Author Archives: webmasterpluc
About webmasterplucPLUC webmaster. Uke player from Brockley, the Brassica of SE London.
At this week’s session we were talking about people being shy of singing, ways to gain confidence & improve volume.
I’ve put some singing guides from different sites in the Instructional folder of the PLUC Box to help folk start doing some gentle practice at home, get more used to the sound of their own voice and be able to both sing & play the uke at the same time.
We’ve previously shown examples of uke groups with a great ethos of getting all their members to sing along together and of my experiences participating in the Southbank’s Chorus Festivals in 2013 & 2014, which was brilliant fun once I got over my initial trepidation at singing with groups of total strangers! It’s always good to challenge yourself & try something different or you never gain new skills.
There are a number of YouTubes out there which show you how to assess your vocal range. This one from Playback.fm is fun, as it matches your range with different singers. Once you’ve watched the video, put in your result & it will give you your ‘vocal twin’!
Tags: BBC Over The Rainbow, Chorus Festival, Disposable Song Method, Musical-U, Playback.fm, Singing, Singing Guide, Singing Practice, Southbank, TakeLessons.Com, Ukulele, Vocal Range, Vocal Warm-up, YouTube
There are a growing number of podcasts out there, including some specific to ukuleles and others covering all types of music theory. The twice-weekly Musicality Podcast (brought to you by the people who run the Musical-U community music training website) is having a Beatles Month for April.
Through a series of interviews they will be talking to different people and analysing how & why the songs worked; the relationship between music & lyrics; production techniques; how a tribute act goes about reproducing those Beatles sounds and much more.
On the practical side, people are asked to remind themselves of the active listening techniques covered in a previous podcast – which is a great way of encouraging you to pay more attention to the music around you each day and put your musician skills to use in actually noting the instruments being played in a tune, song structures, rhythms, chord progressions etc – and pick three Beatles songs to consider in detail. There will be a live chat session later in the month.
Another exercise suggested on the forums are to make yourself a song interval chart (ie a way to help you recognise the gaps between two notes) consisting purely of Beatle numbers.
Linking nicely with this is Cynthia Lin’s annual Beatles Uke Jam. For 2019, it’s on Sun 14 April and streamed live so folk can join in worldwide. Get the 2019 songbook for free (or make a donation); play along with a recording of the 2018 Livestream & watch some of Cynthia’s lessons on the Fab Four and others.
Tags: Active Listening, Beatles, Beatles Jam, Beatles Month, Cynthia Lin, EarMaster, Interval Training, Livestream, Music Theory, Musical-U, Playalong, PLUC Weekend Workout, Podcast, Strumalong, The Musicality Podcast, Ukulele, Ukulenny, Weekend Workout, YouTube Tutorial
It’s always more difficult to play the slowest numbers, such as Abilene – which we play in a much more leisurely fashion than the original – because you have to be very accurate with your tempo and there is always a temptation to start speeding up!
Spending just a few minutes a day for a few weeks working on your strumming (eg with a metronome, to a steady backing track or using other rhythm tools) will soon improve your sense of timing.
We’ve discussed this previously in an earlier PLUCking Ukes – Rhythm Without Blues entry. This introduced some useful rhythm exercises from Rhan Wilson’s All In Good Time site, which are always worth recapping.
Several of the music theory sites we’ve covered contain fun rhythm games – a good one to try out is Theta Music Trainer.
If you’re confident with those, moving on you could try some of the rhythm tutorials from Stuart Fuchs. Stu has a number of lessons concentrating on different strums and rhythms, such as ones from his ‘Uke-a-Billy‘ rockabilly collection, which are suited to rock ‘n’ roll numbers – including straight strums, shuffle, backbeat, Bo-Diddley beat (aka clave) & boogie. He also explains how to play many different rhythmic styles in his playalongs, including swing, rhumba, calypso, boom-ditty, funky, reggae & more.
Get out your metronome (Google brings up its free one or there are plenty of free apps available) and try out Stu’s backbeat lesson:
Tags: All In Good Time, Backbeat, Keeping In Time, Metronome, Rhan Wilson, Rhythm, Rhythm Patterns, Rockabilly, Strumming, Strumming pattern, Stu Fuchs, Stuart Fuchs, Tempo, Ukeabilly, Ukulele, YouTube Tutorial
It’s composer Johann Sebastian Bach‘s 334th birthday today. He’s known for his prodigious output of Baroque music, including many important works such as his Brandenburg Concertos, Goldberg Variations, St Matthew Passion and the monumental The Well -Tempered Clavier, which was written using the adoption of the Western musical system we now use call ‘equal temperament‘ (ie what we use on our ukuleles, with adjacent notes all being split into equal steps) and contains twenty-four preludes and fugues in every major and minor key. (For example, here’s the one in C major.)
To celebrate his important legacy, today’s fun interactive Google Doodle lets you compose a short melody, which is then played back with complete Bach style four-part harmony added for you. Have a little play & practice writing some music! You can even change the key signature, note duration, tempo, add accidentals (sharps, flats & naturals) and download your creation as a MIDI file.
Bonus points if you can guess the PLUC tune reimagined in Bach harmonies below!
Tags: Brandenburg Concertos, Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra, Equal Temperament, Four-Part Harmony, Glenn Gould, Goldberg Variations, Google Doodle, Johann Sebastian BAch, JS Bach, Music Theory, Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment, Prelude & Fugue in C Major, Preludes & Fugues, St Matthew 'Passion, Sviatoslav Richter, Ukulele, Well-Tempered Clavier, YouTubes
Many of you will already be familiar with the excellent UKE Magazine, produced in the UK by World of Ukes, and Ukulele Magazine, an informative US publication, with useful online articles on their site which contain plenty of playing tips.
The February 2019 issue is now out & contains an eclectic mix of articles in its 56 pages, such as what it’s like to attend a ukulele festival & how to set one up; a Travis picking lesson; performance tips from Ukester Brown; setting up the Original Ukulele Songs portal, along with a selection of artists on there; songwriting tips, including an analysis of the different sections in songs; playing classical music on the uke; music education and the uke; several stories of how people started playing or making ukes and more. They mix audio & video in with the text, which works nicely.
It’ll be interesting to see how it develops over the next few months.
You can subscribe here for future issues.
Tags: Original Ukulele Songs, Performance Tips, Pete Mai, Playing Tips, Shelley Mai, Songwriting, Travis picking, Uke Magazine, Ukester Brown, Ukulele, Ukulele Bonanza Magazine, Ukulele Lifestyle, Ukulele Magazine, YouTube Tutorials
Sometimes people get a bit daunted at looking at sheet music or playing along to it. The fun TED-Ed animation below from Tim Hansen is a good way to see the basics without having to delve into too much detail.
After watching through, you could initially practice using a few tunes you know well. Try concentrating on the rhythm first and think about the pitch (ie the notes on the fretboard) later.
If you pick a simple familiar piece and look at the music whilst listening to it, you can follow the notes before even trying to keep up playing. YouTube handily lets you slow the speed right down in the settings feature.