PLUC Weekend Workout

Colour-coded musical notes: uke fretboard, tab & musical stave

Rainbow Music Ukulele Map

People learn ukulele & music theory differently, so I was interested to find the Rainbow Music site, which offers free on-line music lessons, basing learning round colour-coded musical notes.

Although you need to register to access the members’ area, once you’ve done so there is plenty to see & practice without needing to buy their paid-for resources:

  • You can be guided through a number of daily music lessons for a basic week’s course.
  • They explain notes, scales, chords & keys in a simple way & have some easy to use interactive features that let you try these out.
  • The colour-coding is a nice visual aid to help those new to learning music.
  • I found the way everything is counted in half-note intervals might confuse folk used to conventional music notation – but if you’re just starting off it’s a good way to get going, as they seem to be showing the ‘proper’ numbering alongside their own teaching numbers.
  • The interactive uke fretboard has a number of pleasing features – you can click on any note on the fretboard to find out its name; click on any note name to find all instances of that wherever it appears; build up chords by clicking on the notes they contain (eg for C major – click on C, E & G to see where those notes are & work out the many ways you can play the same chord up the neck of the uke); build up scales in a similar way.
  • As we’ve been discussing movable chords recently in our club nights, this might help folk piece that together if they don’t quite understand the theory yet.

Certainly a site worth playing around with to boost your music theory knowledge, especially if you’ve been struggling with some of the other, more formal, sites.

Other PLUC music theory postings.

Other quizzes.


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Dust off your Easter bonnets & enjoy Andrew Morse’s cover of Professor Elemental‘s Hat Full Of Sunshine this Bank Holiday weekend.

For those of you interested in these things, this cover version uses samples from a 1928 tune entitled Sweet Sue, Just You, performed by the Mills Brothers amongst many others.


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Posted by on April 19, 2014 in PLUC News & Info


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Southbank Chorus Festival 31 Mar – 6 Apr 2014 – Part 2

Victoria Embankment Gardens Buskers 140405

Victoria Embankment Gardens  - Uke-Wielding Buskers

Off again without my uke for a day of vocal workouts at the Southbank Chorus Festival, as I bought some lunch for later on, I was delighted to spot a group of lively buskers by Victoria Embankment Gardens, with the lead singer wielding a ukulele & dancing around.

As with last year, there were events all over the Southbank complex – on the Riverside Terrace, Front Room at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, up in the St Paul’s Roof Pavilion, down in the Spirit level basement (very echoey – great acoustics) & dotted around various bar areas.

I’d decided to try out four of the free workshops & listen to whatever choirs I could catch in the gaps.

The song-sharing session by FUNdamentally Gospel split us into our singing range groupings & began with some vocal warm-up exercises. We then learnt the Jackie Wilson number (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher. For one of the choruses, we were singing a syllable each, which certainly kept us on our toes.

Trade Winds Choir Performing On The Riverside Terrace At Chorus 140405

Trade Winds Choir Performing On The Riverside Terrace At Chorus, Southbank

Glee Club Ascot were another jolly group. We warmed -up by singing Let It Be, then – again in groups for our vocal ranges – launched into the Motown classic Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. In addition to the grand piano, we has a full orchestral accompaniment recording, including a segue into another number for the middle eight & dance moves!

Next, I joined Irish composer John Browne, who was showcasing his new musical play The Events that evening at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Sparked by the awful killings in Oslo in 2011, the play moves these incidents to happen within a choir rehearsal. The play has 250 singers in it, mostly new each night as they are from the local community where it’s being performed, but a couple of Dublin choirs were there to help us all out. We sang the haunting finale song We’re All Here.

Finally, I went into the Purcell Room for Pitch Bach to be part of an instant choir singing a Bach Chorale accompanied by pedal organ. Chorale 55 from the St Matthew Passion was very pretty but by then I think I was too tired to spend an hour reading a music score (especially as the workshop leader decided to only have us singing ‘la-la’ instead of the actual lyrics, which I’d have found easier to follow). But it did sound great being in the middle of the group.

