Posts Tagged ‘ukulele tips’


Seven Tips to Make You Want to Practice

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Introduced by Jamie Houston. Original Article by Ralph Shaw.

Jamie Houston - Founder of the LOVE MY UKULELE CLUB

Jamie Houston – Founder of Love My Ukulele

Have you ever wondered what question you would ask if you had the chance to ask some of the world’s top ukulele teachers and educators one question? Well recently Ralph Shaw was at Tutti – an annual weekend of ukulele workshops in Langley, British Columbia, hosted by James Hill, and the teachers were asked to provide one practice tip each. Here is some of what was said:

1) Practice for one minute – every day.

2) Keep it fun. Remember it is called PLAYING the ukulele.

3) Really listen to your instrument.

4) Any time can be practice time so keep your instrument/s within easy reach.

5) Get a good instrument.

6) Practice with performance in mind.

7) Consider the future if you fail to practice now.

So if you won’t practice for you, at least do it for the sake of your instrument.

These tips have obviously been abbreviated, and unfortunately Ralph has removed the original blog post so we can no longer link you to his original post 🙁

About Ralph Shaw

Ten Tips to Write Better Songs (Part 2 of 2)

Monday, June 30th, 2014

By Ralph Shaw

Last time I gave you the first five of ten things you can do to improve your songwriting.

Here are the final five tips to help you master melody manipulation and wonderful word weaving:

6) Write From a Place of Emotion.

A good place to start is by writing your song from a place of strong feeling (although it’s not a prerequisite, volumes of wonderful music have come out of emotionally neutral states.) I find that writing from your gut has a way of clarifying the thought processes. However it is quite possible, even likely, that the message the audience hears may have nothing to do with the original intent of the writing. When Chris Difford of 1970s band Squeeze wrote Tempted by the Fruit of Another he was writing about his discovery that their bass player had been approached by another band. Listening to the song you just assume it’s his girlfriend who has been tempted to leave. Howard Kaylan, of the 1960s band The Turtles, wrote Elenore with deliberately flawed lyrics as a way to get back at his record company’s demands for “another Happy Together,” their previous hit. However such inept lines as: You got a thing about you and You are my pride and joy etcetera (who uses etcetera in a song?) came across as heartfelt expressions of teenage exuberance and the record buyers loved it.

Another example is one of my own songs: Movie Stars, High Rollers and Big Shakers which began life as an emotional rant about an aborted Las Vegas performance possibility. I was happy with the chords and tune but the lyrics of the song made it unsuitable for every occasion. On the suggestion of another songwriter I rewrote the lyrics to be about a failed Las Vegas marriage and then the song came together. Do yourself (and me) a favour and get the song from iTunes: for just one dollar you’ll experience a rip-roaring and smile inducing musical ride accompanied by the superb trumpet of Bria Skonberg.

7) Simplicity is King.

Remember when you first felt joy? Or love, curiosity, sadness, playfulness, jealousy, laughter and rage. Probably not, since those moments happened early in your childhood. What was the state of your vocabulary at that time? I’m betting it wasn’t full of words like verbosity, erudition and loquaciousness. Our fundamental emotions are connected to simple ideas that are expressed best through short and childish words. Laugh, fun, like, love, blue, bird, sky, happy and now, tend to work better than their hoity-toity counterparts: hilarity, enjoyment, comparable, endearment, azure, feathered creature, firmament, contented and presently. The same goes for your melodies: beautiful and uncomplicated tunes will connect best with most listeners (although sadly, with a century of copyrighted song already behind us, the best tunes have pretty much all been taken.)

8) Declutter Your Song.

It’s distressing to cull those beloved verses that once meant so much and may have taken hours to complete. But if they no longer serve the song then you have to let them go. You’ll know you’ve done the right thing if you feel lighter and better off for having eliminated the excess. It’s like decluttering your home of junk. Songwriting doesn’t reward pack-rats and hoarders. Know specifically what your song is about and make every lyric serve the main message of the song. Watch for unnecessary repetition. If there are lines being sung more than once, ask yourself for what purpose. Repetition can be a powerful way to hammer a message home or it can be a powerful way to induce boredom.

9) Don’t Quit Till It’s Done and Know When to Quit.

