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Autor Beitrag
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
May 25 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,




I want to say how touched I am and thank all of you who have emailed me to say nice things about my newsletter and the help you have received. Some of you have even indicated that you would like to support the newsletter financially. Well now you can! I have added a link in the EXTRA! EXTRA! section where you can safely contribute using Paypal or credit card. btw. I had not planned on making this addition and I consider it a great compliment that some of you have asked for it. Thanks again.






Most people who play ukulele, also sing. Today I give you 5 pointers to help make sure your lyrics are clearly understood.





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

Word count this issue: 886 words

Estimated reading time: about 3½ minutes

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UE#37 Classified Information

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


During the Winter Olympics the people of Vancouver were treated to musical showcases from all over the world. One such event featured performers from Eastern Canada.



Included in the showcases were friends of mine: Chuck and Albert, a wonderful fiddle playing, clog dancing comedy duo from Prince Edward Island. At the venue I was very surprised to see a long line-up consisting solely of teens in the 15 to 19 year age range. My wife and I had VIP tickets and were allowed into the pre-show lounge for refreshments.



The mystery that had started in my mind was suddenly solved when it was explained that, amongst the traditional east coast acts there would also be a Rapper from Nova Scotia; a famous Canadian Rap artist called Classified no less. Apparently famous, I hadn't heard of him.



The organizers, thinking they would treat us to a variety of East Coast entertainment, had not reckoned with the line-up-endurance power of teens. The show was free and no advance tickets were available. Many had been waiting for 6 hours to see their hero for a ½ hour performance.



When the front doors opened; all the VIPs, my wife and I included, were seated together in the back 8 rows as the slack-jawed, baseball cap wearing throng flooded into the room. There was a slight air of tension in the room but the excellent emcee put everyone at ease and asked the horde of young Rap fans to have respect for the other entertainers. Which they pretty much did. They sat patiently looking at their phones and smoking joints while a young female fiddler from New Brunswick played her tunes.



By this time I was eager to hear what Classified would present. I admire Rap as a sincere and energized form of performance poetry. However, I was disappointed.



The singular identifying feature of Rap is the words. When Classified rapped I could not understand what he was saying. I tried. I tried very hard but I couldn't do it. Call me an obsolete old fuddy duddy but if you listen to Rap and can't hear the words... honestly what is the point?



By now we all had to stand up to see. Around me other "VIPs" were moving and shaking their thang. Everyone looked to be pretending to have a really good time.



I decided I knew where I could definitely have a better time. The bar. My partner and I headed there with our VIP free drink tickets clutched in my hand.



The police, fearful of a drunken teen mob, had closed the bar. I protested,

"But I only want a glass of Chardonnay for my wife."



I gave them my word of honour that I would take full responsibility for any disorderly consequences.



The police woman said,

"I'm sorry sir the bar is closed."



"What, even for Chardonnay?" I whimpered, "Surely they should be allowed to sell Chardonnay."



I'd never heard of a Chardonnay-fueled mob causing violence and property damage, but I guess the cops know more about these things. However, I was delighted to discover that it pays to whine for wine! The policewoman looked around and then said,

"Come with me."



The bartender informed the constable that it was beyond his power to reopen a bar, even for Chardonnay, once given the order to close. Oh dear. It seems even the police have limits on their power. How very annoying.



And how annoying it is to not be able to hear lyrics. Whether your lyrics are original or written by someone else I would assume that they are worth hearing; or why sing them?



Many singers are so familiar with their songs; they hear the lyrics nice and clearly inside their own head. But it doesn't follow that the information is getting across to the listeners. Here are some tips to make sure your lyrics get heard:



1) Over enunciate. When forming words move your mouth more than you would during everyday speech. If you sing in a group, each singer should over-enunciate to, what will feel, an unnatural extent. The audience will hear a much more natural sound than you'll think you are making.

2) Open your mouth wider than you normally do. Take a tip from the teens! Let your jaw be relaxed and hanging open.

3) Using a microphone? Then stay close to it. Turning your head away will make words inaudible.

4) Sing to the person farthest from you. That way you can be sure everyone closer than them will hear you.

5) Communicate the meaning of the words. Give more expression to the important words in a line of song. Eg. Don't give equal emphasis to the word "it" as you do to the word "love".



Minutes after Classified ended his non-understandable examination of urban teen-hood we returned to the now ½-empty theater to see the rest of the show.



I felt sorry for those kids who had come and gone. They had lined up for hours and were now missing the opportunity to experience some fine and verbally coherent entertainment. A woman near me grumbled,

"They think its Macdonalds. They just take what they want and leave."



