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Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
Ralph Shaw gibt ab jetzt einen wöchentlichen Newsletter heraus, in dem er Gedanken und Ideen mit anderen Ukulelenspielern teilen und Tips geben will:

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The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
August 25 2009
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Dear Raimund,

Welcome to the very first issue of The Ukulele Entertainer! This is an email newsletter created to help ukulele players with both their playing and performance skills. These weekly newsletters are designed to inform, educate and entertain. They will also be short usually taking around 3 minutes or less to read.
You are on my email list and receiving this newsletter because, you are a ukulele player who has contacted me in the past and/or you are someone who has purchased my ukulele teaching dvds and/or you are a personal friend or client or a fan who may be interested in reading what I am up to. If you like it then please consider forwarding it to a friend.
(If you don't wish to receive any more emails you can unsubscribe using the link at the bottom).

Word count this issue: 651 words

Estimated reading time: About 2½ minutes

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UE #1 Start by Making Some Mistakes!
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Do you ever have difficulty in starting something new? Such as writing a letter? That's what I'm going through right now. I trust that in a month or two I will have an easier time writing these newsletters than I am having with this one. What to say? I intend that this be the first of many and therefore I'd like to get off to an auspicious start. I want it to be good. But, then again, perhaps I needn't make such a big deal out of it...

I am reminded of something my friend and ukulele playing colleague (who I will call Andy A.) told me one day.
I was at his home and I commented on his prolific output of oil paintings. They were displayed on his living room wall and mostly showed natural scenes from the area where he lives in California. It turns out that when he took up painting again in middle age his teacher told him to do a painting every day for 100 days.

I was surprised and I asked Andy A. "Why so many?".
The reason, he told me, was to get him to paint as many paintings as possible as fast as possible. It often happens that when we begin a new project we want everything to go just right. Our adult ego can get very attached to whether or not our first baby steps are successful or not. Babies of course do not have this problem. They just keep getting up and falling down until they eventually make it. So to prevent Andy A. fussing and fretting and trying to make his first efforts perfect he was instructed to just get them out of the way so that his baby steps lost their aura of importance.

Its a good lesson for all of us. When I teach my performance workshops to students who have a desire to get on stage I usually tell them about Andy and his 100 paintings. I tell them to get out there and do as many performances as they can and to make mistakes. Picasso said that to be a great artist you have to make at least 20,000 mistakes. So make as many mistakes as you can and make them as fast as possible!
And now look at that. I'm already a good way into this newsletter with not much further to go. Phew what a relief!

So why am I doing this? Well, this newsletter is a coming-together for me of several interests and desires. I love to sing and play the ukulele. I also get a thrill out of performing and entertaining. And I like to teach these skills. More recently I rekindled a love of writing that, except for my songwriting, has more or less been dormant for many years. When the idea of creating a newsletter came I realized it was an opportunity to communicate my ideas of ukulele playing and musical performance that would add to the information I had already put out in my Complete Ukulele Course DVD series.


With these newsletters I will be sharing thoughts and ideas to help ukulele players to play better. And since most musicians also want to perform in one capacity or another I will also be providing tips on improving your chances of success when you get out in front of people. Much of the information will be useful for other musicians and entertainers besides uke players.
As we go along I'll also be writing about the things that interest and inspire me to become an ever better ukulele entertainer. Exactly where this road will lead I'm not exactly sure. Right now though I invite you to come along on this journey with me and when I've written 100 newsletters and/or made 20,000 mistakes we should have a better idea of where we are headed!


EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Want to be a better ukulele player? The use of teaching DVDs is the best way to learn outside of having an actual teacher right there with you. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and you can pause and rewind as often as you wish. Learn more about my ukulele dvds

If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

I wish to publicly thank my friend Daphne Gray-Grant The Publication Coach for her invaluable help and inspiration in getting this newsletter project up and rolling. Any similarities in our newsletter presentation are purely my tribute to the quality of her work.

Got ideas for future newsletters? Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address: Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe: Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.

© Ralph Shaw 2009





You can Contact me by...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email:bowlerhat@shaw.ca
phone: 604 689 2937 (Intl +1)
on the web:http://www.ralphshaw.ca/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Ralph Shaw Entertainment | 105-1035 Pacific St. | Vancouver | BC | V6E4G7 | Canada
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
September 1 2009
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,

One of the simplest ways to add interest and musicianship to your playing is to pay attention to the loudness and softness of your sound. Todays newsletter demonstrates the importance of volume variation and offers suggestions on how to achieve this.
You're receiving this newsletter because you subscribed. If you like it then please consider forwarding it to a friend. (to unsubscribe simply use the link at the bottom).

Word count this issue: 791 words

Estimated reading time: About 3½ minutes

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UE #2 Make your Ukulele Into a Piano-Forte!

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One of the easiest but most neglected ways to make your playing interesting is through the use of dynamics. In music the word dynamics simply means, The variation in the volume of a musical sound.

Pianoforte is the original name of the instrument we now call a piano. The word 'Piano' means soft and 'Forte' means loud. Before the pianoforte came along keyboard instruments such as harpsichords only played at one volume. The new technology enabled the player to make their music louder and softer by pressing the keys with more or less force. The enormous increase in expressive range that this led to was considered of such importance that they named the instrument after it. Think about that!

Even if you are a complete beginner with only 2 chords under your belt you can already start making your ukulele playing much more expressive by varying the volume. Changing the volume of your music is easy to do, very effective and is not used nearly enough by many players. Listen to some of your favorite music (it doesn't have to have a ukulele in it) and pay special attention to how the volume and energy rises and falls.

In my mind's eye I can picture the swells and the drop-offs in volume as being like a series of hills and valleys. For many pieces of music you find that the ups and downs are small to medium but they rise to a crescendo somewhere near the end. Play a song that you know well and keep your mind on where volume changes can help with the expression of that song.

When I first started playing I had an inexpensive Japanese made wooden ukulele. And boy would I try and get some volume out of that little wooden box! The reason is that the only ukulele player I knew of in those days was George Formby the British star of the '30s and '40s. He played a banjo-ukulele and to me his playing sounded thrillingly loud and percussive. I wanted my ukulele to sound like that and I was surprisingly successful at getting every ounce of volume out of my small wooden instrument.

How did I achieve this amazing feat? Well here is my secret: You can play louder by hitting the strings harder. Ok I know its not much of a secret but hey work on it anyway! Get your wrist nice and relaxed and see how loud you can go. The movement can feel almost whip-like as your finger hits the string. Which brings up a point. Playing loud may be a little hard on the finger so here's a tip (a finger-tip?!!). Try using several fingers to strum down on the strings together. Or you may want to use a pick. The one I use is made by Jim Dunlop (USA nylon .60mm) and I keep it close by, right on the headstock of my uke, so I can quickly grab it for those moments where I want some extra oomf!

Playing quietly is as important as playing loudly. How soft can you go? This is where the sensitive and fleshy thumb can make your instrument whisper as delicately as the evening breeze in the leaves of a tree. How sweet it is ...hmmm!
When I finally did get a bona-fide banjo-ukulele I had to learn to play it very quietly indeed. If you have 30 wooden ukuleles playing together and only one banjo-uke it will be the banjo-uke that sticks out like a hippopotamus at a wedding. In order to make my instrument blend in as much as possible in these group situations I always aim to be as 'piano' with my playing as I can be.

And think about dynamics before you begin to play a song. If you start too loud you have nowhere to go but softer. A softer beginning will make your later crescendo so much more effective.

One last, kind of related, thing. It was comedian George Carlin who made me aware of the incorrect use of forte in every day language.
People often say "That's not really my forte." (Pronounced fortay with two syllables) As in: "Mathematics is not my forte".
They mean that math is not one of their strengths and they are showing off their knowledge of foreign languages by inserting some French into the conversation. However if they were speaking French they would pronounce it with one syllable like the English word 'Fort'.
What they are actually doing is introducing the Italian term of forte which means loud. So when they say, "Mathematics is not my forte" (with 2 syllables) they are actually stating that they are not very loud at Math.
Oh well that's probably a good thing too.



EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Want to be a better ukulele player? My DVD series: The Complete Ukulele Course will give you lots of new ideas to try. The use of teaching DVDs is the best way to learn outside of having an actual teacher right there with you. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and you can pause and rewind as often as you wish.

If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

I wish to publicly thank my friend Daphne Gray-Grant The Publication Coach for her invaluable help and inspiration in getting this newsletter project up and rolling. Any similarities in our newsletter presentation are purely my tribute to the quality of her work.

Got ideas for future newsletters? Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address: Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe: Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.

© Ralph Shaw 2009





You can Contact me by...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email:bowlerhat@shaw.ca
phone: 604 689 2937 (Intl +1)
on the web:http://www.ralphshaw.ca/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mitglied
Registriert: Mai 2009
Beiträge: 2762
Ort: Ottawa, Keiner da
Danke.

Ich habe es abonniert!

Spottdrossel von Rabenschloss
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_s_p_o_t_t_d_r_o_s_s_e_l______
Moderator
Registriert: Sep 2008
Beiträge: 11049
Ort: nebenan
Spottdrossel schrieb
Danke.

Ich habe es abonniert!


Danke, ich auch... :D
_______________
Mitglied
Registriert: Mai 2009
Beiträge: 2762
Ort: Ottawa, Keiner da
Endlich habe ich etwas sehr einfach zu lesen auf dieser Seite!!! :P hehe

Aber er schreibt soviel wie ein Oper von Wagner! hehehe

Spottdrossel von Rabenschloss
_______________
 
_s_p_o_t_t_d_r_o_s_s_e_l______
« Das letzte Mal editiert von Spottdrossel am Di, Sep 01, 2009 10:23 pm. »
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
September 8 2009
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,

The Soprano Ukulele is one of the only instruments that has more than one standard tuning. Weird eh?! Todays newsletter offers some suggestions on which tuning to choose as well as not offering advice about how to play in a hammock.
You're receiving this newsletter because you subscribed. If you like it then please consider forwarding it to a friend. (to unsubscribe simply use the link at the bottom).

Word count this issue: 823 words

Estimated reading time: About 3½ minutes

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UE #3 How to Tune Your Hammock

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Having spent the last 2 days lounging in tree dappled shade this week's newsletter was going to be about a very neglected subject: How to Play Ukulele While in a Hammock.

Just some of the awkward and irksome questions involved in hammock playing include: What kind of ukulele is best? Are banjo-ukuleles too heavy? Is the baritone ukulele too large? Where do I put my tuner?

And: Some hammocks suspend from a single point and have a tendency to spin around making it almost impossible to reach my beverage - if indeed I haven't already kicked it over. Hammocks that suspend from 2 points tend to squash my arms to the side of my body. This can lead to debilitating friction burns on the elbows.

Obviously the scope and magnitude of these issues would be better dealt with as a bound textbook rather than the economical newsletter format.

Instead I am going to talk about the question which causes more anxiety for beginner players than any other:
Which tuning should I use for my soprano ukulele?

Sounds simple, yes? Actually No. Here is why. Most instruments have one standard tuning that has long been agreed on. Example: Guitars are tuned EADGBE, mandolins (and violins) are tuned GDAE.

I find it somewhat bizarre that the soprano ukulele actually has 2 standard tunings. The Hawaiians and most of the world use GCEA tuning. This is often known as C tuning because it is really easy to make a C chord by playing the 1st string at the 3rd fret. The other and less popular D tuning has each string tuned a full tone higher: ADF#B.

D tuning was favored in the vaudeville era (1920s and 30s). The tighter strings packed more punch and power and were easier to hear in the unamplified theatres. This tuning was also adopted as the default tuning by the George Formby Society in the U.K. Interesting that George Formby didn't even know what tuning he was in. His ukes had bits of paper with them to remind which were his 'high' and 'low' ukes! Canadian Schools use ADF#B for teaching ukulele to kids. The schools also use a low 4th string making it implicit that ukulele is taught more for melody playing or as a stepping stone to the guitar. More on the low 4th string some other time...

Why 2 tunings? I'm not really sure. The ancient ukulele instructional I had when first learning gave chord charts for both tunings but no help around which one to pick. I chose C tuning because I already played harmonica and recorder both of which also happened to be in C. Otherwise my choice was arbitrary.

I use GCEA for all my soprano, concert and tenor size ukes. I do this is because like an old dog I find it difficult to learn the trick of thinking in a new tuning. I know where all my chords are and I know their names. To start learning new chord names for familiar chord shapes would be like trying to learn a new language later in life. Possible but somewhat formidable.

Which is the better tuning? The vaudevillians definitely had the right idea. The extra tension on the instrument by having the strings slightly tighter in D tuning seems to work better for most soprano ukuleles that I have tried.

So why doesn't everyone use D tuning? The answer is I don't know. Does anyone still remember the 2 formats of video tapes -VHS and Betamax? Betamax was considered by most to be the superior system yet VHS was the one that most of the world used. Similarly Mac computers are generally thought to be better yet PCs outsell them by about 40 to 1.

Generally speaking whatever tuning you use doesn't matter as long as you know your chords. For example a G chord is always a G. The fingerings are different for C and D tuned ukes but if your music says to play a G chord and you are playing a G chord then it will sound right. This may seem patently obvious to many of you but you'd be surprised how confused people can get.

Ukulele playalongs can be challenging if the songs are mostly in the keys of C and F. These are simple keys to play in on a C uke but more demanding on a D uke.

Importantly it must be remembered that most available learning materials, including my own DVDs, use the more universal C tuning. So I would recommend GCEA for most people who are starting out. There is nothing to stop you later on from switching to D tuning or even to try slack key ukulele where you essentially get to invent your own tunings!

This will have to be enough for now. I see a guy walking towards me very briskly. He seems somewhat annoyed that I am in his hammock again...gotta go!!





XTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Want to be a better ukulele player? My DVD series: The Complete Ukulele Course will give you lots of new ideas to try. The use of teaching DVDs is the best way to learn outside of having an actual teacher right there with you. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and you can pause and rewind as often as you wish.

If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

Upcoming October Tour: I'll be in California (St. Helena's Wine Country Uke Fest & Santa Cruz), Oregon (Eugene Uke-toberfest) and Eastern Canada (Moncton and Nova Scotia's Ukulele Ceilidh).
Details at: Tour Dates

If you are on Facebook you can join the Ralph Shaw Fan Club

Got ideas for future newsletters? Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address: Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe: Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.


To subscribe: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also see the Archive of previous newsletters.

© Ralph Shaw 2009
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
September 15 2009
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,

Ever wondered what to do with that broken old ukulele? Here is a wonderful idea to turn your unplayable instrument into a delicious* fall beverage. You're receiving this newsletter because you subscribed. If you like it then please consider forwarding it to a friend. (to unsubscribe simply use the link at the bottom).

Word count this issue: 674 words

Estimated reading time: About 3 minutes

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UE #4 Turn Your Plink into Plonk - Ukulele Wine!

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Sometimes bad things happen to good ukuleles. Irrepairable accidents are, fortunately, not common but always heartbreaking when they do occur.

This summer a friend of mine was playing ukulele at a beach campfire singalong. Everyone sat on logs. Taking a break from playing he carefully laid his uke behind the log on which he was sitting. When someone piled more wood on the fire everyone got too hot and the log was rolled back...Crunch!!!

Now you might think that was the end of his ukulele - but no. I have been able to supply him with this recipe for delicious** Ukulele Wine.

This Recipe makes 1 Imperial Gallon of Ukulele Wine

You will need:

1 ukulele (crushed)
1 gallon of boiling water
6 cups of sugar (organic raw sugar eg. Sucanat will add more flavor and body than ordinary white sugar)
1 cup of prunes
1 Campden Tablet (crushed) Optional - this is a preservative but is also what puts sulphites in your wine. If you're not using this do make sure everything is scrupulously sanitized.
1¼ tsp Wine Yeast.


Remove strings and all plastic and metal parts; tuners, frets, plastic nut/bridge etc. from your ukulele. Rinse the ukulele well and crush as finely as possible. Remember, the smaller you make the pieces of your ukulele the more flavor it will impart.

In a large food grade bucket combine the crushed ukulele fragments and boiling water. Cover with porous lid and soak for 24 hours. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth (or clean pantyhose will do for this) into a large cooking pot. Bring to boil and remove from heat.

Return the heated liquid to the fermenting bucket (this is called your primary) and stir in all other ingredients EXCEPT the yeast.

Allow to cool until lukewarm then sprinkle wine yeast on top or prepare yeast as per instructions on the package. Cover fermenter with a porous cover to protect from fruit flies and to allow carbon dioxide to escape. You can use the other, left-over leg of your panty hose for this.

Allow to ferment for at least 14 days. Stir daily making sure to always sanitize your spoon.

Siphon wine off the sediment into a glass secondary. Attach airlock. When fermentation is complete (Specific Gravity = 1.000 about 3 weeks. Use a hydrometer to measure this) siphon off sediment into a clean secondary. Top up with cooled pre-boiled water. Attach airlock. Siphon off sediment again in 2 months to aid clearing and top up with cooled pre-boiled water again if necessary. Let stand until clear.

At long last, after the 6 to 12 month clearing period, you get to bottle your wine. To do so sterilize all your bottles and tools. Siphon wine into bottles allowing about an inch of air space between the surface of your wine and the bottom of a fully inserted cork.

Store the filled bottles on their sides to keep corks moist, ideally in a cool dark place. That's it - you've just crafted your first gallon of delicious*** Ukulele Wine! (aka. Plink Plonk)


* ukulele wine probably should not be consumed internally. Non organic glues and varnishes may be enough to render this drink poisonous and yukky. Keep this in mind for the future. Next time you buy a ukulele do insist that it be made from all organic edible materials. I'm sure most ukulele builders will be more than happy to help you with your request.

** like I said before. You probably shouldn't drink this stuff. I won't take any responsibility for the after effects .

*** again. This stuff could be toxic and you may be better off using it for putting a deep and lustrous shine on your wooden furniture and antique leather items****

****Please note that ukulele wine may be damaging to products made of wood and/or leather.

PS. If anybody actually goes ahead and makes this please let me know how it turns out.

Next Week: I'll tell you how to deep-fry your old ukulele strings to make a delicious and Ocean-Wise alternative to Kalamari.

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Are you whining about wanting to be a better ukulele player?! My DVD series: The Complete Ukulele Course will give you lots of new ideas to try. The use of teaching DVDs is the best way to learn outside of having an actual teacher right there with you. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and you can pause and rewind as often as you wish.

If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

Upcoming October Tour: I'll be in California (St. Helena's Wine Country Uke Fest & Santa Cruz), Oregon (Eugene Uke-toberfest) and Eastern Canada (Moncton and Nova Scotia's Ukulele Ceilidh).
Details at: Tour Dates

If you are on Facebook you can join the Ralph Shaw Fan Club

Got ideas for future newsletters? Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address: Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe: Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.


To subscribe: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also see the Archive of previous newsletters.

© Ralph Shaw 2009





You can Contact me by...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email:bowlerhat@shaw.ca
phone: 604 689 2937 (Intl +1)
on the web:http://www.ralphshaw.ca/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
September 22 2009
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,

What makes a good ukulele? Or a bad one for that matter? This week we are looking at how poetry can give us the main things to look for when deciding on that all important ukulele purchase!
You're receiving this newsletter because you subscribed. If you like it then please consider forwarding it to a friend. (to unsubscribe simply use the link at the bottom).

Word count this issue: 840 words

Estimated reading time: About 3½ minutes

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UE #5 How John Keats Would Choose A Ukulele

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It is wonderful news, for ukulele players everywhere, that the choice of ukuleles has increased exponentially in the last 10 years or so. Large music companies and private luthiers are all busy making playable ukuleles in every price range. It's great to have this choice but the variety can also be daunting to the musical beginner.

The amount you spend on a ukulele is not necessarily an accurate guide to instrument quality but it's a good place to start. Decide on the maximum you are able to spend and that way you eliminate the more expensive models.

How do we decide what qualities to look for in a ukulele? As with many of life's important questions the answer can be found in the classics.

