Ukulele Holiday 2017

 

 

holiday blog shotLights and feasts and family and song- It’s that time of year! We all want to share something meaningful with those we love. This year, why not make it musical? Here are four ways to give gifts to self, gifts to the universe and gifts for all ages on your list this holiday season.

First- why not bring a song to your celebration? How about learning the uke just in time for the season of song? Here are our class listings for December at McCabes:

1-DAY INTRO TO UKULELE (HOLIDAY EDITION) JUST ADDED

Learn the basics of playing ukulele to your favorite holiday tunes! Pick up strumming, plucking, and chording a ukulele while singing along to Christmas, Hanukkah, and secular seasonal songs from many cultures.
Heidi Swedberg 10:30 – 11:30 AM Saturday, Dec 9 (1 session) $40
SIGN UP

HOLIDAY UKULELE JUST ADDED

Follow up Heidi’s one-day ukulele class with this more challenging course. Learn fun tunes that consist of few chords and simple arrangements. You’ll leave with plenty of songs to share with your family and friends this holiday season.
Heidi Swedberg 10:30 – 11:30 AM Saturday, Dec 16 (1 session) $40
SIGN UP

ARPEGGIO MEDITATIONS FOR UKULELE JUST ADDED

Learn a collection of warm-ups and short songs that help develop your tone and dexterity (and sense of rhythm), all while producing beautiful, meditative music. These arpeggio “loop” exercises can help beginning and advanced players develop more expressive playing. Practicing doesn’t have to be a chore. With these tools, you can relax with your ukulele and get better everyday!
Daniel Ward 12:00 – 1:00 PM Saturdays, Dec 9 – Dec 16 (2 sessions) $70

Second, BOOKS!

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Death by G-String C.C. Harrison, a uke pal from Arizona has published a grand ukulele murder mystery. I LOVED the galleys, you’ll LOVE the book

Arpeggio Meditations for Ukulele  Daniel’s long-awaited book is out and hot. Already entering it’s second printing, the book is a unique take on the ukulele, offering musical studies which are meditative and beautiful while being educational. (Right now he is offering a special holiday offer- FREE shipping when you buy any 2 or more items, including all our CDs, his book, and Color-Along Ukulele)

arpeggio book cover

Color-Along Ukulele Want to learn ukulele? Like to color? Why not do both at the same time! Download the FREE companion recordings so you can listen and learn. Learn your first twelve chords, play great songs- even one in Hawaiian, and do that doodle that you do so well. FUN FOR ALL AGES.

Ukulele Magazine Daniel and I have been enjoying contributing articles and lessons to Uke Mag, and I think you might like to have it delivered to your mailbox! You could get a digital only subscription, but there is something mighty fine about the definite article and with their Holiday Subscription special it is really affordable! (We are giving more than a few of these to those on our list)

Third- INSTRUMENTS!

Mim’s Ukes Her motto is “Every uke deserves a great set-up!” And when you order a uke from Mim, that is just what you will get!

Ordinarily I tell people to go to their local store, but with big chains eating up local merchants there are few cities lucky enough to have an honest music store with high-end and student models and a luthier willing to stake their reputation on the set-up of every model walking out their door.  Many internet retailers know nothing about ukuleles besides their profit margins, and would never take the time to work on the action of an inexpensive instrument, or guide you to what level ax you should buy.

But then there is Mim. She ushers you into her living room, whether you walk in to her shop through the barn door in Meadows of Dan, VA or the World Wide Web. I have never met anyone so passionate and dedicated as Mim. Whether your needs lead you the most or least expensive instrument in her stock, she will be sure you are well-matched, and your instrument is the best it can be.

Terry Merry CU

TERRY HARRIS If you want a hand built instrument, Terry is your man. Now that he has fully retired from ranching, the instruments he is building are more beautiful than ever- and the sound is… wow.  We visited him at his Kernville, CA ranch over Thanksgiving weekend where he strung up his latest build for us to try out. It blew us away! He has a few more wood sets just like this, and if you are fast and smart, one of them could be yours.

Terry Harris uke 2

Cedar top. Indian rosewood sides and back. Koa binding. Pure gold.

 

 

Fourth and finally- SHARING

PICKLEBERRY PIE   This year, Pickleberry Pie, an organization that sponsors concerts for hospitalized children is raising operating funds. Daniel and I have loved going room-to-room at Cedars Sinai’s pediatric ward, visiting kids and their families, making them laugh or sing a baby to sleep.  The calm that music can give, the bond it creates is no small thing.  Help this organization continue it’s meaningful work.

 

 

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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…

Heidi Explodes M

 

 

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.

NEW Workshops at Wine Country

 

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Last year Wine Country Ukulele Festival was a wild and busy experience!  I was filling in for Andy Andrews as MC who was helping his son Eli recover from a terrible car crash. This year we have something to celebrate- their incredible success!  Eli is now back in his life surrounded by love in full bloom, love made stronger and richer by the ordeal and trials it passed through.

Between teaching classes, performing, doing a kid’s show and introducing all the incredible performers I met the lovely folks from UKULELE MAGAZINE who did a short interview with me and took a few pictures.  I was VERY surprised to see my face on the cover of the magazine four months later!  It’s like the cover of the Rolling Stone for uke players!

I am very happy to be returning this year as just a teacher and performer.  Andy’s shoes were a little too big for me, and I am relieved to be handing them back!

I will be teaching a bunch of new workshops and am working on my materials now, with Daniel’s help.  Yes, not only can he play, he can TRANSCRIBE!  Daniel’s got an all new curriculum as well.  I have copied the class descriptions below to give you an idea of what  you can sign up for- and I urge you to do it soon!  Some of the workshops are filling up already.  I must admit that I am particularly excited about the lyrical improv class, “Me and my Big Mouth”!  That one doesn’t even require you to play a uke!

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Learn to Play in a Day

Heidi Swedberg LOVES to teach absolute beginners. The more absolute, the better.  And by the end of one session, she guarantees you will be singing and playing songs on your uke and  laughing a heck of a lot.  While anyone, of any age, is welcome to attend this workshop, we ask that kids under 8 be accompanied by a participating adult.

 

Me and My Big Mouth

There’s a knack to thinking on your feet with your uke in your hand and being the life of the party. And one of the sure fire ways to make sure you, and your uke are invited back, is with this  little repertoire of fun songs  that allow you to make up the lyrics as you go along and throw in a punchline or two. Under the direction (and whacky inspiration) of Heidi Swedberg, who is a master of lyrical improvisation, you will learn how to use a couple of classic tunes to be as bawdy (or not) as you wish. It’s a terrific way to connect with your audience in a timely fashion and bring a smile to more faces than just your own. If you’ve ever seen Heidi in action and wondered “how does she do it?” come to this workshop and find out.

 

If You Had a Hammer

If you had a hammer, you’d probably hammer in the morning…..and all over this land.  But first you’d need to know how to swing it, and that’s what this workshop is all about. Here, Heidi Swedberg will work with you on a couple of popular tunes that you probably already know, but, with the addition of a few simple left-hand techniques, known as  hammers and pull-offs, you will be able to add  “grace” or melody notes  that will add piles of pizzazz to these, otherwise, very simple tunes. Not only that, you’ll come away with some fun songs to practice with, that will  help your left hand move confidently and powerfully across each of the strings and along the entire fretboard.

Freight Train, Freight Train

You, too, will be “going so fast,” once you have learned a few second-position chords and the simple, Travis picking pattern offered in this workshop by Heidi Swedberg. And what better song to practice it on than Elizabeth Cotton’s iconic song, Freight Train, Freight Train, a tune written more than 100 years ago and a great song to have in your quiver.  Plus, once you get this technique down, you’ll realize there are more tunes in your repertoire you can use this classic picking pattern with.  All aboard for the ride of your life!

Heart and Soul

No need to lose control, though, because Heidi Swedberg will guide you every step of the way as you navigate the Circle of Fifths, exploring the lovely chord progression in this great American standard.  And, as a bonus, you’ll learn the bridge!  (Nobody knows the bridge!)  Not only that, this workshop will open up a whole new world of musical insight that will carry over into just about every tune you’ll ever play on your ‘ukulele. Believe me; we all need a little heart and soul.

DANIEL”S WORKSHOPS

The Old Switcheroo

One of the biggest challenges facing any beginning player (and a number of more advanced players, as well) is switching the fingers on your left hand from one chord to another in a seamless and timely fashion. It’s hard!  But, it doesn’t have to be. In this workshop Daniel Ward will show you how to make those changes with little, or no, effort at all through a series of easy exercises and some expert advice that will let you relax and enjoy the music, without any pain or frustration.

Ethno-Ukeology

Take one tune and put it through several different style changes with your right hand and what have you got?  Ethno-ukeolgy.  From the friendly Travis pick to the more complex strums of  Latin America and the Caribbean, Daniel Ward will teach you how to  “cook” on the strings with some tasty spices, including (but not limited to) calypso, salsa, reggae, and country! Slow practice in class will make sure that you get it all under your skin before trying this at home, and handouts will make sure you get it right. Sounds like a hoot and necessary information to have under your belt. Plus you can have a little fun with it.   How about “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” with a calypso beat?

Stormy Weekend Part 1

Actually, the title of the song is “Stormy Monday,” the blues classic that will serve as the foundation for this 2-part workshop by Daniel Ward. Learning to play the blues provides such a solid foundation for any player’s repertoire, that we recommend you take at least one of our blues workshops, even if you don’t take anything else.  In this one, developed for more experienced players, Daniel will cover both familiar and advanced chord shapes in time with the changes, as well as the pentatonic and blues scales in major and minor for soloing.  You can count on some good right hand attention too, exploring the strengths of finger-style, strumming, and using a pick.  By the end of the second workshop you will be “trading chords and solos” as partners and come away with a whole set of new skills to help tackle any blues song on your own. Part 1 is highly recommended if you want to take Part 2.

Stormy Weekend Part 2

This is an extension, primarily for more advanced players of Stormy Weekend, Part 1, focusing on the more advanced chord shapes and right hand technique, including  finger-style, strumming, and using a pick.  The blues classic “Stormy Monday” will serve as the foundation.  By the end of this workshop you will be “trading chords and solos” as partners and come away with a whole set of new skills to help tackle any blues song on your own. To get the most out of this workshop, you should take Stormy Weekend, Part 1.

All of Me!

Why not take all of me?  It’s a wonderful opportunity to explore and learn this iconic tune with Daniel Ward and discover all its lovely jazz changes without getting lost! And, since the tune itself travels through several different keys, you’ll start to get a feel for how the dominant chord can take you places you didn’t know you wanted to go!  And you’ll be learning some basic jazz strumming techniques at the same time. By the end of the session, you’ll not only have a new tune under your belt, you’ll also have a pocketful of tricks to apply to other songs of the genre. Can’t you see?  You’re no good without this.

Do the Fandango!

  1. 1. a lively Spanish dance for two people, typically accompanied by castanets or tambourine, or 2. a foolish or useless act or thing. For our purposes, we’ll go with the first definition, a 12-count rhythm that requires some thumb work and fancy strumming, with temolo,  scales, and rageuados for the right hand, to get that traditional flamenco sound. And who better to give it to you than Daniel Ward, a professional flamenco guitarist for the past 30 years? With a traditional flamenco fandango under your belt, you’ll be set to play on your own for hours and sound simply amazing…not a foolish or useless thing at all. A low G is a plus if you have one, but skills and techniques learned here will work well with re-entrant tuning, as well.

(Heidi and Daniel don’t always refer to themselves in the third person, but when Heidi and Daniel do….  Thanks, Elaine DeMann for writing up such lively course descriptions!  Too good not to steal!)

A ukulele, a glass of wine and thou….

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Fine photos of last year by Craig Chee!

The Wine Country Ukulele Festival is coming up soon, and I want to encourage everyone to consider heading up to St Helena in the Nappa Valley and joining us for a day or two or three or four of fun and learning.  This event has something for all ages and skill levels.  Even if you are not a player, it’s a great time.  And don’t forget the WINE!

 

Thursday, September 4   5:30 – 7:00 pm     Free Concert & Ice Cream Social for the Kiddies, to be held at Umpqua Bank, 1065 Main Street, St. Helena, CA

 

Friday, September 5    

10am – 12pm      FREE music at the Farmer’s market, and a FREE beginner’s workshop.  Make sure to buy some good food to bring to the FREE Ukulele Picnic that evening!

5:30 pm – dusk     Wine Country Ukulele Picnic at Lyman Park

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Saturday, Sept. 6

10am – 5pm  Wine Country Ukulele Festival

Free beginner’s lessons, ukulele give-aways, live music, ‘ukulele marketplace,  instructional workshops, ‘ukulele building demonstrations, jam sessions, open mic, flea market, and more all at the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival at the Upper Valley Campus of the Napa Valley College, in St. Helena.  (Admission $15.  Free for children 12 and under. Extra charge for instructional workshops.)

 

5pm – 8pm   Big Jam Saturday Night

Brand new for this year, the all-festival dinner and jam led by the original jam master, Andy Andrews, held right there at the Upper Valley Campus of the Napa Valley College so you don’t have to budge an inch…not even for dinner because the fabulous taco bar by Azteca will be coming back.  Free with festival admission.  Dinner will be extra. Song books will be posted soon.

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 Sunday, Sept. 7

10am – 5pm Aloha Day Returns!

Join Faith Ako and Steven Espaniola for a kani ka pila (Hawaiian for “let’s make music”), and a day full of Hawaiian music, dance, crafts, and food, in addition to our traditional ‘ukulele workshops (covering topics from all genres), ‘ukulele building demonstrations, ‘ukulele marketplace, open mic, free beginners lessons, ‘ukulele give-aways, and flea market…..all at the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival at the Upper Valley Campus of the Napa Valley College, in St. Helena. (Admission $15. Children 12 and under free. Extra charge for ‘ukulele workshops.)

 

 

 

 

 

Classes at McCabes

 

ukelele lesson by heidi swedberg at McCabe's Guitar Shop, Los Angeles

photo by John Nybor http://estnyboer.com/photos/

I LOVE teaching at this place!  Family classes, private lessons and the Weekend Ukulele Warriors Series are all starting up again on July 12 and I look forward to meeting new students of all ages.  For info on signing up for these classes  and directions check McCabe’s website.

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UKUlear Family is a 4-week class for ALL AGES (Kids under 8 require a participating adult)  I particularly like working with mixed age groups.  There is so much to learn from one another and there are few opportunities for engagement with people outside of one’s age group.  I love the opportunity to be with people learning and growing together.  This class runs 4 consecutive saturdays at 1:30 pm.  We start at the very beginning, learning songs from the start.  This is a great class to get you started on a musical adventure for your entire life, whatever stage of life you are in!

Weekend Ukulele Warriors  So many students from either the One-Day workshop or the UKUlear family wanted to know “What’s next?”.  Daniel and I have been enjoying teaching at ukulele festivals across the country and loved the one-off format of festival classes.  We thought making a weekly series of festival style classes would be the perfect idea!  These Saturday noon workshops include beginner classes and more advanced lessons and are meant as stand-alone workshops.

Next week (July 12) and August 2 I will be teaching the one day beginner class PLAY THE UKULELE IN A DAY for beginners of all ages.

Here’s a rough schedule for the Warriors-

July 12  PLAY THE UKULELE IN A DAY

July 19   THE HAMMER (and how to pull it)  Hammering on and Pulling off for beginners

July 26   NO CLASS!

August 2  PLAY THE UKULELE IN A DAY

August 9  Get your STRUM on  Right hand technique to make your songs sing with DANIEL WARD

August 16 MAJOR TO MINOR Blues both ways with DANIEL WARD

August 23  FREIGHT TRAIN  your express ride to second position chords and travis picking

August 30  FUNK IT UP  Hammers, slides and a white man’s overbite with DANIEL WARD teaches you how to Play That Funky Music