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RV-related and other recreational activities => Making music on the road => Topic started by: Tom on March 24, 2011, 08:05:49 PM

Title: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom 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.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird 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.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Ned 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.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: unclebuck123 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.

Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom 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.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: mike eddleman 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.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: geodrake 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.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Pierat 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.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: FrankNSharon 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 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qadUoaWkRW8)

Frank
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Jeannine 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
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on March 25, 2011, 03:23:22 PM
Thanks for the link Frank. Definitely inspirational.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom 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.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird 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.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom 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.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: jack r on April 15, 2011, 02:41:14 PM
Tom

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

jack
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom 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.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird 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)
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on April 15, 2011, 04:53:27 PM
Not for lubrication; It's to displace the water (sweat) from my fingers  ;)
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom 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.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird 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.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom 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 (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
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird 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
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom 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 (http://ukuleleclub.com/) 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.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird 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.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: shastalake on May 01, 2011, 09:31:34 AM
Rest in peace.......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1bFr2SWP1I
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird 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

Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 01, 2011, 10:21:28 AM
Thanks Tom, much appreciated. I have a Lanikai soprano (http://www.amazon.com/Lanikai-LU-21-Soprano-Ukulele/dp/B001EL6I8W/) 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.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird 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.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 01, 2011, 01:09:08 PM
Will do Tom, thanks.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Luca1369 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.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 01, 2011, 09:22:50 PM
Thought I'd post a link to our local group, the Delta Strummers (http://deltastrummersdiscoverybay.org/). The header image, taken before I joined the group, was shot on the rear deck of a member's home. The background is typical  of the water views we have from our family rooms.

I hear that they have a good webmaster  ;)
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on May 02, 2011, 10:10:00 AM
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
I have heard many people say they don't have the talent or coordination or dexterity to play a stringed instrument. But learning to play a stringed instrument does not take talent, coordination or dexterity to learn how to play. When you learn how to play is when you develop your coordination and dexterity. Most people think you have to have musical talent to be a musician, and nothing could be further from the truth. The very greatest players of all times are the ones with the talent. The other 99.9% of us have nothing but hard work to get us where we are.

It is called Muscle Memory, that is what makes a person a musician. Watch any great guitar player in concert and notice that most of the time he is paying very little attention to what he (or she) is playing. Even when playing extremely difficult parts. This is because he has played the song so many times that his muscles know exactly what to do. The way to develop your muscle memory is to play anything until you can play it automatically without thinking. Otherwise you will not be able to comfortably sing along with your playing.

Let me give you an example. I was in a group about ten years ago (sierraexpressband.com) and one of the songs we did was Johnny B Goode. I learned to play the song but I didn't learn it exactly, just a rough interpretation. I don't want to or need to play it exactly like the record on stage. But recently I have been getting back into playing guitar and I bought a bunch of instruction books (8 so far) and some books on Beatles and Chuck Berry tabs (sheet music). As John Lennon said "If you had to give rock and roll a different name it should be Chuck Berry. So I am going to go through and learn all the classic Chuck Berry riffs. But the first project I have undertaken is to learn the intro to Johnny B Goode note for note perfectly.

Now Chuck is nowhere near the greatest or most technical guitar player in the world, but he is amongst the sloppiest. That is not a negative comment, in fact it is positive. Nothing sounds worse than some of these mindless shredders that should like a computer in hyper speed. But that sloppyness makes him very difficult to do a note perfect copy. The first four measures are real easy, takes about 5 minutes to perfect. But measure number 5 (out of 13) is really causing me problems. Only 7 notes, but no one can agree on what those seven notes are.

Youtube has at least a dozen Johnny B Goode instruction videos. The first 4 measures in all the videos I watched are perfect. But the fifth measure is done differently by every one of them. So I had to use Audition to slow the intro down to half speed while keeping the pitch correct. I have finally figured out exactly what notes he is playing but I am still not too positive about which position he plays it in. Watching videos of Chuck playing the opening he doesn't seem to change position at the fifth measure, but all the instruction videos do change position.

So for the past week I spend 15 minutes a day of my practice trying to get this one measure down. It took the first six days to figure out what I was suppose to be playing. Now that I know what to play it will take me a few more days until I can play it at 50%. Then I will work on it at 75% until I get that down then 100% until I get that down. But by the time I get it to 100% I will be able to play it in my sleep. I would like to spend more than 15 minutes a day on the measure but I just got a new acoustic electric guitar and it has a 12 gauge set of strings on it. I have been playing on 9s most of my life. The 12s are much bigger and harder to bend and they are killing my fingers. So after 15 minutes I have to go on to something easier.

I am only an average guitarist so I can only imagine the dedication and the endless hours of practice they must endure to succeed.

But the bottom line is that playing guitar is sooooooo much fun that the hours of sounding lousy are worth it.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 02, 2011, 10:25:34 AM
Thanks Tom, appreciate the advice.

Quote
It is called Muscle Memory, that is what makes a person a musician. ...  his muscles know exactly what to do.

A number of musicians have told me the same thing, albeit in slightly different words. However, there are some chords on the ukulele that my fingers can't seem to get to, no matter how hard I try or how long I practice. Some folks play substitute chords (aka cheater chords) for some of them, but I haven't found all the cheater chords.

Mel Bay, among others, has some good uke books; One of his chord books is illustrated with photos of his fingers alongside the finger position diagrams. One player I showed the book to said, in response to my question "how does he do that?", that "he has rubber fingers".
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on May 02, 2011, 10:55:05 AM
I have very small hands and a touch of arthritis, so a lot of those chords that seem unplayable really are. Of course there are many people large hands and long spidery fingers that can play those chords with ease. But you can't fight city hall. If your fingers don't reach there is nothing you can do to improve that. There are finger stretching exercises, but since it really hurts to stretch you fingers I choose not to do them. When you come to an unplayable chord there is a simple way around it without learning all the substitute chords. The answer is you don't need to play all four strings on every chord. So lets say you come to a chord you can't play, simply play as much of the chord as you comfortably can. Rather that strum all four strings, just strum the bottom two or three. And if even that is just too difficult then play only one string of the chord. Especially in a group all you need to do is play any note or notes that will fit with the chord.

Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 02, 2011, 11:39:29 AM
Great advice Tom. Someone told me last week that I could just strum fewer strings. Now, when those are the top two or three strings, I just need to figure out to stop on a down-strum before reaching the no-play string(s).
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on May 02, 2011, 12:24:22 PM
Actually you don't stop strumming. There are several different ways to accomplish this. Generally it is the higher pitched strings that get played and the lower ones ignored. You can do all down strums and just start at the top string you are going to play. If you want to do alternating up and down strums then alter the angle that you are strumming with your strumming hand so that you miss hitting the strings you don't want to sound. Another way is to mute the strings you don't want to be sounding. You can either use an unused finger and just lay it on the string but don't push it down. Generally when you strum a chord you want every note to ring out clearly. So what you are doing is playing a chord and not all the notes are ringing clearly since one or two are muted. You can also mute a string with the fingers that are pushing down the other strings by adjusting the position of your finger so that it is touching the unwanted string. Or you can just lay you hand on the strings without pushing the strings down at all and play the rhythm with your pick on the muted strings.This is called chunking.  That actually sounds really cool. To hear this effect listen to the last half of Baby I'm Amazed by Paul McCartney.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 02, 2011, 12:49:23 PM
Thanks Tom. I'll need to practice that. Here's one 'simple' chord that I just can't do. In ukese it's a Bb. When I bar the lower two strings on the first fret, my second and middle fingers want to lay down too, and just won't arch up and hammer down on the other two strings. Net result is that they're (incorrectly) laying across the lower two strings (on the second and third fret respectively).
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on May 02, 2011, 01:05:55 PM
On a normal guitar that is the dreaded F chord that gets every beginner. That chord is probably responsible for more people quitting the guitar than anything else. The problem is you are holding the neck of the uke too close to your body. Push the neck away from your body so it is at about a 45 degree angle. Your fingers should just fall into place easily. Here is a shot of me from the 70s showing the position I play in.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 02, 2011, 02:06:59 PM
Well I'll be darned. I just had to take a break from the honey-do list and try that on the uke. It certainly helped, although I need more practice because the middle finger still wants to lay down with the first finger.

While I was at it, I tried playing just the 3 lower strings, and that works quite well. Since I was playing only 3 strings, I was also able to use two fingers for the bottom two strings (instead of barring them), and that worked too.

Thanks for the advice Tom!

Of course, doing this in slow motion is quite different from moving to it for one chord in the middle of a tune, then immediately moving to something else. I'm still "thinking" where to put my fingers, and I look forward to the day when they just "know" where to go without me having to think.

All this thinking, fingering, and strumming sure makes a mess of my singing. It's like trying to pat my head with one hand, rub my belly with another, and scratch my butt with a third hand  :(
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on May 02, 2011, 02:29:09 PM
Don't even try to sing and play at first, just concentrate on getting the chords right. There are a few other angles you can play with on your Bb chord. Are you rolling the top of the guitar back so you can easily see the fretboard and your fingers? Wrong, you really shouldn't be able to see your fingers very well if the guitar is in the right position. I know as a beginner you just have to look your fingers, but try and keep them out of sight as much as possible.

The other angle is the up and down angle of the neck. Most people prefer the headstock a few inches above level. Play around with the full chord and vary all three angles. You will eventually find the one that works best. And generally if it works best for the Bb chord it will be best for most all chords.

One last option you have is to barre all four strings with your index finger instead of just the two highest strings. This will be awkward at first, but most guitarist find the barred F a whole lot easier than the one you are trying.

Here are a shot of each chord on a guitar. You would just eliminate the top two strings and on the barred one use the third finger instead of the fourth finger on the top string.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 03, 2011, 08:03:42 PM
Today Chris and I attended a luncheon at a local club where the entertainment was provided by William Florian, formerly a lead singer and guitar player with the 60's/70's group The New Christy Minstrels. What a blast! It brought back lots of memories, although I couldn't keep my eyes off his chord hand  ;D

I frequently open and close these club events by leading the audience in a couple of well-known songs, including God Bless America. William, having heard my opener, invited me to join him on stage for a duet. What an honor, but I declined, preferring not to risk messing up his act  :(
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on May 03, 2011, 08:37:05 PM
although I couldn't keep my eyes off his chord hand  ;D
Yep, you are becoming a player. That is what we all do. I remember in 1965 watching a movie of English rock acts doing their big hit of the day. The Animals came on and did House of the Rising Sun. I was with the two guitarist in my band (I was the drummer) and we didn't know how to play HOTRS and sheet music was not available for anything back them. So we all sat there in the theater announcing the chords as we saw him change chords. We walked home saying A minor, C, D, F, A minor, C, E. Then I spent the next month trying to get it note for note to the record. It was a real struggle but I finally got it. 40 years later I discovered they were lip syncing and the guitar part was really two parts, with one of them overdubbed since they only had one guitars. The first bass note was played by one guitar and then the sweep picking was done by another. Trying to play both parts when I could barely play guitar was a real challenge. But it was worth it.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 03, 2011, 08:47:50 PM
Quote from: seilerbird
So we all sat there in the theater announcing the chords as we saw him change chords.

LOL Tom, now I don't feel so bad. Part of our gig last Saturday included a few hours of teaching by a talented music teacher and uke player. One of the lady's techniques was to assign "positions" of her uke to a given chord. So, for example, if she held her uke in a vertical position it signified a C chord. If she held it horizontally to right it signified a G chord, and so on.

I couldn't remember what the various positions stood for, so a guitar player in our group (sitting next to me) called out the chords for me. However, he was also watching the gal's fingers, and he'd sometimes call out the guitar chord, which was obviously wrong for the uke. Then he'd correct himself, which made for an interesting training session.

Quote
40 years later I discovered they were lip syncing and the guitar part was really two parts, with one of them overdubbed since they only had one guitars.

Now that's funny!
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on May 03, 2011, 09:01:47 PM
It is a funny story but I am glad I learned it like that since just playing one of the guitar parts without the other sounds terrible.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 05, 2011, 06:57:26 PM
Quote from: seilerbird
Let us know what you end up with.

After an all-day trip, including a long drive each way and playing a bunch of different makes & models of ukulele, I came home with a concert Fluke (http://www.fleamarketmusic.com/store/Scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=46). It's small brother, the Soprano Flea, is a neat instrument, as is it's cousin the Flea banjuke. They're supposed to come out with a Fluke banjuke in the next year or so, and by then I'll be ready to play it.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on May 05, 2011, 07:02:31 PM
That looks really cool Tom, I have never seen one shaped like that. I assume you are happy with the way it sounds. How are you coming on the Bb chord? I have got 10 of the 12 measures of the opening to Johnny B Goode down pat at 50% speed. It will be at least one more month until I have all 12 measures at 100% speed. The reason it is taking so long is I am going to get perfect to the record.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 05, 2011, 07:16:06 PM
Aye Tom, there are now two of us in the group with Flukes. I stopped by the other guy's house on the way home, and had him play both his and mine. He feels I got a decent uke at a good price.

Quote from: seilerbird
I assume you are happy with the way it sounds.

Yes, it sounds at least as good as equivalently priced wooden ukes I tried, and a whole lot better than some wooden ones. Obviously not in the class of a $4,000 Martin, but definitely better than the soprano Lanikai I have.

Quote
How are you coming on the Bb chord?

Slow, but your tips helped a lot. Now I have to re-train my fingers for the wider neck and further-spaced frets on the Fluke.

I have to learn a bunch of Hawaiian songs I'd never heard before. We have a live performance on June24, which doesn't give me much time. So I've been busy downloading them from iTunes and played them over and over in the car today. Unfortunately, a number of the songs have different arrangements and, until I hear them played at practice on Monday, I don't know for sure which arrangements they'll be playing.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on May 05, 2011, 07:30:14 PM
Can you do an audio recording of a practice session so you could play along with that? Or maybe you could get one of the other members to record the songs for you.

