MEDITATIONS FOR (and on) UKULELE

For the last year, Daniel has been writing “studies”.  If you are someone who has dipped their toe into classical music, you know that these can sometimes stand alone as solo performance pieces (think Villalobos) or be exercises to strengthen your playing (like Hanon for piano). Daniel’s split the difference.  They are simple pieces to play in loops, beautiful to listen to, calming and centering to play. Students and festival workshop participants have been enthusiastic about them, so he’s working on putting them together in a book.

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Daniel will be teaching a sampler of studies at U-Space this weekend, and the following weekend he will be joining me teaching ALL AGES- that means kids, adults and in-between.  And then, there’s that Sukey Jump Band show at McCabes the next day.

UKULELE MEDITATIONS WITH DANIEL WARD

This Saturday, March 11 at U-Space: TWO workshops with ukulele master Daniel Ward highlighting pieces from his forthcoming book “Arpeggio Meditations for Ukulele”.

Arpeggio Meditations are soothing, rhythmic and melodic instrumental compositions for repeated playing. They teach both right and left hand techniques, and offer a relaxing discipline for improving tone and musicality. The simplest exercises are great for all levels of player, from the novice to the professional, who is ready to focus intently on technical mastery and expression. The more difficult exercises include challenging patterns and Latin styles.

TWO one-hour workshops, $20 for one, $35 for both.         Sandwiches will be available for purchase between classes for attendee convenience.

11:30 am to 12:30 am   All-Level Arpeggio Meditation,

1:00 to 2:00pm     Montuno Arpeggio Meditation

 

Saturday, March 18th at U-Space: TWO workshops for ALL-AGES Active participation in the arts is one of the best ways to inspire creativity and confidence–and the `ukulele is fun to boot!

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Family style!

`UKULELE FOR All-Ages with HEIDI SWEDBERG and DANIEL WARD : A workshop for adults, kids, and families starting on their musical journey. Sing and strum a dozen songs in just one lesson. This class is open to all, ages 5 and up. (Participating parents MUST accompany children between the ages of 5-8. Children 8 and up may come alone, though parental participation is highly recommended)

10:30 am to 11:30 am   $25 includes “Color-Along Ukulele Method Book” and participating parent admission, (or $35 for both classes! Sandwiches will be available for purchase between classes for attendee convenience.)

CONTINUING UKE FOR ALL AGES- Kids, families, adults learn together, adding picking techniques, new chords and rhythms. Increase your skills so your musical enjoyment can grow.

12 noon to 1:00 PM $20

SUKEY JUMP BAND KID’S CONCERT at MCCABES

Sunday, March 19, 10:30 am  $10, kids under 2 FREE

Mccabes will be providing some percussion and kid-friendly instruments for the wee folk participate with.  Come play, sing and have fun with Heidi and the Sukey Jump Band at our favorite LA venue!

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Here are some other events we have scheduled:

April 8  ISLAND SOUL Daniel and I will be teaching FREE classes during the day (more details TBA)   Chapman University, Orange CA

April 29    BLACKBIRD GUITARS

April 30   DaSILVA UKULELE

May 12-14                 MIGHTY UKE DAY, LANSING MI

May 19-21                 LAS CRUCES UKEFEST 2017 Our friends in the southern NM are putting on their first full-on festival- My Mom and I are working up a piece!

June 19-July 31        MARLBOROUGH SUMMER SCHOOL I will be teaching early childhood music and ukulele on a beautiful campus in the heart of Los Angeles. If you have little ones needing some summer day care, or older kids wanting enrichment, this is a chance to breathe some rare air at a (somewhat above) ground level price.

June 21    MAKE MUSIC DAY at the SKIRBALL CENTER  we will be teaching a ukulele class at noon.  Come play!

July 30      SUKEY JUMP BAND at the   SKIRBALL CENTER  We loved our Bill Grahm show at the Skirball two years ago, and we are thrilled to return for a show during the Paul Simon exhibit.  Expect songs related to this great artist, from folk, to pop, to world beat. An amazing opportunity to really stretch and shine, teach and jam!

August 11-13           AUBURN GOLD PAN UKULELE FESTIVAL We are thrilled to join Dani Joy at this vibrant new festival in a town we have never experienced! Can’t wait to meet the lovely folks of Auburn!

September 27          PORT TOWNSEND UKULELE FESTIVAL Now that there is an OYSTER BAR on the premices, this event may be unchallengably the tastiest ever! This event sells out shortly after it is announced every year. If you are already signed up- see you there! If not, look into it, and cue up for next year.

October 14                ANTELOPE VALLEY UKULELE FESTIVAL   Honored to be returning to Lancaster to celebrate the love of ukulele and community with our desert ukulele ohana.

 

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…

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Marching Forth (as April May)

 

Hope springs eternal. As does music.  Are they not, fundamentally the same thing?  Neither could I live without.  “So, in a world of snow, of things that come and go, where what you think you know you can’t be certain of you must believe in spring and love“.

Here’s some of what is on our calendar this spring:

3/26 KALA Ukulele Day in LA at USPACE with Jim D’Ville.  I will be using my new book “Color-Along Ukulele” for my all ages class, and you get a copy to keep with class admission!  Win a Kala Waterman uke– Giving away one per class!¡! 

4/2 WAKE UP with the Waves at the Santa Monica Pier   all ages- FREE!  10:30 am-noon  We will have a crazy fun band, including Paul the Trombonist

4/16 UKULELE DAY at WILMINGTON Los Angeles Public Library Branch  all ages- FREE!!!!  (Check out their free 6-week class for kids and teens starting 3/9!)