In 1819 when the poet John Keats penned his Ode On a Grecian Urn he may just as well have been writing about a ukulele. In fact I am certain that, if ukuleles had been around in his day, this would have been the subject of his poem instead of a dusty old jug.


They both start with 'u'.

In many ways the urn and ukulele are quite similar. Both are functional yet beautiful, they both make a noise when you hit them and they each have a hole in the top into which Retsina and other liquids may be poured. This latter use however is not recommended for most ukuleles.

Ultimately the main qualities you need to look for in either object can be put under 2 main headings. They are Truth and Beauty.
In his Ode On a Grecian Urn Keats suggests these qualities amount to the same thing but we won't get too deep into philosophy today!

1) Truth
Find out if the ukulele is true by checking it for solid construction and good intonation.

What does solid construction mean?
The ukulele should be solid enough to still be in tune after being played for a few minutes or more.
If strings keep going out of tune the most usual culprits are dinky tuning pegs. They either don't hold the string firm or they move with the smallest touch. Sometimes they can be tightened with a small screwdriver and then they work fine but sometimes not so check that. (I will also add that with a new ukulele there may be some loss of tuning due to the stretching of the new nylon strings. It can take 2 days for strings to fully settle).

Although small and light a good ukulele should also be durable. Check for the quality of workmanship. You don't have to be an expert luthier to cast a critical eye over the instrument. If you saw a poorly made coffee table with gaps in the joins and rough unfinished edges you'd probably notice that. Look for similar faults in the ukulele.

If you have ever held a wooden model aeroplane in your hands you may have noticed that it has qualities of both strength and incredible lightness. A good ukulele should have a similar feel.

What is good intonation?
When a ukulele has been accurately put together the frets, nut and bridge should all be mathematically placed in their correct locations.
If they are not placed correctly what happens is this: You get a string in tune but when you put your finger on a string it then sounds out of tune. Poor intonation is when the strings that have fingers on them are out of tune with those being played open. This can be expensive to fix so I would say that if you suspect a ukulele has poor intonation don't buy it!

2) Beauty
To make beautiful music it is important that our instrument have a beautiful sound. (It also doesn't hurt if it looks nice).

Ukuleles have a reputation for being 'plinky'. What is 'plinky'? In scientific terms some ukuleles sound plinky because they only produce a narrow range of frequencies. (When you adjust the bass and treble on your sound system you are adjusting the low and high frequencies). In a poorly made uke the strings vibrate but the vibration is not supported by the body of the uke and so the sound dies off very quickly. A better ukulele will vibrate longer and more richly thereby creating resonance.

To quickly describe resonance I would ask you to think of a mighty organ note being played in an old European cathedral. Every bit of sound bounces off every wall to every other wall. When the organ stops playing the sound continues for several seconds more as the sound waves, settled in their harmonious rhythms, dance back and forth. That is resonance and your ukulele is your cathedral.

Listen to some different ukuleles and decide what sound you like before you buy one. Beauty is in the shell-like ear of the beholder and what sounds good to one may not always sound good to an other.
Generally, I would say that the more resonant your instrument, the more satisfying it will be for you to play.





"Beauty is truth, truth beauty," - that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
John Keats May 1819


XTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Make beautiful music and sing your own truth!
The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series will give you lots of new ideas to help you learn. The use of teaching DVDs is the best way to learn outside of having an actual teacher right there with you. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and you can pause and rewind as often as you wish.

If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

Upcoming October Tour: I'll be in California (St. Helena's Wine Country Uke Fest & Santa Cruz), Oregon (Eugene Uke-toberfest) and Eastern Canada (Moncton and Nova Scotia's Ukulele Ceilidh).
Details at: Tour Dates

If you are on Facebook you can join the Ralph Shaw Fan Club

Got ideas for future newsletters? Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

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To subscribe: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also see the Archive of previous newsletters.

© Ralph Shaw 2009





You can Contact me by...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email:bowlerhat@shaw.ca
phone: 604 689 2937 (Intl +1)
on the web:http://www.ralphshaw.ca/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
Dear Raimund,


Why do some banjo ukuleles have great tone and others not? This week's newsletter takes a look at this intriguing question! Also we'll have a couple of references to songs by the great banjo-ukuleleist George Formby.
You're receiving this newsletter because you subscribed. If you like it then please consider forwarding it to a friend. (to unsubscribe simply use the link at the bottom).

Word count this issue: 742 words

Estimated reading time: About 3 minutes

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UE #6 Hey! This Drum has a Handle.

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In last week's issue I gave some pointers to help the new ukulele buyer in choosing a ukulele. I compared the qualities of a good ukulele as being similar to those of the Grecian urn mentioned in John Keats' famous poem. I call this method of choosing a ukulele: 'Play as you urn'. Ha Ha, thank you folks.

The type of ukulele mentioned was the wooden ukulele, the kind which looks like a miniature guitar. But what of the banjo ukulele? Are the qualities to look for the same?

There are actually some interesting differences. For example: Having exact intonation is paramount with a wooden uke but not as much of an issue with the ukulele banjo. This is because the bridge is moveable so the intonation can be more easily adjusted.

But before going further let's take a look at the history of the banjo.

The earliest banjo-like instruments originated in Africa. It was there, probably on the banks of the Limpopo river, where a bored drummer sat outside his hut wishing he could figure out a way to play The Chinese Laundry Blues on his drum. (That and other songs from the George Formby oeuvre).

The solution he came up with was to attach a piece of string (which in those days was probably animal gut or an early form of nylon) across the top surface of the drum. This was extended out to the side using a stick which now made his drum appear to have a handle, like a frying pan. A smaller stick was added as a bridge under the string to transfer the vibration of the plucked string to the surface of the drum.

The sound that this combination produced pleased our Limpopo tribesman so much that he soon added a couple more strings to his creation. Pretty soon he was grinning, winking and bashing out Leaning on a Lampost to his heart's content!

It is important to remember that the banjo is closely related to the drum. I discovered this for myself when I first became interested in wanting to play the banjo-ukulele. I bought several banjo-ukes. All of them were fairly inexpensive and they all turned out to be not very good. I could never quite figure out what was wrong with them. They stayed in tune and were playable but none had that glorious sound that I heard in the old 1930s recordings.

It was when I was asked by the Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum to perform a set of George Formby songs for his induction into the Ukulele Hall of Fame that I made the decision to finally purchase a reliably decent instrument. I ended up buying a 1926 Gibson UB2 from a store in the USA. The store owner strummed it over the phone and I had a good feeling about it so I bought it.

I was not wrong. My Gibson ukulele-banjo sounded fantastic. But I couldn't help wondering why? It seemed to me that all the sound comes from the vibration of the surface of the skin. So why would one banjo-uke exhibit great tonal quality and another sound really poor?
The answer came when I visited a drum store and asked,
"What makes one drum sound better than another?"
Their answer was immediate, "It's the pot", they said.

For a moment, and you must understand I was in Canada's foremost hippy region at the time, I thought they meant that smoking certain plants would improve the sound. But that is not what they meant at all. The 'pot' is the body of the drum. Or in a banjo it is the heavy ring of wood across which the vellum (or skin) is stretched.

It is no accident that some of the finest banjo-ukes of the 1920s were made by the Ludwig drum company. They knew the characteristics that make a drum sound good and transferred this knowledge to their ukuleles.

I mention all this because it is of great importance that a banjo ukulele have a good tone. These instruments have a sound that can really carry so try and make it a nice sound if you can!

If anyone is interested in buying one of my own 'unique sounding' banjo-ukuleles then please get in touch. Oh, and by the way, just to sweeten the deal I can also throw in a bridge over the Limpopo River!
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
October 6 2009
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Dear Raimund,


How punctual are you? Punctuality can mean different things to different people. This weeks newsletter explores the idea of being on time and what it means to your playing.You're receiving this newsletter because you subscribed. If you like it then please consider forwarding it to a friend. (to unsubscribe simply use the link at the bottom).

Word count this issue: 702 words

Estimated reading time: About 3 minutes

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UE #7 The Importance of Being on Time.

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More than one uptight, city dwelling ukulele player has been frustrated on their first visit to an island music jam. They get to the jam session right at the arranged time only to discover they are the only one there.

Everyone else saunters in over the next hour or so without apology. Some laugh at the punctuality of the visitor and tell her, "You'll learn that we are all on island time here".

Living on 'island time' is the same as saying that it's better to be late than stressed. It's a wonderful way to live. Providing of course that everyone else is in mutual agreement that island time is what we are all setting our clocks by.

I have to confess however that my tendency is more towards the uptight punctuality of the city slicker but not because I grew up in a city.

It was at home in the Yorkshire village of Millhouse Green where I sat one wintry afternoon and watched the 1956 movie Around the World in 80 Dayswith my grandma. For the first time I learned that fanatical punctuality can be fun!

It's a long film and I remember very little about it except for the ending. This is when the obsessively punctual Phileas Fogg is back home in London sadly getting over the fact that he has lost his bet. After 81 days of travelling he has lost the wager that he can circumnavigate the globe in 80 days. That is until his valet comes running in with a newspaper showing him the date and they realize that in crossing the international date line they are now a day early and still have a chance of winning the bet.

There ensues a hectic race across London where Phileas Fogg arrives elegantly in the appointed room just as the minute hand reaches the top of the hour. The icing on the cake for me was to watch the fellow who he had made the bet with. He sat in his leather armchair refusing to celebrate his victory until the last minute was passed. Saying something like; 'that Phileas Fogg is the most confoundedly punctual man I have ever met'. And so it turned out.

As much as I try, and occasionally succeed, to live on island time I have to confess I still get a certain kick out of arriving to an appointment at exactly the scheduled time.

Now you are probably wondering what this has to do with playing the ukulele. Well I'll tell you. Live by island time if you wish and if you can. You will be less stressed and mostly happier if you can go according to your inner body clock rather than by the strict regime of the relentlessly predictable tick of the timepiece.

But...playing the ukulele is a different story. Your strums need to be on time. Right on time. Not early, not late. There are no excuses. If every strum is slightly ahead of schedule then you will find your playing getting faster throughout the piece. If you are sometimes early and sometimes late then your audience will begin to twitch and jerk as their foot tapping tries to keep in sync with your erratic time keeping. They don't like that.

You see it turns out that, unless we pay very close attention to it, our inner body clock can be pretty unreliable when it comes to keeping exact time. It is possible but it takes work.

The key, is to listen to yourself. Practice playing along with a metronome or a drum machine. You will find that as your mind wanders then so does your rhythm. You discover that you have to keep concentrating on the beat and constantly listening to and adjusting your strum. This is not easy, especially when we have other distractions such as lyrics to remember or an audience that is staring at us.

To sum up: Live your life on island time by all means but when you play your ukulele be as punctual as the obsessive Phileas Fogg. Strive to make every note, every strum, every beat arrive right on time. Neither early nor late but always right on the money!



EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Hey Why not jam with me! My DVD: Ukulele Play Along is a great tool for learning to play on time. The chords are shown on the screen and you get to play right along with me. The use of teaching DVDs is the best way to learn by yourself. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and you can pause and rewind as often as you wish.

If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

October Tour: I'll be in California (St. Helena's Wine Country Uke Fest & Santa Cruz), Oregon (Eugene Uke-toberfest) and Eastern Canada (Moncton and Nova Scotia's Ukulele Ceilidh).
Details at: Tour Dates

If you are on Facebook you can join the Ralph Shaw Fan Club

Got ideas for future newsletters? Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address: Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe: Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.


To subscribe: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also see the Archive of previous newsletters.

© Ralph Shaw 2009





You can Contact me by...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email:bowlerhat@shaw.ca
phone: 604 689 2937 (Intl +1)
on the web: www.RalphShaw.ca

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Obermitglied
Registriert: Apr 2007
Beiträge: 474
Ort: Linz,Österreich
Ich habe eben Übersetzungsdienst ausprobiert und mich eine halbe Stunde köstlich amüsiert !

Allerdings habe nicht alles verstanden. :(
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
October 20 2009
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Dear Raimund,


We all want to be able sing in tune without going flat or discordant. Today we look at what it means to sing on pitch and how we can prevent going out of tune. You're receiving this newsletter because you subscribed. If you like it then please consider forwarding it to a friend. (to unsubscribe simply use the link at the bottom).

Word count this issue: 814 words

Estimated reading time: About 3½ minutes

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UE #9 Sing On Pitch 1: - Why Bother?

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Those of us who have been in an audience while the singer on stage belts out a series of notes, all of them slightly flat, know the uncomfortable squirmy feeling that it gives us. Just to be clear, for those of you who aren't sure, 'uncomfortable' and 'squirmy' are probably not the feelings that the singer is hoping to arouse in us.

When you stand before an audience with a ukulele and begin to sing you do your utmost to make it a positive experience for all. Depending on the song the experience for the audience can include; Joyful abandon, peaceful nostalgia, heartbreaking sadness, sensuality, laughter and the list goes on.

A good song sung with care and commitment will carry the audience along. It's a form of story telling. And what can really mess it up are distractions. Distractions can include; a smoke alarm going off during the chorus, a dog suddenly biting someone in the front row or the president arriving unexpectedly to listen to you sing.

All these things we have no control over but we must do everything we can to not provide our own distractions.

Singing in tune is not really noticed. It is generally taken for granted that a singer will be in tune. Singing out of tune however is one of the biggest distractions of all. Sing out of tune and most of your audience won't be aware of anything else you do. They'll be too busy squirming in their seats thinking thoughts like, "This person sounds awful, why do they do it? Why am I listening to it?! Is that Mr Obama sitting in row 6?"

Having established that singing out of tune is not good. What can we do about it? Here are some ideas:


Know your song. Be sure of the melody. If you're not certain of how much the notes go up and down in pitch then how can you go up and down by the correct amounts?


Sing with confidence. This sounds easy but only for a lucky few can confidence be turned on like a switch. Usually it builds as you become more certain of your own ability. Knowing that you know your material and can present it to a level that satisfies you will develop your confidence. Playing for others and discovering that you may actually have some talent will build confidence too.

Listen to yourself. There is a lot going on when you sing. You have your strumming to think about, you have words to remember and chords to get right. Your mind is constantly switching around attending to these matters. Don't assume that your voice can be let loose to do its own thing. Keep listening to it. One idea is to record yourself singing a song and then go back and listen to find the points where you go out of tune. Then you know to always switch on your listening ear at those points.


Always have enough vocal support. Usually when people sing out of tune they sing flat. This is because their vocal technique is not providing enough support and energy to lift the note up to the exact place where it should be. I think of my vocal sound as being like a stream of water coming from a hose. If the pressure to the hose gets turned down then the stream of water just drops off. So keep the pressure constant by having a well supported vocal mechanism.


Make sure you are in the right vocal range for your voice. Example: If you are a male with a deep voice and you are trying to sing higher than is comfortable for you this can cause errors in pitch. You'll have similar difficulty if you have a high voice and are trying to sing too low.

Singing well is not an easy skill. There are many factors to be developed. It's a skill that involves being in control and letting go at the same time. You won't always be in pitch but you can work at it so that the times you go out of tune will be both fewer and farther apart.

It really is worth it to work on this stuff. Most of us like the ukulele because it is portable but nothing is as easy to carry and as rich and sweet sounding as a beautiful voice.

Despite in my youth having been told otherwise, I have learned to love and appreciate my own voice. It is because of the vocal challenges that I have peronally overcome that I believe there are a great many singers out there who don't allow their potential to flower.

Next week we'll talk some more on this subject in a newsletter entitled either: 'How to Polish a Tin Ear.' Or: 'Where to Look When the President Sits in the Aisle Seat of Row
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
October 27 2009
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Dear Raimund,


Sometimes you'll hear singers talk about being 'pitch perfect' or of having 'perfect pitch'. Most ukulele players just want to sing in tune and todays newsletter suggests some ideas to help improve this important skill.You're receiving this newsletter because you subscribed. If you like it then please consider forwarding it to a friend. (to unsubscribe simply use the link at the bottom).

Word count this issue: 833 words

Estimated reading time: About 3½ minutes

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UE#10 Sing On Pitch 2: A Bucket to Carry Your Tune In

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So, what is perfect pitch?
One version says that a perfect pitch is when you throw the violin into the garbage dumpster and it hits the guitar!

Does that joke work? It was originally told to me as a ukulele being thrown and hitting a banjo. I never found it very funny so I'm trying to improve it. OK never mind - On with the newsletter!!!

Let's sort out some terminology first. Perfect Pitch is the ability to recognize a musical note in the same way that most people can recognize colour. We are taught as children to know what the colour blue looks like. We are not born with this knowledge. It is said that if we were taught as children to recognize what a D note sounds like we'd all be able to do that too. Unfortunately so few people can do this that most of us think of it as an almost mystical skill. Supposedly it can be learned. I haven't learned it yet but maybe one day...

This newsletter is not about perfect pitch. Rather it is about being able to sing as perfectly on pitch as possible.

Some people claim to be, "tone deaf" They say things like, "I have a tin ear" or "I can't carry a tune in a bucket". They claim that they don't know how to sing in tune. This is odd because they sure do talk in tune. They express themselves eloquently and in tonally rich voices!

Listen to speech. The spoken language is full of lowering and rising inflections. To make a story interesting it is vital that the tones of our speech go up and down by specific amounts. It is rare to hear a voice that just goes on and on in a flat monotone. Only rarely do we hear someone who speaks like that. People who do usually have to resort to becoming spouses or university lecturers (Ha Ha!).

Therefore I always tell these people: If you can talk without being in a flat monotone then you have within you the potential to sing. This is important. The earliest feedback that most of us receive about our singing comes from our families. As toddlers we get applause for any inane sound that comes out of our mouths but when we get older the reverse happens.

Somewhere in our childhood it only needs one person to tell us that we don't have what it takes as a singer to make us give up on the idea for years or sometimes forever. This is very sad. I remember when it happened to me. A boy on the school bus told me, "You can try and sing Ralph but you'll never sound nice because you don't have a naturally good voice."
The last I heard he is writing for a major British newspaper and I hope that his editorials have improved since his school bus days.

I got back into singing again when I took up hiking on the moors near my home. My friends and I would trudge across the wind-blown peat bogs singing loudly any song that came into our heads. This was the beginning of freeing up my voice. After that came years of refinement.

There are many parts that make up a singing voice. It needs all these parts (diaphragm, throat, lips etc.) to all work together to make your sound as pleasing as it can be. By improving your vocal quality and support you'll find that your sense of pitch also improves.

Here are some ideas to help improve your singing:

Sing a lot. If you don't live near the Yorkshire moors then sing while cycling. It's a great way to sing outdoors and helps with fitness and breath control!

Take some voice lessons. Find a good teacher who can show you how to sing with support and accuracy.

Join a choir. This is a great way to receive inexpensive vocal practice and training.
Always keep an active listening ear while you sing with other people. Notice when you or someone else goes out of tune.

Test yourself. Every time you pick up your uke play a single note. Try and sing that note right back. Then try the same with a series of notes listening carefully to make sure that every interval between notes is just right. There is a tendency when going up the scale that your intervals will be too small and too large when going down the scale.

Practice singing a song all the way through without playing your ukulele. See if you can end in the same or close to the same key. This is a good way to test your sense of pitch but it also helps your self confidence. Why? Because you'll know that should you forget the chords to a song you can keep singing and come right back in once you remember the chords again!

You will get better at this trust me. You may not become a Luciano Pavarotti or a Willie Nelson but I believe you will become a better sounding you!



EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Want to make your ukulele playing more exciting? The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series will help you to play and perform better. The use of teaching DVDs is the best way to learn by yourself. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and you can pause and rewind as often as you wish.

If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

October Tour: Details at: Tour Dates

If you are on Facebook you can join the Ralph Shaw Fan Club

Got ideas for future newsletters? Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address: Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe: Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.


To subscribe: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also see the Archive of previous newsletters.