True, or maybe they just don't understand our generation and its music. What a bunch of young fuddy duddy's.




Heartwarming Entertainers: Chuck and Albert




© Ralph Shaw 2010




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

Make a financial contribution to support the work of creating this newsletter: Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card

Want to make your playing more coherent?
The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series shows 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
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
June 01 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,




Going electric can be a mixed blessing, just ask Bob Dylan. Today we look at the pros and cons of playing an instrument with volume control.




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

Word count this issue: 859 words

Estimated reading time: less than 3½ minutes

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UE#38 Four Reasons to go Electric

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


A couple of years ago I got a phone call telling me that Hawaiian ukulele artist Jake Shimabukuro would be performing that same evening in a local furniture store, for free. Not a hoax, it turned out to be quite true. A sponsorship deal he had with a Hawaiian home furnishings chain meant that his west coast tour included a free furniture store show here in Vancouver.



It wasn't exactly widely advertised and those present sat comfortably on sofas and easy chairs with price tags hanging from them. It was the first time I had ever seen Jake play and as I sank sleepily into my $899 cushioned recliner I was struck by his obvious virtuosity. The other thing that struck me was, as I inevitably relaxed and closed my eyes to listen, there was no way I could know that he was playing a ukulele.



Most of his songs were played through electronic effects. I think anyone walking into the room would have assumed he was playing an electric guitar.



The intimacy of the venue would have lent itself very well to a purely acoustic performance on a non-electrified instrument.



So why do we have electric ukuleles; what is the point?



Non-musicians are often, and understandably, mystified about what an electric instrument is. When they see someone pull out a little wooden ukulele it can be surprising to watch a ¼" cable being plugged into the end of the instrument.



What this means is that the acoustic ukulele has had a "pickup" built into it. The pickup "picks-up" the vibrations of the ukulele and converts them to an electrical signal.



Many players play their whole lives on ukuleles that are 100% acoustic; the way ukuleles were meant to sound. The modern term for this is "Unplugged".





If you don't have a pickup in your uke and can see no reason to change, then don't. An electrified ukulele can have benefits but it will also become a gateway into a world of technological complications that you may be well content to live without.



There have been electric guitars since the early 1930s and I'm certain someone was tinkering with an electric uke soon after. Indeed I have been told that May Singhi Breen, who I wrote about several weeks ago, performed her 16 minute Rhapsody for Ukulele with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra around that time.



Here are 4 benefits to playing an electric ukulele:



1) It makes it louder. An obvious but important point. If Ms Breen had played an unamplified uke with the entire Whiteman Orchestra it may have been a real challenge to hear her.





2) It allows for amplification and movement. The disadvantage of playing in front of a microphone is that as soon as your ukulele moves towards or away from the microphone then the loudness level coming out of the speakers is going to change. With an electric ukulele the musician is free to move around at will. Without electric instruments we couldn't hear Hendrix play behind his head and we could never have had Chuck Berry's "Duck Walk". Imagine the loss to humanity.




3) Electrification prevents feedback. If you've heard of feedback but don't know what it is: Imagine you are playing a ukulele at a microphone. The strings vibrate and the mic picks up the sound which goes to an amplifier and then out through the loudspeakers. When the speakers vibrate, this air vibration returns to the ukulele where it vibrates the strings. The mic hears the extra string vibration which is then amplified and goes to the speakers and so on. This "feedback loop" can happen many times in a second and results in that high pitched electronic scream that sends sound-guys lunging for the volume dial. Electric pickups tend to be far less prone to feedback.




4) You can use all kinds of cool effects. Once an electric signal is coming along that wire out of your ukulele your sound can be manipulated in an infinite number of ways. There are effects available that provide your sound with: Echo, Reverberation, Distortion, Vibrato, Tremolo, Chorus, Phaseshift, Fuzz, Flange, Squidge, Plopp, Bungy-Flatulence and more (only the last 3 are made up by me). These sounds can be combined in any number of ways. My experience is, that most of this kind of manipulation loses the essence of the ukulele sound. But, if you want your uke to sound like an electric guitar then they are great.



Larry Adler, the famous harmonica virtuoso, was still performing well into the 1990s. He'd reminisce how, in the 1920s, he would regularly play harmonica in front of a full orchestra without any amplification.



How was this possible?



First of all the orchestra musicians were sensitive enough to play at volumes that allowed the small solo instrument to be heard. Secondly the audiences knew how to be quiet and listen to natural sound.