4/24 RACHEL MANKE  lets us sit in with her at the Coffee Gallery

5/5-8 WEST COAST UKULELE RETREAT in Asilomar. If you have never been… GO! (if there are still rooms available) This is a FANTASTIC retreat with great instructors in the most beautiful, peaceful place you can imagine.  And the food’s great, too!

 

We are heading across the pond to England in June, where Daniel will be playing the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain.  To prepare, he is scheduling private house concerts and a public show at U-Space on May 21.  More details to follow as they solidify.  This will be a great show with a guest bass player and El Uke will be debuting some very snazzy new material as well as playing selections from his CD EL UKULELE.  Give it a preview!

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Good Times at McCabes

This Saturday I will be starting a new 3 week session of UKULEAR FAMILY at McCabesand we have a SUKEY JUMP show there on Sunday February 21 at 11 am!

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photo by Jill Richards

What is the UKULEAR FAMILY?   It’s an all-ages beginning ukulele class. Sometimes I have a room full of kids (under 8 require a participating adult). Sometimes I have all grown-ups! No matter how the demographics come together, we always have a grand time and learn a lot. Mixed ages might seem impossible, but I treasure the space where we all learn together. The truth is, adults and children all need the same thing to learn: clear instruction, repetitive practice and patience. 

Childhood is a time of magical growth. There is a golden window when a child has achieved the motor skills and brain development necessary to play an instrument, but the self-critical voice that says “you aren’t good enough” does not yet ring in their ears. They are shameless! And that is their greatest strength.

Many adults leave music when the leave their childhood and don’t return until they are old enough to step past that wall of shame. When you no longer care what others think, you can be like a child again- fearless and ready to take things on. It is a glorious time in life! Some adults are escorted into freedom by their children, they come hand in hand. Some adults have longer to wait until they have the time to pursue the things that bring joy.

However you come to make music, (and I sincerely hope that you do), if it should be that this Saturday you are ready to start playing, all the better! Meet me at McCabes Guitar Shop in Santa Monica at 10:30 am.

…perhaps if you are really feeling fearless you can join us on stage for a number when we have our….    SUKEY JUMP!

What is a Sukey Jump? It’s a song and dance party, where people get together to make their own fun.  That’s why we named our band the Sukey Jump Band!

Sunday February 21 we are making up a set list of our favorite dance songs and are playing them in McCabe’s famous concert room for all ages at 11 am.  Funk and folk come together, and we will move and groove for an hour. It’s only $10 (kids under 2 free).

 

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

Ready to play?

Ready to learn? Ready to play? Or both!

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?!

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-

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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?

Meet McClelland!

If you have read every blog post I have ever written you might recognize Craig McClelland as part of the Sukey Jump Band, Vespus and Skumbaag, however I am excited to introduce him in a new light- as a uke teacher and member of the Smoking Jackets.  Craig is, you see, a man of many talents!

Craig has got both ends covered....

Craig has got both ends covered….

We are getting the jackets tailored for some shows at the beginning of November, and Craig will be flying out from his beautiful home in Sturgeon Bay, WI for music making and teaching in California.

First stop- McCabes Weekend Ukulele Warriors, November 1st, noon.

The next day we will be joined by John Bartlit, the forth (and yet unphotographed member) of the Smoking Jackets.  We have two shows on Sunday- the first is and 11 am Sukey Jump show at McCabes, the second is the 3 pm benefit at the Coffee Gallery in Altadena.

He's the good looking one in the fez

He’s the good looking one in the fez

Here is a little about Craig and what he will be teaching at McCabes:

Those Problem Chords – D Major and E Major (and more).

As a beginning ukulele player you find yourself facing many challenges. You find yourself asking how do I tune my uke, do I really look good in a bowtie, and just how do I pronounce ukulele anyway. Playing chords is just another of these challenges and just as you are getting a pretty good handle on how to play such common chords as G Major, C Major, F Major and A Major and are getting pretty good at switching between them, along come two chords that strike fear in the heart of every beginning ukester– D Major and of course, the dreaded E Major. In this workshop Craig McClelland will help you find ways to approach these most feared of chords – fingering variations, different voicings, and even out and out “cheats” that you can use at your next uke jam until you do master the preferred voicings – all while learning a couple of easy songs and having a fun time. If all goes well, we may even examine a few more common problem chords (although the decision to wear a bowtie is left completely to you).

Craig McClelland is a professional musician (bass, guitar, ukulele, and tuba) and instructor with over 30 years’ experience, presently working with the American Folklore Theatre and the Peninsula Players Theatre in Door County, Wisconsin. Craig has taught music publicly and privately over the last 20 years after having studied bass at Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles, as well as earning a BA in Music at University of New Mexico and an MA in Humanities from California State University – Dominguez Hills. He has been pleased to share his music with students of all levels, having taught in elementary schools, universities and all levels in between.

In addition to his teaching and theatre work, Craig can be seen around the country in such diverse ensembles as the Vespus Marimba Band, the Sukey Jump Band, Crossing 32nd Street, the Links Ensemble, The Gazebo Guys, and America’s only heavy-metal vaudeville troupe, Skumbaag. In 2012, Craig was honored when Skumbaag was chosen as Ensemble in Residence for the University of New Mexico International Composers Symposium, featuring a wide range of his music, including selections from his original musical, The Lubbock Lights.

When not performing, Craig likes to be with his family in Door County and uses the time for songwriting, playwriting as well as substitute teaching band, choir, and theatre in the public schools. He can frequently be found doing workshops such as this one.

Craig would also like to thank the fine folks at McCabe’s for this opportunity to share his love of ukulele with your community.

just don't bring up the bananna

just don’t bring up the bananna suit

Both of the fine photos of Craig were taken in PHX by James Barnett  WeTakeNicePictures.com

This last lousy one was taken by me

A working lunch at our PHX regional office.

A working lunch at our PHX regional office.