© Ralph Shaw 2009
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
November 3 2009
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Dear Raimund,


Home again. Back from my October tour of California and Eastern Canada I remember the enjoyable and rewarding time I had. Yet when I think about the weeks before I set off on my travels there were times when I felt I would sooner remain here amongst the familiar and the comfortable. Here are some musings on the theme of taking a chance on life and coming home again.
You're receiving this newsletter because you subscribed. If you like it then please consider forwarding it to a friend. (to unsubscribe simply use the link at the bottom).

Word count this issue: 760 words

Estimated reading time: About 3 minutes

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UE#11 Home and Away

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Listening to an interview with author Salman Rushdie recently he spoke of how he believed there are 2 kinds of people. There are those who stay around the familiar comforts of home and then there are those who feel the need to travel and explore and immerse themselves in new experiences.

He was talking in the context of novel writing. In other words his characters would have to leave the comfort of home in order to go on an adventure. He is surely right. What a boring novel it would be if all the characters just sat at home eating nachos and watching youtube. What a short book Lord of The Rings would have been if Tolkien had allowed Bilbo and Frodo to just sit and blow smoke rings instead of ridding Middle Earth of Orcs, Gollum and other unpleasantries.

The metaphor of leaving the comforts of home behind in order to follow the path of adventure, with its inherent promise of reward and/or loss, can be used widely.

If you think about it a song can be like that. Somehow a tension is set up and a story is told. Finally the song comes to rest with a conclusion that is both musical and lyrical. As the last note is played we have the sense of having "come home". Back to base.

Listening to musicians jamming together over multiple verses of a tune you will often hear one member finally shout, "Bring her home" which is the signal for everyone to end the song the next time around.

The Rodgers And Hammerstein song Do-Re-Mi has us singing about a 'female deer' then basking in a 'drop of golden sun'. Then we discover that Fa is a 'long long way to run' but ultimately no matter where we run or what we do we always have to come back home to Doh. (Homer Simpson once said the same thing - Ha ha).
Most songs are like this. As audiences we would probably feel quite challenged if songs left us hanging... unsure as to whether they had actually ended or not.

The same metaphor can also apply to our lives. One day we are happily sitting at home strumming on a ukulele and the next we are breaking out into a cold sweat realizing that we have to perform in front of an audience. It seems crazy! We ask ourselves why do we do it? Why leave the peace of our home to take on the stress of playing in public? No-one is forcing us to put ourselves out like that.


Ooh now - that's interesting. Let's look at that phrase again. To "put ourselves out". Most of us have said it at one time or another. We put the cat out but it seems we can also put ourselves out too!

It's a dual personality idea. We push ourselves out of the door and into the cold and unknown, we lock the door behind ourselves and refuse to let ourselves back in until we've done something of note.

Anyone who has ever placed themselves outside of their own comfort zone will know exactly what I'm talking about here. (and the rest are probably getting a little concerned about my mental health - don't worry I think I know where I'm heading with this!)

Things to remember:
1) Life is a journey and it is also shorter than you think. Often the most interesting and valuable experiences take place outside of your comfort zone. Go there whenever you feel able.

2) When you play a song, make it come alive. Begin the narrative and live the telling of the tale. Express the words and the emotion of the music with every part of your being. When the song is over "bring her home" with a clear and defined ending (hey it also helps the audience know when to clap).

3) Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean you can't set off. If you have the impulse to do something or go somewhere then seriously consider it. Otherwise you may have to live with yourself knowing that you didn't put yourself out when you had the chance. And that could make both of you unhappy!

Well, looking out of my window I see the men in white coats are coming up the garden path. So I'll just say toodle-oo while I step into my multi-coloured marshmallow spaceship and set a course for Planet Plink.

Until next time, wherever you may be and wherever you are going - Happy Travels!!!
Moderator
Registriert: Feb 2008
Beiträge: 826
Ort: Essen
Ohhh-neeeee! :roll:
Bitte: Allerliebste Spottdrossel, übersetze mal! :|
Mein Schul-Englisch ist wirklich eingerostet... :oops: :( :(
...und Wagner-Opern auf englisch....
Hiiilfeee!
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
November 10 2009
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Dear Raimund,


This week we take a look at the unusual my-dog-has-fleas tuning. How did it get to be that way and why does its popularity persist? You're receiving this newsletter because you subscribed. If you found value in it then please consider forwarding it to a friend. (to unsubscribe simply use the link at the bottom).

Word count this issue: 850 words

Estimated reading time: About 3½ minutes

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UE#12 The My String

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John King tells of the time a boy took his ukulele to the Kamaka ukulele factory and told Sam Kamaka that he needed a new 'flea' string.
Sam said, "I think you mean a C string."
The boy replied, "No its the flea string in my-dog-has-fleas"

my-dog-has-fleas is one of the most famous mnemonics in music. Its right up there with "do-re-mi" and "shave-and-a-haircut--2-bits". Those famous 4 words help us to remember how to tune our uke when there is no pitch pipe or electronic tuner around.

For beginners and experts alike, the most interesting and perplexing string of all is the "My" string. This is the G string for those in GCEA, the A string for those in ADF#B and the 4th string from the floor for those who don't play it upside down (don't laugh I know people who do exactly that).

Most stringed instruments are tuned from low to high. The guitar, mandolin,
violin, bass, cello, tenor banjo, harp, and lute are all like this.
The ukulele on the other hand is characteristically odd in that its strings traditionally go High Low Low High. The fancy name for this is re-entrant tuning.

If the My string is tuned an octave lower the ukulele then becomes a small guitar (albeit without the 2 bass strings). Tuning the ukulele with a low G gives a bigger range of notes and makes the instrument much more accessible for guitar devotees. So why do so many ukulele players stay with the high My string? It is unusual, quirky, sometimes troublesome and seems to make little sense but its popularity endures. Let's take a look at this unusual mode of tuning and find out how it got to be this way.

No one knows the true origin of my-dog-has-fleas. But we do know that the ukulele is descended from 2 instruments native to the Portuguese island of Madeira. The ukulele's small size comes from the machete (pronounced mah-SHET) but the tuning comes from the larger Rajao (pronounced rah-ZHOW) which was tuned DGCEA. The Rajao was tuned in the re-entrant style with both the D and the G tuned high. The D was eliminated giving us the ukulele's GCEA tuning.

In the mid 1800s even guitars were sometimes tuned with re-entrant strings. This made possible a particularly beautiful style of playing known as Campanela. 'Campanela' means the ringing of little bells. Campanela playing has the rule that no string may be plucked more than once in succession. Therefore if you want to play an F note followed by another F note you have to find the same F on 2 different strings.

As you can imagine this is a very tricky way to play. It leads to some unusual fingering shapes and requires devotion to the cause to make it work successfully. But boy does it work! Playing by this method allows each note to ring. This leads to an overall sound that I would best describe as being harp-like. Its not easy to do but is incredibly sweet and, because of the necessary overlap of available notes, campanela style playing requires a re-entrant tuning.

To hear ukulele played in the campanela style seek out work by the great musician and historian John King mentioned at the top of this piece who is sadly now departed and dearly missed. When I first heard him play I was struck by the light and angelic music this stolid looking musician produced. At the time it was almost as surprising to me as if a block of granite were to suddenly get up and dance.

So now we know how the my-dog-has-fleas tuning originated but why did it persevere? The bell like tones of campanela were long ago abandoned for strumalong favorites like Five Foot Two Eyes of Blue and Leaning on a Lampost. Still there is a powerful attraction to the jaunty bounce that the high My string provides.

Having a high string on the top and the bottom does seem to work uncommonly well for people who like to strum. Whether you strum up or down you always end on a high note!

Also, and slightly surprisingly, the high 4th string is not a problem for players who play arrangements that bring out both rhythm and melody. This Chord Melody technique can simply be described as a way of playing that gives the illusion of melody and chords being played simultaneously. Because there are no available low strings all lower melody notes must be played in a higher register.

The interesting part for me is that my ear hears this and seems to 'fill in' the arrangement so it appears as if there are lower notes being played than are actually present. An audio illusion!

The high tuned G also makes the ukulele an ideal and rare candidate for playing in frailing and clawhammer styles usually associated with the 5-string banjo (see my DVD Essential Strums for the Ukulele to learn this technique).

There are also great reasons for using a low G string which I will save for another time!

What with differing tunings and alternate strings it becomes obvious why, when you ask a ukulele player how many ukes he/she owns, seldom do you hear, "Oh just the one"!


I wish to acknowledge John King and Dan Scanlan for their writings on the history of the ukulele.

Listen and See John King play Bach in Campanela style
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
November 17 2009
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


As a father and a ukulele teacher I have learned a thing or two about child psychology. This week I have 10 ideas to help make your child choose to pursue a life of music. If you found value in it then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 740 words

Estimated reading time: About 3 minutes

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UE#13 Getting Kids Interested in Music

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Music has been shown over and over again to be the most beneficial thing for a child to learn. Forget math, languages, sport and science. If you really want to develop your child's brain you need to get them hooked on music.

The understanding and presentation of the musical art develops the brain/body connection in ways that no other school subject can. There is the mathematical understanding of the musical rules as they pertain to melody, harmony and rhythm. Then learning to superimpose on this the artistic nuances of dynamics and feeling adds a multi-dimensional aspect to the skill.

At the same time all this mental work is going on the body is also performing astounding feats. Fingers, arms and even feet move independently of one another to make the necessary sounds. Playing music is a full mind/body workout leading to tremendous and satisfying rewards which, if not financial, may be spiritual or personal in nature.

Musical people generally live longer, are less stressed and live healthier lives than any other kind of people. I can also personally attest that musicians as a whole tend to be kind, warm, intelligent and inclusive people.

Now that I have established how vital the study of music is for your child/ren I want to offer help that will make certain that they lead a full and happy life in the glorious pursuit of music!

Tip #1 DON'T ENCOURAGE THEM WHATEVER YOU DO!!!
This is most important. As soon as your child gets the merest whiff that music might be good for them nothing will turn them off faster. Trying to convince your child that because mom and dad think its cool they should find it cool too WON'T WORK!

Tip #2 Find ways to punish them if they appear to be enjoying anything remotely musical.
For example. Put on some classic 60s rock music with a good beat. If you notice them tapping their feet in time to the music you should get angry and send them to bed without dinner. Let them figure out for themselves what they did wrong.
Another example: Johnny comes running in saying that he tried Timmy's trumpet. Even if he says he successfully played a tune resist the temptation to look up. Instead just sneer and say, "Whatever."

Tip #3 Take time to expose your children to live music.
While doing so make derisive comments about the musicians on stage. Remember to exaggerate the poverty, loneliness, substance abuse and other miseries that belie their apparently carefree and joyful stage demeanor.

Tip #4 Get a good ukulele. Then remove the strings and use it as a plant pot.

Tip #5 Cut down their allowance any time you catch them humming, whistling or table-top drumming.

Tip #6 Positive reinforcement of miserable and soul-destroying jobs is an excellent idea.
But be careful with this one. It can backfire. For example your lawyer daughter may get interested in musical copyright law. Your politician son might decide to use the saxophone to help his political career. And we all know what happened to Bill Clinton...

Tip #7 Sit down and instruct them in the many drawbacks of a musical life.
These include all the things kids hate most:
Late nights, the attention of many admirers, nutrient poor meals eaten in fast food joints and the vague eventual possibility of great financial reward.

Tip #8 If they do take up a musical instrument be sure to maintain a constant stream of negativity any time the subject comes up.
You want your child to rebel. So it is very important to give them something to rebel against. Make sure they see you visibly groan every time the instrument comes out of its case.

Tip #9 Make fun of them in conversation and make sure that they hear you.
In your best Homer Simpson voice say, "My son is learning the uku-ma-lele. He thinks he's gonna be a BIG star someday Haw haw"!

Tip #10 Buy The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids DVD by Ralph Shaw and leave it next to the garbage.
Chances are they will sneak the DVD into the house and secretly teach themselves whenever you are out!

On the other hand... If you are fortunate enough to still have a reasonably sane relationship with your child - then give them a ukulele and one of my instructional DVDs this holiday season and learn to play joyful music together. Now that's more like it!!

I hate to talk about Christmas so soon. Its still only November aargh. But I have learned that shipping can take a while. If you do want to order any of my instructional DVDs or CDs now is the time to do it!

(PS. For those of you wanting more realistic tips to encourage your young prodigy - help is on the way. I'll have some (sensible) ideas for you next time!)
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
November 24 2009
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


Children love music. And they can be easily discouraged if their early interest is not thoughtfully nurtured. This week I look at helping your child and you get started on a successful musical life. If you found value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 784 words

Estimated reading time: About 3 minutes

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UE #14 Growing Musical Children

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1) Use Good Quality Soil

My DVD: The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids begins with a short demo showing the difference between a good quality uke and an inferior model. I demonstrate how a badly made ukulele will play out of tune and sound awful even when properly tuned.

Shortly after its 2004 release I was approached by a mail-order company. They wanted to sell a Children's Ukulele + Instructional DVD combo in their catalogue. They thought my DVD would be perfect for this package.

However... After viewing my DVD they decided to drop the project because, as they candidly told me, my demonstration of a 'bad' ukulele was exactly like the one they were hoping to market!

Gone was an opportunity to make some extra money but on the other hand I was proud to do my bit towards creating some awareness around ukulele quality.

I started playing ukulele in 1990. At that time ukuleles were generally thought of as starter instruments for children. The thinking was that if a child showed interest and ability in the ukulele only then would it be worthwhile to invest in a 'real' instrument such as a guitar, piano etc.

The problem with the "try a cheap instrument first" approach is that a bad instrument will always sound bad no matter who plays it. What possible chance does a 9 year old beginner have with something like that? They end up placing the blame for their awful sound on their own meagre abilities. I wonder how many thousands of kids have been put off playing music for life all because of their initial failure with a useless uke?

Get the best instrument you can afford. A ukulele with a sweet and resonant sound is FAR more likely to be picked up and strummed.

2) Spend Time With Your Children in the Garden

Every grown up musician I know plays music because they enjoy it. It is vital that the spirit of enjoyment, love and fun of music be fostered in our children.
Think about this: One of the most difficult life skills that many of us learn is the ability to talk. Yet who teaches us this? No-one! We hear our parents and siblings talk and slowly we figure it out. We all want to be participants in our surroundings.

When parents (who don't sing, dance or play music themselves) vigorously enforce a daily practice regime on their offspring how are their kids supposed to take that? Will music feel like a timeless activity or like a chore?

I run a ukulele club and parents often bring their children along. The little ones delight in being surrounded by happy people who sing and play music. Seeing the happiness that is on those kids faces I just know they are going to be musical adults.

3) Add Food, Sunshine and Water

So much of our kid's time is spent either watching screens (games/TV/computer), doing homework or on out-of-school activities that there is little room for idle dreaming. A free flowing imagination is the wellspring of genius.

So think about how you live. How much screen-time do you and your kids have compared to other occupations? Do they really need to be doing 4 different out of school activities?

and...If you think your child is getting too many frivolous homework assignments discuss that with the school. Tell them Ralph Shaw sent you!

4) Allow Time for Growth

When I was 8 years old there was a knuckle-headed boy who was way behind in his reading. While most of us gobbled up one book after another he was sounding out every syllable. It was painful to watch. A few years later he was surpassing the rest of us with his reading and other intellectual abilities (though not all were school approved)!

His brain had just taken longer than most to develop the myelin sheathing necessary for full brain functioning. I didn't know all this then but apparently its very common. The lesson here is to stay positive and let your kids develop in their own time.

Many children don't have the coordination that it takes to form chords and strum. Some kids can do this at age 6 but others might be 11 or 12 before they are ready. Just keep introducing them to music in all its wonderful forms. Let them watch you struggle and strive to master your art. Let music be a natural part of life.

Remember: You won't make a plant grow faster by pulling on the stem.







My Ukulele Course for Kids DVD shows young students of all abilities doing their stuff. A child too young to play can still watch and listen and learn. That is how it starts!
It's a great price. Less than $20 for over 90 minutes of material plus booklet. Order now in time for the holidays!


EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Want to improve your ukulele skills?

The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series will help you to play and perform better. The use of teaching DVDs is the best way to learn by yourself. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and you can pause and rewind as often as you wish.
1 The Complete Ukulele Course shows you how to get started with tuning and strumming. It then teaches you a variety of techniques to make your playing more and more interesting!
2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele will give you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, frailing, bossa nova, bo diddley, reggae and much more. Essential!!
3 Ukulele Playalong has the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. Great fun and excellent practice at a great price!
4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids - Get this dvd and a ukulele for the child/ren in your life and it could change their life. Music is a wonderful way to learn and have fun at the same time. The ukulele is a non-threatening and joyful introduction to music education.


All the above DVDs are available from: www.RalphShaw.ca


If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

On Facebook? Then join the Ralph Shaw Fan Club

Got ideas for future newsletters? Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address: Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe: Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.


To subscribe: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also see the Archive of previous newsletters.

© Ralph Shaw 2009





You can Contact me by...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email:bowlerhat@shaw.ca
phone: 604 689 2937 (Intl +1)
on the web: www.RalphShaw.ca
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
December 01 2009
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


Want to do more than just play the same old boring strum over and over? Here are some ideas for you to try. Btw. Did I ever mention that I have a degree in Physics?!
If you found value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 830 words

Estimated reading time: About 3½ minutes

``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````



UE #15 Create New Strums - Digitally!
(or The Complete Guide to Playing the Computulele)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Listening to a skilled player you may wonder at the amazing complexity they achieve with their strumming. Maybe you yearn to play new and vibrant rhythms that will make people want to tap their feet and move their bodies.

The truth is that Strumming is actually very simple. There are basically only 3 possible strums. That's right just 3!!!

They are:
1) The Down strum. This strum is achieved by strumming down the strings.

2) The Up strum. You do this one by strumming up the strings.

3) The...erm no sorry I was wrong. There are only 2 strums (see above).

Therefore all that rhythmic complexity you hear when you listen to Brudda IZ, George Formby or Ralph Shaw (ta daa!) is all just variations of Down and Up strums.

Simple eh?!

This reminds me of computers. We use computers so much in our every day lives that we forget the exquisite simplicity that is behind their mindblowingly rich variety. Every computation done in a computer's brain is based solely on 1s and 0s.


While studying for the aforementioned Physics degree at Liverpool Polytechnic I actually built some very simple electronic computer circuits.

The circuit functions like a switch. If there is electricity flowing through it then that registers as a 1. No electricity flowing through reads as a 0. Getting millions and millions of these circuits all working together on a tiny silicon chip gives us the massive computing power needed to operate the phone system. Which we use to call the 'Dial-a-Geek' repair guy who rushes over when our PC crashes yet again.

I hope that by comparing your ukulele to a Hewlett Packard Pavilion Elite m9340f Desktop PC with 22" Monitor I am not confusing you with unecessary technical jargon. Nothing could be further from the truth! I am merely pointing out that if you can strum Up and you can strum Down then you have already got what it takes to play any kind of rhythm.

So how do we go from the simple Down Up Down Up strum to playing something more interesting? Let's have a look!

A key element in strumming is where you put the accents. By 'accent' I am talking about a heavier than usual strum. A main beat. Without these accents our strums would sound endlessly repetitive. Akin to a ticking clock.

Example: In 4/4 time there are 4 beats in a bar. The most common strum used while singing in 4/4 is the "Wimpy-Strong" strum. Its a weak strum followed by a strong strum. (note that 'strum' can mean a single stroke or a combination of strokes).

Wimpy-Strong goes like this:
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & (etc.)
down up DOWN up down up DOWN up

The above strum shows heavier DOWN strums on the 2 and 4 beats. Many songs are played in this way but there are countless more ways to play.

Classical Music usually has the main accent on the 1 beat like this:
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
DOWN up down up down up down up

African music tends to accent the 3:
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
down up down up DOWN up down up

Why don't you try putting accents in different places and see what you come up with?

Example: Putting accents on the 1 and 3 has a forward driving feel (like a train getting up steam!):
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
DOWN up down up DOWN up down up

Don't forget that you can also put accents on UP strokes too:
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
down up down UP down up down UP

This one is slightly unorthodox but may be perfect for certain songs. Just keep trying more accent variations for yourself.

Wait there's more!:
There is no rule that says Downs and Ups always have to follow one another.

Try the Syncopated Strum (aka. Split Stroke) it goes like this:
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
DOWN up down DOWN up down DOWN up

This one can be tricky to do. The strum is not really hard to do but it confuses many people because it has a DOWN accent on an '&' beat (after the 2). Btw. If you need help with this one you can hear and see this strum in both of my DVDs: The Complete Ukulele Course and Essential Strums for the Ukulele.

Not only that!:
There is no rule that says you have to strum on every beat. You can miss strums out.

Here is the Samba strum:
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

down down down down down up up down


(This strum is also featured on the aforementioned Essential Strums DVD)

By now you should be getting the idea! There is a huge amount of computer-like strumming complexity to be had. You can create and discover a host of strums for yourself.

Just remember these 4 rules:

1) Accents. Try putting accents in different places and use them on both Up and Down strums.
2) Ups and Downs don't have to follow one another. A Down can follow a Down and Ups can follow Ups.
3) It is OK (more than OK) to miss out strums altogether. This creates a nice feeling of space within the strum.
4) Don't forget to erm...actually there are only 3. Sorry I did it again.

Now take your digits off your computer keyboard, put them on your ukulele and start playing!!!
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
December 08 2009
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


Hold that Tiger! This week I have 3 suggestions to help recognize and release some of that unwanted tension.
If you found value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 698 words

Estimated reading time: Less than 3 minutes

``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````



UE #16 Just Relax

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



How quickly things change. Morning in the village started out like any other. Men and women sat outside their huts. Some repaired fishing nets while others prepared the breakfast of fish and flatbread. The children played nearby but not near enough. A woman looked up and saw the tiger. She drew in a gasp that alerted everyone to the danger. Faces looked up to see the animal moving towards the children with deadly grace. Slow and powerful.

The children played on, joyfully unaware of the threat. No-one stirred but everyone was ready to move. Some were mentally prepared to jump up and grab their children. Warriors slowly reached for weapons determined to pounce and engage the tiger. Others were ready to run and find safety for themselves. Everyone held their breath. Watching, silent, tense...
Perhaps a distant sound or a strange smell caused the tiger to stop and gaze around. He looked back at the children and then at the crouching figures of the adults. Quickly he turned and loped away.

The danger passed and everyone breathed deeply. All relaxed with one big sigh. Aaah! One of the women called the children home and breakfast was served. The tiger was never mentioned. The children didn't need to know how close the danger had been!

I tell this story to illustrate that becoming tense at the right moment has enabled our ancestors to survive since our very beginnings. It's a fact that with life comes stress. For many of us however stress can lead to body tension. We learn habits of tensing ourselves during our childhood and subsequent development.

The only problem is that this undercurrent of tension has become chronic in our modern society. Everyday decisions involving family, friends, work etc. set up this muscle tightening. But whereas the tigers of the past would eventually get caught, killed or chased away our modern causes of tension stay with us all day long.

Different people hold tension in different places. For some it is the stomach area, others tighten their jaw. A very common place to hold tension is in the neck and shoulders which often leads to headaches. Tension, wherever it may be, is not very helpful.

Unless you are dealing with the modern urban equivalent of a rogue tiger, such as a prowling boss or a runaway Rottweiler, you don't need to be tense.

Ukulele playing and bodily tension do not go well together. Keeping parts of yourself tense can really handicap your playing. It doesn't feel good, doesn't look good and the resulting music doesn't sound so good.

So take my advice: "Just Relax!"

Hmm. This is a lot like telling an insomniac to "just go to sleep". Easier said than done.

It actually takes some effort and work to get truly relaxed. Here are 3 things you can do:

1) Become aware of where you hold tension. Many of us are unaware that this is even going on. I thought I knew what my own body was doing until I took some classes in the Alexander Technique. My Alexander teacher showed me that the way I imagined my body to be when sitting or standing was quite different from the way it looked to others. It seemed I had pockets of tension all over the place! Get to know where you are holding tension in your body. Especially after encounters with your modern-day tigers!

2) Notice where you have tension and then think about letting it go completely. Remember to breathe deeply. While working at the computer there is a tendency to shallow breathe. Find a way to remind yourself to take fuller, deeper breaths.

3) When you play ukulele your movements should be fluid and relaxed. While strumming on a simple chord try doing a mental internal body check. See if you can notice where unnecessary tension resides. Consciously let it go. Again and again. Old habits die hard and it takes persistence to chip away at them until they dissolve completely.





Interesting fact for the day:
About twice as many tigers are kept as pets in the USA than live wild on the rest of the planet.
EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast..."
William Congreve

Now that you're nice and relaxed let my DVDs show you how to play Ukulele!


The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series will help you to play and perform better. The use of teaching DVDs is the best way to learn by yourself. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and you can pause and rewind as often as you wish.
1 The Complete Ukulele Course shows you how to get started with tuning and strumming. It then teaches you a variety of techniques to make your playing more and more interesting!
2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele will give you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, frailing, bossa nova, bo diddley, reggae and much more. Essential!!
3 Ukulele Playalong has the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. Great fun and excellent practice at a great price!
4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids - Get this dvd and a ukulele for the child/ren in your life and it could change their life. Music is a wonderful way to learn and have fun at the same time. The ukulele is a non-threatening and joyful introduction to music education.


All the above DVDs are available from: www.RalphShaw.ca


If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

On Facebook? Then join the Ralph Shaw Fan Club

Got ideas for future newsletters? Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address: Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe: Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.


To subscribe: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also see the Archive of previous newsletters.

© Ralph Shaw 2009





You can Contact me by...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email:bowlerhat@shaw.ca
phone: 604 689 2937 (Intl +1)
on the web: www.RalphShaw.ca

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




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Ralph Shaw Entertainment | 105-1035 Pacific St. | Vancouver | BC | V6E4G7 | Canada
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
December 15 2009
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


This week I want to tell you about a wonderful project that really is changing lives. If you found value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 880 words

Estimated reading time: About 3½ minutes

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UE #17 Ukuleles for Peace

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




The lyric goes Happy Christmas (War is Over). Well how about it?

I think it's safe to say that most of us want peace in the world but how many of us really do something to make it happen?



Paul Moore does. Let me tell you about him. He's a British ex-pat in his late 50s or thereabouts. A professional entertainer, he made Israel his home many years ago.



One day, frustrated at the ongoing strife that seems to have always been a part of that region, Paul came to a decision. He finally figured that Peace, if there is such a thing, will not soon come about by political means. It has to begin with people. So 6 years ago he approached a Jewish school and an Arab school in his area and proposed the idea of a ukulele orchestra.



The musicians in the orchestra would be Arab and Jewish kids. The schools agreed and Paul's "Friendly Monster" was born. Paul had no idea what an all-consuming task he was taking on.



Practices and rehearsals were set up. Paul had to find playable ukuleles. He gave up his free time to travel and organize. Evenings and weekends were all given up towards getting these keen, bright-eyed young children their first musical education. The kids loved it. Not wanting money issues to hinder participation Paul began raising funds to pay for things such as instruments, strings, travel to shows etc.



Pot-luck picnics in public parks were organized. Trips and holiday celebrations were set up. Of course the parents had to come along too, so did siblings. Age old prejudices and fears were laid aside. So began the rituals of Arab and Jewish families sharing food while their children played games and made joyful music together.



If you have any doubt about the power of music take a look at this video of 2 of Paul's students and then tell me you don't believe in Paul's vision!



As much fun and benefit as this is on a local scale Paul Moore has kept his eye on a greater goal. He wants the world to see what can be done. Paul has long said that he wants the Ukuleles For Peace Orchestra to play before the United Nations.



As a step towards this goal I am helping him with something that could potentially place his Orchestra before a world-wide audience.



The Winter Olympics will be here in Vancouver in February (only 2 months away). Hundreds of Thousands of people including athletes, spectators, politicians, royalty, the media and performers will descend on this city for a vibrant and colourful celebration of winter sports and culture.



Just over 1 year ago I helped arrange a meeting between Paul and an Olympic organizer. The upshot is both good news and bad news. The good news is that the 2010 Winter Olympics have agreed to allow Ukuleles for Peace to come and perform during that time. The bad news is that the Olympics are unable to allocate any budget for either their performance or travel.



Coming to the Winter Olympics could be remarkable in many ways. Not only would it go a long way toward Paul's dream of showing the world how unity, friendship and peace are there for the taking. It would also be a life-changing experience for these children of whom some have never been outside their native land.



Help so far has come from several sources. Accomodation will be with the families of the Langley Ukulele Ensemble. Think of that! Arab and Jewish kids from Israel being able to hang out with Canadian kids who are also in a ukulele orchestra.



A Vancouver Rabbi, known for his work in bringing Arabs and Jews together has offered time and fund-raising to help bring Ukes for Peace to Vancouver. Other organizations here (like the Jewish Federation) are also raising money. Oh, and don't forget the families who are over in Israel running around trying to gather money for this project so dear to their hearts.



The financial mountain is a large one however. The costs of flying 15 to 20 kids plus a few parents could be as much as $50,000.



I promised Paul that I would support him in this. Which is why I am reaching out to you now. The Ukuleles for Peace Project has always been run on a shoestring. Every year Paul wonders if he can continue. Then he looks into the faces of young children eager to join their older brothers and sisters in the Ukulele band and he cannot say no. Paul calls U.f P. his "Friendly Monster". It has taken over not only his life but also that of his wife Daphna who runs the necessary administration. Often it gets in the way of him making a living for himself. Basically he needs some help!



Financial Donations: You can donate to Ukuleles for Peace at their website. There is a donation button at the top left of the page.



Air Travel: Some help is coming from El Al Airline for flights between Israel & Toronto but the portion from Toronto to Vancouver needs to be dealt with. If you know of some way of obtaining cheap or free flights between Toronto and Vancouver that could be most useful.
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
December 22 2009
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


It is no accident that well written songs have the tools built into them to make them easier to remember. Our survival as a race has depended on it.

If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 748 words

Estimated reading time: under 3 minutes

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UE #18 How to Remember Lyrics part 1

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




Human beings are relative newcomers to the written word. For most of our history we have relied on our memories to accurately pass large amounts of knowledge down through the generations. For those of us who can't even remember what we did yesterday this seems an extraordinary feat.



Our clever ancestors knew that our memories were not perfect so they put the information into song form.



This ability still remains. Most people when asked how many days there are in October have to run through the poem 30 Days hath September to find the answer. As children we learn the alphabet song which puts the letters in little clumps that mostly rhyme with the 'ee' sound.



When I wrote my song: How to Build a Ukulele Case (view the video here) I had no idea that I was following a tradition that went back to the beginnings of civilization.



Our ancestors had songs to help them remember volumes worth of information: historical events, names of forebears, which plants were dangerous to eat, which animals might eat us, which tribes should be avoided, which were friendly, myths, legends and suggestions for healthy and happy living.



For the knowledge to be transmitted accurately the words were put into a form that kept mistakes to a minimum. Songs were composed chock full of techniques that kept the words intact over countless exchanges.



Using rhyme is one great way to remember words. We know the last word in this Dorothy Fields lyric must be Street:



Just direct your feet

To the sunny side of the ____



Knowing the tune, the beat and the context there are no other words that reasonably fit. In this example the use of alliteration also makes the words very easy to remember.


Alliteration describes a sequence of words which begin with the same sound eg. Peter Piper Picked...)



Let's look more closely at the song On the Sunny Side of the Street and see if we can spot songwriting techniques that help us to remember the words.



Here is the 1st line:



Grab your coat and get your hat

[Strong visual of leaving the house. Note the repeating hard G in grab and get]



Leave your worry on the door-step

[Notice the rhyming 'or' sound in the underlined words. These internal rhymes are known as Assonance]



[The 'ah' sound is used over and over in:]




Can't you hear a pitter-pat

And that happy tune is your step




[Notice the internal rhyme of 'Can't you' with 'happy tune'.


Though she hardly uses the letter p in the rest of the song look at how she puts all her 'p' words together with pitter-pat and happy creating a veritable soundscape! This technique called Onomatopoeia.


Onomatopoeia describes words that sound like the thing they represent. eg. tick tock for the sound of a clock].



I used to walk in the shade

With those blues on parade

[Assonance of used and blues]



If I never have a cent [ne-ver rhymes with have a]

I'll be rich as Rock-e-fel-ler


[Alliterative 'R' words in rich and Rock-. Also the continuing 'eh' sound in nev-er, have a, cent, as, -e-fel-ler]



Gold-dust at my feet

On the sunny side of the street


[Another strong visual to end with. Lots of golden light here and dust and sunny are another internal rhyme]



The skill of Dorothy Fields in her songwriting made her songs very memorable. Rhyme, Assonance, Onomatopeia, Visual Imagery and her use of Alliteration made sure that her lyrics would remain timeless and unforgettable.



The above kind of dissection can be an important memory aid when we use it consciously.



Next time you commit a song to memory look for all these little tricks that the songwriter has deliberately put in just for you!



Memory is not one single skill. It is a collection of tricks and techniques. Some of these are innately learned in childhood and others are discovered later in life.



You may not have noticed but Fields' masterpiece: On the Sunny Side Of the Street is another "How to..." song. She is clearly and cleverly helping us learn that life is happier, richer and more golden if we remember to keep a positive attitude and a cheerful disposition.



I have actually written an incredibly good song called: How to Remember Song Lyrics.





It lays out in crystal clear terms every single memory technique you will ever need. With this song you will never again forget another song lyric. I have it here somewhere. Now where in tarnation did I put it?...
















"Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves."

J.M. Barrie

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

and don't forget!!!....

The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series will help you to play and perform better. The use of teaching DVDs is the best way to learn by yourself. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and you can pause and rewind as often as you wish.
1 The Complete Ukulele Course shows you how to get started with tuning and strumming. It then teaches you a variety of techniques to make your playing more and more interesting!
2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele will give you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, frailing, bossa nova, bo diddley, reggae and much more. Essential!!
3 Ukulele Playalong has the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. Great fun and excellent practice at a great price!
4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids - Get this dvd and a ukulele for the child/ren in your life and it could change their life. Music is a wonderful way to learn and have fun at the same time. The ukulele is a non-threatening and joyful introduction to music education.


All the above DVDs are available from: www.RalphShaw.ca


If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

On Facebook? Then join the Ralph Shaw Fan Club

Got ideas for future newsletters? Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address: Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe: Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.


To subscribe: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also see the Archive of previous newsletters.

© Ralph Shaw 2009
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
January 05 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,



The start of a new year can be a time of doing familiar things in new ways. Today a lesson from golfer Jack Niklaus which is worth bearing in mind for all of us who enjoy getting to grips with the ukulele.




If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 776 words

Estimated reading time: around 3 minutes

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UE #19 A Ukulele Tip from the Best Golfer Ever

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Before I begin I just want to say: I have never understood golf. Why anyone would spend so much time and money developing a skill of such non-existent value is beyond my comprehension. Ukulele playing on the other hand is an entirely different matter.

Now that I've got that off my chest and alienated all my golfing friends we can continue!



During an interview sometime in the mid-1970s Jack Nicklaus allowed us, the golf-adoring public, to hear some of his training tips. The only part I remember is this:



Once a year Mr Nicklaus would have his coach show him how to hold a golf club and hit a ball.



Bear in mind that Jack Niklaus is regarded by many to be the best professional golfer ever. He competed at the highest level of the game for 25 years. Competing in 100 major championships he came 1st or 2nd an astonishing 36 times.



At the time of the above interview while at the top of his game he was still being shown how to hold a golf club! So, with a new year just beginning and in the spirit of getting back to basics, let's look at ways to hold a ukulele.



How you hold the uke depends on your playing style, your body shape and whether you are sitting or standing. Therefore I am not going to tell you that there is one correct way to hold a ukulele.





So many variables are involved that I often change how I support the uke several times during the course of a song. Watching me play someone once told me that the ukulele seemed almost to 'float' of its own accord.



You can experiment with new ways of holding your ukulele.

(please note - I am right handed, lefties will have to reverse the instructions)



Try these:

1) My basic hold is to place the ukulele on the upper part of my chest. The body of the uke is in the crook of my arm leaving the right hand free and flexible. The left hand supports the neck of the instrument. Sometimes the neck sits in the valley between the thumb and index finger or it may be held with the pressure of the thumb on the back and the fingers on the front. In this way I can strum using my fingers or a pick. Important: Keep the left hand in a straight line with the arm - this makes finger movement easier and prevents wrist problems later.




2) Now bring your right fingers under the body of the uke to support it and use your thumb to strum or play single strings.



3) Hold a chord and bring your left elbow towards your side. Now turn up your left palm and see if you can support the whole weight of the instrument with your left hand. Obviously it is now difficult to change chords but this technique is good should you need to free up your right hand for a short while. (Be careful trying this with heavy instruments such as banjo-ukes).



4) Lower the uke so it is at a level just above your hips and play it there. (This can be useful for people with breasts many of whom tell me they prefer to 'wear' their ukulele using a strap).



5) Using a strap. I rarely use one now but when I made my Complete Ukulele Course DVD I was almost exclusively wearing a strap.

As well as solving the above breast issue a major advantage of a strap is that it leaves your hands free for other activities such as: playing other instruments, hand-clapping and waving at the waiter to bring another pina-colada.

The down-side of using a strap is that it forces you to play the ukulele in the same position all the time. This can limit your playing and over the long term can even lead to neck/shoulder problems. (Similar to kind of upper-body tension that can arise from carrying a shoulder bag).



6) Playing finger-style or clawhammer style makes it difficult to support the uke with the right arm while playing with the right hand. In this case you can either: use a strap, play while seated or stand on one leg with your other foot on a chair or stool.



If you want to see some different ways to hold and play a uke then watch this 2 minute video of Roy Smeck - The Wizard of the Strings. After he tells his story you get to see him perform. He was in his 80s at the time.



On the other hand. If you'd rather see someone parading around in a pimped-up polyester outfit, while delivering a small white missile towards its very boring destination, then go watch golf!




Happy New Year From Canada!!!
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
January 12 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,




Question: What activity is: more fun with 2 or more people involved, completely free, usually done indoors but can be done anywhere and at the end leaves the participants slightly breathless and with big smiles?



Answer: Playing music in your very own ukulele club! This week I'll tell you all about how to start and run such a club.






If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 915 words

Estimated reading time: around 3½ minutes


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UE #20 Dare to Start a Ukulele Club

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I never thought of myself as either a leader or a follower. When someone says, "Follow me" my instinct is to walk the other way. If a movement is popular I don't want any part of it. In fact the ukulele attracted me because I saw nobody else playing it.



It looks as if the ever growing popularity of the ukulele should leave me in a paradox. You probably think, 'If the ukulele continues to be in then Ralph will have to find a new, obscure activity to partake in.'




Not so. I have always upheld the view that the ukulele is truly democratic. It is a means by which anyone with a modicum of musical talent can exhibit their individual self expression. A ukulele club is a way that many individuals can show off this uniqueness, together, as a group.


Stay with me on this I know where I'm going.



Being part of a ukulele club is quite different from supporting any of the abstract human inventions that have arisen for profit and/or power. These include: major sports teams, the hollywood movie and pop music industries and most countries.



We are constantly being told that those things are real and important: but from my aeroplane window I don't see the border lines that divide countries. I just see the faces of my fellow passengers. Hey and if they happen to all be ukulele players then I know everything is going to be OK!



Visiting Britain's Yorkshire Ukulele Circle in 1996 I witnessed the ebullient joy that arises from a getting together of ukulele enthusiasts.





In the summer of 2000 I mentioned this to a friend. She spontaneously offered to pay for the newspaper advertisement if I would run a similar club. I agreed.
The Vancouver Ukulele Circle is now in its 10th year and meets on the 3rd Tuesday of every month.



If you don't live in a place that already has a ukulele club you may want to start your own. Its not hard. Here's how...