BTW - it seems like it takes forever for a beginner to feel confident with the Bb (F) chord. But once you do it is all a lot easier. And then as soon as you can get the chord changes on your first song down pat you will have an "ah-ha" moment realizing you actually can play a uke. Just don't get discouraged and give up. But with you new baby you will be wanting to play more often.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Jim Dick on May 05, 2011, 11:17:28 PM
Tom,

Many years ago I built a UKIN from plans. It's the size of a ukelele but more round. I have it on the coach. Might just have to drag it out and see if it will play. ;D ;D If I do I'll post a photo.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 05, 2011, 11:48:37 PM
Looking forward to seeing the photo Jim. I couldn't figure out what a UKIN is. Would it be like a banjuke? This guy made a banjuke from an Oreo cookie tin:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbkgkSfOigA&feature=player_detailpage
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 05, 2011, 11:50:40 PM
Quote from: seilerbird
Can you do an audio recording of a practice session so you could play along with that?

Aye Tom, I might take a recorder to the next practice session. Once I have the tunes in my head I can use the respective fake sheets to play them.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Jim Dick on May 06, 2011, 07:11:57 AM
Tom,

The Ukin is the size of a Ukelele but the body is round. It's in the back of a cabinet so I'll have to dig it out when I have time.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 06, 2011, 09:40:15 PM
Quote from: seilerbird
I would suggest .... 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).

This had me curious Tom.

The way I would tune each string to the others would be:

Why would I need a tech for that?
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on May 06, 2011, 10:39:31 PM
You are putting all the strings in tune with each other. That is the proper thing to do.

Adjusting the intonation is making sure the string is in tune with itself. But now that I think about my remark I realize that a uke might not have an adjustable bridge at the price point your is.

Here is a better explanation. If you take a guitar string and depress it at the 12th fret (that special fret with two dealybop things to mark the position) then you are effectively cutting the string in half. The note you sound at the 12th should be exactly one octave higher than the unfretted note. In other words from do to Do (do re mi). Now if the bridge is placed perfectly then the two notes will be PERFECTLY in tune. If the bridge is not placed perfectly then the distance from the nut to the 12th fret will be different than the distance from the 12th fret to the bridge. It the distance from the 12th to the bridge is shorter than the nut to 12 distance then the note will be sharp. If the distance is longer the note will be flat. When you are first beginning you will be playing only in first position (right next to the nut) so you won't notice bad intonation or the fact that your guitar isn't really in tune.

But the reason I recommend making sure the intonation is set correctly for a beginner is that you don't want to be starting out listening to a (very slightly) out of tune guitar (uke). It really helps to have an instrument that can be tuned properly so you can learn to hear the notes properly right from the start. If there is no adjustment on the bridge you should still take it into a guitar tech and ask him to check the intonation. He will probably do it for free since it can be done in 15 seconds. If he says it is not intonated properly and there is no easy way to adjust it then you should return it and get a different uke. This is why I suggested at least spending $200 on a uke because at that price point it will probably have acceptable intonation.

Learning guitar is hard enough. Learning on a perpetually out of tune instrument is way harder.

If he can set the intonation you should have him then do a complete set up which includes making sure the string height is correct and that there are no string buzzes. This setup is something you should have done as soon as you buy the thing and then you will probably never have to have it done again, unless you use it in defense against Chris ;D
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 06, 2011, 11:01:01 PM
Thanks for that explanation Tom.

Quote
.... I realize that a uke might not have an adjustable bridge at the price point your is.

I'm not sure I've seen or read about any uke with that feature, but I'll do more research.

Quote
The note you sound at the 12th should be exactly one octave higher than the unfretted note.

Using my keyboard and my ears, as best I can tell, all the strings meet that criteria.

Quote
This is why I suggested at least spending $200 on a uke because at that price point it will probably have acceptable intonation.

Does $199.99 count?

FWIW Chris is out of town for the weekend, so I'm having a musical weekend with the dog. Fortunately the dog has long floppy ears and, so far, isn't complaining ;D
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Jim Dick on May 06, 2011, 11:16:10 PM
Tom,

Here are some photos of the Ukin. Appears I need new strings. ;D
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 06, 2011, 11:18:06 PM
Thanks Jim. That sure looks like a banjuke. Does it have a banjo kinda sound?
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Jim Dick on May 06, 2011, 11:20:26 PM
Tom,

No, it definitely sounds like a Ukelele. It has been many years since I "tried" to play it. May just get some strings and give it another whirl!
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on May 06, 2011, 11:22:22 PM
Tom,

Here are some photos of the Ukin. Appears I need new strings. ;D
Oh yeah, I recognize that. I saw a woman wearing it as a hat at the Royal Wedding. ;D

Boom Crash....
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Jim Dick on May 06, 2011, 11:25:22 PM
She probably had a headache after.  :)
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Chet18013 on May 08, 2011, 05:31:30 PM
Two weeks ago we had an Escapee couple, the Sinclairs stop by for the afternoon and they spent the night in their RV in our yard. They are Brits and spend 6 months of the year traveling the US in their RV. Turns out Mike Sinclair is a very accomplish musician. His handle on the internet is "The Ukeman". (his site is http://www.theukeman.com/fr_mysongs.cfm (http://www.theukeman.com/fr_mysongs.cfm)) He spotted Laurie's Yamaha keyboard, which turned out to be the same one he has. Mike asked if he could try it out and we were treated to a wonderful concert. He made the keyboard do things we could only imagine, but never accomplish. He also travels with a ukulele and also can make that instrument produce incredible sounds. If you want a treat, poke around his site and sample some of his songs. While he does sell them, his site will allow you to play the whole song, not just a teaser of a sample.

We had a delightful visit and made a new friend. They have promised to return and give us the chance to hear more of Mike's playing.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 08, 2011, 05:50:36 PM
Thanks for the story and the link Chet, much appreciated. Sure looks like Mike is an accomplished musician. I'm off to see if he's You Tube or iTunes.

OK, I need to know the secret ... how did you lure this gem of a couple to your property?  ;D
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Chet18013 on May 09, 2011, 05:37:15 AM

OK, I need to know the secret ... how did you lure this gem of a couple to your property?  ;D

We're listed in the Escapees Directory of members and they saw our location and called us up.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 09, 2011, 05:39:35 AM
Thanks Chet.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 17, 2011, 09:37:21 PM
Today I had a private coaching lesson at our home from a friend and accomplished musician. I've often described the guy as having more musical talent in his left big toe than I can ever hope to achieve. The guy plays guitar, banjo, keyboard, and other instruments. He's also the musical director for a local chorus (80 strong). He was recently (last week) in Maui and, knowing I'd bought a ukulele, sent me this photo as a joke; In the photo are his wife and another couple faking playing the ukulele. I replied to his email, urging him to buy a ukulele and teach himself, so he could teach me.

He turned up today playing as good as any ukulele player I've seen in person or online. He taught me more in 5 minutes than I've learned in hours of lessons online and on DVD, and in various books I've bought.