Technology offers us much, but is it always necessary?



Next time: I'll talk about the different kinds of electric pickups that are available, should your interests lean towards becoming "Plugged".




Larry Adler in Action





© Ralph Shaw 2010


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

Improve Your Ukulele Playing:
The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series shows 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


Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card

Upcoming Events:

Ralph Shaw on the Silver Screen!!! (maybe) "The A Team" Movie will be released in June. I was filmed singing a Led Zeppelin song with my banjo-uke in a scene involving Bradley Cooper. If I'm in the movie at all it'll be very brief but I just wanted to give you a heads up!





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!

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).

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: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
June 08 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,





Today I offer some information to help you understand the mysterious world of electronic pickups.




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

Word count this issue: 895 words

Estimated reading time: just over 3½ minutes

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


UE#39 Picky About Pickups

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


You've decided you want to play electric ukulele. Now what?



One option is to buy a ready made electric uke. Fully electric models have almost no acoustic sound. They can only be heard through headphones or amplifier with speaker. Or you could get an acoustic instrument with an electric pickup already built into it.



If you want to convert your existing ukulele into one that can be played through a stack of Marshall Amps, at your next stadium gig, you'll need to install a pickup.





First, here are some things you need to know:



1) Its rare for a pickup to put out a sound that is exactly like your instrument. The sound you hear from the speaker may sound generically like a ukulele but it will usually be different from the acoustic sound you normally hear.





2) Pickups come in a wide range of prices. The price does not always reflect the quality of the sound. Meeting musician John Rutherford at a folk festival he told me how he had explored many pickups for his banjo-uke. He got the best sound from a $5 computer-microphone.




3) Pickups are great, when they work. However they can be a real pain when they suddenly don't. Sooner or later everything breaks down and pickups fail for many reasons. They come unstuck, batteries die, wires fray and break.




4) Because many pickups are attached to the vibrating surface of the instrument they supposedly can affect the acoustic sound. However if they do change the "unplugged" sound it is to such a small degree that I've never been able to hear it.





5) You'll need gear. Your electrified uke will only serve you if you have the gear to bring the sound out into the acoustic world. Soon you'll be looking into getting cables, amps, preamps, effects pedals and all that other stuff.





Here are the main types of pickup and their advantages.



A) Magnetic pickups These are rare for use with ukuleles because they only work with metal strings.




B) Internal Microphone Strictly speaking not a pickup but it is, as the name suggests, a tiny microphone placed within the body of the instrument. This gives an accurate sound of what you'd hear if you were inside a ukulele.




C) Contact Pickups Are often made of piezoelectric material which converts physical vibration to electrical signal. Contact pickups attach to the vibrating surface of the uke. (In case you don't know where that is - its the front). They can be temporarily stuck with putty to the outside (great for occasional use).

Contact pickups can be permanently installed on the inside. A hole is usually drilled in the end of the instrument to install the jack for plugging in. To get the best sound it is important to find the ideal placement for the pickup aka. the "sweet spot". Contact pickups are usually circular. They vary in size from about a dime to a quarter. For Brits that's a 5p piece to a 10p coin. About 10 Euro cents to 2 Euros. They can also come as a flexible strip 1 or 2 inches long.





D) Under the saddle pickups The saddle is the strip of wood (or bone or plastic) that sits on the bridge holding up your strings. An under-saddle pickup is a very thin, often piezoelectric, strip sandwiched between the bridge and the saddle. It picks up vibration and sends the signal through a thin wire into the ukulele coming out again through the "plugging-in" hole in the end.





E) Combination or Blender Systems The above types by themselves, are not always completely satisfactory for the playing professional. Therefore it is possible to get systems that incorporate more than one pickup. The sound is then "blended" to produce the desired tone. An example might include using a piezoelectric pickup in conjunction with an internal microphone.



As if that weren't enough, you'll also need to think about a preamp. A preamp is basically a box containing a battery and electronics. It affects the volume and tone of the sound before sending it to the amplifier. Preamps often give you control of EQ (sound frequencies) and volume. Therefore if your pickup is giving you a high, thin sound your preamp may be able to boost the mid or bass frequencies to give you the tone you want.



The preamp can be an external unit or it can be built into the instrument itself. Internal preamps are usually installed at manufacture otherwise it entails cutting a sizeable hole into the side of your ukulele. Most people don't like to do that.



The good news is, once you have your pickup + preamp configured to give you a pleasing quality, you'll have a consistent tone that you can plug into any sound system. This can be preferable to relying on the varied and often dubious quality of other people's microphones.