One of the greatest mistakes new songwriters make is in thinking their song is complete when there is clearly much work still to do. I’m not the only one to have grimaced while listening to some expensively produced drivel from a singer-songwriter who has gone ahead and recorded a song that still sounds like a first draft. When you think your song is finished keep playing it to yourself. Be hyper-alert for any line or verse that gives you a small but uncomfortable feeling of something not quite right. Be ultra-vigilant for melodic lines that sound like they could have come from any one of a thousand songs. Get super-critical of parts that niggle. Ruthlessly hunt down awkward phrases and make whatever changes necessary. But leave the good stuff alone! Many music and lyric choices don’t make intellectual sense, they just feel right. Develop the wisdom to know the moment when there’s nothing left to add or cut: that’s when your song is finished.

10) Creativity Works like a Muscle.

Make a habit of creativity and exercise it often. Know that much of what you create, especially in the beginning, will probably never be worthy of performance, but that’s okay. It’s more important that you do something. Make songs that take the listener on a journey. Figure out how chords and melodies create tension and release. And craft your song to include those climactic moments. The best way to learn is by actively listening to other people’s songs; memorize them, dissect and analyze them, and thereby become a more effective self-critic.

© Ralph Shaw 2014

About Ralph Shaw

How To Lead A Great Ukulele Jam

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

By Jim D’Ville

As the popularity of the ukulele grows, so does the number of ukulele groups and jam sessions. How to make yours better than average? In this article Jim D’Ville shares practical tips that EVERY jammer and jam leader should know!

Ukulele Jam

This article is in C6 tuning (g, c, e, a).

Introduction

Join the ukulele revolution and after an incredibly short learning curve you are ready to jam! Yes, the jam session, crown jewel of the phenomenon known as the ukulele club. But how does one go about facilitating an “interesting” jam, not one in which people sit stone-faced like Easter Island statues staring at their music and strumming in a rhythmically mono-syllabic down-up-down-up pattern with the musicality of someone dribbling a basketball?

Get The Group In Tune

If you want your jam session to sound good from the very first note, get the group in tune. Have everyone tune-up their ukuleles, then have the group tune their ears and voices. I use an A-440 tuning fork to accomplish this (since the first string on the ukulele in C tuning is tuned to A). Strike the A fork on your knee and place it on your uke. Hum the resulting A tone. Get the group to join the hum fest. At this point you can introduce the concept of playing together in time. Strike the fork again, place it on your uke and count off 3-4-1 (4/4 time-four beats per measure). On the 1, get everyone to loudly sing: “AAAAAAAAAAAA!” In a group setting, this usually comes out sounding pretty good.

How does one go about facilitating an “interesting” jam, not one in which people [strum] with the musicality of someone dribbling a basketball?

To read the complete article in full click here to go to James Hills’ www.ukuleleyes.com website

The headings in the rest of this brilliant article are as follows:

  • Use The Numbers
  • Choosing The Right Songs – One-chord Wonders
  • Scrap the Sheet Music
  • Move Up To Three Chords!
  • Call-and-response
  • The Blues
  • Create Simple Arrangements
  • Get Some Harmony Going
  • Playing In Different Keys
  • Bring Everyone Along

 

Care and Feeding of Your Ukulele

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

By Gordon and Char Mayer

From buzzing and broken tuners to storage and re-stringing, Gordon and Char Mayer take you through the essentials of ukulele maintenance and DIY repair.

Introduction
We’re Gordon and Char Mayer, otherwise known as Mya-Moe Ukuleles. In this article we’re going to cover three things:

1. how to take care of your ukulele
2. how to fix some common issues
3. how to recognize problems that are best left to a professional.

Restringing your uke headstock image

Most importantly, you bought your ukulele to play it. It is made to be used. In fact, a strong argument can be made that playing it will keep it in better condition. If you keep it in a case, then you likely won’t play it much; strange, but the very act of getting up out of your chair and opening the case is often too much of a barrier. Better to keep it on a wall hanger or floor stand where you can just pick it up and pluck it if only for a minute or two. Just don’t put it in a place where it receives direct sunlight (more on this later).

To read more please click here to see the original and full article on James Hills’ www.ukuleleyes.com website.

It is a very useful resource that we highly recommend you take some time to read. The sections are as follows:

  • Cases, stands and transportation
  • Heat and humidity
  • Care of the finish
  • Re-stringing and changing from a high 4th to a low 4th
  • Intonation
  • Buzzing
  • Sharp Fret Ends
  • Broken or loose tuner
  • Other issues
  • Summary

We encourage instrument owners to play and enjoy their instrument. It doesn’t need to be handled like an egg, but following some common sense measures will help to minimize problems.
Re-stringing your instrument is the best thing you can do for its tone; this often fixes apparent buzzing and intonation problems that have crept up as well. You should be putting on new strings about every 3 months. When you do, you’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes.