Summer Ukulele 2016

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Kids, families, grown-ups.. are you looking to learn the ukulele this summer?  I’d love to teach you- here are some opportunities!

The Marlborough School Los Angeles

Ukulele Play!

Grades 4-5    11:30 am – 12:25 pm  June 27 – July 29

Learn to play the ukulele- with an emphasis on PLAY! Theukulele is such a fun and accessible instrument students will be playing songs within the first 15 minutes of class on day one! Over the 5-week session kids will build skills to strum and pluck and songs from around the world, as well as write our own! While learning the uke, students will play musical games, create a song book, sing and move. Bring your own instrument, or borrow one (with refundable deposit) for the duration of the class. Tune up and tune in!
$480.00 (fee includes materials)

 

HOW-TO Festival

LEARN TO PLAY THE UKULELE IN A DAY!    With Heidi Swedberg

Saturday, June 25, 2016    FREE  (time TBA)  Main Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401, (310) 458-8600

 

Singing and strumming your favorite tunes is only a lesson away. A world of song will open to you when you learn the basics of ukulele, the world’s most fun and accessible instrument. Class is limited to 16 students. Everyone gets a free copy ofCOLOR-ALONG UKULELE, an illustrated method book for all ages, including a recorded soundtrack, so you can continue your studies at home. Bring your own uke (come early if it needs some work) and learn to tune, strum and the finger chords which will give you the possibility to play more songs then you can count.There will be 8 instruments available to borrow if you don’t have your own.

McCabes Guitar Shop, Santa Monica

One-Day Intro to Ukulele    Saturday, May 28   $40

Kids and adults, learn to play the ukulele in a DAY! Dont’ let that little instrument gather dust– come learn songs to get you started, and the musical secrets which will allow you to play almost any pop or folk song you can think of! See how fun and easy it can be in this 0ne-hour class designed to have you up and playing right away.  Kids under 8 must be accompanied by a participating grown-up.

The UKULEAR Family   Saturdays, July 9-23 (3 sessions) $90 (ages 8 and up)/$40 (kids under 8

Tackle your bucket list with three Saturdays of fun learning the ukulele this summer. Sing, strum and pluck yourself silly!

Interested in private lessons? By skype or facetime? Want to set up a group class for your friends, family or colleagues? House concert? Send me a message and we’ll talk about it…

Heidi Explodes M

 

 

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The Los Angeles Ukulele Festival (of Torrance)

First but hopefully not the last-

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Daniel and I will be there teaching kids classes, and Daniel will be doing some flamencasizing as well.  Really excited to be doing what we love in our own back yard.  Check out the schedule HERE.

Hope our SoCal friends can make it! See you there!

Everybody’s New Old Favorite Song

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The Tailor and the Mouse is KILLING these days.  From preschool to adult student.  Gotta love a good 2 chord minor key comic British folk song!  I had the kids at U-Space stomping and scurrying around playing this song last week, yesterday the preschoolers requested it, and knew every word.

I wish I could post the recording we made for the coloring book here, It’s really funny! Pinche me, I don’t have the capability.  I am posting it on the Kickstarter site- here is a link.  Give a listen, get a giggle!  It will be in the book.  You know you want a copy!

How Old (or Young) Should a Kid Be to Learn the Ukulele

Ready to play?

Ready to learn? Ready to play? Or both!

UPDATE: Daniel is now offering Pre-Orders for the Arpeggio Meditations book of studies. Print is set for mid September-Oct.

Go to www.Danielward.net to get yours.

Is my child old enough to learn ukulele?  At what age is a kid ready?
      A backer with twins asked me this question in message.  I started to write.  And kept writing.  A few hours later I realized I had written a blog post.  This answer pertains not just to our  book, COLOR-ALONG UKULELE  but to all kinds of questions parents have about kids, music and ukulele.
      There is a Long Answer and a short one.
The short answer ….it all depends on the kid, approach and the expectations.
      Here it comes– brace yourself, pour a drink: The Long Answer.
      Kids learn through a feedback loop, and progress is determined by their developmental readiness in response to their environment and their temperment.  When children are given stimulus to emulate, especially stimulus  which relates to them and to which they can relate– they take off in the areas that engage them.  I am sure you have either experienced or heard from parents how much faster younger siblings walk, talk etc… than their older counterparts.  One reason is that they are surrounded by stimulus relating to them, showing them how to be a child.
      Music, like language, is learned initially through a feedback loop.  It is a rare youngster who, at 5, is ready to physically finger chords or is mentally able to sit and play for more than a few moments.  But that does not mean that they are not learning! They are learning all the time, and music is no exception.
      The illustrations in the book, the fun pictures and the chord diagrams, give a visual focal point for the youngest kids.  Many wee folk love to look at pictures.  The recordings create the feedback loop of sound.  Kids learn intervals, melodies, and lyrics with alacrity.  When we know a song a song by heart before we try to learn to play it on an instrument, the outcome can be pure joy (and less frustration).
      Having an instrument on hand which children can play with, and eventually play, is a great thing at any age.  $35 models are well suited for this.  Instruments, not toys; nothing precious–if they get broken… meh.
Tune them as often as you can.  Write “G” “C” “E” “A” on the tuning pegs and number the strings with a sharpie!  Put a sticker on the fretboard where a finger should be placed to make a C chord.  Let a kid put stickers on the body with impunity!  Draw a smiley face on the top/side of the instrument to re-enforce “this end up”.
      On the whole, I see kids in 3rd and 4th grade  having the motor skills and the ability developmental maturity to really learn.  That is when I can take a classroom of 30+ kids and, in the course of a few weeks,  get them to play songs with 4 chords.
Ready or not.... here she comes! AKA musician's kid having fun in a dressing room.

Ready or not…. here she comes! AKA musician’s kid having fun in a dressing room.

      I have known a few kids- very few- who are really ready to play at 5 or 6.  Often they are kids of musicians who have grown up in households filled with experimentation, rehearsing; who have watched their parents sweat and rejoice the same way they do. Kids who are driven to practice, and know how to do it. It is pretty rare. (In fact, just as many musician’s kids are apathetic towards the idea of playing or performing)
      I do know that young kids who learn along side their parents learn better.  Children learn through watching us model behavior far more readily that they do through instruction. Some parents who feel insecure about their abilities worry about modeling effectively.  I don’t.  I think kids “ears”  grow irrespective of an adult’s shortcomings in pitch or rhythm.  To see a parent try, struggle, unafraid of failure… that is big. Perhaps even bigger than learning ukulele.
      In private lessons or small groups I see kids at 6-8 able to focus and enjoy their achievements.  I do private lessons for families in their homes.  A parent or two, and a couple of siblings, together sitting on the floor.  Rarely will a child of 5 or younger participate for more than 5 minutes.  Older kids may hang in for 15 or more, then the parent fills the allotted time …and then some.  The following week I will often hear that the little kid, whom the parents thought was not engaged,  was singing the song we covered and messing around with their instruments the next day.
      So- for the experience of making music, the recorded music- your kid is ready, regardless of age.
To play- for the first 3 songs (in our book) they can be quite young, 4 and up.
To really play– probably 7-9.
They are NEVER too young to see and hear YOU learn to play!
What are you waiting for?!

Ukulele Lending Library

Imagine this- flash a library card and you can check out an instrument for a month at a time. Now that is civilized! Further proof that libraries are the greatest of human institutions: ukulele collections!

Kids of all ages(!) play ukes from the Killian Mansfield Collection at the Phoenicia Library grand re-opening in January!

Kids of all ages(!) play ukes from the Killian Mansfield Collection at the Phoenicia Library grand re-opening in January.

The Killian Mansfield Ukulele Collection at the Phoenicia Library in upstate New York has 30 ukuleles to loan. Their neighbor, the Olive Library West Shokan NY has followed suit and has a new ukulele collection.  We are thrilled to be sending books both of these libraries to compliment their collection!  Our Kickstarter campaign for our forthcoming book COLOR-ALONG UKULELE offers supporters to buy books to be donated to some great causes.  These libraries are among them, and I would like to tell you a little more about them.

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Phoenicia Library does after school ukulele programs for elementary and middle grade students.  The library sponsors regular family ukulele classes, jams and occasional performances.  However, the library is woefully understocked in the ukulele teaching/learning materials department. (Let’s help them out there, shall we?)

Here is what a board member Mark Lerner had to say about the library:

“The Phoenicia Library is located in the high peaks of NY’s Catskill Mountains. The library is the heart of our rural community, providing books, information, meeting space, internet access, and programming for children and adults. The 2011 fire led us to an ambitious rebuilding project (entirely paid for by grants, insurance, and private donations), and the newly re-opened library is the first American library built to Passive House specifications, a rigorous standard for energy efficiency that reduces our energy consumption by over 80%. In addition to the Killian Mansfield Ukulele Collection, the library houses the Jerry Bartlett Memorial Angling Collection, a museum of fly-fishing that also lends out fishing rods.”