On my way out, I caught a Latin American performance, with some fine flamenco guitar work from Camilo Menjura, which perked me up before heading home. Not bad for a completely free day out!


Here are Glee Club performing Perfect Day out on the Riverside Terrace:


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Southbank Chorus Festival 31 Mar – 6 Apr 2014

Now in it’s sixth year, the Southbank Chorus Festival is the place to be this week for anyone who enjoys singing or would like the chance to improve their voice.

There are lots of opportunities to take part, with free Voicelab warm-up, drop-in and song-sharing sessions held alongside a diverse programme of performances by different choirs. See the website for more details & my review from last year’s festival to find out more.




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Das macht Spaß!

Bremer Ukulelenorchester Visitors With PLUC Jan 2014

Bremer Ukulelenorchester Visitors With PLUC Jan 2014

This week we had another email from a potential international uke-player who might pop into our club when travelling through London over the summer, which reminded me of the two fun visits we had earlier this year to our club.

Jean & Kugel, from the Bremer Ukulelenorchester arrived to brighten up one cold January night & were a delight to have join us. Both excellent musicians, they played mainly by ear & Jean even played bass for some of the evening (an instrument he said he’s never played before!). They joined some of us down the pub afterwards & have written up their London ukeing trip adventures on their club website under the title London – capital of uke !!!! (scroll down for the article – Google Translate is your friend if you don’t speak German). Do sign their Guestbook to say hello if you visit their site.

Bremer Ukulelenorchester playing a German folk song at the Bremen Maritime Week 2013 – An de Eck Steiht ‘n Jung Mit ‘n Tüddelband:

As always seems to happen, Chris & Rufus knew one of their members, Gerald, a regular at Hollesley.

The Bremer Ukulelenorchester has also had exchange visits with Tobbes Ukuleleorkester from Sweden, which sounds great fun.

The following week we were joined by Peter North, from Yonkers, New York, who’d been in Scotland for a family wedding, then travelled down to London for a few days of sightseeing by day & uke clubs by night! Again, another fine night ensued, with Peter handing round The Turtles’ Happy Together  for us all to play & finished by giving us his swing rendition of Route 66, a song which Chris has subsequently written up for us to use as a barre chord exercise practice piece.

We’ve had a number of out-of-town visitors over the last few years, including several different ones from Australia & the States. So, if you’re holidaying or temporarily working in London & fancy popping in on a Tues eve for a free jamming session, do get in touch.

You’ll be most welcome!


Tobbes Ukuleleorkester Meets Bremer Ukulelenorchester – Jean Sings The Wild Rover:

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Posted by on March 22, 2014 in PLUC News & Info


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Today would have been the 71st birthday of George Harrison. This number is allegedly the current top iTunes Beatles’ download. Ukulenny plays a fingerpicking instrumental of Here Comes The Sun:


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PLUC Weekend Workout

Yet another free courses website is ALISON. There are over 300 courses available, including an Introduction To Music Theory.

The course introduces the basic concepts and terms needed to discuss melody and harmony. Concepts covered include interval, major and minor keys and scales, triads, chords and beginning harmonic analysis. It’s suitable for adults with no background in music theory but some familiarity with reading common notation and playing an instrument (or singing).

Upon completion of this course you will understand where octaves come from; you will know how to name a particular octave and how to divide octaves into a scale. You will know enharmonic spelling of notes such as sharp, flat or natural. You will be able to identify the pitch of a note, chromatic scales, whole steps, whole tone scales and intervals. You will understand how to classify intervals including perfect, major, minor, augmented and diminished intervals. You will know about ear training and relative pitch, tuning, playing chords by ear, improvisation, recognising intervals, writing music and much more.

(Note – the courses on the ALISON site are free but they charge if you want to have a certificate from them – so don’t bother about getting the certificate!)

Other PLUC music theory postings.

Other quizzes.

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Posted by on February 16, 2014 in Playing Help – Sites & Resources


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