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Tag Archives: YouTube Tutorial

One Small Uke For (a) Man…

The fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing continues with widescale television documentaries and interesting online articles.  I recall being disappointed when told I was too young to stay up & watch the live event  – I was four at the time!

Two items that struck me most today were interview snippets from the two surviving crew members: Michael Collins spoke of being along in the Command Module and Buzz Aldrin was wistful at the death of Neil Armstrong meaning the three of them would not stand together at this month’s celebrations.

Neil Armstrong Playing A Ukulele Whilst Quarantined After Returning From The Moon (Michael Kohan Photography)Neil Armstrong Playing A Ukulele Whilst Quarantined After Returning From The Moon (Michael Kohan Photography)

Here’s an eleven-year old Asia’s Got Talent contestant, Feng E, playing his arrangement of David Bowie’s Space Oddity:

 

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Ukulele Festival of Scotland 2019 – Day 2

Saturday morning saw me up early to grab the bus to the Festival site in time for the first workshops of the day. Arriving with tons of time to spare, I wandered round the Marketplace in the Gilchrist Room of Easterbrook Hall, packed with stallholders selling ukes, straps, books, T-shirts, raffle tickets & more.

I spotted Colin Tribe, who is a very prolific poster of chord melody tunes on YouTube & writes the syllabuses for ukulele grade examinations. I’d previously bought a set of his arrangements & his Uniquelele book, so we had a nice chat & he showed me some better fingerings for some of his music, kindly giving me an updated copy of Spanish Flea to try out & a uke-shaped keyring.

I also said hello to Matt Warnes, who runs World of Ukes & would be performing later in The League of Ukulele Gentlemen. He gave me a spare copy of UKE Magazine to pass round PLUC members who’ve not read it before (& is arranging for uke club discounts on his merchandise – let me know if you’d like details). I’ve been to a couple of the events he organises before – including seeing Taimane Gardner in Birmingham & a Big Boat On The Mersey weekend, which culminated in us playing our ukes at the Cavern Club!

Then off to the first of three workshops I was attending today: An Introduction To Chord Melody Solos, with Stuart Butterworth. I was interested to see how this would be run, as Stuart had led a mass session on the final afternoon of last year’s UFoS & teaches many different groups in Dumfries & Galloway. He gave us extracts of his new book & took us through the chords, tabs & sheet music. There were useful summary sheets of the various chord voicings used as a way of helping people familiarise themselves with the fingerings before playing.

The second workshop was Richard Durrant‘s Ukulele Circuit Training One. He’s a classically trained guitarist who was introduced to the ukulele by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain’s George Hinchliffe when they both were at the Royal College of Music – George gave him a uke tuned in fifths (ie like a violin) & he was soon enjoying playing that & the more usual reentrant-tuned one.

His workshop was very different & useful: at the outset explaining how vital it is to cultivate a good neutral posture with relaxed & efficient hand positions; giving us a two-finger strumming pattern (‘strumming with one finger is like being a drummer with only one stick’); and getting us to play rhythms & sequences that suddenly turned into other well-known tunes.  These techniques were designed to improve your playing & help advance you as a musician by guiding you towards effective ways of focused personal practicing.

There was then just under an hour for lunch before the afternoon concert. Folk eyed me eating my packed meal enviously as the queues for the eateries were massive with so many people rushing to use them simultaneously. One of the advantages of being in a self-catering flat, as I had grabbed plenty of interesting vegan goodies from M&S & Morrisons when I arrived on Thurs afternoon, so I could make decent meals & take snacks with me instead of risking nothing being suitable for me at the venue.

 

A Few of My Photos From Saturday’s Shows

The afternoon concert was nearly four hours long & packed with an interesting selection of acts. The compere, Paulus, did an excellent job throughout, as he had last year:

  • Local uke band, A Touch of Purple – led by the kilt-wearing Stuart Butterworth (who had been warned several times last year that he was revealing a little too much with his wide-kneed posture – & slightly disconcerting for me, sat in the front row!). I don’t know if their choice of playing Come Together was a hint! These were the best of his students.
  • Ukulele Simon, who had won one of last year’s competitions. He played several numbers, including Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
  • The Ukulele Evangelists – completely crackers, as this YouTube of Kung Fu Fighting shows.
  • League of Ukulele Gentlemen – a familiar trio to these events, here playing Blue Eyes.
  • Stables – the one on the left on my photo is a local Lewisham lad from Forest Hill & they sang a song about the Horniman Gardens, Dandelions & Daisies.
  • Peter Moss, a regular at every uke festival, celebrating fifty years of performing.  As ever, he gave us a selection from his wide repertoire, including Roy Smeck’s Rockin’ The Uke, Georgia On My Mind & the last movement from the William Tell Overture (the tune he used to win a competition at the age of twelve).
  • The Naked Waiters – back by popular demand after their UK debut here last year. I Wanna Be Your Butterfree is one of their originals.