Now you have some basic information, you can set out on the road to Ukulele Rock and Roll glory. The work of researching the many available pickups begins. Its not easy. Everyone seems to have different ideas about what constitutes "good sound".



Indeed, some musicians are more concerned about getting the right pickup than they are about the instrumental itself. It's a crazy world. Are you sure you wouldn't just be happier twanging some elastics wrapped around an old shoebox?!




© Ralph Shaw 2010

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

Ralph Shaw on the Silver Screen!!! (maybe) "The A Team" Movie will be released in June. I was filmed singing a Led Zeppelin song, with my banjo-uke, in a scene involving Bradley Cooper. If I'm in the movie at all it'll be very brief so keep your eyes peeled!

Improve Your Ukulele Playing:
The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series shows 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


Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card

Upcoming Events:




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



Ralph Shaw CDs? Buy them here!

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).

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.
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
June 15 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,






On the release of my new Children's CD: "Birds of a Feather - Unplucked" I want to talk about making music for children and their families.






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

Word count this issue: 920 words

Estimated reading time: just over 3½ minutes

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


UE#40 Birds of a Feather - UnPlucked!

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

When my daughter was young I read a book about raising children. One of the chapters was titled: Children's Music - Why?


I love that sentiment. Children are just like anyone else. They recognize just 2 kinds of music; good music and bad music. Furthermore they often have a highly developed sense of criticism.



Most adults, finding themselves in an auditorium watching a poorly executed and boring performance, tend to sit and quietly bear it. Children don't. They become restless. They shout and they cry. In fact they'll do almost anything to get out of the same room as Michael Bublé (oh Michael, don't pout I'm just kidding).



In 1989 I joined up with Fred Faulkes and Trish Miller, a couple of musically talented childrens librarians. We formed a band known as The Crows which we soon changed to Birds of a Feather. It seemed less menacing.



We had enough success to consider going professional. But in the end we broke up when Fred and Trish decided that they enjoyed having reliable incomes. I was gung-ho to continue the band since I'd never had a reliable income and didn't know what I would be missing. Still don't. But a band of one isn't really a band. That's when I became "The King of the Ukulele". Well, someone had to.



The legacy of our time together is recorded on, what I think, is a stunningly good children's album: Birds of a Feather - UnPlucked!









I hadn't heard the album in about 15 years when, 2 months ago, I made the decision to re-release it on CD. Listening to the remastered work I was blown away by the artistry involved throughout the recording.



Sometimes a project comes together where everything works. I am proud to have been a part of it. The experience I have gained since those days helps me to recognize how the combined efforts of studio musicians, engineer, producer and band have created something unique and finely crafted. A whole that is greater than the individual parts.



Our goal was always to create entertainment for the whole family. I still believe that to be a worthy ideal. I love looking out at an audience and seeing young and much older family members enjoying music together.



We can ask ourselves the question: What makes good family entertainment?



Some of the main ingredients that you'll find are:



Use good material. For ukulele players this means get yourself really fine songs that have memorable melodies, lasting lyrics and cool chord changes.



A great song will have different levels of meaning for different people. A perfect example of this is the George Formby favourite: My Little Stick of Blackpool Rock. As a child I was highly entertained by Formby's song about the hard, pink confection known as Blackpool Rock. Little did I know that the song had an entirely different connotation for adult listeners. Not that Birds of a Feather sang songs like that!

Sometimes the difference in meaning can be more subtle. A seemingly happy song for a child may be a bit of a tear-jerker for the parent because it also expresses lost youth and times gone forever. Terry Jacks wrote: "We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun". As a kid I could not understand why my mum got a bit misty eyed when this came on. Now I do.



Participation songs are a great idea. Get the audience involved. This can be in the form of physical actions or singalong choruses. Kids love to be occupied and, truth be told, many adults like to join in too. In the 1920s, as young adults, my grandparents would hold hilarious parties full of participatory games. People knew how to have a good time and I believe that spirit still holds true.



Put some variety in your show. Mr Dressup was a staple for 25 years on childrens TV here in Canada. Mr Dressup was always engaging. He used all his skills to entertain his audience of 3 to 6 year olds and their parents. He'd sing a song and then talk to his puppets. After that he'd draw a picture of a mystery object and then make a whale out of a milk carton before acting in a short play with his puppet friends. It was riveting stuff! The point is that he didn't just rely on one skill set.



