The EL you say!

Daniel Ward  is EL UKULELE

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Flamenco-ukulele master Daniel Ward (with guest bass player Jeff Hawley) performs songs from his CD “EL UKULELE” and debuts new material written for Ukulele Festival of Great Britain 2016.

Bring your ukulele! Before the concert Daniel is offering a workshop in Latin techniques to spice up your playing. Students will be invited to show off their skills in the concert!

SATURDAY MAY 21

WORKSHOP 4:30pm $15/ Concert 6pm $15

at U-Space    244 S San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90012   (323) 577-5567

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Book Signing and Sing-Along

Tuesday December 15th, 10 am at Chevalier’s Books on Larchmont Blvd (Los Angeles)

Every Tuesday morning we do a sing-along at Chevalier’s Books on Larchmont Boulevard in Los Angeles. This Tuesday will be something special- we will be signing our new BOOK! As well as singing some songs featured in it, and some holiday classics.

In case you haven’t heard, COLOR-ALONG Ukulele is a method book, designed to make learning the ukulele fun for all ages.  There is a download link to a fun recording of each song, making it the perfect tool for classroom or home. Plus a page of suggestions for how to use the book as a student or teacher.

Ukuleles are a great way to engage in music. They are perfect for children, older adults or anyone wishing to claim song for their own.  They are affordable, making  them a perfect holiday gift, and this book was written to support learning the basics and having fun.

Come pick up a copy, sing some songs with us and celebrate music and the holidays!

You can also order on our website!

 

 

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?!

Kids, Hospitals and Ukes

What a great idea!  Kids in hospitals being given ukuleles under the guidance of music therapists!

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Got Fleas?

 

On Monday I talked with Corey Bergman by phone as he walked the beach in Floridian. The man who founded the Ukulele Kids Club Inc with his wife Edda in January 2014 with the mission of donating ukuleles to children’s hospitals nationwide for music therapy programs is as enthusiastic as he is energetic. I have a feeling he never sits still.  He thought COLOR-ALONG Ukulele would be a great tool for the therapists working with the kids. A nice stack of books will be heading their way thanks to the generosity of Kickstarter supporters who have chosen the donation rewards.

Check out his website, read the article in the issue of Ukulele Magazine with Jake Shimummicantpronounceit on the cover. It will make you happy. I am doubly happy that we will be sending him some books!

We have 7 days left of our Kickstarter campaign, which ends 4/1/15.

If you would like to send books their way you can specify in your pledge and I will be sure the books are sent their way and happily double the number of books per-pledge sent. Click here to visit the Kickstarter page.

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Coming soon to a library near you!

It’s All About the Kids… and the Booze

aka: Academia de Ukuleles de la Ribera / Consider the Cazuela

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See, I had this idea that I would write an extended metaphor about how the new uke program started by the Club Ukulele Laguna with the La Semana de Uke-Culinary retreat folks and the mixing of a great cocktail are complicated miracles, that when all the elements are assembled with art, love and diligence the result is magic.  And then I’d reference MFK Fisher…  but really, it’s just all about the kids and the booze.

Kids first, drink recipe later. Priorities!

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First strums and smiles. That’s what the ukulele is all about.

Rounding up enough instruments for the program was step one, but throwing a bunch of instruments out into the wild won’t make it happen.  It is the fun part, though, and that was where Daniel came in.  We had the pleasure of passing out a batch of 14 Ohana ukuleles, purchased by and hand carried down to Ajijic, Mexico by the La Semana de Uke-Culinary retreat participants.

Here they come, ukes in hand!

Here they come, ukes in hand!

The hard work, organizing the program, getting the ukes together and into the country, putting together the program, finding the teacher… was done mainly by Elaine DeMann, ukulele raconteur, and Ajijic denizens Sheila Ruof and Judy King.

The wonderful Sheila- as feisty as she is dedicated!

The wonderful Sheila- as feisty as she is dedicated!

Material support has streamed in from the local ukulele club, the CUL Kids. They have provided additional instruments to the growing program; a classroom set of our forthcoming book, COLOR-ALONG Ukulele (just a few more days left to pre-order!) and have raised funds to pay a teacher.

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***Tonight, March 24, 2015 is their FUNDRAISER event!  If you happen to be in Ajijic… ***

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Everybody loves Lalo! Elaine and Sheila are no exception.

The teacher: the key element in making it all work, and boy, did they get lucky on this front!  José Eduardo García Espinoza, aka “Lalo” is a beautiful musician and human.  His kind smile and relaxed, modest manner melt any resistance. The kids love him and are inspired to impress.  Young, handsome, approachable, he is an accomplished musician and an experienced teacher who can create an atmosphere of passion and discipline. Lalo has been working with the kids every week at the community center, and the videos we have seen show just how focused they are.  They have progressed beautifully.

Lalo, who plays guitar and a host of other strings is fairly new to the uke.  Underrepresented and hard to find  in Mexico, he picked up a very basic starter soprano while in the capitol about a year ago, and fell in love.  Louis Wu at Ohana has generously offered to send Lalo a tenor-sized cut-away with a pick-up fit for a professional.

NOW, on to THE BOOZE!!!!

Kristi and Ross didn't like theirs at all!

Kristi and Ross didn’t like theirs at all!

A Cazuela, a clay bowl, is used to serve the epimonus drink.  Elaine had commemorative bowls inscribed for La Semana de Uke-Culiaria which we drained and took home.  I believe her secret recipie, passed down from her mother who was an event caterer, used pepsi.  Maybe there was some other stuff in there too. Vodka? You can’t fault me if I don’t remember…  It was a highlight of the trip.   This one looks simple to make.  Try it out- invite me over!

2 oz tequila
1 dash salt
1 sliced lime
1 sliced orange
1 sliced grapefruit
1 sliced lemon
1 tsp grenadine syrup
fill with Squirt® citrus soda

In a cazuela that is made of clay, put ice, salt, a slice of lime, orange, lemon, and grapefruit. Add grenadine, tequila, and fill with squirt. Use a straws to shake, and serve. Hilarity will ensue.

CHEERS!!!!!

CHEERS!!!!!