50 PM »
Rest in peace.......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1bFr2SWP1I

Yes, Izzy was the King!  At least we had him for a while.
Steve
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