MEDITATIONS FOR (and on) UKULELE

UPDATE: Daniel’s book is OUT!!!  And so are the VIDEO TUTORIAL!   Go to www.Danielward.net to get yours.

 

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.

 

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Survival and Fate: Bill Graham

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He was born a Jew in Germany under Hitler. His mother saved his life by giving him to an orphanage who sent him to France in an exchange for Christian orphans.  After France fell, he was spirited to America and grew up in the Bronx.

What happens next? He begins to make choices.

How do we become who we are? One way to understand our own fate is to examine the extraordinary lives of others.

This Saturday, September 5 at noon and 2 pm the Sukey Jump Band will be at the Skirball Center singing songs that Bill Graham knew, from Roszhinkes Mit Mandlen to the Sidewalks of New York to Oye, Como Va: Yiddish lullabies, R&B, Rock and Roll and everything in between.

Sing along, play along (we will have some Kazoos for sale so you can join the horn section) dance to groove.

Think about the life of this extraordinary person, and about your own fate- and how you are shaping it right now.

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?

Subversive Fun-Sukey Jump!

The Sukey Jump Band will be celebrating Summer’s end with shows in four and a half states- Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and California: Northern and Southern.  We have a passel of scheduled performances we’d love to see you at.  These are officially classified as “Kids Shows”, but that is a classification we love to buck.

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Kids show…

grown ups show.  You tell me which is sillier!

grown ups show. You tell me which is sillier!

...I rest my case

…I rest my case

The Sukey Jump Band has a simple mission- to share the joy making music brings with all ages.  That’s how we came by the name SUKEY JUMP!  In the “old days” people would gather and sing, dance, holler and laugh at gatherings known as play parties or sukey jumps.  Musicians would play, leading songs everyone could enjoy and participate in, whether they danced to a call, following directions or just stomped and jumped.  Songs often familiar, inviting response and welcoming chorus.

I have a favorite quote from the film  State and Main (2000) by David Mamet: “Everybody makes their own fun. If you don’t make it yourself, it isn’t fun. It’s entertainment.”  There is a lack of opportunity to “make fun” for all ages.  We are fast becoming a society doped on the true opiate of the masses: corporate media entertainment.  To quote another film “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take this any more!”.   Although I won’t be throwing my Mac out the window I will be throwing caution to the wind and inviting you to join us in our subversive acts.

 

August 3  2-3 PM  South Coast Botanical Gardens 26300 Crenshaw Boulevard  Palos Verdes Peninsula, California 90274

September 4, 5:30- 7 pm    Wine Country Ukulele Festival   SPECIAL KID’S SHOW AND ICR CREAM SOCIAL! Umpqua Bank, 1065 Main Street, St. Helena, CA

September 12 6:30 PM   Plaza Library, Kansas City, MO

September 13, 10 am  Wonderscope Children’s Museum     Kansas City, Kansas

September 14th  1pm   Wiggle Out Loud   Children’s Music Festival Oklahoma City, OK

 

 

Mya-Moe

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the lovely Char and Gordon Mayer at Reno Uke Fest. Photo by Craig Chee.

Daniel Ward and I are thrilled to be playing beautiful instruments hand built for us by Mya-Moe.  Mine is a myrtle wood (from within 50 miles of their shop) and ebony concert with a warm sweet tone, and Daniel’s is a loud and sassy miniature flamenco guitar made from sitka spruce with a rosewood back and sides and bloodwood binding.  The instruments are very different, but suit our playing styles and are especially beautiful played together.  We received them in January and have not put them down since.

For me, having an instrument which is so alive, crafted just for me, has inspired me to work harder- digging deeper into chord inversions and daring to lift a melodic voice.  Daniel’s instrument has allowed his own voice to rise.  Listen HERE to him playing at the Reno Ukulele Festival…(thanks Ivan Olarte for the video!)

We recently enjoyed spending time with Char and Gordon in Reno- sipping cocktails and talking all things uke and culinary, and I thought you might like to be introduced to these two lovely people, so we posed some questions to Mya-Moe:

When you offered to build me an instrument I had NO IDEA what wood to ask for.  My partner Daniel, however, knew EXACTLY what he wanted.  We ended up with instruments that have very different voices, but voices that sound beautiful together and match our needs as players. How did you do that?

Of course, this is the outcome that we’re always hoping for and working towards.  We work with each individual to-be owner to try to understand what they are looking for tonally and aesthetically.  Usually we can get a pretty good idea of what to build.

It’s actually much easier for us to work with someone like you (versus Daniel).  You were very open to a variety of sounds/looks, and I think you went into it with a very open mind.  We think of each instrument like a child–it will have the genes of the parents (our design & building), but it will also be unique.  So, the “easiest” to-be owners are people that understand this.

 Daniel had a pretty fixed idea of what he wanted.  That’s the hardest to deliver–try to make sure we get that right.  We do pretty well with that, but it did cause some restless nights 🙂

It's a love story- we LOVE our instruments!

It’s a love story- we LOVE our instruments! photo by James Barnett wetakenicepictures.com

Daniel loves the size of the tenor and I love the concert.  They seem a little smaller then other instruments we have played.  Do tell.

I think of the design of the instrument (size, top/back thickness, bracing, woods, soundhole area) as a “system” where everything works together to produce a given tone.  So it’s impossible to pull out one of those elements from one builder & try to apply it to another builder.  If we decided to build a larger bodied tenor, for instance, we would change many of those other parameters and still try to achieve the tone that we already have.

 When we designed the instruments, as an engineer, I tried to work with a body volume (cubic inches) that would produce the range of tones (low-g to 19th fret of the a-string) that we wanted to produce.  We tweaked it a bit to bring reality in line with theory.

Your string sets are custom and very specific.  Indulge our inner geek.  Tell us more.

Early on, strings were one of our biggest nightmares.  There are so many different types, brands & materials out there (unlike guitars).  In the beginning we stocked and experimented with all of them:  black nylon, clear nylon, fluorocarbon, nylgut.  But, it quickly became clear the the best strings for our instruments are fluorocarbon, with wound string(s) for the bass.  We worked with Worth and D’Addario to figure out the best “sets” for our instruments.

 The most challenging was the baritone set.  For our ears, no existing baritone set came close to the tone & feel we were looking for.  We wanted to bring out the warmth that the baritone is known for without sacrificing the treble.

We laughed at Reno about how the instrument ordering process ought to be like eating at Nobu, a fancy sushi restraunt where the diner trusts the chef.  Would you really like to do just that?

Yes!  We call it “luthier’s choice”.  We’ve now had 3 occasions where owners have given us carte blanche to design and build their next instrument.  It’s where we have the most fun.

A vary happy family of Mya-Moe owners (Craig Chee, photo)

A vary happy family of Mya-Moe owners (Craig Chee, photo)

Your shop is a very intimate operation, with just 3 of you involved from order to delivery.  Who does what over there?

There are actually 5 of us, which is the key to our building.  3 of us (me, Char & Aaron) work out of our main shop and build the final instrument.  But, we have two others:  Kerry Williams and Ben Bonham, who do “parts” that go into the instrument.  So, they do rough necks, fretboards, internal blocks/braces, joining of the top/back, profiling the sides, and “polishing” the top/back.  That allows aaron, char & me to focus on building the final instrument.  Char does all wood selection, thicknessing the top/back, and bending of the sides.  Aaron does all the bracing.  After that, at least two of us are trained on each operation.  

Besides building gorgeous instruments I hear rumors of epicurean delights.  Music be the food of love, and food is love’s music?  What’s on the menu?

Ha!  Cooking is our 2nd passion.  We joke that for Aaron, the greatest benefit of working at Mya-Moe is the lunch we make him everyday.  Lunch is really our dinner, so we go all out for that meal.  I think Aaron would tell you that our cooking has varied depending upon what new kitchen tool/appliance we’ve acquired.  Also, while we eat anything, we have a lot of guests with a variety of eating specificities:  vegan, gluten-free, etc.  So, we’ll vary it up as the needs require.

 A year ago we got an immersion circulator (check out “sous vide cooking”), and love to cook with that.  And then this year we got a smoker, so we’ve done a few briskets and racks of ribs.  Lately we’ve been into cured meats & salamis.

 And just yesterday we had a very successful morel mushroom foraging expedition on the slopes of Mt. Adams, so this week its “all morels, all the time”…

 

 

Big Bunny!

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We had a hoppin’good time at the LA Zoo over the weekend, playing 10 shows in 3 days and hanging with the Big Bunny.  We packed breakfast burritos with green chili and lunch burritos with red chili to share with another New Mexican, Luis Guerra who played the sassy new Ohana bass.  (Can’t wait to take this little powerhouse to the Reno Uke Fest this weekend!)

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Who can resist a  carousel?  Sure wish we had the chance to ride in the Dung Beetle Chariot!

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Jason Arimoto brings the Blues to McCabes

Jason is a great player and teacher with a heart as big as his talent!

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He and Daniel Ho have worked together to build Ukulele Creations and the U-Space at the JACC is an amazing space dedicated to building community through the ‘ukulele.  We are thrilled that he will be at McCabes THIS SATURDAY as our first guest instructor at Weekend Ukulele Warriors.

Join us at NOON, Saturday, February 1 to learn the BLUES for Beginners with Jason!

This workshop will explore the simple and subtle inflections that can help give the blues to any happy uke. If you want to play a hard driving blues shuffle or a solid country blues groove this class will get you started.  In addition, the blues scale in “A” will be covered along with a few choice blues riffs to jump start your blues solos.

Daniel and I will be there to learn from the master- we can’t wait!  Classes are $40 each, no advance reservations necessary.

We have more great guests arranged and tons lining up  Here’s the rest of the schedule so far:

2/ 8   picking and Grinning with Heidi Swedberg- simple picking patterns give variety to your playing for beginning and intermediate players

2/ 15   Bossa Nova Training Wheels with Daniel Ward- like champaigne, bossa goes with everything.  Broken down to simple steps so everyone can get their Jobim on.

2/ 22   Guest teacher FRED SOKOLOW takes students on aUkulele Fretboard Roadtrip!

3/ 1  The effervescent  JIM D’VILLE shares his secrets of how to  Play Ukulele  by Ear

3/8   Special guest teachers SARAH MAISEL and CRAIG CHEE bring  their sparkling chemistry and great chops!

3/15  Modulating  the Bb family with Heidi Swedberg.  Learn a simple closed chord progression that can carry you up the fretboard.

3/29  The Butcher of Seville with Daniel Ward (Spanish guitar classics for the 4 strings)

4/5  Learn to play the Ukulele in a Day with Heidi Swedberg and Daniel Ward