I'm crossing my fingers he'll do some ongoing training.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Luca1369 on May 18, 2011, 07:12:43 AM
He taught me more in 5 minutes than I've learned in hours of lessons online and on DVD, and in various books I've bought.

I know what you mean Tom.  Some of us can learn faster if someone shows us something one time than if we spend a lot of time trying to teach it to ourselves using courses or books.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 18, 2011, 08:09:04 AM
Quote from: Luca1369
Some of us can learn faster if someone shows us something one time ...

Aye Steve, and some of us are just slow learners  :(   I was having a tough time strumming correctly, and what he showed me was counter to the way I'd learned (or tried to learn). After he had me running through some exercises repeatedly, both on my own and together, he put his $2,200 Taylor acoustic guitar in my hands and had me strumming it. That guitar was some instrument!
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Larry N. on May 18, 2011, 08:43:20 AM
The quality of the instrument certainly makes a BIG difference in a person's enjoyment, and often in how quickly they learn. Many, many years ago I had an el cheapo guitar. It didn't sound good, the strings were hard to push down, and the overall satisfaction level was almost nil. It was tough even playing C-G-F, with a very basic strum.  After some time of that, my wife bought me a Takamini 12 string (not top, but decent quality), and I've been enjoying it, ever since. I even learned (relatively quickly, for me) a lot more chords and several quite useful strums, along with a handful of picking patterns -- all in not much more time than I'd spent trying to get a handful of chords on the el cheapo.

I'm not a musician, and a lot of things that come easy for some people (I once watched a very good guitar playing friend learn the banjo rather well in less than two weeks), take a humongous amount of practice to master, IF I can master them at all. But it's fun, with a decent instrument.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Luca1369 on May 18, 2011, 09:24:24 AM
The quality of the instrument certainly makes a BIG difference in a person's enjoyment, and often in how quickly they learn.

True.  You don't need to be involved with battling the physical properties of your instrument when you're trying to learn how to play it.  An instrument that fits and feels good in your hands will go a long way in aiding the learning process.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on May 18, 2011, 10:11:38 AM
On the flip side, the el cheapo ukulele that this guy bought in Maui (just so he could learn to play and come home to teach me) is, by his own admission, a piece of junk. But he was playing some darned good music on it.

I was pleased to hear him say that my moderately priced uke has good tone and good tracking.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on June 01, 2011, 08:13:37 PM
My long time friend and accomplished musician agreed to coach our small local ukulele group. The first session was a week ago at a local church and the second session was last evening at our house. People who had previously left the group (because they weren't learning) and others attended because of this guy's reputation.
 
Everyone, from ukulele newbies to long time (60 years) players, learned something. All the folks I talked with came away extremely positive and thirsting for more.
 
Our dog (Gabby) decided to get in the third picture. I was cracking up when she was poking her nose into all the purses and bags on the floor behind the chairs.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Luca1369 on June 02, 2011, 07:58:16 AM
Our dog (Gabby) decided to get in the third picture. I was cracking up when she was poking her nose into all the purses and bags on the floor behind the chairs.

Very slick Tom.  Lure the folks in for a ukulele lesson and then have your dog rifle their purses. 
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on June 02, 2011, 08:34:13 AM
Aye Steve, although I did make an announcement as we were breaking up that, if folks had lost anything from their bags or purses, Gabby had probably taken it  ;D
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Luca1369 on June 02, 2011, 09:41:00 AM
So how are you personally coming along with your ukulele lessons? 

I tried learning once, after I heard Izzy's version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow/It's a Beautiful World.  The only song I ever learned to play on a uke.  To me, the chording wasn't difficult, the hard part was trying to imitate Izzy's island strumming style.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on June 02, 2011, 10:05:31 AM
Quote from: Luca1369
So how are you personally coming along with your ukulele lessons?

Steve, my playing took a huge leap forward when my friend (an accomplished musician and music director) bought a ukulele, taught himself to play it, and agreed to coach our group. He has a teaching style that allows folks who've played for 60 years to learn something, while bringing learners like me along at the same time.

Basic strumming was my first obstacle, but my friend fixed that in the first 5 minutes. We're gradually learning other strums and strumming techniques.

I still have a very long way to go to consider myself a player but, as the NYC cab driver story goes ....

Q. How do I get to Carnegie Hall?

A. You practice.

One of the ladies attending our coaching sessions was born in Hawaii. She doesn't know how to read music, but plays exceptionally well by ear. She was showing our coach a few island tricks on Tuesday evening, but explained that some things can only be learned by growing up and living there.

Izzy would be hard for anyone to imitate.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on June 24, 2011, 08:07:02 PM
Today I played at my first 'official' gig with the local ukulele group (The Delta Strummers). We played and sang at a nearby assisted living place. A small audience, maybe 60 people, but they were all engaged with our songs.

I woke up this morning with no voice at all but, after some sinus medication and lots of fluids, I was able to sing three solos. When I sang our closing song - God Bless America - I donned my Uncle Sam hat and had the whole audience singing along. What a blast!
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on June 24, 2011, 08:09:10 PM
The rush of entertaining is incredible. You sound like you need a PA Tom.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on June 24, 2011, 08:13:05 PM
Quote from: seilerbird
You sound like you need a PA Tom.

Not me. I'm able to belt it out with no audio support.

When I was first asked (at zero notice) to sing that patriotic song at a retired guy's club I'd applied to join, I almost blew their audio system out. After that, I don't use a mic for 150 or so people in the audience.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on June 24, 2011, 08:39:55 PM
Quote from: seilerbird
The rush of entertaining is incredible.

That's so true.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Jim Dick on June 24, 2011, 11:54:58 PM
The rush of entertaining is incredible. You sound like you need a PA Tom.

Tom,

Trust me, he doesn't need a PA!
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on June 25, 2011, 12:14:52 AM
LOL Jim, nobody accused me of being quiet  ;D

Quote from: Tom
Not me. I'm able to belt it out with no audio support.

When I was first asked (at zero notice) to sing God Bless America at a retired guy's club I'd applied to join, I almost blew their audio system out. After that episode, I don't use a mic for 150 or so people in the audience.

As an aside, my friend is the choral director for a local chorus. We were sitting on our boat anchored somewhere on the CA Delta last year, when I turned on a favorite Welsh song and said " this would sound good with 4-part harmony in your chorus". Sure enough, he's included it in the chorus' upcoming performance, albeit sung in English. Last Monday I was invited to attend a choral practice and was introduced as "my buddy Tom who came up with the idea for this song: He's here to audit you singing, and will be back in a couple of weeks to sing the song to you in Welsh".