1) Let people know. Newspaper ads are good but the free way to do it would be to advertise online. You can use craigslist or social networking sites to bring people in. Put a notice in your local music store. Someone in your club may create a website. Here is ours: http://www.vcn.bc.ca/vanukes/ Wendy runs it by putting up information and pictures. I contribute by writing a short blog after every meeting.



2) You'll need a venue. We began with 9 of us in the common room of my apartment complex. You can use a community or church hall, local pub or coffee house (ask first)! If you only have 5 members then do it in someone's home. If you live in a warm country then play outside: You are sure to bring smiles to the faces of passers by.



3) You'll need a musical leader. In our case this was me but you don't need to be an 'expert' to lead a song. You just need to establish the beginnings and ends of songs and decide the route that songs will take (repeats, instrumental breaks etc.) The leader should practice songs at home first to develop some proficiency.





If strong musicianship is lacking you can try playing along with Youtube performances on computer. You'll need to find written music with the correct chord changes to do this. My Ukulele Playalong DVD was also created for individuals or groups to use for this purpose. The DVD and songs from it can be found on my website: www.RalphShaw.ca



4) Format. My club has grown to around 70 strummers. We meet once a month. Starting at 7:30 we play together for about an hour. We take a break to socalize and then come back for performance time. This is a chance for individuals to show off 1 song. We used to allow 2 songs but had to cut back as performers became more proficient and keen! We finish by playing songs together until 10pm. We even have certain songs to begin and close every meeting.



5) Repertoire. In the early days members would bring copies of songs to share. For convenience we eventually compiled 100 songs into one book. Music sheets show the lyrics and chord changes. The songs must be fairly generally known but repertoire can come from any era. Have fun discovering which songs work for you.



6) Objectives. Some clubs turn into proficient performing groups. However this format necessitates exclusion of weaker players. The Vancouver Uke Circle has no goals other than to play music and have fun. It doesn't even have to sound good, but if it does... Hey Bonus! Together you can decide what objectives you want your group to fulfill.



7) Other things to do. You don't have to fill the whole time playing music. Get inspiration from watching video clips of great players. Bring in guest musicians. Have a teaching component taught by one of your better players. Some groups even tell me that they sit and learn something from one of my DVDs as part of their sessions.



These ideas are a basic framework to which you can add and change anything you want.



Interestingly I find that as its popularity increases I am indeed drifting away from the little four stringed fellow that we hold so dear.





Here's why: Stan in my uke club gave me a thrift store Baritone ukulele last year and I can't keep my hands off it. Thus I find myself in a sub-group of a sub-group of music and happily back on the fringes of society once again!







"I don't know how to solve the problems of the world but I have a feeling it has something to do with the ukulele."
Marianne Brogan - Organiser Portland Ukulele Festival
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
January 19 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,




Everyone has their own story of what initially attracted them to the ukulele. "I was drawn by the sound". "A certain performer inspired me". I was given one as a gift and thought I'd give it a whirl".

But admit it. One of the reasons we took up the ukulele is because a part of us just wants to show off!





If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 798 words

Estimated reading time: around 3 minutes


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UE #21 The Joy of Music Theory


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Truly. If you could magically and instantly be highly skilled at any musical instrument would you still choose the ukulele?



What if you could play: The plaintive oboe or Mozart's Eb concerto on the french horn? How about boogie woogie piano, jazz harmonica or the bass sax in a doo wop group? Wouldn't you rather be good at one of those? If your answer is still ukulele then jolly good for you.



As for myself I would give up ukulele instantly if I thought I could make it as the dumbek player for a troupe of belly dancers. There are several reasons why that ambition of mine will probably never happen. Not knowing what a dumbek is might be one of them.



Wanting to make "easy music" (quotations added because music is never easy so long as we continually stretch our abilities) goes hand in hand with a reluctance to learn music theory. This makes sense. Many of us take up music simply to entertain others.



The Oxford Dictionary of Music (and I'm not making this up) famously and bizarrely defined the Ukulele as:



Ukulele: An instrument for people whose desire to entertain exceeds their musical ability.



I have to wonder about the person who composed that definition. Here is what I think happened:



A trained classical musician. One evening, at a birthday party, he is asked to play Happy Birthday.



Much to his supreme embarrassment, through not having sheet music available for that song, he is unable to play it. The moment is saved by the mother of one his friends who grabs the ukulele from a nearby shelf. She leads a raucous round of Happy Birthday followed by a medley of songs that gets everyone singing, laughing and kicking up their heels.



From then on our highly trained concert performer harbours a certain grudge towards ukuleles and those who play them. So, when he is offered the job to help write the Ox. Dic. of Music he gratefully accepts. But he never forgets the humiliation that the ukulele brought him...



I imagine that's how it went anyway.



Its easy for us ukulele players to feel a little smug at the above situation. Maybe it has happened to you, when, for a moment everything clicked and you and your uke were the life of the party.



So: If we can be this entertaining with a handful of songs is there any need for us to learn classical techniques? These could include: Music theory, scales, finger exercises, harmony, chord structure and more.



My answer is yes. You should definitely be spending time studying theory and technique. I never do it myself but I think you should. In this regard I'm like the TV evangelist who goes back to his life of sin as soon as the cameras turn off.




I learned ukulele by figuring out one song after another. If I know any theory at all it has happened by accident and osmosis. As for finger exercises and scales. Nope. Never bothered. But you should. Definitely. Hallelujah and pass the hat.




The act of performing is not necessarily the best way to enjoy playing music. Sure its nice to be the centre of attention once in a while. But performing is like making love. People that do it often look like they are having more fun than they actually are. It can also be stressful and, when you add up the total amount of time spent doing it compared with the rest of your life, it's not all that much really.



For most people the best times they ever have playing music is with friends. There are few things more fun than playing music with someone you've known for years or have just met.



Ironically, considering what happened to our Ox. Dic. guy, it is in the making of spontaneous group music that knowledge of theory and scales can really be extremely helpful. (I know what I said about making love but please try and keep your mind on music right now).



Sometimes your musical get-together will have others playing songs from your repertoire. But how flexible are you able to be? For example would you be able to play your songs in different keys?



What if there is no written music available and the song being played is unfamiliar to you?

In this case being able to figure out the song's key and recognizing patterns of melody, chord and harmony will greatly assist you in being able to join in quickly.



I have worked hard to be a good stage performer but it is in those group jam sessions that I wish I had more knowledge of the basic nuts and bolts of music. Those are the times when people who understand musical mechanics really shine.



In recent years the writers of the Oxford Dictionary of Music changed their entry for the Ukulele. Since they are making an effort to be less elitist in their outlook perhaps we could consider being a little more classically minded in ours.






©Ralph Shaw 2010



EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series will help you to play and perform better. The use of teaching DVDs is the best way to learn by yourself. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and can pause and rewind as often as you wish.


1 The Complete Ukulele Course shows you how to get started with tuning and strumming. It then teaches you a variety of techniques to make your playing more and more interesting!


2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele will give you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, frailing, bossa nova, bo diddley, reggae and much more. Essential!!


3 Ukulele Playalong has the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. Great fun and excellent practice at a great price!


4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids - Get this dvd and a ukulele for the child/ren in your life and it could change their life. Music is a wonderful way to learn and have fun at the same time. The ukulele is a non-threatening and joyful introduction to music education.


All the above DVDs are available from: www.RalphShaw.ca


If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

On Facebook? Then join the Ralph Shaw Fan Club

Got ideas for future newsletters? Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address: Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe: Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.


To subscribe: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also see the Archive of previous newsletters.

© Ralph Shaw 2010


You can Contact me by...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email:bowlerhat@shaw.ca
phone: 604 689 2937 (Intl +1)
on the web: www.RalphShaw.ca

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
January 26 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,




Our media are constantly bringing us 'overnight success' stories. Reality for most of us is not like that at all. Successful enterprises take time to develop. Today I also want to bring you up to date on the Ukuleles for Peace project plus tell you about my upcoming ukulele strumming class coming up soon in Vancouver.





If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 749 words

Estimated reading time: around 3 minutes


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UE #22 Quit Your Day Job and Follow Your Dream (In 7 Quick Years)


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Around the age of 17 I was firmly convinced that I was going to be a famous.... something or other. I wasn't sure what. Only that my master plan would have me floating effortlessly over the traps and pitfalls of everyday life.



I would be an amazing...what? A Musician? A Rock Star? I wasn't sure. In those days all I could do was play a few songs on the harmonica. But I was so delusional that I firmly believed I could make a life as a professional entertainer and be a household name by the age of 22. Imagine!



And that's what happened (except the household name part). I have now been a self-employed entertainer for nearly 20 years. In my case delusion really helped. I don't think I could have succeeded had someone taken me to one side to talk seriously about my becoming a professional ukulele player.



In 1990 I took some acting classes to help me achieve my goal. The Breck Academy was owned and taught by Peter Breck and his wife Diane. (A big-jawed man of confidence Peter starred as Nick Barkley in the 1965 TV western: The Big Valley alongside Lee Majors and Barbara Stanwyck).



When Gene Hackman came to Canada to film his movie Narrow Margin Peter Breck invited him to come and talk to his acting students.



Someone asked Mr Hackman how long it took before he got his big break. He thought for moment and said, "7 years". There was an uncomprehending pause of shock from the audience of 40 or so actor students. Each imagined that he or she would be heading for stardom within a year.



Mr Hackman continued, "It took my room-mate 8 years to get his break." His room-mate was Dustin Hoffman.



And that folks seems to be a reality of life. The magic number of 7 years seems to pop up over and over again.





The average time for a new restaurant to start turning a regular profit is 7 years.



I found that figure hard to believe too. Then I thought about my sister-in-law who opened a restaurant in Greece. There was so much to learn. Employees drank the soft drinks and liquor, the clientele had to be built and systems of working needed to be established. Her first healthy year in business was the 7th.



A friend of mine used his inheritance money to buy a paper-recycling business. He was cursed with years of mental and physical labour, breaking equipment, difficult employees and more. The worst was that the price of paper was so unreliable that he never knew if he'd make money. Mostly he didn't. I was always telling him to get out of the business but the delusional fellow continued. In his 7th year paper prices went up. By then he was experienced enough to make the most of it. He turned a tidy profit and eventually sold his business for 6 times what he'd paid for it.



When people say to me, "You're so lucky to be doing the thing you love."

I just smile and say, " Why yes I am. Thank you for noticing."



But...what I'm thinking is, "Luck has nothing to do with it baby. I'm Delusional!!!"



Following your dream, musical or otherwise, is a wonderful thing but it's not easy. It requires dogged persistence, long hours of low paying work and great personal investments of time and money. All of which brings me to Paul Moore and the Ukuleles for Peace Orchestra. Here's what I wrote about them in December.



I'm sad to report that they won't be making it to Vancouver for the Winter Olympics this year.



Many of you sent donations which were gratefully received but it wasn't enough. The clincher came when a vital donation fell through because of bureaucratic Israel/Canada tax reasons.



Thankyou so much to those who donated money to bring them to the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Those donations will be well used in their ongoing work. To contact Paul or find out more about Ukuleles for Peace go to:

http://www.ukulelesforpeace.com/



Paul, Daphna and the kids have been working incredibly hard for 6 years. They deserve their big break. Maybe their 7th year will bring them to wider public attention.



A steady income is a valuable resource to have. I don't encourage you to quit your day-job without good reason. But if, like Paul and myself, you have a dream plus a tendency towards creative self-delusion then start planning now. Its later than you think!
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
February 2 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


There used to be very little choice in what you could buy for ukulele strings. Nowadays there are numerous varieties available. So today we're going to look at what part the strings play in sound production.



If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 697 words

Estimated reading time: less than 3 minutes


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UE #23 Ukulele Strings - Do They Matter?


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My grandfather played a banjolele back in the 1920s. In those days if you wanted portable music you got yourself a ukulele and took it with you. Almost anyone could use a uke & play a few chords to accompany a sing-song.


As I told a Florida news reporter last year: "The ukulele was the ipod of the jazz age"!



By the time I was a young child my grandad had forgotten how to play. Even if he had been able to remember; playing that particular uke would have been impossible.



This is because my dad decided to help my ukulele career by stringing it with sisal. You don't hear much talk about sisal any more. Its that rough hairy string that you reach for when tying up old sacks. It is also great for gardening work since it is perfectly biodegradable. Its not necessarily the best string for obtaining sweet sounds from a quality instrument.



To be fair to my dad I was only 3 years old at the time and would rather have had a drum. My own preference would have been to remove both the strings and the fingerboard.




Years later when I finally got grandad's banjolele fixed up with a nice vellum and good strings I discovered that it was a dog of an instrument.

Moral: Just because it is vintage doesn't mean it can't be junk!



However...many an average sounding instrument can be enhanced to a surprising degree by finding the most suitable set of strings.



When you think about it the string IS the sound. The plucked string vibrates. This vibration causes the bridge to move up and down which in turn makes the whole front of the uke move back and forth. In this way your skinny strings go from moving a teeny tiny amount of air to moving a much larger amount.



The sound also bounces around inside the body of the uke before coming out through the hole. This adds to the duration of the sound.



It is the vibration of air that our ears pick up as sound. Without air there is no sound. Which is why; in space no-one can hear you strum.



Its easy to imagine that strings that are saggy, baggy and overly flexible (like elastic bands or Richard Simmons - Ha Ha) will produce less sound than tight strings. Therefore it is generally a good idea to increase the string tension.



Besides the instrument design (e.g. neck length) the 2 Things that affect string tension are:



1) The Elasticity of the String Material itself. Nylon strings, for example, tend to be more stretchy than gut strings. There is also a newer man-made patented string material called Nylgut. This stuff manages to have similar tension/acoustic properties of gut while being quite stable under temperature changes. Metal strings (which aren't usually used on ukuleles) are very inflexible.



(Note that I don't say catgut. For 600 years violin strings were traditionally made from sheepgut in the Italian village of Salle. The wily old string-makers, knowing it to be extremely bad luck to kill a cat, protected their secret method by spreading the rumour that they used cat intestines for their strings.Interestingly 2 of the world's leading string manufacturers: D'Addario and Mari are still run by Sallese famillies. And Aquila, the company which provides the world with Nylgut, is also Italian).



2) String Thickness. Thicker strings create more tension.

(Say you have 2 strings of identical material but one is thicker than the other. Tune them to the same note and the thicker string will feel tighter).



In practical terms all of this means that a way to get more power and volume from your uke is to use higher tension strings.



Note: If your strings are too tight this creates other problems. Extra tight strings are harder to play and can damage your instrument as well as your fingers. They can even cause your tuners to turn in their holes making tuning difficult.



If you want to read more of my thoughts about string choices for various ukuleles you'll have to wait until next week. Sorry to keep you in suspense and hanging by a thread but I do enjoy stringing people along!







Ever-flexible exercise guru Richard Simmons shows where he keeps his ukulele strings!








©Ralph Shaw 2010




EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Upcoming Events:
Feb 13th 11:45 to 3pm Winter Olympics Celebration: 2:30pm Main Stage show. Holland Park, Surrey. BC. (King George Hwy & Old Yale Rd.)

Feb 19th & 20th Gorge Uke Festival. Hood River, Oregon: http://www.gorgeukuleles.org/

Great weekend of concerts and ukulele instruction from Canada's and America's finest.

Can't make it to the festival? Then try my DVDs! The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series will help you to play and perform better. The use of teaching DVDs is the best way to learn by yourself. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and can pause and rewind as often as you wish.


1 The Complete Ukulele Course shows you how to get started with tuning and strumming. It then teaches you a variety of techniques to make your playing more and more interesting!


2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele will give you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, frailing, bossa nova, bo diddley, reggae and much more. Essential!!


3 Ukulele Playalong has the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. Great fun and excellent practice at a great price!


4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids - Get this dvd and a ukulele for the child/ren in your life and it could change their life. Music is a wonderful way to learn and have fun at the same time. The ukulele is a non-threatening and joyful introduction to music education.


All the above DVDs are available from: www.RalphShaw.ca
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
February 9 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


This week I share my experiences of how different strings can change the sound of a uke. I also want to tell you about my brand new custom-made baritone ukulele!!





If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 876 words

Estimated reading time: about 3½ minutes


``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````



UE #24 Give Yourself Some Extra Oomf


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




Ever had someone build you a custom-made ukulele? Its an interesting experience. You can tell the luthier exactly what you want, but, until the moment when the finished uke is finally strung, you can't be sure of how it'll sound.




Last October I played some concerts at Napa's Wine Country Ukulele Festival using my thrift store plywood baritone ukulele (made by Arrex).




I'd never had any complaints before, but more than one person approached me to say that I should be playing a better quality instrument.



My friend and fellow ukulele entertainer James Hill asked me,

"Have you thought of getting a better baritone?"

I told him that I had but I really liked the sound of my Arrex. He said,


"Yeah I used to have one of those too. The neck broke off".

"It is a bit of a worry." I agreed.



The trouble was, I didn't feel the need to upgrade, since I happened to enjoy the lusty bark of my Arrex. However...



...2 hours later. Enter Gordon Mayer of Mya-Moe Ukuleles who said,

"We'd like to build you a baritone ukulele. I'll give you some time to think about it. Just let me know. Okay?" He started to walk off. I said,

"Wait a minute - I've already thought about it!"



Over the next few months we discussed the qualities I was looking for in a baritone uke. It boiled down to this: I wanted one with the sort of big sound that my Arrex plywood uke puts out. Gord later coined it: Arrex the Wonderdog.



My new instrument was completed on Jan 1, 2010 . This was also my aunt's 83rd birthday so I named the ukulele after her. Brunhild the Baritone was born!!



The instrument was beautiful but when I played it I could tell that something in the sound was missing. And that something is what I call Oomf.



The sound was sweet and warm but did not project anything close to the power that the Wonderdog could put out. I packaged her up and returned Brunhild to Gordon. Through email we discussed what changes needed to be made to achieve the elusive Oomf factor.



Gordon knows his instrument technology very well and I know a bit about acoustics from my physics studies. We looked at scale length, saddle height and body construction but I learned from him that one of the most important factors affecting Oomf is the strings.



Gordon did some measurements and found that the strings he had used on the 1st uke had 42 pounds of tension. Whereas the D'Addario baritone ukulele strings that I often use have 60 pounds. Almost 50% difference!! I never got to hear the difference on that uke because Gordon showed it to a customer who quickly bought it. My slight regret is that I didn't try out other strings when I had the chance.



Therefore I encourage you to do some experimentation with different strings and see which you like best.



On my Larrivee soprano I like the soft feel of black nylon strings. This bugs the instrument maker John Larrivee jr. He says black strings make the instrument look cheap. Indeed!! Heaven forbid that our ukuleles look cheap eh? I totally disagree with him. Black strings on a guitar may look cheap but on a uke they look just fine.



More recently however John L. Jr. was very pleased to see that I had put white strings on my Larrivee. They were Nylgut strings. I had put them on not for their colour but because they deliver more sound.



The older Martin ukuleles are famous for being great sounding instruments but put on some Nylgut strings and you'll hear the sound pop into another zone altogether.



Its not always for the better. I tried those same Nylgut strings on my Ludwig banjo-uke. The instrument went from being loud to almost obnoxiously brash.



Another string material is fluorocarbon. Gordon tells me it is denser than Nylgut but because of the way the strings are designed Nylgut still produces more tension.



Here is an idea of what to expect:



nylon = warm sound, larger diameter string

nylgut = bright, medium diameter

fluorocarbon = wide (think of a broad, full sound), smallest diameter



I urge you to try sets of strings from different manufacturers. It's a bit of work but it will be so worthwhile to find which strings give you the sort of tone that makes you go, "Hmm - Me like!"



If you want to get really fancy then you can try buying individual strings. Find a store or manufacturer that let's you do this. Or mix and match sets of different uke strings and/or classical guitar strings. Try coming up with your perfect combo.



New Brunhild arrived last week and she is really something. The sound is full and resonant, warm and powerful. The body of the instrument palpably vibrates like a living thing. And yes. She has all the Oomf anyone could need.