Take stock of your own skills and see how they might lend themselves to entertaining your audiences. Are you good at telling stories, jokes? Is physicality more your thing? Perhaps dance, other movement or funny facial expressions. If you have some mask-making, costume or acting ability your musical performance could incorporate other characters.



Are you good at building imaginative props that could enhance your show? To see how this idea can be taken to the extreme check out the great Al Simmons. I recently performed with him at the Winnipeg International Childrens Festival and his inventiveness in the creation and use of props is nothing short of sublime.




Al Simmons in one of his Many Amazing Hats



I guess I'm a Vaudevillian at heart. The old Vaudeville variety shows were a powerful form of entertainment that also happened to be family friendly. Think about how comforted a child must feel when she looks around and sees parents, brothers and sisters smiling and relaxed.



And if you want to relax and smile while listening to an exquisitely produced album, not just for kids; I urge you to check out this latest release on CD: Birds of a Feather - UnPlucked!
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
June 22 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,







Perhaps you've looked at someone playing a small part on TV and thought, 'That looks easy, I wonder how I could get a job like that?'

I did get a small part recently, playing ukulele in the new movie: The A-Team released last week in North America. Here's what happened.







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

Word count this issue: 1078 words

Estimated reading time: nearly 4 minutes

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UE #41 I Touched Liam Neeson's Wig

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


A Tuesday morning last October. I'm in my pajamas. Home from an event in New Brunswick I am looking forward to 2 days of packing before leaving for festivals in California, Oregon and Nova Scotia. The phone rings.



1) When Opportunity Comes - Say Yes

"Are you the ukulele player Ralph Shaw?"




"Yes."




"I'm calling from the set of The A-Team. They want you in the movie. Can you come to the set right now?"




"Er, sure, I think so. My wife has the car but as soon as she's done I'll drive over."




"Bring all the equipment you need to perform and get here asap."




There followed 20 minutes of me grabbing my gear and hopping from one foot to the other while I waited for the car. It was a 1 hour drive and when I arrived I saw a perfect Baghdad desert military base complete with sand, palm trees, tents, armoured vehicles, helicopters and lots of dust.



They quickly put me in a uniform. Wardrobe had a hard time deciding on insignia because although I'd be playing a low rank I look too old to be a private or corporal. Thanks ladies. They made me a staff sergeant. I even had a cloth name badge that said Shaw. This detail was important because my suitcase drum, which has my real name on it, might get seen. Product placement!



Hair and make-up was next. While there I saw the actor who plays BA (Mr T in old TV show) having his mohawk glued on. Yep its not real, sorry.

Wigs belonging to Liam Neeson's character, Hannibal, were on 3 styrofoam mannequin heads by my chair. I stroked one of them with the back of my hand. A sort of brush with fame.



On my face they applied make-up to give me a tanned look, and baby oil to make me look sweaty. Then I had lunch and waited 2 hours with over 200 camouflaged, gun-carrying extras all looking unnervingly warrior-like.



Soon I was given my own small dressing room in a trailer. I sat and reflected on how I came to be there.



2) Get Noticed.

Getting in movies usually involves taking acting classes and finding an agent to send you for auditions. But I got this part through doing street performance. I regularly do street shows in our local tourist haven known as Granville Island. A few weeks previously a couple of guys had approached me saying they liked my stuff and were in town filming The A-Team. Maybe they could use me.

Not taking them seriously I joked around with them and then forgot all about it.



3) Show Them Your Best Stuff

A knock on my trailer door.

"You're needed on Set right away."



I grabbed my banjo-uke and we hustled across the sand. I was told to wait in front of a tent. About 15 people came out of the tent including Director, Assistant Director, Cameraman, Sound-guy and the 2 guys who had seen me on the street. They stood before me in a semi-circle and someone said, "Sing us a song".

I ummed and ahhed for a moment pretending to think about it but I already knew I was going to sing an original song of mine: Movie Stars, High Rollers and Big Shakers. If they decided to use it in the film it could mean royalties!



I sang and played. All around I could see movie folk stopping to listen. I expanded the net of my performance to include them too. I finished and was loudly applauded by the host of US and Arab military personnel. As I stood there smiling in my fatigues I thought, 'How odd'.



Someone said, "Nice job. Be here tomorrow, early"



4) When you have the Chance to Speak Up - Do So

Next day, 7am. Into makeup & uniform and straight to set. They were preparing for a major scene that would involve all 200 extras plus vehicles, helicopters and Bradley Cooper (who I didn't know of at the time). I was brought to the director who said,

"Hey, do you know the Led Zeppelin song, Kashmir?"