Oh crap! I don't want to sing to this august group. But, Ernie being the creative guy he is, told me privately "You're going to belt it out in Welsh, and the chorus will be humming behind you and it's going to sound great".
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Jim Dick on June 25, 2011, 07:07:49 AM
Tom,

We'd love to hear you do that song. :)
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on June 25, 2011, 08:11:48 AM
Which one Jim? God Bless America, or Ar hyd y nos (aka All through the night).
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on June 25, 2011, 09:33:31 AM
Tom,

Trust me, he doesn't need a PA!
He woke up the next day without a voice. Being loud and singing properly are two totally different things. This is why PAs were invented.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom and Margi on June 25, 2011, 09:50:27 AM
He actually was voiceless the morning before he was scheduled to sing.  If he lost his voice after, it was probably due to the sinus infection.  Believe me, I've heard him.  Most people have forgotten more than Tom knows about projecting his beautiful Welsh voice.  In a contest with the "real" Tom Jones, I would take our Tom every time.
 
Margi
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on June 25, 2011, 10:02:40 AM
Thanks Margi.

Quote
He actually was voiceless the morning before he was scheduled to sing.

That's correct, and was due to a sinus infection. I could barely talk when I woke up, and was convinced I wouldn't be able to sing. But, by performance time, I was feeling much better and decided to give it a shot, although I nursed my voice a bit until the last number. Not a 'professional' performance, but we're billed as an amateur group.

I must admit that I had to re-learn how to sing when I joined a barbershop chorus some years ago; Singing in harmony with 80 or so others was quite different from my freestyle solo singing. Their vocal coaches sure taught us to "sing properly".

I'm now having to learn all over again, this time to sing with a "band", and I must admit it's a bit of a challenge for me; I came in on the wrong beat on a couple of songs/verses yesterday, but the players quickly caught it and adjusted accordingly. I mentioned it when I talked with the leader last evening, and her response was "unlike most of our singers, we can hear you, and are therefore able to adjust and keep in step with you".
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on June 25, 2011, 10:42:03 AM
Well great, I hope I get to hear him at Quartzsite next year.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on June 25, 2011, 10:44:53 AM
You might be waiting a long time  ;)

Quartzsite is one of the worst places for my sinuses; Chris and I both get very bad infections in the desert, and end up having to visit the nearest doc, clinic, or ER.
 
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on June 25, 2011, 12:19:09 PM
The wife of one of the players took some pictures with her PAS camera. Her husband just stopped by our house to let me grab pictures from her camera.

We were a bit pinched for space yesterday, so she has some audience heads in the pic. Half the audience was off to one side, which was why I was facing that direction in this shot.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Ned on June 25, 2011, 12:31:45 PM
Love the hat :)  George M. would be proud.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on June 25, 2011, 12:33:21 PM
That hat cost me all of $3.99 at a CVS Pharmacy.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Jim Dick on June 25, 2011, 04:09:41 PM
Ar hyd y nos!
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on June 25, 2011, 05:24:52 PM
You're on Jim. OTOH you said it perfectly, so maybe we could sign a duet  ;D

FWIW one of the other guys sang a beautiful Mauri song yesterday. I haven't been able to get it out of my head since I first heard it some weeks ago. He sang the first two verses in the Mauri language, and we all sang the last two verses in English.

We have another performance at a different assisted living place in a few weeks - not the same song list. In August we perform all Hawaiian songs at a luau at a third assisted living facility. That's going to be much tougher, because some of those Hawaiian songs are almost impossible to sing and quite tough to play - unless you were born on the islands. Fortunately, we have a couple of Hawaiian ladies coming to our practices, and I'm hoping they'll join us in the performance. We'll also have a couple of Hawaiian-born dancers in the show. Hope they keep some food for us!
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 03, 2011, 12:02:51 PM
I'm thinking we could have an interesting jamming session at one of rallies; Tom S playing his guitar, Jim D alternating between his bagpipes and his ukin, and me trying to keep up playing my ukulele  ;D
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on July 03, 2011, 12:41:23 PM
I'm thinking we could have an interesting jamming session at one of rallies; Tom S playing his guitar, Jim D alternating between his bagpipes and his ukin, and me trying to keep up playing my ukulele  ;D

That's what I was thinking. Pancake Bill plays a mean dobro. But your sinuses won't let you come to Q. That is the only rally I will be at in the next year.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 03, 2011, 02:44:31 PM
Quote from: seilerbird
Pancake Bill plays a mean dobro.

Didn't realize that Bill plays the dobro. I believe we have another member who plays that instrument and gave us a performance at Moab. Maybe I have to join via Skype  :(
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Jim Dick on July 03, 2011, 07:06:07 PM
Tom,

I would need to replace the strings on the Ukin and you would have to give me lessons. ;D ;D
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 03, 2011, 10:48:58 PM
Jim,

Ukulele strings are really cheap, even "good" nylgut ones by Aquila (http://www.juststrings.com/nylgutaquilaukulele.html).
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Jim Dick on July 04, 2011, 01:22:11 AM
Tom,

Yes, they are cheap and someday I need to get some. ;D That's the easy part. The hard part is learning how to play!!!
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 04, 2011, 03:14:35 AM
Jim, there are lots of (free) online resources, including lessons, such as this one (http://ukuleleunderground.com/category/ukulele-lessons/) and this one (http://www.easyukulele.com/ukulele-video-lessons.html) (scroll down the page to see links to individual lessons). Too bad you're not close to us; Our new music director is an excellent teacher, and would get you playing in no time.

BTW this (http://www.ukeland.com/pages/articles/stuff/string.jpg) might help if/when you decide to re-string.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: PancakeBill on July 04, 2011, 07:41:36 AM
Tom, that was me at Quartzsite, Tom is referring to mean as that Bill Means to play the dobro.  or it is mean to us that Bill played the dobro. 

I found a genie when I polished the cover plate on my dobro, I got one wish.  I weanted to play the dobro real bad.  Got the wish.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on July 04, 2011, 08:52:32 AM
Also Larry plays guitar. And so does Steve.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 04, 2011, 09:39:25 AM
Tom S, have you decided to dress up for the occasion? (Just looking at your new avatar.)
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Jim Dick on July 04, 2011, 09:49:49 AM
Tom,

Thanks for those resources!
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on July 04, 2011, 09:51:54 AM
Tom S, have you decided to dress up for the occasion? (Just looking at your new avatar.)
No, I decided I needed an age reduction surgery. I just had another birthday and I am getting tired of getting older.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 04, 2011, 10:27:29 AM
You're welcome Jim. There's a bunch of other resources on our web site at http://www.deltastrummers.org (http://www.deltastrummers.org) under Ukulele resources in the menu.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: wgb1 on July 04, 2011, 03:54:39 PM
Have you seen the video of Jake Shimabukuro playing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on the ukulele? This is an awesome video! ;D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gaWuadgL3g
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 04, 2011, 03:58:16 PM
Thanks for the link. Yes, I've watched a number of Jake's videos. He's a really talented ukulele player.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: wgb1 on July 04, 2011, 09:27:38 PM
I had actually never heard of Jake Shimabukuro before seeing the link to the video posted on FB by a local radio personality recently. This guy is amazing on the ukulele. I love to watch talented musicians! I only wish I was musically talented in some way....but it ain't happenin'! LOL!
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 13, 2011, 08:11:58 PM
Yesterday (Tuesday) The Delta Strummers performed for another, larger, local assisted-living community. Our new music director refined the play list somewhat, so folks weren't listening to the same old stuff. We also had a hula dancer who has danced with the group in prior years; This lady is a certified hula dancer and instructor, and we are fortunate to have her associated with the group.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 14, 2011, 08:43:32 PM
Quote from: Tom
Last Monday I was invited to attend a choral practice and was introduced as "my buddy Tom who came up with the idea for this song: He's here to audit you singing, and will be back in a couple of weeks to sing the song to you in Welsh".