Mark is a great artist- both visual and musical, and a great friend and currently lives in Phoenicia. Go to his website, or check out his blog, Every Band I’ve Ever Been In.  You can also see his fine work on both of my CDs– he did the graphic design.

And he is the graphic designer for  COLOR-ALONG UKULELE, our method-coloring book being funded on Kickstarter right now.   You can pre-order books until April 1 at reduced cost for yourself or for your favorite ukulele program.

Speaking of libraries- tomorrow I will be doing a children’s program at the Memorial Branch Library in Los Angeles at 10 am. Come show off your library card and sing with me!

Coming soon to a library near you!

Coming soon to a library near you!

Springing

Never a huge fan of the “spring forward” idea, but we are setting our clocks tomorrow night anyhow. Time to set our calendars as well. Here is what’s up for us this spring:

First off, the KICKSTARTER campaign for Color-Along Ukulele :  We funded on March 4th, just after I blew some candles out.  Thanks, everyone for the birthday surprise!  We will continue to take pre-orders and may need to make a larger than expected first run!  Huzzah! We are also able to reach out to more in-need programs.  If you have one to nominate, let me know!

ONGOING:

Family Sing-Along at Chevalier’s Bookstore in Larchmont Village, Los Angeles every Tuesday morning, 10 am. It is a privilege to be here every week. The last of the great LA independents!

Saturday morning family ukulele classes continue, 10:30am,  at U-Space (Not too late to join!) 3/7-21 and a new class will start at McCabes, 3/28, 4/4 and 4/11. Daniel has a class right afterwards for adults at U-Space at 11:30. Learn some great technique from a pretty darn amazing player and teacher!

SPECIAL EVENTS:

Charley Miller’s Concert for Uganda March 15th, 4-7 pm.  Charley is a uke-loving music teacher and great musician who also is a caring humanitarian. This intimate concert at a private residence is open to the public.  Click the link for details.

March 18th 10:30 am  Memorial Library Toddler Story Time. I love sharing with kids in libraries! I love libraries! Humanity’s greatest invention!

5 pm Friday April 3 at Virginia Avenue Park in Santa Monica, CA  we are doing a FREE CONCERT!

April 7 I am proud to have the pleasure of teaching a ukulele class to the Children’s Librarians of the Los Angeles Public Library. (If you happen to be one and want more information, contact me!)

April 18th is the first SANTA MONICA UKULELE FESTIVAL Daniel and I will be teaching and performing at this exciting new shindig with a bunch of shining stars from the ukulele world. 1-8:30 pm

April 25th we head to PHOENIX for the Festival of Tales at Paradise Valley Community College. Can’t wait to see some Phoenix phriends!

May goes CRAZY with both the West Coast Ukulele Retreat (for Daniel) May 13-17. This is my FAVORITE uke event, and I might just have to stalk him!      ….But I will be too busy with the Ashokan Ukulele  Festival in NY,. This will be my first time at this festival, and I am thrilled!

Please join us for a class, a caper or a Color-Along! We will be happy to see you, wherever our paths cross.

49

49: The first perfect square where the digits are perfect squares. The nickname for plutonium. The year associated with the California Gold Rush. San Francisco’s football team. The number of days Siddhartha spent meditating.  The number appearing in the title of my favorite (and perhaps the only accessible) Thomas Pynchon novel, The Crying of Lot 49. 

And, as of 10:10 am March 4th, 2015– my age.

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When I turned 40 I suddenly realized how young I was. Now, I  realize I am not so young. I rejoice to be coming into a perfect number at the same time that our cultural zeitgeist begins to reject its distaste for maturity. At the crest of “the hill” there is a heckofa view. You can see the horizon at either end: the vantage point of middle age. It is clarifying.

I know who I am, I know where I am going and where I want to go. I know what I want to do and I know how to do it, but I am still ready and able to learn (witness: I am dutifully removing all my double-spaces-after-periods). I understand how much more time I may have (if I am lucky), and I hold each of those days dear.

I am proud to pass this milestone with my sleeves rolled up. On this day I will sing with 7 classes of preschoolers at two different schools, and be rewarded by wet-nosed hugs more precious than gold and more virulent than an ICU. I will spend at least 4 hours driving my car back and forth across LA in the service of my children, and I will enjoy their company and hear their stories on the drive and be glad for every hour-per-mile we creep. My morning will start with making breakfast and packing lunches and my day will end with doing dishes– a testament to our wealth and good fortune.

…And I will excitedly check on our Kickstarter project as it rapidly nears it’s  funding goal, and know that maybe the crazy idea I have of connecting through music isn’t quite so crazy after all. In fact, it is the best birthday present there is!