"You want me to play Kashmir on a Banjo-ukulele?"



"Don't worry we'll find it for you"



I had read somewhere that Led Zeppelin rarely allow their music to be used in movies or TV. However I was sufficiently awestruck by the situation to not mention it to the director. In retrospect I should have.



5) Use Your Experience and Fake the Rest

A couple of assistants were sent scrambling to download the song. While the complex 8 minute scene was being rehearsed I listened to the song over and over. I felt close to falling apart. Not only could I not figure out the chords but the timing was weird. The guitar played in 3/4 time and the drums in 4/4. Within minutes I needed to figure this out, learn it and play a one-man-band version with cameras rolling. Great.



Someone got a print-out of the chord changes. The first chord was a D5. D5?!! Never heard of it. Apparently '5' chords are known as power chords and often used in Rock music. Ignoring the fact that I didn't know what '5' chords were I worked quickly to figure out a version of the song that was easy to play and sounded kind of recognizable. The director looked over at me, smiled and nodded,

"Yeah, you got it."



6) Enjoy The Moment

The rest of the day entailed filming the same long scene over and over again. My reworked Kashmir, adapted for one-man-band and ukulele was fairly easy to play. I had fun entertaining the troops gathered around me as they reclined with their snacks, magazines and sudokus.



The scene felt strangely reminiscent of the photos you see of George Formby entertaining soldiers in the second world war.



It was one of the most surreal episodes of my career. Suddenly it was over. 8:30 pm and dark. Everyone left. The lights were turned off and I was left standing cold and alone on a Baghdad military base with more gear than I could carry by myself. I thought, 'I'm going on tour tomorrow morning and I still need to pack'.



The Details...




What You See: Ralph, his red ukulele case and a view of the suitcase with his name clearly readable on the front.



Screen Time: 3 seconds



Can You Hear Him: Hardly, if at all.



Number of Andy Warhol fame-minutes remaining: 14 mins 57 secs




© Ralph Shaw 2010


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

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

Birds of a Feather - UnPlucked! CD of Music for Children
"..one of the best albums of family music ever made." CD = $14.95

By George!Collection of Ralph Shaw singing his favourite George Formby numbers. CD = $14.95

Table for Two 1930s and 40s hits plus some wonderful originals. CD = $14.95

King of the Ukulele Ralph Sings his favourite songs of the Tin-Pan-Alley era.
CD =$14.95

Improve Your Ukulele Playing:
The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series shows 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.



Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card

Upcoming Events:




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



Ralph Shaw CDs? Buy them here!

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).

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: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
July 06 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,







Was this a long weekend for you? If you live in North America it probably was.

Canadians celebrated Canada Day on July 1st and the USA just had their July 4th celebrations. This means that from last Thursday to this Monday very little work has been getting done. Coincide this with the timing of the World Cup and I'm surprised that our entire civilization hasn't ground to a complete halt.







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 over 3 minutes

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


UE #42 Long Weekend

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

It's a good time to be playing the ukulele. As the fireworks make colourful explosions in the distance it's wonderful to be inspired by the non-musical skills of the soccer magic that has taken over the world.


I'm not really a sports watching person. I sometimes try, but a few minutes in front of TV's latest "Big Game" finds me overcome with a powerful feeling of "what-a-Big-waste-of-time".



I don't even understand most sports. I never played ice hockey, baseball or American Football. I had only a brief and embarrassing attempt at basketball. As a tall youth I was expected to excel at this game designed only for elongated freaks. I failed miserably. Therefore you're not likely to see me goggle-eyed in front of a TV, beer can in hand shouting, "Yes! Come on...Yes... OOoooh"



EXCEPT...



Every 4 years. The World Cup. I can watch the World Cup. The games are slow and steady. And, with all that green grass they are nice & soothing to the eyes. Plus I understand the game! As a child it was the only proper sport we played. Admittedly we also played cricket; a game you can play in a cardigan and still not work up a sweat, so I'm not sure it counts as a sport.



I have often heard football fever being likened to religious fanaticism but that's not quite right. Watch a game. As the ball is kicked up and down the field you'll hear the commentator filling you in, not only on game statistics but also on the private lives of the players. If the midfield striker looks sluggish you'll learn that he recently became a father of twins and is probably sleep deprived. If on the other hand the centre-forward's playing has reached a new high the commentator will tell you its because,

"Gonaldo appears desperate to impress his fiance; where she sits, next to Phil Collins, sharing a little joke now as they watch from the VIP section."