Well, that event happened on Monday of this week. What an incredible experience for me!

The chorus sang two verses in English and I sang a third verse in Welsh. An audience of 65-70 great singers put me on edge; I couldn't hear the chorus humming behind me (actually, seated in front of me), and I couldn't hear the piano 6" away from me.

All the feedback was quite positive. A few folks in the chorus wanted to know if I'd be singing in the show (I can't, due to residency requirements). A wee Scottish lass we met last year asked me if I sang and, when I said "not a single note", she said "All Welshmen sing".

When this lady came off the risers on Monday, she stopped by me and said "you lied to me last year"  ;D

Meanwhile, having attended two partial rehearsals, I can't wait to see the full show tomorrow (Friday) evening. The director is so creative that it defies explanation. And this guy is our ukulele music director!
 
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Ned on July 14, 2011, 08:47:24 PM
You didn't lie, you don't sing a single note, you sing a lot of notes :)
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 14, 2011, 08:49:12 PM
LOL Ned. I couldn't hear myself singing but, the following day, my choral/music director friend assured me I was on key and in tune for the whole thing. He commented that I jumped the ending, but caught myself, and got in step.

It's a lot easier to sing A Capaella  ;D
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 14, 2011, 08:57:53 PM
Forgot to mention that I talked to the sound guy at the break; I was concerned about having sung into the mic with no 'sound check'. He said "I immediately knew when you introduced yourself (sans mic) that you had a 'big voice', and I was ready for you; When you hit the first note, I immediately cranked the volume down, and everything sounded great".
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Ned on July 15, 2011, 06:49:25 AM
A good sound man is your best friend, he can make or break a performance.  I've heard a lot of broken ones :)
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 15, 2011, 09:29:03 AM
I certainly gained an appreciation for a good sound man on Monday evening. OTOH he confirmed afterwards what I knew going in - that I didn't need the mic for that size room. But I did what I was told. I believe I saw some recording equipment, and another guy was monitoring stuff on his PC (looked like the output from the mixer).

Haven't asked the music director but, knowing him, he'll do something creative with it. He told me up front that his objective was to send chills through the chorus members when they heard it in the original language. Hope I succeeded  ???
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Ned on July 15, 2011, 09:55:00 AM
Let us know when it gets to YouTube.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 15, 2011, 10:45:28 AM
There was no video recording that evening, only audio. The group's videographer told the director afterwards that he wished he'd had his camera for that song. Not sure I'd want to be featured on YouTube singing, but fly fishing I don't mind  ;D   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeeH3tBL1VU (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeeH3tBL1VU)
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on July 15, 2011, 10:47:13 AM
The problem with not singing into a PA is the fact you can't hear yourself properly and therefore it is easy to get out of tune. With a properly set up PA you can hear every note and avoid being out of tune.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 15, 2011, 10:55:00 AM
I suppose that, if I was wearing a monitor or had floor monitors, that would be true. Apparently, the musical experts thought I was in tune anyway. I might get an opportunity to talk about it one on one with chorus members this evening, during the break at their concert.
Edit: Fixed typo.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on July 15, 2011, 11:32:07 AM
I have sang and performed on stage all my life and I would never consider doing it without a monitor. If you would try it with a monitor you would understand. Remember the Bee Gees? They used to sing with their hand cupped around their ear so they could hear themselves better. Try that right now. Sing with your hands by your side and then sing the same thing with both hands cupped around your ears. Another problem of performing without a PA is you must sing everything loud. That removes dynamics from the equation and singing without dynamics is not the proper way to sing. Most songs do have soft and loud parts.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 15, 2011, 11:39:35 AM
Sounds like I've sung incorrectly all my life, and I'm too old to change now  :(

In an earlier message I was told that I couldn't sing loudly without a PA system or without shouting. Now I'm being told I can't sing softly without a PA system. I'm going back to fly fishing as a hobby  ;D
 
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Just Lou on July 15, 2011, 11:43:04 AM
Sounds like I've sung incorrectly all my life, and I'm too old to change now  :(

Those are the exact words people use to describe my singing, but I'll bet we sound nothing alike ;) :D ??? .
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 15, 2011, 11:44:28 AM
LOL Lou. A friend and forum member was asked by his music teacher not to sing in her class  ;D
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Ned on July 15, 2011, 11:47:27 AM
Makes me wonder how all those barbershop quartets can sing in tune without any electronics  ???
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 15, 2011, 11:51:35 AM
Aye Ned, and a whole bunch of a capella choruses and choirs I can think of.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Just Lou on July 15, 2011, 12:04:50 PM
LOL Lou. A friend and forum member was asked by his music teach to not sing in her class  ;D

LOL, been there, done that.

When we were all kids, my brother and sister used to sing hymns (as a duet) every Sunday in our church.  I wasn't even allowed to utter a sound, while they practiced, much less sing with them on Sunday.  I'm still the voice that you wished you couldn't hear when singing along with the entire congregation.

I'm afraid my musical instrument playing suffered the same fate.  I told my school band teacher that I wanted to play the trumpet in the school marching band.   She let me try several different horns before suggesting that maybe the drums were more my calling.
We used to practice, in the class room, using a rubber pad.  Unfortunately, I never progressed past the rubber pad.

Have you noticed that there isn't much call for a 'Rubber Pad' player in a marching band ??? :(
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 15, 2011, 12:15:36 PM
To keep this on topic(s), I found a YouTube video of someone playing one verse of the tune of that same song on a ukulele:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nwjk62F6QMo (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nwjk62F6QMo)

He's actually playing it on a tenor uke strung with a low-G string.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 15, 2011, 12:23:07 PM
Can you "hear" the difference?

This guy sings that same song quite well:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yReZCAKv4xU (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yReZCAKv4xU)

Here's the same guy (singing the same song) a few years earlier:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgFmIZ4lM4A (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgFmIZ4lM4A)
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom and Margi on July 15, 2011, 01:27:22 PM
Of course you were in tune!  :D   I would love to be able to hear you sing again.
 
Margi 
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on July 15, 2011, 01:57:48 PM
Well you can lead a horse to water... :o
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 15, 2011, 03:01:18 PM
But you can't make it sing  ;)
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Ned on July 15, 2011, 04:05:47 PM
... in tune
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 15, 2011, 11:43:24 PM
Just got home from the choral concert and, as predicted, it was a wonderful show. A number of our ukulele players also attended, and some commented how lucky we are to have the Choral Director be our ukulele Music Director.

Quote
I might get an opportunity to talk about it one on one with chorus members this evening, during the break at their concert.

I was pleasantly surprised when a number of the choralists came up to me before the concert, during the break, and at the end, and made positive comments about my "out of tune shouting" last Monday. The Assistant Choral Director, who actually directed that number, came up to me and, without prompting, said "you were in tune for the whole thing on Monday". Whew! Prior to this evening, I was starting to get an inferiority complex because I hadn't used monitors to tell me I was singing in tune.

A number of folks asked me if/when I'd be joining the chorus but, alas, one has to live in their community to participate. A couple of folks jokingly offered me their address so I could fake my residence. With their Choral Director being a long time friend, it would be tough to get away with that  :(

One of the choralists told me she'll be joining our ukulele group. Rumor has it that there are six others who plan to do the same; That will add some "good" volume to our singing (and they'll be in tune).
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Jim Dick on July 16, 2011, 06:56:27 AM
>>A number of folks asked me if/when I'd be joining the chorus but, alas, one has to live in their community to participate. A couple of folks jokingly offered me their address so I could fake my residence. <<

Sounds like it's time to change the residency requirements!!! ;D ;D
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 16, 2011, 09:48:20 AM
Quote from: Jim Dick
Sounds like it's time to change the residency requirements!!!

Aye, I wish they would Jim. Unfortunately, their board is hard and fast on that one. However, my friend (the music director) has been making noises about starting a separate chorus. He's already music director for two other groups and our ukulele players; I have no idea where he gets the time and energy, let alone the creativity. As a mutual friend said last night "he's in his element".
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: PancakeBill on July 16, 2011, 11:43:23 AM
Just have hom reorganize the current one without a 'parent park'.  Then chage the park to perform.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 16, 2011, 12:06:46 PM
Quote from: PancakeBill
Just have hom reorganize the current one without a 'parent park'.  Then chage the park to perform.

No 'park' Bill, these are neighborhoods with single home residences.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Ned on July 16, 2011, 05:28:46 PM
Here's (http://www.boingboing.net/2011/07/16/prince-charles-with.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+boingboing%2FiBag+%28Boing+Boing%29) a candidate for your ukulele band.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 16, 2011, 05:34:21 PM
He wouldn't be allowed to join even if he had a real uke and could play  ;D
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 20, 2011, 08:25:54 PM
Last evening we held a brief concert for the Summerset Singers choral group at their annual end-of-season dinner party. What an honor to play and sing in front of this wonderful group of musicians and singers. Approx 150 in the audience, and they sang along with the non-Hawaiian songs.

A few of the choral group came up to me (again) and made some nice comments about my (Welsh) singing to them at their last practice. What an honor!

We had several new recruits for our ukulele group from amongst the audience.

I'm changing my name to Tiny Tim, or maybe Tiny Tom  ;D

Our next concert is at an Hawaiian luau for another assisted living place. We'll have a couple of hula dancers along. I gotta get with those Hawaiian songs.
 
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Ned on July 20, 2011, 08:54:07 PM
You should look good in a grass skirt :)  Can you sing Hawaiian Love Song in Welsh?

You can change your name to Tiny Tim but you'll never know as many songs as he did :)
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on July 20, 2011, 09:35:47 PM

I'm changing my name to Tiny Tim, or maybe Tiny Tom  ;D

During the 70s and 80s whenever we had a family get together everyone would get half smashed and insist that I play my guitar for them. I would do a number of straight songs like Blackbird and Stairway to Heaven and then when they got good and drunk I would sing Dead Puppies, which was always met with great approval. But the finale was always Tip Toe Through The Tulips done in the gayest Tiny Tim style I could muster. My version almost made Tiny Tim look straight. I don't think I could sing it now since my register has dropped with old age. The ironic thing is I never really learned all the words so I was always faking it in the middle section but everyone was laughing so hard no one ever noticed.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 20, 2011, 10:05:56 PM
Quote from: Ned
You should look good in a grass skirt

Been there, done that.

Quote
Can you sing Hawaiian Love Song in Welsh?

Only if you sing it first.

Quote
... you'll never know as many songs as he did

I doubt that very much. But, if you said "you'll never know/play as many tunes as he did", I'd agree 110%.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 20, 2011, 10:14:58 PM
Quote from: seilerbird
]I don't think I could sing it now since my register has dropped with old age.

Even with my current (deep) base voice, I could still sing it in his register  ;)

If/when I put on my best female Welsh voice, folks who've known me for 40+ years have no idea who I am  ;D
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on July 20, 2011, 11:07:47 PM
Even with my current (deep) base voice, I could still sing it in his register  ;)
Yes, but I don't think you could sing it in the register I used to sing it in. I really gayed it up.

For sure Tiny Tim had an encyclopedic knowledge of music, especially the 20s and 30s but I don't think he knows as many songs as I do. Seriously, there are very few people on this planet that know as many songs as I do.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 20, 2011, 11:25:27 PM
I had no idea someone had a video camera on us yesterday; I suspect it was a DSC with limited video capability and not very good audio. This wasn't our best number, but we got what we got. We're missing a couple of players/singers due to vacations. Yours truly is nearest the camera in the back row, and I'm the deepest voice, although the key is a bit of a (high) stretch for me in my normal voice.

The lady to my right was born in Hawaii and plays by ear. She's only now starting to read the music (actually, lead sheets). The lady in front of me has been playing for 60 years, so I've got a ways to go. The guy facing the camera in the front row is our music director, and has been playing the ukulele for less time than me.

https://picasaweb.google.com/ron94513/20110720?authkey=Gv1sRgCN-C48Chy7j4rgE#5631588952067573154 (https://picasaweb.google.com/ron94513/20110720?authkey=Gv1sRgCN-C48Chy7j4rgE#5631588952067573154)
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on July 21, 2011, 12:03:28 AM
The lady to my right was born in Hawaii and plays by ear.
I tried playing by ear but I got too many calluses on my ear.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: caltex on July 22, 2011, 04:08:21 PM
No grass skirts? Good looking group, toe tapping music!
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on July 22, 2011, 04:17:33 PM
Robert, we had a plan to buy Ernie a grass skirt and a coconut bra, but someone dropped the ball. You are coming to our next practice with a ukulele, right?
Title: Martin and Kamaka ukes
Post by: Tom on August 10, 2011, 08:49:19 PM
We continue to practice for an upcoming luau at another assisted-living home in another town. Last night we practiced at our home, and the hula dancer was in attendance.

Tomorrow I go check out the facility, the seating and the audio opportunities with the music director.

Last evening we were joined by a good friend of mine, a 90+ year-old with a home in Kona in addition to his home in the Bay area. He owns a couple of Martin (http://www.martinguitar.com/ukuleles/index.html) ukuleles in addition to a Kamaka (http://www.kamakahawaii.com/), both top-of-the-line brands. He brought two to our practice last evening. I tuned both of them, but then realized he didn't play a note.

