DAFT DAYS 2018-19

In Scotland, where New Year’s Eve is called Hogmanay, the 12 days between December 25th and epiphany are called “Daft Days”.  I get that, especially before New Years. I am full of cheese and glögg and I never know what day it is; it’s a week of Saturdays. By the time the ball drops I am ready to reform and resolve. My favorite New Year’s eve activity is the purge. Excess coffee mugs, eraserless pencil stubs, undarnable socks, threadbare bedding and frosted mystery foods from the freezer…? Out with the old!

I received beautiful new black boots from my girls this Christmas. Letting go of the old brown ones will be hard. It’s been nine years, hundreds of miles, two sets of souls and three pair of heels. They are old friends, and deserve a proper Scottish send off. I won’t light them a’fire and swing them into the river, Hogmanay style, but we will cross arms, join hands and sing Robert Burns’ Auld Lang Syne.

And so should you, for old friends and old times’ sake. The song is older that Burns himself, and is sung around the world to a pentatonic Scots folk melody.  If you have a low G on your ukulele, you can start there and pick it out, while brushing up on your pentatonic scale, pull-offs and hammer-ons. If you have resolved to work on your playing, take a look at the music Daniel Ward has prepared as your holiday gift.

Here is Burns’ first verse in the original Scots, an English version, and some Hawaiian words by Lili‘u-o-ka-lani.

Aloha my jo- Daniel and I hope to take a cup ‘o kindness and walk a mile with ye in 2019.

SCOTS

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my jo, for auld lang syne,

we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

ENGLISH

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,

we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

HAWAIIAN

E poina ‘ia anei ke hoa  ‘a ‘ole e ho omana ‘o?

E poina ‘ia anei ke hoa   o na la i ‘aui a‘e?

E poina ‘ia anei an hoa o na la o ka makali‘i?

E mau ka ho‘omana‘o ‘ana no na la i ‘aui a‘e



Girl’s Voices from India

 

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I have written about Survivor Girl Ukulele Band several times here- These are girls in India, rescued from Human trafficking who are living in shelters and learning to play ukulele!  They have a very modest Kickstarter project right now.  Do not hesitate- SUPPORT THEM! A very small contribution will get you a copy or download. A larger donation will feel soooo goood! And- the music is LOVELY!!!! What are you waiting for? Click already!

The Matriarchy of Sauces

If hollandaise is the mother sauce of French cuisine, red chili sauce must be the madre of New Mexican food.  When Old World meets New World magic happens- breakfast fit for El Rey! (recipe follows)

Poached eggs in a polenta nest with red chili bearnaise. Mmmmm.

Poached eggs in a polenta nest with red chili bearnaise. Mmmmm.

I am looking forward to the cooking element of our Santa Fe adventure as much as the music!  First thing we will cook will be both red and green chili sauces.  And I’ll be putting recipes and songs and photos together into a book.  I hope you will reserve a seat at the table!

Even if you are not staying with us at the Inn, you can join in- there is a walk-in  option on the registration form, and soon we will open individual workshops to registration. (if you want to be first in line for the open registration I suggest you subscribe to the Ukulele Adventures blog post.)

And everyone is welcome at the public events, including a full-on Flamenco show at El Meson on Wednesday November 4th, and the Smoking Jackets Giant Show at Tiny’s on Friday November 6th.  Or come enjoy hearing the participants play at the Farmer’s market on Saturday morning or at La Choza Saturday night!

Full disclosure- the title of this post is the chapter heading from The Making Of A Cook by Madeleine Kamman.  That’s the book which made me a cook. Everything I know about eggs, cakes and sauces comes from the 1971 edition of this book.  I give it as a high school graduation present to every kid I know, as I think learning to cook a good omlette can save your life.  My copy is held together by tape, nostalgia and love, and I still consult it every time I make crepes.

These two pages can save your life!

The secret to life, the universe and everything

My hollandaise recipe has become somewhat free-form, but you can accomplish something like the sauce shown in the photo above if you try this:

Wisk 3 egg yolks into a cup of cold, good NM red chili sauce, add a little lemon zest and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Over a medium flame wisk constantly.  Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of COLD butter.  The butter will melt as the chili and eggs come to temperature and you will have a no-fuss emulsified sauce. Pour over poached eggs nestled onto an english muffin or polenta or spinach…to make a NM Benedict.  Or serve with fish or asparagus.

Just be sure to make enough for me, because once I hear you are making it I may show up on your doorstep- Or- join us in Santa Fe and I’ll make it for you!

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

Ready to play?

Ready to learn? Ready to play? Or both!