Sport is not a religion - it's soap opera for men.



Watching the players run and gyrate in their efforts to keep possession of the ball I think of the essential combinations of muscle training and intelligent spontaneity required to play at that level. It can be awe-inspiring to see a flying overhead kick into the goal. At the same time I know that I will never achieve that sort of athleticism myself. However such moments do propel me towards improving my musical skills.



Not every flying overhead kick goes sailing into the back of the net. And so it is that, no matter how much you practice your ukulele, not every performance will succeed.





The tension that performers go through before a concert can be quite palpable. Doing a 'safe' performance results in an unremarkable show. Most performers know this and regularly choose to walk the high-wire of risk that comes with publicly displaying their talent. They perform at the very edge of what is possible for them at that time. Sometimes they excel and sometimes they fail but it's the endeavour that needs to be applauded.



If you've been playing the same song over and over again to the point where it is 'safe' and 'easy', ask yourself what you can do to make it more interesting.



For example: Are you someone that always stays in the 1st 3 frets of the ukulele? If your answer is yes, maybe its time to consider trying one or two second position chords.



If you are new to this idea don't think you must adapt every chord of the song. Just pick one of them, say the C chord. To find 2nd position C: play the Bflat chord and move the whole chord 2 frets along. You are now playing another version of C (btw. I'm thinking in GCEA tuning here). Try your song again, only now use your new C chord every time C comes around.



In other words you don't need to play the whole song with fancy, new fangled, hard to remember chords. Just change one of them and your music will begin to sound different. And... being slightly outside of your comfort zone will require more of your intention and focus. This will show - in a good way.



If new chords aren't your thing then work to improve your strumming game. Are your strums varied enough? Work to constantly change your strum style.



I challenge you to take your playing to a new level so that the next time you are in front of an audience you'll give them something to watch and applaud. Walk the high wire that takes you to the edge of your ability.



And whenever you see someone else perform with heart, whether in shiny shoes or muddy soccer boots, be sure to let them hear your appreciative hurrahs!



© Ralph Shaw 2010


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


Learn to play with heart:

The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series shows 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.


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.



Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card

Upcoming Events:


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



CDs available: www.RalphShaw.ca
Birds of a Feather - UnPlucked! CD of Music for Children
"..one of the best albums of family music ever made."

By George!Collection of Ralph Shaw singing his favourite George Formby numbers.

Table for Two 1930s and 40s hits plus some wonderful originals.

King of the Ukulele Ralph Sings his favourite songs of the Tin-Pan-Alley era.
(All CDs =$14.95 each)

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).

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.
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
July 13 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,






Ukulele strumming can be hard on the fingernails. Today we look at some causes and cures of nail ailments.






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

Word count this issue: 794 words

Estimated reading time: just over 3 minutes

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


UE #43 Failsafe aids for ailing nails



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Not all players depend on their fingernail to strum the strings. Some players use picks or manage to do all their playing using the pad of the thumb. But in my experience most of us are dependent on the strength and state of one solitary fingernail.



In The Complete Ukulele Course DVD I teach how to strum using the end of the index finger as if it were a pick. I talk about doing down-strums with the back of the fingernail and up-strums with the pad of the finger. This works great until the nail gets damaged. When this happens the enjoyable pastime of ukulele playing can become a difficult or even agonizing affair.



I once heard of a performer who would refuse to play publicly if his fingernail wasn't in exactly the required condition that he felt was necessary for performing. But, for those of us who would have a hard time looking a client in the eye while making such an excuse, we need to figure out some ways around this curiously debilitating problem.



3 main causes of nail failure are:



1) Weak nails - a result of genetics and/or poor nutrition and/or physical illness. When you see someone in radiant health it often shows in the strength of their hair and fingernails. When did you last see a sick person with great hair? Nutrition and digestion is also a major factor. Having once had, and recovered from, a fairly serious digestive disorder I understand how prevalent this is in our society. I once heard that as many as 80 to 90% of illnesses come from either improper nutrition or poor food digestion/absorption as the root cause. Thankfully many have learned that our natural bodies are meant to consume natural food. The general rule is to avoid the non-foods (sugar, caffeine, alcohol, white flour etc.) and stay clear of 'food products' (in other words only eat stuff your great grandma would recognize).



2) Nails get worn down from playing. Under normal circumstances the playing of a soprano ukulele shouldn't affect your fingernails. Nylon strings won't wear down your fingernail although they may dig into your cuticle which can be painful. What will affect your nail are 'wound' strings (btw. wound rhymes with hound and not spooned). Often found on the larger tenor and baritone ukes these strings are abrasive to the fingernails and can lead to nail breakages.