What of the ever-loyal Arrex the Wonderdog? Well, he is back on the shelf and not being played much anymore. I hope he realises that even though he was cheap and old and slightly rattley he managed to set a very high standard. His big loud bark was the inspiration for helping us hone and perfect Brunhild - a superior baritone ukulele.







Brunhild

Sycamore back & sides. Bearclaw spruce top. D'addario strings (for now!)

mya-moe ukuleles






©Ralph Shaw 2010




EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Learn to play any ukulele like a pro! The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series will help you to play and perform better. The use of teaching DVDs is the best way to learn by yourself. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and can pause and rewind as often as you wish.



1 The Complete Ukulele Course shows you how to get started with tuning and strumming. It then teaches you a variety of techniques to make your playing more and more interesting!


2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele will give you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, frailing, bossa nova, bo diddley, reggae and much more. Essential!!


3 Ukulele Play Alonghas the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. Great fun and excellent practice at a great price!


4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids - Get this dvd and a ukulele for the child/ren in your life and it could change their life. Music is a wonderful way to learn and have fun at the same time. The ukulele is a non-threatening and joyful introduction to music education.

DVDs available from: www.RalphShaw.ca


If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

Upcoming Events:
Feb 13th Winter Olympics Celebration: 11:45 to 3pm 2:30pm Main Stage show. Holland Park, Surrey. BC. (King George Hwy & Old Yale Rd.)

Feb 19th & 20th Gorge Uke Festival. Hood River, Oregon: http://www.gorgeukuleles.org/

Weekend of concerts and ukulele instruction.

On Facebook? Then join the Ralph Shaw Fan Club

Got ideas for future newsletters? Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address: Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe: Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.


To subscribe: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also see the Archive of previous newsletters.


You can Contact me by...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email:bowlerhat@shaw.ca
phone: 604 689 2937 (Intl +1)
on the web: www.RalphShaw.ca
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
February 16 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,



Do you ever have the feeling that people just aren't listening to you? This is bad enough at home but when it happens while you're on stage it can be - how shall I put this - irksome.


If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 866 words

Estimated reading time: about 3½ minutes


``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````



UE #25 Hi there! Hello - tap tap - Is this thing on?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Your very first time performing music in front of people is probably not such a bad experience. For many, the initiation into making music in public is to sing 1 or 2 songs at an open mic evening in a pub or coffee house.





The anticipation of the event can still be quite terrifying. But, more often than not, you will find yourself before a group of sympathetic and supportive peers who understand what you are going through.



It is after that, when things get tough.



If you persist on the path of being a musical entertainer it won't be long before you find yourself before audiences of people who are completely ignoring you.



There you are. You've gone to all that trouble to learn your songs and play your instrument. You've endured sleepless nights and had nightmares about forgetting lyrics and being onstage without your trousers on.



Finally you get in front of the audience and they repay you by giving you as much attention as if you were a blob of chewing gum.



Why do they do this?



The main reason can be summed up in one word: DISTRACTIONS



Distractions can take many forms, though the effect they have is pretty much the same.



- You've been asked to perform at a reunion. Trouble is that everyone is getting reacquainted. They talk and talk and talk.



- You're at an outdoor celebration. It took you 3 weeks to write a special song for the 90 year old birthday boy. Suddenly his niece's Shih-Tzu dog decides that now would be a good time to attack a runaway balloon. This causes great hilarity for all except you as you reach the most heartfelt part of your song.



- You're performing in a long narrow room. The people at the back can barely see or hear you. They talk amongst themselves. As they get louder other people give up trying to listen to whoever it is onstage. They talk and talk and talk. Eventually the only ones still listening are your 3 pals at the table directly in front of you.



- You have been asked to entertain at the Postal Workers annual dinner. The first couple of songs go great. Then, while you are telling an anecdote that has a simply terrific ending, a lady in a pink pinny wheels out the dessert cart. With one mind almost everyone in the room jumps up to get in the coffee line-up. They hustle and jostle and bustle and talk and talk...



- Saturday afternoon performing for beer-drinking veterans in the Legion. You are singing a beautiful WWII 1940s love ballad when over the crackly loudspeaker system come the words,

"We'll be doing the Meat Draw in 10 minutes. Last chance to get tickets. Meat Draw in 10 minutes." Pretty much everyone is now patting their pockets and looking in wallets for their chance of scoring a lump of flesh.



You get the idea.



The problem is that sheeple, sorry, I mean people, are very easily led astray. They bleat and baa and drop things and arrive late and have pets and children. They are scattered and unfocussed and unruly. They need a leader to keep them quiet and attentive.



More often than not, that someone will have to be ewe , sorry, I mean YOU.



When you think about it you can see why theatres are the way they are. They are a practical way of reducing distractions to a minimum.



As you go into the theatre; what does the sign say? NO Food or Drink in the Theatre.



Are they trying to help you lose weight, is that the idea?



No! The sign is there because they don't want the sounds, smells and spills that would inevitably distract other theatre-goers.



Think about it. How can you possibly see the action when you are hunting around your Pirate Munch Burger Barrel for the straw that's supposed to go with your Cutlass Jack's Ooh-Aaarh Strawberry Milk Shake?



Once inside the theatre don't try asking for a seat that is facing away from the stage. There aren't any. Tried and tested theatre design has it so that all the seats face in the same direction.



If at that point you are still not sure what you are there for, don't worry! They will soon turn off all the audience lights.


This is so you, and the rest of the flock, can now sit in the dark with bright lights shining onto whatever it is they want you to look at.



Talking during the show is definitely frowned upon. There are no dogs, no alcohol is served, no meat draws take place and, most of all, there are no women in pink pinnys wheeling dessert carts.



For a new performer the idea of a theatre performance can seem daunting, but the lack of distractions actually make it a great luxury. Unfortunately it is a luxury that doesn't come around too often.




Next week: By hook or by crook... I'll talk about how to prepare yourself for the types of situations I described above. And, you'll get some pointers on how to get control of an unruly flock of sheeple!
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
February 23 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,




You've prepared your songs and you are ready to perform. The problem is; how do you get people to pay attention? Today we look at how to grab onto and hold your audience.




If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 790 words

Estimated reading time: about 3 minutes


``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````



UE #26 The Power of No


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Unfortunately some of the most difficult performing situations also happen to be the places where beginners will play in public for the first time.



Fortunately there are some things you can do to help your performance succeed.



Here are 2 of them:



1) Minimize Distractions.



This begins before you even show up at the event; actually before you even accept the gig.



In the past I have been the sort of foolhardy type to say yes to almost any offer that comes my way. Thus I have had many "useful live-performance experiences" at gigs that I probably should have turned down.



My friend Les Finnigan is a brilliant fingerstyle solo guitarist. He is however quite careful about what bookings he says yes to. For example, having learned that his music doesn't work well for New Years Eve parties he chooses not to take them. With a nod to self-help guru Eckhart Tolle he calls his technique of turning down gigs: The Power of No!



Before accepting a gig ask some questions. Do this conversationally rather than running down a checklist. Help the host to nudge and sculpt the plans so that you both look good.



When will you be performing? At the beginning of a party people tend to walk in late. There is also a lot of chatter. If the host wants people to actually listen to you then suggest to be moved to a later time.



Who will be there? Get an idea of the age range and number of the audience. If you know there'll be quite a few kids and/or elders you can plan accordingly.



What else will be happening while you perform? Will they be serving food or drinks? Suggest to perform before or after food but not during (unless they require dinner music). Find out if there'll be other competitors for audience attention (mariachi band, bouncy castle, hip hop dance troupe etc.)





2) Be in Control.



This is a big one. You need to find your way to MAKE the audience pay attention.



Developing your 'presence' can be a quick or slow process depending on how much work you've already done in this regard.



What can you do that will engage an audience and make a roomful of chattering people shut up and listen?



First of all you'll need to have, what some people call, balls. And I don't mean for playing ping pong. Jewish performers call it Hutzpah. Others refer to it as brazen self-confidence.



If you don't have it then fake it 'till you make it!



Should you be at the microphone saying,

"Its great to be here" While your body language is eloquently crying,

"I kind of planned to sing for you but I'm not really all that good and you most likely won't enjoy it and besides I'm a complete fraud and shouldn't be here...."



Your audience will pick up on that. So -



Be sure of your show. Know that you have something to communicate. Make your show as engaging as possible.



Be sure of yourself. Practice being confident. Look at confident people, especially other performers. How do they move and talk?



I once saw a striking looking performer get up on the stage of a somewhat rowdy bar-room and simply raise his hand. He stood there slowly looking around the room until he had everyone's attention and then he began to play. For him - it worked.



Some performers get attention by verbally connecting to the crowd. This can be done by being loud and feisty or equally with quiet power. American comedian Steven Wright presents his humour in a quiet and lethargic drawl. I once heard him refer to it as the silent roar. People have to shut up if they want to hear him.



Your degree of 'Presence' has to do with your aliveness. The self-help books talk about 'Living in the Now' and 'Being in the Zone' or 'Staying in the Moment'. And its true. If you are onstage constantly tuned in and adapting and reacting to life as it is right now then people will watch.



But no matter how much you develop this ability your presence will probably never be a match for that kitten who stands near you on the stage. What a performer she is! All eyes are on her as she simply watches a piece of fluff floating in the air...





There is so much involved in giving a successful performance. My Musical Performance Seminar is something that I teach to help people with all aspects of performing. With enough students I can be brought into your community to teach.





Otherwise please consider signing up for one of the following events where I'll be performing and facilitating my Musical Performers Class:


Augusta Swing Camp West Virgina August 1-6


Wine Country Ukulele Festival - St Helena, California Sept 11-12








©Ralph Shaw 2010




EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Be a ukulele playing star! The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series will help you to play and perform better. The use of teaching DVDs is the best way to learn by yourself. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and can pause and rewind as often as you wish.



1 The Complete Ukulele Course shows you how to get started with tuning and strumming. It then teaches you a variety of techniques to make your playing more and more interesting!


2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele will give you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, frailing, bossa nova, bo diddley, reggae and much more. Essential!!


3 Ukulele Play Alonghas the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. Great fun and excellent practice at a great price!


4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids - Get this dvd and a ukulele for the child/ren in your life and it could change their life. Music is a wonderful way to learn and have fun at the same time. The ukulele is a non-threatening and joyful introduction to music education.

DVDs available from: www.RalphShaw.ca


If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

Upcoming Events:

March 5: In The House - All ukulele house concert in Vancouver
7:00pm. 3238 Fleming St. Vancouver BC.

On Facebook? Then join the Ralph Shaw Fan Club

Got ideas for future newsletters? Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address: Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe: Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.


To subscribe: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also see the Archive of previous newsletters.


You can Contact me by...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email:bowlerhat@shaw.ca
phone: 604 689 2937 (Intl +1)
on the web: www.RalphShaw.ca

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
March 02 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


The Winter Olympic games has created a warm unity between all Canadians that I have never seen in 21 years of living in this country. Now that's all over; We can go back to Canada's #1 pastime - Making fun of Toronto! Today I'll be doing that as well as talking about the technique of playing Tremolo.

If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend! btw. If your friends are in Toronto please send them my condolences...

Word count this issue: 832 words

Estimated reading time: just over 3 minutes


``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````



UE#27 Get to Toronto


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was 1998 and my 1st CD: King of The Ukulele had just been released. A guy named Colin phoned me to introduce himself. It seemed we had a mutual interest in ukuleles. Colin told me,
"I have your CD. My brother picked it up at a garage sale." Surprised I replied,

"But its only been out for 2 weeks!"



Colin still loves to bring up that little story. I later discovered that his brother happened to work at one of the radio stations that I sent promo copies of the CD to. Somewhere along the way he must have mixed my CD up with some garage sale items. (That's the story I prefer).



Colin happens to be a collector of resophonic instruments. You know those loud and shiny metal guitars? I always imagine they'd be handy in a bar-fight. He has documented his remarkable collection on his notecannons website.




It was through Colin that I briefly met the famous Bob Brozman; a guitarist and ethnomusicologist who is also a collector of resophonic instruments. We had gone to watch him play a concert with Okinawan musician Takashi Hirayasu.



After the concert Colin introduced me to Bob saying,

"This is Ralph Shaw. He's a local performer known as the King of the Ukulele."



The environment was very noisy; so when Bob said,




"Get to Toronto" I had to ask him to say it again. He said it again,




"Get to Toronto"




"Really?" I asked, puzzled.




He enthusiastically continued to talk. I listened hard but could only pick out occasional words. I tried with all my might to figure out the gist of his narrative but found it impossible to tell what it was about ukuleles in Toronto that was such a big deal.



For those not geographically inclined - Toronto is a city in eastern Canada. (Torontonians will say they are in 'central' Canada but that's ridiculous. If they are in central Canada then so is Calgary which is about the same distance from the west coast as Toronto is from the east coast).



Unable to understand what Bob Brozman was saying I nodded my head and watched the shapes that his bearded mouth made. I laughed when he laughed and said, " Ha Ha. Yes!" whenever I thought it appropriate to do so. Mercifully the conversation was soon over.



We were halfway home in Colin's car when, in a flash of illumination, I understood what Mr Brozman had been telling me.





In the middle of the show he had played a song on a small Latin-American instrument made from an armadillo shell. Its called a Charango.


Of course!


He'd been saying,

"Get a charango"!



"Phew" I thought to myself. "For a moment there I thought I was going to have to go to Toronto. That was a close one!!!"



The charango has 10 strings set up in double rows. It is not unlike the ukulele. The strings are tuned GCEAE. This is similar to the ukulele but with an additional doubled E string.



I had met a charango once before.



It was around 1993. I had become fairly proficient at playing the ukulele but was on a quest to discover the technique behind the thrilling strumming style of George Formby. No-one seemed to play ukulele in those days so I was learning from every other string playing musician I could find.



One of them was charango player Rene Hugo Sanchez. Unable to show me what I wanted to learn he instead instructed me in the tremolo technique. Tremolo is the fast vibrating sound that you hear when strumming very quickly up/down on one or more strings.



He showed me how to do a fast tremolo: On your strumming hand have the fingers wide and extend them in line with your hand and arm. Now bend the middle knuckle of your index finger so that the end of this digit points towards your strings.



The fast up/down action should be done as economically as possible. The arm is kept still. The only part that moves is the forearm. The forearm rotates at the elbow causing the thumb and pinky to move toward and away from you while the centre of the hand remains quite stationary. The effect of this is to cause the index finger to move quickly up and down over the strings.



But you'll need to do this in time. Start slow, 1-2-3-4 and then double it to do 8 beats in the same amount of time. Then double it again. 16 beats. Double it again? Rene could do that. 32 beats. For that one I think it helps if you were born in the Andes.



The triplet tremolo is a teeny tad trickier. It goes down-up-down, up-down-up. Its like a very fast waltz strum. Try it slowly at first and then build the tempo.



The good news is: Tremolo is a perfect technique for ukulele, eliminating any need for you to purchase a charango.



But the best news of all is that you never have to go to Toronto!*



*Toronto is probably a very lovely city and all the jibes and insults it receives are most likely completely uncalled for. However should anyone feel offended by today's newsletter please send your letters of complaint (postage free) to:

Stephen Harper

Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street, Ottawa, K1A 0A2

Canada




A Dobro 'Cyclops' Resophonic Ukulele:
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
March 09 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,



Music has rules. It is governed by a theoretical system that tells us which sounds are allowed and which ones aren't. Have you ever wondered why it should be this way?



If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 898 words

Estimated reading time: About 3½ minutes

``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````



UE#28 Why Music Is the Way It Is


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Its like this. Many hundreds of years ago a musician, we'll call him Johann Amadeus McCartney, is lucky enough to be hired by The King to make music. He's a talented fellow but he knows full well that there are hundreds of equally, if not more, talented composer/musicians to take his place.



Understandably he wants to hold on to his job.



He notices that The King is pleased when he hears certain chord progressions and particular melodies. Kingy also tends to frown on hearing other combinations of chords and notes. Johann McCartney notices this and keeps careful jottings in his scroll. He continues to compose original pieces but they are all written with the biased intent of pleasing His Highness and keeping the royal sovereigns flowing into his own purse.



Over time, and many composers later, these jottings become formalized into what is now musical theory. All of it based on earning cash by pleasing a few individuals.



It is interesting how different Asian music is to Western music. In fact the only common feature that all musical systems contain is the octave. The octave is the repeating of the same note when you go up or down in pitch. The number of notes within the octave range varies depending on which culture you happen to be in.



The invention of popular music or 'pop' came about when men & women who weren't kings could now pay for music themselves. This was done in the form of sheet music, and later, records. It then became important for songs to have mass appeal.



In 1912 with the song Alexander's Ragtime Band; Irving Berlin discovered the trick of dividing a song into 4 sections. The 1st, 2nd and 4th of these had exactly the same tune but the 3rd section broke up the pattern by being distinctly different. Moving along into Rock & Roll this method of repetitively quoting the same musical phrase over and over with a short break or bridge was the major structure for songwriters.



By the 1950s and 60s Elvis, and later, The Beatles, worked for a new king. Who was the mysterious benefactor who supported them and filled their bank accounts with cash?



It was teenage girls. The Beatles triumphantly used the time tested techniques of tin-pan-alley and early rock music to appeal to this market. They had looks, charm and musical ability.



They were careful to write songs in the 1st person so that every 14 year old girl thought the song was just for her: Please please Me Like I please You, I want to hold Your hand, Love love Me do - You know I love You, 8 Days a week I lo-o-o-o-o-ove You and so on. With songs of love they emptied the wallets of young women everywhere.



Their music grew slightly more experimental as their drug-taking increased and their need to please the audience decreased. But by then the fab four could do no wrong. They had already obla-daa'd their way to musical indelibility.




Thanks to the massive success of pop music the huge majority of listeners have been trained to believe that; good music equals songs. Furthermore they must be delivered in recognizable 3 minute bursts, have a steady beat, familiar chords and unchallenging melodies.




There is nothing wrong with that. It just doesn't have to be that way.




2 weeks ago I performed and taught at the Gorge Ukulele Festival in Hood River, Oregon. I was outside the home of Will Richards. He was lamenting the fact that although he plays ukulele every single day he finds the idea of playing songs completely boring.



Will has been a professional and successful potter since the early 1970s. We stood talking in front of one of his works; a 4 foot ceramic plate which hung on the wall. It was decorated with red and green glazes and incorporated several 'found' objects. These were bits and pieces that he had picked up, kept and added to his art.



We spoke of music but I was focused on his visual art and then I had something of an epiphany.



I realized that here was an artist who had never made 2 identical pieces of work in his life. Now that he is turning his interest towards music it seems everyone is pushing him to play songs. Songs that, by definition, are played the same way over and over again.



I thought to myself why should he? He could use his uke skills differently. The snippets of music that he plays can be likened to the found objects that adhere to his pottery.



After thinking on this I eventually suggested that he consider making music of his own creation. Every time he plays he could create a piece of no fixed length or meter, with no particular rhyme or rhythm and which contains his favourite found musical objects.



Why not? Will Richards, unlike Johann Amadeus McCartney, has the supreme advantage that he is not doing this for cash. He needs to please no-one but himself. If he ends up playing his music in public and the public happen to like it then hooray.



There's a pretty good chance the public won't like it because they are too conditioned to listening to music created for kings and teenage girls. But, for those who still know how to listen, there is a rich and beautiful world of music out there waiting to be discovered.










Above: Plates created by Will Richards






© Ralph Shaw 2010



EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
You'll discover a host of musical 'found objects' in my ukulele teaching dvds. They'll provide you with ideas and choices to enhance your music.

The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series will help you to play and perform better. The use of teaching DVDs is the best way to learn by yourself. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and can pause and rewind as often as you wish.



1 The Complete Ukulele Course shows you how to get started with tuning and strumming. It then teaches you a variety of techniques to make your playing more and more interesting!


2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele will give you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, frailing, bossa nova, bo diddley, reggae and much more. Essential!!


3 Ukulele Play Along has the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. Great fun and excellent practice at a great price!


