A few years ago, while feeding the dog her dry kibble I remarked to my daughters how lucky the pup was, to experience such delight in the same food every day, and wished I could feel the same. They said, “You do, mom. Coffee.”
We greet the smell of morning coffee with increased gratitude now, reassured by the daily sameness. The sounds of morning have changed. Birds have recaptured morning rush. It is the stillness of a month of Sundays.
We are glad to stay at home, as it means fewer will suffer. Our mothers, our children, our friends, ourselves- kept at a loving distance in the hopes of sparing them from the virus. We sharpen our skills with the computer and learn more about video and how best to share and support those we love from a safe distance.
I am so lucky to continue working with my preschoolers online. Singing with kids gives me a sense of purpose, as does visiting ukulele club meetings via Zoom or Skype or Discord and singing songs with them. Sure, we can’t chorus together- only one leader can be on mic at a time, but we are making music: alone together!
The festivals and gigs we had booked through the spring are canceled, and we are watching the summer and fall with a cautious eye. Most are being tentatively rescheduled for the same time, 2021. This may be the year that wasn’t.
Please take care of yourself and share your love with those dear to you, and extend as much kindness and civility to those who may be not-so dear.
Send along a comment if you want help leading your group online, or you have some good ideas to share. I will be writing an article about that soon!
PS- if you want some music to work on, Daniel’s amazing uke books and mine for kids can be found on his website, https://danielward.net/
Solstice? Hanukkah? Christmas? Any occasion to make music together is a thing of Joy to the World!
Our new HOLIDAY BOOK is heading to the press and is available for pre-orders. We are thrilled by how it looks and how it sounds! Fully illustrated in color by Nancy Howell in the style of songbooks from my family’s piano bench, this book is a visual treat that will create a memory lane for generations to come. This book has songs for all abilities and ages to play, and sing; songs from around the globe to celebrate the love have in common.
There are favorite standards as well as less familiar traditional pieces from far and near, as well as new twists making old stand-bys fresh (Jingle Bells in MINOR key!). Song arrangements for ukulele and voice are ordered easiest to most challenging, with accompaniments and suggestions for group performance. The newest players can learn their first chords and play along with an experienced group- That’s the HOLIDAY SPIRIT! From sacred to secular and everything in between, there are lyrics in 9 languages to explore, with singable English translations.
Some songs transcend season, like Auld Lang Syne, which for generations has been sung at the end of gatherings from Scout Jamborees to weddings for generations. Borboletta, a bossa ballad from Brasil, celebrates the butterfly in the garden, as Christmas in the southern hemisphere is a summer celebration! Sung in Portuguese or English, its a sweet song with tasty chords to add to your set any time of year, And Greensleeves has Christmas words, but is a Renaissance tune with a history of lyrics that are decidedly not sacred.
We will be making companion recordings which will be available FREE, so you can learn by ear some unfamiliar tunes and languages. (They will be on Daniel’s website as soon as they are done, and we hope to add to them periodically. We intend to record over our Thanksgiving holiday at our favorite place, Third Eye Studio, Tijeras, NM)
Daniel Ward’s new book has arrived- and it is glorious! 16 new studies which focus on melody including 6 duets with pieces from Arpeggio Meditations for Ukulele, perfect for groups or partner playing.
Additionally, there are two transcriptions of songs performed on his CD El Ukulele, the classical finger style Aire for the Cat Rancher and his flamenco tremolo take on Aloha ‘Oe.
There is plenty for every level of player in this book, whether you are just starting out or you are looking for serious ukulele repertoire. The book includes free audio downloads of Daniel performing the studies. There are also video lessons available for purchase or rental for each piece.
Go to his website, DanielWard.net and order yours today– let him know if you’d like yours signed, he’d be right chuffed!
William Butler Yeats’ third quatrain of “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” (see below) talks about going to a happy place which exists in the “deep heart’s core”. His Innisfree, an uninhabited island filled with happy childhood memories is my Kailua beach. The iornwood burrs and the half-flowers of naupaka, the view of Popoi’a (Flat Island), a cup of black Lion Coffee from the Kalapawai Market at sunrise, the curve of the shore and the color of the water comes back with all the smells and sounds in need to take me far away from the maddening crowd. It’s the place I go in my mind when I when I need to find peace. I pick up my ukulele for that same reason; the practice of music is a place where “peace comes dropping slow “.
This spring, Daniel and I will visit the island of Molokai for the first time. I will be teaching a songwriting class at the Uke Ohana Molokai Retreat, April 5-9. Besides basic u’kulele techniques and song form, we will talk poetry: Ancient Hawaiian, contemporary, classical. Not every song has words, but poetry influences all songs, for poetry is the distillation of thought as music is the essence of feeling. It can be as naughty as a limerick, as simple as a haiku, or epic as the Aeneid.
Please join us as we immerse into Hawaiian culture and the beauty of the land. Breathing deep the warm, moist air filled with green and blue, letting softness and color return to the pavement grey of the city bleached mind. Finding a new happy place to arise and go to.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
BY WILLIAMBUTLER YEATS
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made; Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee, And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
Daniel and I are thrilled to start 2019 off working at the best place in the world: THE LIBRARY!!!!
“It’s one of the last places you can go that you don’t have to buy or believe in anything to come in.”- Annie Spence, librarian.
Below is a list of the branches where we will be teaching in the Los Angeles area. There will be a limited number of instruments to borrow at each session, and learning materials for all to utilize. You can bring your own instrument, whatever shape it is in, and we will do our best to make it playable for you, or check out a ukulele kit from your local LAPL branch!
“A library is a place that is a repository of information and gives every citizen equal access to it. That includes health information. And mental health information. It’s a community space. It’s a place of safety, a haven from the world. It’s a place with librarians in it. What the libraries of the future will be like is something we should be imagining now.” ―Neil Gaiman in The Guardian