UPDATE: COLOR-ALONG UKULELE, our book for young people who want to learn uke is available at www.Danielward.net Be sure to download the FREE SOUNDTRACK!

Is my child old enough to learn ukulele?  At what age is a kid ready?
A friend 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 temperament.  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 a child can play with, and eventually play, is a great thing at any age.  $50 models are well suited for this.  Instruments, not toys; nothing precious–if they get broken… meh. Here’s my favorite starter: Ohana sk-10 from MIM
Tune them as often as you can.  Write “G” “C” “E” and “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”. Encourage strumming with a steady beat and clap along, saying “one, two, three, four…one, two…”.
      On the whole, I see kids in 3rd and 4th grade  having the motor skills, ability and  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 music and 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 musical 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. Also, kids value what we value, and if they see music is important to you, it will be important to them.
      In private lessons or small groups I see kids at 6-8 able to focus and enjoy their achievements.  I have taught  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. The parent will finish up the allotted time …and then some.  When I return the following week, I will often hear that the little kid was singing the song we covered and messing around with their instruments the next day.
      So- for the experience of making music, your kid is ready, regardless of age. They do it every day. Having an instrument to experiment on will give them tools they may be craving. They learn songs by ear fast- and never forget them!
The first 3 songs (in our book)  can be played by very young kids, 3 and up. They are strumming on the open strings of the ukulele, learning basic rhythm. Great developmentally appropriate goal!
But to really be able to play the instrument… probably 7-9 years is a realistic expectation.
They are NEVER too young to see and hear YOU learn to play!
What are you waiting for?!

All for uke and uke for ALL!

As you may know I am a BIG fan of music’s magical power to bring people together.  The songs we know connect us to people and places far and near.  Starting with the bond of lullaby and ending with the bagpipe’s requiem, music is with us all our lives.  I could go on and on… in fact, I do!

Family style!

Family style!  Photo by Jill Richards

I did just the other day to October Crifasi, who is writing an article for Ukulele Magazine about ukulele for kids (that’s the same magazine which had me on their cover last spring!).  We talked, among other things, about family music- how great it is to teach parents and kids together.  The bond it creates within the family, the service it does for both parent and child.  You can read about it in Ukulele Magazine’s next issue (unless they decide to not print it- you never know).

Or you can come and live the experience!  I have two series classes for families starting up:  A four-Saturday session starting February 28th at 10:30 am at Uspace– the new downtown LA ukulele shop-school-venue-cafe located in the Japanese American Cultural Center.  (I am also working on a week long kid’s ukulele summer camp there. More on that soon)

And a 3-Saturday 10:30 am series at McCabes in Santa Monica starting March 28th.

I am also hard at work on a book! If you have taken a class with me before you have probably taken home at least one of my handouts.  I have been illustrating my lessons, and when I teach an all-ages class I always have Art Stix  or crayons on hand to give the kids who get antsy mid lesson.  They can do some coloring while the adults keep playing.  They make their own songbooks, and by the end of a semester or session they have.. a bunch of sheets of paper that all get lost.

So- I decided it’s time to get it together!  Our current project is a ukulele method book with illustrations and companion recordings.  Copies will be available to pre-order through Kickstarter soon.  You will be hearing all about that once the campaign is launched!  The art by El Rey is FANTASTIC!  here is a sneak peek at the cover-

Uke Songbook Mockup Front Cover only for Kickstarter640 x 480

So much going on! So many festivals coming up, concerts for families… I have not had a chance to post photos from all the great things that have just happened- like the trip to Mexico…. AMAZING!  If I can get the time together to make it back to the computer I will be popping some pictures up here as well as updating our schedule for the spring.  So many great opportunities to share music!  How lucky are we?

This Is Not A Test (Kitchen)

Preparing to teach a cooking class  at the end of January at the La Semana de Uke retreat on the shores of lake Chapala  in Jalisco, Mexico means testing out some recipe ideas at home.

There are still a few spaces available to join us on this adventure which includes hiking, photography, cooking and music.  Those of you locked in a cold wintery area: I especially recommend you consider packing a small bag and jumping on the first Aeromexico flight you can book.

Here is an enticing food-a-logue to get you thinking about it.

Last week Daniel wanted to work on a flautas/taquito idea.  Poor me,  I had to suffer the consequences.

Looks tasty already!

Looks tasty already!

While gigging in Baltimore(of all places), Daniel had eaten some really tasty appetizers in a fancy Mexican joint.  Flautas con pollo were on his mind: crunchy “Mexican egg rolls”, spiced with chili, oregano, zest and juice of orange, lime and lemon… mmmm.