4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids - Get this dvd and a ukulele for the child in your life and it could change their life. Music is a wonderful way to learn and have fun at the same time. The ukulele is a non-threatening and joyful introduction to music education.


DVDs, CDs and Flea ukuleles available from: www.RalphShaw.ca


If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

Upcoming Events:


May 8: Kootenay Kids Fest, 25th anniversary. Cranbrook BC Canada





June 3&4 Surrey Kids Fest - Stage + Roving performances. BC Canada





June 10 to June 13 Winnipeg International Childrens Festival - 5 Shows



Aug 1 to 7th Augusta Swing Camp West Virginia USA
Ukulele and Performance classes




Sept 11& 12 Wine Country Ukulele Festival, St Helena California





Sept 24th Milwaukee Ukulele Festival + tour of the USA midwest.



On Facebook? Then join the Ralph Shaw Fan Club

Got ideas for future newsletters? Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address: Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe: Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.


To subscribe: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also see the Archive of previous newsletters.


You can Contact me by...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email:bowlerhat@shaw.ca
phone: 604 689 2937 (Intl +1)
on the web: www.RalphShaw.ca

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
March 16 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,




The technique of not playing is not used nearly enough. Today I describe how to do it - or not do it...




If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 713 words

Estimated reading time: Less than 3 minutes

``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````



UE#29 Silence Is Music


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Night-time in a cottage on the Gulf Islands can be very hushed.


Lying in bed at night I marvelled at the beautiful and eerie quiet of the night. There was literally no sound.



As I lay there listening I became aware of a machine in the distance. It bothered me that somewhere out there was a man-made source of booming, echoing noise that could be heard by so many people around. Without it, whatever that sound was, I felt that the silence would be absolute.



The sound wasn't loud but it was regular and continuous and was starting to annoy me. I put earplugs in my ears. The pounding sound continued.



I gradually realized that the pounding was in time with my own heartbeat. I had been listening to the blood coursing through my own head.



The quote: "Music is the silence between the notes" is one of those sayings that doesn't seem to mean much at all. Yet, at the same time, if you choose to ponder it longer, you can find an infinity of meaning in those 7 short words.



Its actually quite rare to have silence in any piece of music. There is almost always something going on.



Even a solo instrument playing alone has an overhang of sustained sound even when there is nothing being strummed, struck, pressed or plucked.



The above quote is by Claude Debussy. Since there is really no such thing as silence (not inside my head at least) one has to wonder what exactly he was getting at.



I'm thinking that when he said 'silence' he was actually talking about a pause of activity. A piano-note is struck but before playing the next note there is a moment of nothingness. Musician and listener hang together in the same space before the next note comes along to guide their thoughts and feelings.



You don't hear much silence when a typical ukulele player is happily plonking his or her way through a song.



There is great joy to be had in that regular beat. The thrilling strum strum strum that provides the background sound of a well known ditty. The on-going never-ending rhythm that goes on and on and on all the way to the end of the song. A rhythm as relentless and unceasing as my heart; beating as it does to keep the life-giving blood flowing through my head.



I've heard it said that musical rhythm at a basic level imitates the beating of the heart. Perhaps this is why so many ukulele players feel as if they will actually keel over and die if they stop playing in the middle of a song.



I suggest to you that not playing your ukulele is a valuable and much underused playing technique. In my earlier article: Make Your Ukulele into a Piano-Forte I talked about how changing the volume of your playing was probably the simplest technique of all.





To not play at all has to be simpler still.



Try it.



Pick a song you know well and start strumming and singing. At some point keep singing but stop strumming for a little while. Then, start strumming again. Repeat. What do you notice?



Maybe you noticed that you lost the beat. That's a simple fix. Keep the beat going with another part of your body (tap your foot, wiggle your shoulders, jiggle your butt etc).



Maybe you started to sing out of tune. Having the instrument playing along can be a great help for keeping the voice in pitch. If you found that your singing was sounding a bit 'off' then you probably need to work on that. I used to sing in a choir that was all voices no instruments. I trained myself to stay pretty well in tune even without instrumental backing. Its not that hard to do but it might require a bit of self or professional training.



One other thing you may notice is that the sound of the strumming ukulele is so much more welcome after it has been allowed to pause. If you stop playing for a few seconds then the return of the ukulele rhythm can be like the return of a dear friend.



I'm no Claude Debussy but here's my quote:



"Make your ukulele playing sound better - Stop strumming!"








© Ralph Shaw 2010



EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Fortunately my dvds will teach you so much more than merely suggesting that you not play. Here's some info about them:

The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series will help you to play and perform better. The use of teaching DVDs is the best way to learn by yourself. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and can pause and rewind as often as you wish.



1 The Complete Ukulele Course shows you how to get started with tuning and strumming. It then teaches you a variety of techniques to make your playing more and more interesting!


2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele will give you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, frailing, bossa nova, bo diddley, reggae and much more. Essential!!


3 Ukulele Play Along has the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. Great fun and excellent practice at a great price!


4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids - Get this dvd and a ukulele for the child in your life and it could change their life. Music is a wonderful way to learn and have fun at the same time. The ukulele is a non-threatening and joyful introduction to music education.


DVDs, CDs and Flea ukuleles available from: www.RalphShaw.ca


If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

Upcoming Events:


May 8: Kootenay Kids Fest, 25th anniversary. Cranbrook BC Canada





June 3&4 Surrey Kids Fest - Stage + Roving performances. BC Canada





June 10 to June 13 Winnipeg International Childrens Festival - 5 Shows



Aug 1 to 7th Augusta Swing Camp West Virginia USA
Ukulele and Performance classes




Sept 11& 12 Wine Country Ukulele Festival, St Helena California





Sept 24th Milwaukee Ukulele Festival + tour of the USA midwest.



On Facebook? Then join the Ralph Shaw Fan Club

Got ideas for future newsletters? Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address: Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe: Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.


To subscribe: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also see the Archive of previous newsletters.


You can Contact me by...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email:bowlerhat@shaw.ca
phone: 604 689 2937 (Intl +1)
on the web: www.RalphShaw.ca

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
March 23 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,




Today I discuss the musical usefulness of breaking routine once in a while.



If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 620 words

Estimated reading time: Less than 2½ minutes

``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````



UE#30 Taking a Break

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When I was a student I had a friend who was a brilliant up and coming clarinet player. Many of us know the feeling of what a chore it can be to have to do regular music practice. This friend of mine had no such problem. She practiced for 2 hours every single day. She loved it all. Scales, jazz, Bartok - you name it, if she was playing her clarinet she was as happy as a toddler in mud.


I was therefore as surprised as she was one day when she told me that her teacher had told her to not practice. Have you honestly ever heard of that? It's something I've never heard of before or since. Furthermore her music teacher told her to not play for 21 days. He said she should take 3 weeks off from playing the clarinet.



That was many years ago and I have long since lost touch with my friend. It is with regret that I must report that I have no idea why this music teacher prescribed such an unusual instruction.



I remember that she greatly admired and revered her teacher and I wish I could have met him. I think he was a wise teacher of the old school who was sensitive enough to know just what was best for his student.



I play my ukulele nearly every day and I perform several times a week on average. Its good to keep the musical mind and muscles working. "Use it or lose it" is a saying to which there is a lot of truth. I have also noticed however that having a break can inspire profound change.



Don't ask me to tell you exactly what that change is and please don't quiz me on how and why it comes about. I don't know. But there is a tangible newness that taking time off can inspire.



I think that part of it is down to forgetfulness. A 3 week break is enough time for our muscle memory to forget some of its ingrained little habits. Motor skills that our mind-body system has begun to take for granted are transformed and transmuted. Suddenly we find ourselves approaching familiar things in new and original ways. We discover that a piece of music can be given nuances or changed completely.



Maybe on your return to work or school after a holiday you might have discovered an effect similar to the one I am describing.



My reason for writing this right now is that after having managed 30 weekly newsletters without a break (nearly 7 months) I feel it is time to take a short respite.



3 weeks sounds like a good period of time to take off so that is what I'll do. My dad also happened to mention that it might be a good idea. So I am finally going to show some maturity by actually doing something he suggested. It took a few years but I got there in the end. Cheers Dad!




I shall return to these newsletters on April 12th.



For those of you who only recently signed up and who would like to have more to read right now; all my previous newsletters may be found on my blog-page: http://theukuleleentertainer.blogspot.com/



I look forward to writing to you again once my nodes and synapses have been reconfigured and revitalized through rest, relaxation and rehabilitation when they'll once more be ready for redeployment in the real and rewarding pursuit of reaching out to reeducate, resuscitate, revive and revolutionize the dreams of reams of readers through the remarkable powers of music.




I hope that sounds reasonable.



Regards until later,



Ralph Shaw






Question: How do you grow a successful garden?






Answer: Weed 'em and reap!








© Ralph Shaw 2010



EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Just because I'm having time off doesn't mean you can! "The Complete Ukulele Course" DVDs will help with your musical creation while I'm busy with my re-creation. Here's some info about them:

The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series will help you to play and perform better. The use of teaching DVDs is the best way to learn by yourself. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and can pause and rewind as often as you wish.



1 The Complete Ukulele Course shows you how to get started with tuning and strumming. It then teaches you a variety of techniques to make your playing more and more interesting!


2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele will give you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, frailing, bossa nova, bo diddley, reggae and much more. Essential!!


3 Ukulele Play Along has the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. Great fun and excellent practice at a great price!


4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids - Get this dvd and a ukulele for the child in your life and it could change their life. Music is a wonderful way to learn and have fun at the same time. The ukulele is a non-threatening and joyful introduction to music education.


DVDs, CDs and Flea ukuleles available from: www.RalphShaw.ca


If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

Upcoming Events:


May 8: Kootenay Kids Fest, 25th anniversary. Cranbrook BC Canada





June 3&4 Surrey Kids Fest - Stage + Roving performances. BC Canada





June 10 to June 13 Winnipeg International Childrens Festival - 5 Shows



Aug 1 to 7th Augusta Swing Camp West Virginia USA
Ukulele and Performance classes




Sept 11& 12 Wine Country Ukulele Festival, St Helena California





Sept 24th Milwaukee Ukulele Festival + tour of the USA midwest.



On Facebook? Then join the Ralph Shaw Fan Club

Got ideas for future newsletters? Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address: Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe: Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.


To subscribe: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also see the Archive of previous newsletters.


You can Contact me by...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email:bowlerhat@shaw.ca
phone: 604 689 2937 (Intl +1)
on the web: www.RalphShaw.ca

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
April 13 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,





I've discovered what is wrong with the world. It turns out that May Singhi Breen (one of the world's most influential ukulele players) does not have an entry in Wikipedia but Rose Marion Tyler does.




If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 783 words

Estimated reading time: slightly over 3 minutes

``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````



UE#31 Wiki Wacky Who?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


May Singhi Breen & Rose Marion Tyler: Which of these amazing women do you think is more worthy of an entry in the online encyclopedia: Wikipedia?




Let's compare them.



May Singhi Breen: Born: New York, 1895. In 1923 she was given a ukulele as a Christmas gift. The department store wouldn't allow her to return it so she taught herself to play and discovered she had a remarkable affinity for the instrument. Her musical group "The Syncopaters" performed on radio and there she met composer Peter de Rose (he wrote: On a Little Street in Singapore, Deep Purple, A Marshmallow World and Louis Prima's famous hit Buona Sera). They married and together they started a radio show called "Sweethearts of the Air". Peter played piano while she played ukulele. The show ran for 16 years.



Rose Marion Tyler: A working class shop assistant from London who only exists in fiction. She was the assistant to British TV's sci-fi character Doctor Who who saved her from an Auton invasion of earth. She went on to assist him in defeating the Nestene Consciousness.



May Singhi Breen: Became known as "The Ukulele Lady". Her enthusiasm for the instrument led her to teach both children and adults. She published books on how play melody as well as strumming chords. She came out with the first recorded ukulele lesson. This was a 78rpm Victor record that gave a 6 minute ukulele tutorial. She was also a pioneer of using bad ukulele puns. Her slogan was, "Uke Can Play the Melody!"



Rose Marion Tyler: Doctor Who gave Rose a "superphone" so she could stay in touch with her mother, Jackie, and her boyfriend, Mickey, as she traveled through time and space.



May Singhi Breen: Convinced music publishers to add ukulele chord symbols and ukulele arrangements to sheet music. This is a remarkable achievement when you think that the number of songs of the 1920s to 50s era that bear her arrangements are believed to total in the 1000s (I heard over 10,000 but I can't verify it) this supposedly makes her the world's most published arranger. Nowadays guitar tablature is what you'll mostly see on sheet music. But it mightn't be there at all were it not for the vision of May Singhi Breen.



Rose Marion Tyler: On her travels through time and space Rose learns the importance of not tampering with history when she attempts to save the life of her deceased father, Pete Tyler, who died when she was a baby. (btw. the characters of Pete Tyler, Jackie and boyfriend Mickey all have Wikipedia entries)




May Singhi Breen: On discovering that the ukulele did not come under the definition of "musical instrument" according to the American Federation of Musicians she campaigned to have the ukulele recognized. This was a major battle. At the hearing they wouldn't even listen to her play. The AFM representative told her that the ukulele was a "fun toy which isn't allowed in orchestras, and anyone can make a noise on it in a matter of days...it was simply a novelty contraption..." Herald Journal of 3 January 1932



Eventually Breen succeeded in having her 4-stringed friend classed as a musical instrument. Though evidently she was not immediately successful. Some vocal groups used ukulele in recordings during the AFM strike in the early 40s when musicians were banned from playing on recording sessions. btw. During the time the musician's union did not recognize the ukulele it did recognize the harmonica, snare drum and triangle.



Rose Marion Tyler: On their journeys Tyler and The Doctor were haunted by the words "Bad Wolf" written everywhere they went. This turns out to be a clue to an enormous Dalek invasion that threatens the entire universe. At one point Tyler forces her way into the TARDIS console and after staring into its heart becomes suffused with the power of The Time Vortex (yes there's a Wikipedia entry for that as well). She uses her power over time and space to spread the words "Bad Wolf" over its entirety to lead herself to this moment when she can save the earth from the Dalek invasion. Which she does. The doctor then saves her life by kissing her to drain away the harmful energy. Nice work if you can get it.






Number of words in their Wikipedia entries:




Rose Marion Tyler= 2,218



May Singhi Breen = 0






I'll admit that Rose Marion Tyler's credentials are not shabby. She has performed numerous acts of courage in defending the universe from various alien species.

But and however, May Singhi Breen does have the singular and, I believe, important advantage of at least having been a real person who actually existed. And I think that should count for something.
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
April 20 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,






Today I have 5 things that a modern day polar explorer can teach us about success with our musical ambitions.






If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 923 words

Estimated reading time: just over 3½ minutes

``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````



UE#32 Performance Tips From an Extremist

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Last week I went to a slide show at my daughter's school. I'll be honest. I didn't want to go. Some people may relish the idea of sitting in a school auditorium for 2 hours but I don't. I grumbled as I bought the tickets.



As you may have guessed... I loved it! Kevin Vallely talked about his life as one of the world's top explorers. I don't expect you've heard of him but he happens, along with Richard Weber & Ray Zahab, to hold the record for the fastest time to the South Pole. 1130 km in 33 days, 23 hours and 55 minutes. They achieved this on foot and without outside support. They pulled their own sleds while carefully navigating crevasses, snow drifts and blizzards.



All well and good. But what does jogging across Antarctica pulling a 110 pound sled have to do with the ukulele? Not a lot, but, I was drawn to his 5 ingredients for a successful expedition.



I found myself hanging on his every word. All of us set off on journeys in our personal and professional lives but how well do we plan? How much thought do we put into every decision along the way? Most of us trundle along in an ad-hoc fashion dealing with what comes up and hoping for success. Fortunately, for the majority of us, our decisions tend not to be of the life and death variety.



Many polar explorations have led to the demise of those involved because of poor preparation. Vallely however likes to quote Roald Amundsen (the 1st person to reach the South Pole) who said "Adventure is just bad planning".



I came away from the talk realizing that many of us would probably plan things better if our lives actually depended on the decisions that we make. His 5 ingredients for a successful expedition can be adapted for whatever goal you have in mind.



Maybe your goal is just to get started on the ukulele. Perhaps you have a loftier vision where you see yourself performing for an audience of 1000s. Wherever you want to take your uke you may well benefit from Kevin's 5 tips for success.



You will need:



1) Desire

This seems a no brainer but it is important to check in with yourself to see that your desire is true. Once on the path of playing music it can be very easy to let ego or fears take us in directions that we never intended to go. Other people may belittle or exaggerate our ability. Life's decisions are easier to make if you are clear about your desire.



2) Preparation

A lot of preparation can be spending time thinking! I've seen many people make expensive and time consuming mistakes because they just didn't put enough thought into what they were doing. I should rephrase that last sentence: I have seen ME make expensive and time consuming mistakes etc... Do you spend 15 minutes a day thinking about the creation of your dream or vision? 15 minutes a day is not a lot but so many 'intelligent' people just don't do it.




3) Teamwork

Whether you think you are or not you're always part of a team. Even as a solo performer you make temporary partnerships with say, the client who books you to perform, the designer of your website or your ukulele teacher. It is in everybody's interest to have a successful outcome. Working with other people is a process involving communication and trust. It also helps to have a sense of humour so you can all enjoy the mutual journey.



4) Expect the Unexpected

Things always come up. Sometimes you can have contingency plans ready but often we have to deal with whatever comes when it comes. Sometimes I get the comment that my shows seem off-the-cuff and unrehearsed yet there is a distinct connectivity to my presentation.

People ask me whether I use a set list of pre-planned songs, jokes and anecdotes. I tell them yes I do but I don't stick to it. I have learned that rigidly sticking to the format of a performance can work against me. When something comes up in a show, be it a song request, a heckler, an idea or unusual circumstance I gain connectivity to the audience by dealing with it then and there instead of staying with the plan.



5) Seeing It Through

If you give up before you see your dream or desire unfold then how will you know what you can achieve? I keep thinking about Kevin Vallely waking up in Antarctica in his tent at 30º or 40º below and realizing that he has yet another excruciating day of difficult physical and mental endurance ahead of him.

I dare say all of us have woken up with that feeling (sometimes even in our own homes) but we're still here and still going. The times when I've seriously considered giving up on my dreams are usually after a performance that didn't go so well. "It was the worst show ever!" I cry. But just like the darkest part of the night is just before dawn I find myself performing in wonderful circumstances and having the "best show ever!" soon after I was ready to quit.



In show business it is often assumed that those who succeed do so because of their particular constellation of good fortune. I found it particularly noteworthy that in his presentation Mr. Vallely never talked about having to rely on blind luck.

Perhaps show business and snow business are not so different after all.




© Ralph Shaw 2010



EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Explore new ways to play ukulele.

The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series will help you to play and perform better. The DVD system is the best way to learn by yourself. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and can pause and rewind as often as you wish. (btw. for those of you in far-away places eg. Australia, Europe, Africa and Asia I have very reasonable shipping rates just use the Paypal 'Add to Cart' button on my website to buy your dvds).



1 The Complete Ukulele Course shows you how to get started with tuning and strumming. It then teaches you a variety of techniques to make your playing more and more interesting!


2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele will give you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, frailing, bossa nova, bo diddley, reggae and much more. Essential!!


3 Ukulele Play Along has the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. Great fun and excellent practice at a great price!


4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids - Get this dvd and a ukulele for the child in your life and it could change their life. Music is a wonderful way to learn and have fun at the same time. The ukulele is a non-threatening and joyful introduction to music education.


DVDs, CDs and Flea ukuleles available from: www.RalphShaw.ca


If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

Upcoming Events:


May 8: Kootenay Kids Fest, 25th anniversary. Cranbrook BC Canada





June 3&4 Surrey Kids Fest - Stage + Roving performances. BC Canada





June 10 to June 13 Winnipeg International Childrens Festival - 5 Shows



Aug 1 to 7th Augusta Swing Camp West Virginia USA
Ukulele and Performance classes




Sept 11& 12 Wine Country Ukulele Festival, St Helena California





Sept 24th Milwaukee Ukulele Festival + tour of the USA midwest.