Having spent a number of years living on the big island, our guest was enamored by the singing and dancing of our group, although a number of our best players were missing due to vacations. He left early, but whispered in my ear that he was leaving both his Martin and his Kamaka for me to play. I called this morning to confirm he was serious, and he told me to play them as long as I wish.

Oooh! They are wonderful instruments that I've been playing all day.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Jim Dick on August 11, 2011, 12:08:51 AM
Tom,

I don't know anything about Kamaka but Martin is a great name in string instruments. When visiting Chet Parks, we've had the opportunity to tour the Martin Guitar factory twice. Don't remember any Ukeleles but do remember the $50,000 guitar!!! :) It was one of the Tree of Life models.

I expect you will play much better just knowing what you are holding. :)
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on August 11, 2011, 04:10:17 AM
Quote from: Jim Dick
I expect you will play much better just knowing what you are holding.

Aye, and now that I can play somewhat, I sure have a better appreciation for a good instrument.

Interestingly, after showing the guy how to play a simple chord, he asked if the Martin was that much better than a cheap instrument; I picked up the $20 piece of Chinese junk I bought our 2 year old grandson and we alternately played the same chord. He quickly appreciated the difference  ;D
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Jim Dick on August 11, 2011, 08:21:26 AM
As the old saying goes "you get what you pay for". ;D
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Ned on August 11, 2011, 08:34:55 AM
Tom, it's not a very good picture, but does your Martin uke look something like this one?
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on August 11, 2011, 09:36:24 AM
Not my uke per se Ned, but it's the one on the left. Darker wood, but the same non-geared tuning pegs. It's concert size, as is my hibiscus Fluke. The Kamaka is the Pineapple, and the blue one is the Chinese-made Mahalo, both soprano ukes.

Looks like the one in your photo might be from the Martin factory/museum.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on August 11, 2011, 09:39:17 AM
Quote from: seilerbird
But if it is easier to play then there is something wrong with the $200 one.

Not easier to play, but it does have a better tone than the Fluke or any wooden uke I've tried/played under $500.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Ned on August 11, 2011, 09:54:48 AM
Looks like the one in your photo might be from the Martin factory/museum.

Yes, from our visit in 2002.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: seilerbird on August 11, 2011, 10:01:50 AM
Not easier to play, but it does have a better tone than the Fluke or any wooden uke I've tried/played under $500.
That I can agree with. Martins just sound amazing.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on August 11, 2011, 10:06:22 AM
Quote
Yes, from our visit in 2002.

That has to be on my list of places to visit Ned.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Ned on August 11, 2011, 10:32:11 AM
That has to be on my list of places to visit Ned.

It's an easy day trip from Chet's place.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Ned on August 11, 2011, 05:20:52 PM
Tom J, now that you have mastered the ukulele, is this (http://boingboing.net/2011/08/11/enzotar-a-funny-1-stringed-musical-instrument.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+boingboing%2FiBag+%28Boing+Boing%29) your next challenge?
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on August 11, 2011, 05:33:42 PM
I'm a very long way from mastering the ukulele; I merely have a better understanding of what I don't know, and of how far I really have to go.

No enzontar in my future  ;D
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on August 20, 2011, 10:14:25 PM
Last evening was my first experience of playing/singing outdoors. We played and sang for a luau at an assisted-living home in another town. We played on their patio and were fortunate to have an arbor for overhead shade, in addition to shade trees. We also had a gentle breeze that helped keep things cool (but blew our music around a bit).

The group wasn't mic'd and, as expected, the sound didn't project very far into the audience.

We mic'd a few solos and duets, and they sounded great, in addition to amplifying our guitarist who played base riffs.

This was also my first all-Hawaiian performance. Some of those songs are tough to sing and play, but the group practiced hard for this performance. There were a couple of minor boo boos, but overall a solid performance (if the audience could hear us). Our hula dancer probably captured most of the audience's attention  ;D

Another learning experience for me, and I think I'd decline any further outdoors performances.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on August 20, 2011, 10:19:30 PM
We have a 2-week break  before practicing for our next performance. Today I took the opportunity to learn to play a few songs that I've only sung a cappella. I also practiced a number of songs that I'll be teaching our grandsons (on ukulele) when they arrive for the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Edit: I just ordered a second el cheapo uke from amazon.com so they (the grandkids) don't argue about who plays when.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on August 20, 2011, 10:22:37 PM
One couple in our group recently returned from an RV trip where they played and sang at a number of campgrounds. I'd really love to get to the point where I could do that.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on September 05, 2011, 08:01:29 PM
Saturday I launched the jet boat and headed out on the CA Delta to hook up with several ukulele-playing friends who were anchored on the water. One guy had brought his uke, but the other guy had forgotten his, so I brought along a couple of extras. We had a fun time just jamming some Hawaiian songs. Wish I'd asked someone to take a picture. Maybe there was a candid cameraman  ???
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: caltex on September 05, 2011, 08:38:34 PM
So did you get an audience from the other boats?
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on September 05, 2011, 08:49:46 PM
Initially, Dana hosted the Cluck and Bubble behind their boat, and we thought we'd serenade the ladies. But I think they got tired of it (or wanted less distraction), and they moved to another boat. I was grateful for that because all that cluckle right behind me (I was on the stern seat, and the ladies were seated right behind me) was playing havoc with my ears. Just one step away from being in a noisy restaurant, maybe worse.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: caltex on September 07, 2011, 11:28:26 AM
So now we know ... if you have a unsatisfactory neighbor at your campground ... you just drag out the ukulele.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on September 07, 2011, 11:30:07 AM
That's the plan  :D

Ernie was telling everyone at practice last evening about our playing on the Delta.
 
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on September 08, 2011, 09:04:12 PM
Had a wonderful experience this afternoon. A prior member of our group, a Hawaiian lady, taught us to play and sing some unknown (to me) Hawaiian songs. Our music director was especially attentive, because he's going to need to teach this stuff to the rest of the group.

Several key elements were apparent:

Definitely a challenge for my deep voice and my accent, but the lady (an experienced player/singer) did a wonderful job.
Title: Re: Calling all ukulele players
Post by: Tom on September 25, 2011, 10:26:31 PM
Our ukulele group, under the leadership of our (recently appointed) music director, continues to practice and to add new songs. We also continue to perform at various locations in the surrounding area. It's coming time to add Christmas songs/carols to our repertoire, and we'll start this coming Tuesday.

We played/sang at another assisted-living home last Thursday, and the audience was quite participative, singing along. We even had a harmonica player in the audience who played along, although I'm not sure he was playing the same song(s) as us.

I'm still looking forward to the day when I can play without the music (lead sheets), so I can entertain at a campground somewhere without needing to have a music stand.

I'm also looking forward to the day when I can play "George Formby style". George was a Lancashire (UK) guy who taught himself to play the banjouke, and entertained UK audiences for many years. I've been following this YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW7oEN5maZY) for a lesson in how to play George Formby style (it's a tricky strum). The guy in the video is quite subdued, but he plays and teaches quite well.

Meanwhile, I've satisfied my goal of finding an instrument small enough to take along in the coach or on the boat, and which can be played to accompany myself singing.