First, a chicken was spatchcocked and roasted,  (OK, I just love to say “spatchcocked”.  But admit it- don’t you?) shredded and mixed with the citrus, plus onion, garlic, herbs, chillies and other seasonings.

There are always some secrets kept, even in the most intimate of relationships.  Even between blogger and reader.  It is what keeps our relationship fresh.  So, yes- there may have been salt and pepper added.  Perhaps even olive oil.  But I’ll never tell.

The tiny test kitchen gets a workout!

The tiny test kitchen gets a workout!

Flour tortillas were filled and rolled with the heavenly stuffing, but instead of frying…IMG_7415he baked them in the oven.  Red Chili from Chimayo, New Mexico makes the sauce… and it is never a party without a little guacamole!

 

he baked them in the oven.  Red Chili from Chimayo, New Mexico makes the sauce… and it is never a party without a little guacamole!

Daniel gets serious about plating

Daniel gets serious about plating and garnish

and….

Mmmmmm...   Nuf said.

Mmmmmm… Nuf said.

The next day he made the same thing,  but with corn tortillas, taquito style.  Even better.  Kid tested, kid approved!

However,  I think he needs to work on this idea some more, don’t you?   My mouth is watering just thinking about it!  If you can’t stop by for dinner this week you should definitely check your schedule for the last week of January…   Learn more about joining us at http://ukuleleadventures.com/

com com com nom nom nom.

 

 

 

Ukulele Trafficking

Survivor-Girl-and-Boy_a

I want to FILL THE HOUSE!  This show is a benefit for Survivor Girl Ukulele Band, and once you read a little about what it is and what it’s all about I know you will want to support this incredible project, too!  I’ll be at the Coffee Gallery in Alta Dena at 3pm with my new band The Smoking Jackets and I really hope I’ll see you there. If you can’t make it but would like to contribute to this project, follow this link!  The text and images below are lifted from an article which appears in Hometown Pasedena.  The WHOLE ARTICLE is worth a good read!  Check it out!

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For most of us, human trafficking is a grim statistic in the news. For Laurie Kallevig, it’s up-close-and-personal. She works with survivors of human trafficking in India.

Laurie’s work is unique; she brings ukuleles to India and teaches girls (and more recently, boys) to play the instruments. She hopes, eventually, these young survivors will “write the soundtrack to the movie of their own lives.”

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Kim Ohanneson: Describe your typical day with the children. What is the age range?

Laurie Kallevig: My typical process is to start with a small size class, just six girls, and teach them for a few days, building in a lot of individualized attention and a lot of fun and success. We start with songs that they know, songs in their own language.

Soon I add another small class to the schedule and maybe even have one of the students from the first class join the second class and help to translate and teach. Next, I combine the two classes and have twelve students at about the same level. Then I add another class of beginners, and so on, building to up to two or three classes per day, each about an hour and a half in length.

Last year in Pune, I was in a rescue home that had mostly major girls, 18 years and older. Most were in the 19 to 22 year old range, but a few students were in their early 30s.

This year in Mysore (working at Odanadi Seva Trust), my students ranged from 9 years old to 19 years old. And while I didn’t have formal classes for the little ones, I tried to make time to let the little ones (5-8 years old) come in and play and strum and make believe they are rock stars.

Often the students can’t stop playing, even to pay attention to learn the next thing, and I like to think they are lost in ukuleleland—that magical place of sound and vibration and strum, strum, strumming; a place where the bad memories fade and the music and hope and dreams of a better future come to life.

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KO: Where in India have you shared music and the ukulele? Where would you like to go next? Do you hope to expand beyond India?

Laurie: Last year in 2013, I taught for about four months in a rescue home in Pune. Most of my longer-term students were repatriated to their homes in India and Bangladesh, and then unfortunately, that rescue home discontinued the survivor girl ukulele band project. (That’s a whole other story.) So then for six weeks I experimented with teaming up with an organization in Mumbai and taught at one of their drop-in centers in a small red-light area. The women I taught there were working prostitutes and pimps.

This year, 2014, I was teaching at the renowned Odanadi Seva Trust in Mysore. They have a girls home and a boys home, and I taught at both homes.

Survivor Girl Ukulele Band Project 2015 will be in Kolkata, one of the largest human trafficking hubs in the world. I’ll be working at the shelter homes of Sanlaap (sanlaapindia.org). They have over 250 girls in their four shelter homes, and I am really looking forward to it!!!

Many thousands of girls are trafficked from Nepal and Bangladesh into India, and I hope to expand SGUB Project to both of those countries some day.