Ralph Shaw CDs? Buy them here!

Got ideas for future newsletters?Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address:Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe:Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.


To subscribe: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also see the Archive of previous newsletters.


You can Contact me by...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email:bowlerhat@shaw.ca
phone: 604 689 2937 (Intl +1)
on the web: www.RalphShaw.ca

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
April 27 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,







This week I received an email from Tom who writes,


"...I'm nursing a sore left thumb joint from too much pressing against the back of the uke neck with the thumb, I thought maybe you have some ideas about how to prevent that and other injuries... "







If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 671 words

Estimated reading time: just over 2½ minutes

``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````



UE#33 When Music Hurts

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tom goes on to say,



"My therapist recommends alternating warm and cold water soaks, 1-3 min each to get the blood circulating, or hot or cold packs, vibration, careful stretches after heat is applied, and actually built a small brace to keep my thumb from being forced too far back."



Tom also says,



"I wish I'd taken it more seriously when it just started to ache - too easy to ignore pain when you're having fun."



Will you look at that. He just answered his own question!



Why do humans persevere with pain? I don't believe that evolution has provided us with a sense of pain just so we can ignore it. If that were true it would strike me as being a very unusual character building mechanism.



Sure, there are times when we have no choice but to temporarily ignore our hurts in order to get a job done. After all the show must go on. But the general rule of thumb, and its a very sore thumb in Tom's case, is: If it hurts - Stop Doing It.



Even animals know this. But somehow human beings believe that if they keep pushing onwards, the pain will just go away. No it won't. Don't be silly.



I admit it's a little tricky for beginner players to avoid pain. At that tender stage almost everything you do seems to inflict one kind of punishment or another. The strumming finger can hurt, so can the arm and always there are sore finger-ends caused from fretting the strings. But if you think your fingers hurt now, try playing the abrasive low strings of a guitar for a while and see how that feels! Therefore initially, as your hands get used to the new tasks it has to perform there is bound to be some soreness. However, if you notice that pain is not going away or is getting worse then you may have a problem developing.



Here are 4 suggestions:



1) Keeping part of your body in a tense state doesn't help. Your best music is played if your body is as relaxed as can be. Read more on this topic in an earlier article: Just Relax.





2) If something you are doing is giving you pain, find a different way to achieve the same sound. This could be as simple as changing the angle of your hand slightly, use a different finger to strum with, cradle the neck of the uke between your thumb and finger instead of pressing with your thumb. The point is to find whatever way you can to give the hurting part a rest. Wherever you are pressing or gripping your ukulele use only the pressure needed. Don't press harder than that.



3) Practice more often but for shorter periods. Doing this will ensure that your aching digits get the rest they need.



4) Practice in your mind. Give yourself a break from playing. Lie down and close your eyes. Imagine that you are playing a song. Visualize your hands on the strings and practice like that. I once heard of an imprisoned man who learned to play the piano on just the scratched drawing of a piano keyboard. Take note: If Nelson Mandela had used his prison-time more wisely he could be a very competent tuba player by now.


Proof of this effect was an experiment using 2 basketball teams where one team practiced for real and the other lay on mats in a gym and practiced through visualization. After 1 month they had improved by the same amount. It's a powerful technique which shouldn't be underrated.





There have been moments, after obsessively working on a new strum, that I found myself starting to hurt. This has happened in my fingers, my hands, my wrists and my shoulders. The early twinge of pain is a red flag. Your body is letting you know that it is not happy and it wants you to do something about it.


In other words: Ow is the symptom of our discontent.
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
May 04 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,







What does it mean to be a 'good' player. Every musician has certain standards they expect of themselves. But how do you get to be 'good'?







If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 776 words

Estimated reading time: about 3 minutes

``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````



UE#34 Getting Good

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



I'll admit right now that I'm not about to provide an instant and magical technique to dramatically improve your playing. If there were such a technique, then everyone would be syncopating the minuetto allegretto on their ukuleles just as easily as walking (btw. don't be baffled by jargon; "walking" is just an old English verb. Most now use the word "driving" instead).



I am in the middle of teaching a 3 week Beginners Ukulele class. The class is taught one evening a week in the back room of a coffee house here in Vancouver. The room generally has several students busily staring into laptops and working on their studies; and we usually have to move one or two of them to make room for myself and the 11 ukulele beginners; most of whom have never played a musical instrument in their lives.



It surprises me that many of the laptop gazers actually choose to stick around. My assumption would be that they come to the coffee house to work quietly and not be distracted by a load of wannabe musicians and their tryintabe teacher. Yet they continue studying while my intrepid group goes about the serious business of learning G7.



I enjoy teaching beginners but I also find it a challenge. When I started out (circa 1990) I didn't have a ukulele teacher of my own. There were no other ukulele players around for me to emulate. Nobody to show me what to do; I had to figure it out for myself.



For the first couple of years of playing uke I stuck to songs with simple chord changes. This gave me lots of practice in holding a steady rhythm and keeping everything in time. Eventually, after upgrading to a better instrument I was then ready for trickier chords and faster changes. In other words I learned to play at my own speed and didn't compare myself to anybody else.



How different things are now. Just typing the word "ukulele" into Youtube reveals 1000s of ukulele performances. Such variety too! You can watch incredible players. Some make music on their ukes that you'd swear was physically impossible. You will also view players who apparently have no sense of how awfully inept they truly are. And, most annoyingly of all, there is an amazing 3 year old kid who sings and strums in his home. He seems to have been born with the ability to play ukulele like a fiend. Although, with such a premature burgeoning of talent he will likely be a washed up old has-been by the time he's 6. We can only hope.



Frankly I am very glad that Youtube didn't exist when I was learning. Even now I tend to avoid it unless I want to hear a specific song that I'm working on. Don't get me wrong. Youtube is a useful tool and how are we to learn if not from observing others? It's the comparing of ourselves to others that is destructive.



I can think of 3 live musicians that I heard as a young child: Mrs Eleanor played piano for the songs we sang at school assembly; my dad, a teacher, played a repertoire of mostly folk songs on his guitar, and then there was my grandad who just liked to sing. Btw. If you want to hear a wonderful home recording of my grandad and his pal Albert singing My Blue Heaven then get hold of my CD: Table for Two. He's on near the end. It's totally classic.



When I was old enough to attend professional concerts it didn't make Mrs Eleanor seem any less 'good' to me. She was always a perfect singalong pianist. My dad was an ideal performer for his school classroom where his rendition of The Little Fly was second to none. My grandad, you'll agree when you hear the recording, was a living-room crooner par excellence.



If a player only knows a handful of simple 3 chord songs they can still be 'good'. It all depends on context.



In the beginner class one of my students commented that she wasn't going to be playing ukulele in front of other people until she was 'good'. Here's what happened:



I taught the students their very first song. It had 2 chords and we played it all the way through. At the end, to everyone's surprise, there was the sound of clapping. Looking around the room we saw the smiling and impressed faces of the laptop people. They were applauding the very first song of a group of beginning musicians who could already do something, that they, with their fancy laptops, could not. I think that's alright. In fact; I'd go so far as to say they were actually quite 'good'!






© Ralph Shaw 2010



EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now you can get good too! Here's how:

The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series will help you to play and perform better. The DVD system is the best way to learn by yourself. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and can pause and rewind as often as you wish. (btw. for those of you in far-away places eg. Australia, Europe, Africa and Asia I have very reasonable shipping rates just use the Paypal 'Add to Cart' button on my website to buy your dvds).



1 The Complete Ukulele Course shows you how to get started with tuning and strumming. It then teaches you a variety of techniques to make your playing more and more interesting!


2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele will give you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, frailing, bossa nova, bo diddley, reggae and much more. Essential!!


3 Ukulele Play Along has the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. Great fun and excellent practice at a great price!


4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids - Get this dvd and a ukulele for the child in your life and it could change their life. Music is a wonderful way to learn and have fun at the same time. The ukulele is a non-threatening and joyful introduction to music education.


DVDs, CDs and Flea ukuleles available from: www.RalphShaw.ca


If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

Upcoming Events:




May 8: Kootenay Kids Fest, 25th anniversary. Cranbrook BC Canada





June 3&4 Surrey Kids Fest - Stage + Roving performances. BC Canada





June 10 to June 13 Winnipeg International Childrens Festival - 5 Shows



Aug 1 to 7th Augusta Swing Camp West Virginia USA
Ukulele and Performance classes




Sept 11& 12 Wine Country Ukulele Festival, St Helena California





Sept 24th Milwaukee Ukulele Festival + tour of the USA midwest.



Ralph Shaw CDs? Buy them here!

Got ideas for future newsletters?Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address:Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe:Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.


To subscribe: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also see the Archive of previous newsletters.


You can Contact me by...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email:bowlerhat@shaw.ca
phone: 604 689 2937 (Intl +1)
on the web: www.RalphShaw.ca

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
May 11 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,




Ask a ukulele player when they last changed their strings. Usually it's so long ago they can't remember. Those nylon strings can go on and on. Well I have a way to make them last even longer!

If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 758 words

Estimated reading time: about 3 minutes

``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````


UE#35 Make Your Ukulele Strings Last Forever (and why you shouldn't)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Back in the days when I was a childrens entertainer I bought myself a microphone stand. The bass player in the band took one look at it and said, "I got one of those things and it fell apart within a year." That was 20 years ago. My mic stand still works fine.



I have an amazing ability to make my possessions last way longer than they should.



I don't think its because I'm particularly cheap; it's more of a habit really. You see my parents were of the European World War 2 generation. They lived through the scarcities of food and other commodities that characterized life in Europe during that time. They knew how to do a lot with very little and any possessions that might come their way were treated with intentional care.



If it is possible to inherit such a habit; then I have. Valued items that I care for include expensive stuff like my bicycle and instruments but also include cheaper things like CDs, shaving razors and of course, ukulele strings.



My reluctance to change strings is not so much the cost as it is to do with the time and trouble of actually changing them. Even when strings have been changed one also has to wait for them to stretch to their final, stable tension. It can take a day or more before they are no longer going flat in the middle of a song.



If you play a lot you'll eventually find that a string will break. In the case of baritone strings the wire winding around the low strings doesn't take long to break and unravel.



Want to make your ukulele strings last way longer than they should? Here is how to do it:



First, take a string and attach it to the bridge. Usually the string goes through a hole in the bridge. Then loop the string back around itself and wind the string around itself 3 or 4 times. This makes a slip knot in a similar way to a lasso (for all you cowboys who are reading this). Pull the string tight and then wind the other end around the tuning peg. Make sure it goes around the peg at least 5 or 6 turns.



After a couple of months or so of playing, run your fingernail under a string. You'll notice indentations under the string above where it makes contact with the frets. When this happens the common wisdom is that now is the time to change your strings. And I suggest you do.



But; if ya wanna keep those strings trucking on, do this: Loosen a tuner by a few turns and pull the string down through the bridge by about half an inch (or 1 cm). When you retighten the string you'll find that the indentation is no longer above the fret. It is now way less likely to break. This is a special reprieve for baritone strings which seem to start fraying almost as soon as you put them on. Its good for other strings too and if you repeat this every few months you'll find you can make your strings last forever (nearly).



Here is why you shouldn't do it:



Over time, doing the above will make your ukulele sound badder and badder (note: I am using the word 'bad' in its old-fashioned usage of actually meaning 'bad', as in 'not good').



Your strings will loose their elasticity. They won't feel as good to play and you'll notice that they hurt your fingers a little more than before. They'll sound & feel less bouncy and more dead.



More importantly and perhaps surprisingly, is that old strings actually lose their intonation. I discovered this the hard way when I suspected that my previously excellent Kamaka ukulele had become warped or damaged. Chords no longer sounded right. Strings were out of tune with each other. My lovely instrument was sounding like one of those coconut ukuleles that one finds in Hawaiian novelty boutiques. When a guitarist friend suggested I change my strings I thought this was a folly; but it worked. It totally solved my intonation problems and had the ukulele sounding as sweet as it ever did.



Nylon ukulele strings can seem to last a long long time but you won't be doing yourself any favours by using them to the very end of their life. Think about changing them more often than you do and learn to notice when that time has come.



Just because you can make your strings last forever doesn't mean that you should.





© Ralph Shaw 2010




EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series will help you to play and perform better. The DVD system is the best way to learn by yourself. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and can pause and rewind as often as you wish. (btw. for those of you in far-away places eg. Australia, Europe, Africa and Asia I have very reasonable shipping rates just use the Paypal 'Add to Cart' button on my website to buy your dvds).



1 The Complete Ukulele Course shows you how to get started with tuning and strumming. It then teaches you a variety of techniques to make your playing more and more interesting!


2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele will give you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, frailing, bossa nova, bo diddley, reggae and much more. Essential!!


3 Ukulele Play Along has the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. Great fun and excellent practice at a great price!


4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids - Get this dvd and a ukulele for the child in your life and it could change their life. Music is a wonderful way to learn and have fun at the same time. The ukulele is a non-threatening and joyful introduction to music education.


DVDs, CDs and Flea ukuleles available from: www.RalphShaw.ca


If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

Upcoming Events:





June 3&4 Surrey Kids Fest - Stage + Roving performances. BC Canada





June 10 to June 13 Winnipeg International Childrens Festival - 5 Shows




June 25, 26, 27 Dusty Strings Ukulele Festival




Aug 1 to 7th Augusta Swing Camp West Virginia USA
Ukulele and Performance classes




Sept 11 & 12 Wine Country Ukulele Festival, St Helena California





Sept 24th Milwaukee Ukulele Festival + tour of the USA midwest.



Ralph Shaw CDs? Buy them here!

Got ideas for future newsletters?Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address:Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe:Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.


To subscribe: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also see the Archive of previous newsletters.


You can Contact me by...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email:bowlerhat@shaw.ca
phone: 604 689 2937 (Intl +1)
on the web: www.RalphShaw.ca

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9896
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
May 18 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,





It is somewhat ironic to be performing for people whose memories have all but disappeared. They haven't heard a particular song in ¾ of a lifetime yet they are the ones reminding me of exactly how a song goes. Thanks for the Erm, oh... damn, wotzit called again?



If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 801 words

Estimated reading time: just a tad over 3 minutes

``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````


UE#36 Thanks for the Melodies

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have entertained in Seniors Facilities for almost as long as I've been playing ukulele. My repertoire of songs from the 1920s to 1940s has been perfect for those people who actually lived and loved throughout those years.



As a child we referred to them as "Old Folks". I still prefer that term to the newer and somehow vaguely condescending; "Seniors". Whatever you call them I am now 17 years closer to being one than I was when I started entertaining them.




Why don't I do so many of the Seniors gigs anymore? One reason is I'm less available these days; and they pay next to nothing; but mainly, as I get slowly older there is the nagging thought that one day I'll be leaving a facility when a nice young nurse will grasp me firmly by the elbow and lead me back inside with the kind words, "Not that way Mr Shaw, you live here now, remember?"



"But I was just doing a gig with my ukulele."


"Yes that's right Mr Shaw, now let go of that frying pan and I'll put it back where it belongs."



"When do I get paid?"



"Don't worry about that Mr Shaw, we'll sort that out later."



"I've heard that one before."



It is always an education to meet audience members, no matter what their age. But I am especially fond of hearing the memories that are stirred up from those citizens whose nostalgia synapses have been reawakened by a song they haven't heard in over 60 years. I've been told family stories, tales of the war years and, my favorite; reminiscences of meetings with famous performers. The ones who originally sang the songs now in my repertoire.





Those are the lucid people.



It can be equally enlightening to meet those whose memories fall far short of what they once were. The Alzheimer's patients. 'Alzheimers' is another term that troubles me. It is a very real disease of the brain but I have also known of more than one person whose memory magically returned when they were taken off the cocktail of pharmaceuticals they had been prescribed.



One time I was introducing the Formby song; When I'm Cleaning Windows when an old fellow got up to leave. The entertainment supervisor said, "Where are you going Mr Clegg?"

He replied, "I don't need my windows cleaning"



The most remarkable thing to witness, and I've seen it several times, is when people, whose severe memory loss has robbed them of the ability to speak, are suddenly able to sing. Sometimes they know the words, sometimes just the tune. But sing they do. Not only that, they do it remarkably accurately.



When elders start to raise their voices in song my ears prick up and take notice. The reason? Its my chance to relearn the tune.

You'd think that having performed these songs thousands of times I would know them extremely well. Not so. What happens over time is that bit by bit, note by note, a word here and a word there the song starts to change.




When I sing songs over and over there is a tendency to want to do something a bit different. Maybe I improvised a bit of melody one time and liked it enough that it stuck. Slowly it came to take the place of the original melody.



Its a shame when this happens. The tin-pan-alley songwriters really knew what they were doing. Their songs are known as standards. The crafting of melody, lyrics and chord structure that made those ditties so emotionally appealing is why they are still memorable now.






It is important to stay with the true melody and lyrics. There was such care taken in the writing of those songs that almost anything you or I could do to change them will be for the worse.





Irving Berlin (the guy who wrote: White Christmas, Puttin' on the Ritz and God Bless America) was very protective of his songs. He liked them to be performed the way they were written. His favorite singer was Fred Astaire who he felt expressed the songs exactly the way they were intended. On the other hand he despised the way Jazz musicians, for all their incredible skill, would mess around with his precious melodies. After hearing Benny Goodman play a scintillating improvised rendition of his 1927 song Blue Skies, Irving approached him and said,

"That was incredible." Then added, "Never do it again."



If you perform a lot then I suggest that you go to the source of your songs from time to time to remind yourself of the true lyrics and melody. If you're not so lucky as me, and don't have friends with Alzheimer's to remind you of where you are going wrong, then get out the old records and take a listen.



I have a Story to Tell about this Picture. Remind Me to Tell You Some Time!





© Ralph Shaw 2010




EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series will be a constant reminder of how to play and perform better. The DVD system is the best way to learn by yourself. You get to see and hear everything you need to know and can pause and rewind as often as you wish. (btw. for those of you in far-away places eg. Australia, Europe, Africa and Asia I have very reasonable shipping rates just use the Paypal 'Add to Cart' button on my website to buy your dvds).



1 The Complete Ukulele Course shows you how to get started with tuning and strumming. It then teaches you a variety of techniques to make your playing more and more interesting!


2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele will give you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, frailing, bossa nova, bo diddley, reggae and much more. Essential!!


3 Ukulele Play Along has the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. Great fun and excellent practice at a great price!


4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids - Get this dvd and a ukulele for the child in your life and it could change their life. Music is a wonderful way to learn and have fun at the same time. The ukulele is a non-threatening and joyful introduction to music education.


DVDs, CDs and Flea ukuleles available from: www.RalphShaw.ca


If you found value in this newsletter. Please forward it to your friends that may be interested (Just use the little blue "forward email" link near the end of this email).

Upcoming Events:





June 3&4 Surrey Kids Fest - Stage + Roving performances. BC Canada





June 10 to June 13 Winnipeg International Childrens Festival - 5 Shows




June 25, 26, 27 Dusty Strings Ukulele Festival




Aug 1 to 7th Augusta Swing Camp West Virginia USA
Ukulele and Performance classes




Sept 11 & 12 Wine Country Ukulele Festival, St Helena California





Sept 24th Milwaukee Ukulele Festival + tour of the USA midwest.



Ralph Shaw CDs? Buy them here!

Got ideas for future newsletters?Then let me know. I'll be more than happy to consider them.

Privacy Policy: I will never share information from my email contacts list with anyone, for any reason whatsoever.

To change your email address:Go to the "update profile/email address" link near the end of the page.

To unsubscribe:Go to the "safe unsubscribe" link near the end of the page.


To subscribe: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also see the Archive of previous newsletters.


You can Contact me by...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email:bowlerhat@shaw.ca
phone: 604 689 2937 (Intl +1)
on the web: www.RalphShaw.ca
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de

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