Going Postal

Ho Ho Ho!!!!!

Guess who has a big sack of goodies for good little boys and girls?  That’s right, ME!

I have my bag packed and will be flying in the Volvo sleigh to the post office on Monday morning to mail out the first 200 ish copies of COLOR-ALONG Ukulele.

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The first batch going out to our Kickstarter supporters

We are really thrilled with how they came out, and I think you will be, too.

Is your mouth watering for these tasty treats?  You can order from my website.  I’ll gladly sign a copy for you and get it in the mail, in plenty time for stocking stuffing or dreidel spinning.

Looking for unusual Holiday cards?  Check out El Rey’s selection HERE guaranteed to give you a ho-ho-ho.

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Drum Roll…..

April 1, 8 PM we will raise a glass and toast all the people who have kicked in to make sure COLOR-ALONG Ukulele comes into being!

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Do I wish I could do this without crowd funding? Yes!  But…  I am not saying it is a bad thing. I learn so much about the art of asking, and every time I ask, I clarify what it is I really want to do.

I want to share music, and see the positive effects it has on people’s lives.  All ages of people- in as many possible places and situations as I can reach.  I want to see people connect. I am powerless to do more than any other voter in the grand scheme of the world.  I am trapped in the consuming cycle of the society I was fortunate enough to be born into.

I don’t see myself going Ted Kozynsky or Mother Theresa, but I do feel like I am doing what I can to make a difference: teach, laugh, play, share.  That’s what I got, and I am grateful to be recieving the validation and support I need to move forward with my work.

If you have been waiting for the final hours…  they have come!

After I empty that glass in your honor I will probably be even more maudlin than usual, so I will stay away from the computer.

CHEERS!!!!

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?!

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!

Our NEW BOOK!

Pre-orders are being taken now through KICKSTARTER for our NEW BOOK:

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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.

 

The site is hot and business has been brisk! In less than 24 hours, more than 160 copies have been ordered. We are excited to have been promoted to “staff Pick” on the Kickstarter!

Color-Along Ukulele is a method book with illustrations designed to entice beginning players of all ages, and includes companion recordings– great for use in the classroom or at home.

Fun lessons and illustrations by El Rey with recordings to boot!  Woot!

Fun lessons and illustrations by El Rey with recordings to boot! Woot!

BIG THANKS to all the backers who jumped in on the first day: for believing in this project, for pledging the funds we need to finish.  Your orders will allow us to get to work on the art, recordings and deliver it to the printers.  In plenty time for the holidays. (What? Christmas already?)

And big thanks for your generosity towards others.  At least 100 of the books just bought are being directed to the hands of  kids ready to learn the ukulele in places like Haiti, India, and Mexico where we are partnered with smart organizations.  And we know a bunch of kids stateside, from California to New York who would love books in their schools and libraries.

These girls are in the ukulele program we started in Ajijic last month with the CUL Kids!

These girls are in the ukulele program we started in Ajijic last month with the CUL Kids!

Lalo, el maestro in Mexico, teaching his new class.  He was our second order!

Lalo, el maestro in Mexico, teaching his new class. He was our second order!

Please click on the site, watch the great movie edited with love and skill by Daniel’s niece Kirsten, shot by Lisa Udelson and staring her beautiful son and his friends.  Check out the rewards, which include art by El Rey, our artist.

Who wouldn't want an original by this handsome monkey-squid?

Who wouldn’t want an original by this handsome monkey-squid?

We’ll even make you dinner!

....actual platings may vary...

….actual platings may vary…

We are pleased as punch with this book and we think you will be too!  Hear the whole story on Kickstarter.  Check it out! click here:   COLOR-ALONG UKULELE

And a reminder- if you are in LA we start classes at U-Space TOMORROW! (2/28) at 10:30 am for families!  Hope to see you there!

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?

RIB FEST

we LOVE Oklahoma!

we LOVE Oklahoma!

The BBQ truck we found in Sperry, OK was a revalation!  See that little trailer?  From it emerged the best darn BBQ we had ever had in our LIVES!

Prime Rib day at Buffalo BBQ

Prime Rib day at Buffalo BBQ

It is definitly easier to play a great show on a full stomache.  Like this one at the Downtown Tulsa Library…

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After 6 shows in 3 days we trucked into Kansas City.  The canjo has become everyone’s favorite instrument.  It is being worked into the set big time!

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Once we got to KC we  had an early morning of breakfast in the room and then we visited the local morning news show, did a show at the Children’s Museum, and Jammed at Jiggle Jam, the biggest Kid’s Music fest around!

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And of COURSE we had to try world-famous KC BBQ!  I’d be hard pressed to pick a winner…

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GOOOOOOD EATIN!

We were thrilled to play with some great old friends like the Sugar Free AllStars and Brandon Draper as well as jam with new friends like the Okie Dokie Brothers and KC artists, Jim Cosgrove and Dino O’Dell.

loading in- tuba, 3 ukes, cajon, percussion tuba, coronet, bass, electric guitar and CANJO!

loading in- tuba, 3 ukes, cajon, percussion tuba, coronet, bass, electric guitar and CANJO!

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Eeintsy-weeintsy spiders with the the SFA

Boy are we BEAT!

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