No rest after the gig as it was straight into another workshop! Sandwiches were included (& somehow I ended up with two – possibly because someone else had eaten mine last year!). This was Circuit Training Two, with Richard Durrant again.  A little recap of some of the introductory principles, then off into another selection of interesting & deceptively tricky strengthening & dexterity exercises that aim to improve your accuracy, articulation & other areas of playing. More of that is covered in his online Ukulele Launch Pad course.

After the workshop, I was surprised to see folk were already queuing to gain entry to the main concert hall, over an hour before the doors were due to open for the Gala Concert from the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. So I joined the throng & swapped uking tales with people until we were let in. Being on my own I still managed to get fairly near the front, with a good view.

Eight UOGB members were performing & it was a full gig, with interval. as expected, it was all very slick, tightly choreographed & enjoyable, with a mix of familiar numbers & others I didn’t know they covered. It was nice to see Dave Suich in full performance mode! They got a standing ovation at the end.  What a way to finish the day! I grabbed a taxi back to town whilst others jammed long into the night…

Here they are doing Highway to Hell:

 

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PLUC Weekend Workout

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.

 

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PLUCking Ukes – Rhythm Without Blues 2

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:

 

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Twelve Days Of Ukemas – Day Eleven

For Day Eleven, why not try a bit of folk & country music? Richard Hefner’s ezFolk site is another one with masses of free information, from beginners to advanced.

Sections & YouTube playlists include tutorials for a basic uke course; clawhammer; fingerstyle; strumming and a selection of playalong songs & lessons.

Also included is a useful ukulele chords section, showing many variations of chords up the fretboard (plus baritone chord variations).

Here’s Richard with an introduction to the bum-ditty strum – part of his clawhammer course:

 

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Twelve Days Of Ukemas – Day Ten

For Day Ten of our Twelve Days of Ukemas, we fittingly have Ten Thumbs Productions.

Tyler Austenfeld has been producing an amazing variety of lessons – at least two every week on Weds & Sats – since 2013. He loves teaching & is very encouraging, believing everyone can be musical given the chance. Topics covered in his YouTube Channel include:

  • Beginners: Here’s a thorough tutorial for brand new players (including holding the uke, tuning, first few chords, a couple of strumming patterns & links to several follow-on videos. Check the pinned comment for the PDF worksheet) and further beginners’ YouTubes.
  • There’s a wealth of songs, through many decades, right up to the current day: ‘How To Play’ Ukulele Songs; Song Tutorials Through The Decades (songs from 1950s – 2010s); Tutorials Of Popular Artists (eg Bruno Mars, Eric Clapton, Green Day, Jack Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Twenty One Pilots, Elvis Presley, Bob Marley, CCR, Queen etc).
  • Ukulele Tips, Tricks, Techniques & Songwriting –  this covers all sorts of interesting items, often in mini-courses, such as different types of strumming (eg reggae, palm mute, chnking, triplets, Mariachi etc); hammer on & pull-offs; percussive techniques; barre chords; Twelve Bar Blues – licks & turnarounds; right-hand dynamics; fingerstyle & fingerpicking; jamming with others, soloing & improvisation; pentatonic & other scales; jazz chord progressions; songwriting tips etc.

(If you like what you see & want even more detailed information, you can join Ten Thumbs’ Patreon scheme from as little as $1 per month to gain access to tabs for every lesson, jam tracks and more.)

Here’s a Twelve Bar Blues with Barre Chord Shuffle in A major:

 

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Twelve Days Of Ukemas – Day Nine

Along with Phil Doleman, Samantha Muir is another regular contributor to tutorials in the quarterly UKE Magazine. She focuses more on Classical pieces; instrumental arrangements of folk & fiddle tunes; studies and fingerstyle, so that’s great if you are expanding your repertoire from basic strumming and pop tunes.

In addition to performances and information about her publications, Samantha often publishes tutorials on her blog. Here’s a nice lesson for playing the C major scale in campanella style (this is the accompanying C Major Campanella Scale Exercises PDF – which is both in music notation & tab):

 

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