Another factor that causes nail damage is when the finger repeatedly hits the ends of the frets or the side of the fingerboard. I had this problem with my banjo-ukulele and solved it by putting a plastic material ('pick-guard') around the part of the fret board where my finger was striking.



3) Nails get broken by day to day living. Learn to be careful and wear gloves. I used to be the sort to do all kinds of work with my bare hands. As my wisdom incrementally increases I now take the time to put on gloves more often.



Solutions to help your ailing nail:



1) Strum with something else. There are a wide range of guitar/ukulele picks available. They are cheap so why not try a few out and see how it goes. Or, if its just one nail that is giving you trouble try using other fingernails. Strum using several fingernails together. I do this all the time. It can be an especially useful technique if you have small fingernails.



2) Keep the edge of your nail rounded and smooth. Small irregularities in the fingernail can lead to faster wear and breakages. You can use a nail file and additionally use a smooth stone. I find that the right choice of stone will make a smoother edge than most nail files.



3) Nail polish. Putting clear nail polish on your nail will help to strengthen it. I occasionally still resort to this. Put on several layers. I use "Sally Hansen Hard as Nails with Nylon". At about $3 a bottle its cheap and it works better than many of the more expensive brands.



4) Use a fake fingernail. You can buy fingernail kits from the drugstore or chemist. They are usually plastic and glue onto the existing nail with a strong adhesive. Success with this can be varied. A friend of mine who plays often and professionally informs me that he gets a single fake nail put on at one of those nail-care/manicure places. It costs him around 5 bucks for an extremely real looking nail and he is very happy with the results.

I said to him, "I guess you'd have to be a real man to walk into one of those places to get your nails done."

He replied, "Well if that's all it takes - it's fine with me"!



5) Switch to oboe!







© 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.


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.



Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card

Upcoming Events:


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



CDs available: www.RalphShaw.ca
Birds of a Feather - UnPlucked! CD of Music for Children
"..one of the best albums of family music ever made."

By George!Collection of Ralph Shaw singing his favourite George Formby numbers.

Table for Two 1930s and 40s hits plus some wonderful originals.

King of the Ukulele Ralph Sings his favourite songs of the Tin-Pan-Alley era.
(All CDs =$14.95 each)

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).

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: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
July 27 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,







Hawaiians are a very lucky people and I'm a bit jealous of them. For one thing, they get to live in Hawaii. But more than that. The Hawaiian people are fortunate to still have such a strong knowledge of their native roots and culture.







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

Word count this issue: 822 words

Estimated reading time: just over 3 minutes

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


UE #44 Sithee - the Yorkshire Aloha



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




When I first heard a live Hawaiian band it was in Whaler's Village, Lahaina on the island of Maui. I was moved to tears as I listened to the sweet sounds that those people were making. I still remember every part of the ensemble from the throbbing bass guitar to the sweet Kamaka lili'u ukuleles. There was beauty everywhere. From the steady authority of the large lady on guitar to the delicately suggestive movements of the smiling hula dancer. From the deep voiced male singer to the high pitched falsetto of the other male singer.



The sights and sounds of that experience evoked for me so much more than just the music. I felt I could hear the very landscape from whence these people and their ancestors came. Without even understanding the words of the songs it seemed I was somehow able to reach in and connect with their entire culture.



It got me thinking. Our "western" culture (I'll ignore the fact that Hawaii is west of everywhere) seems to have done its utmost to systematically eradicate every native culture on earth. But what kind of a culture do we have? How many of our songs, the ones we westerners proudly sing, are able to communicate the depth and richness of who we are?



And... Hawaiians have the word; "Aloha".



Aloha - the word that says so much. A fond greeting of both welcome and farewell. An all-enveloping word that expresses the inherent beauty and love that IS all creation.



The Hawaiians graciously share Aloha with all of us. But I have to confess that actually saying the word Aloha makes me feel a bit awkward.



For a start I'm a tall, skinny, white European-Canadian. The feeling I get when I say Aloha is a bit like knowing you have to hug someone when you're not the hugging type. Whenever I say Aloha I feel like I'm borrowing something. A favour which I can't return.



So I started to look at my own life and upbringing to see what vestiges of my ancestry might be salvageable to use with some of the same self worth that the Hawaiians hold.



It was at an opening ceremony of the Wine Country Ukulele Festival in California. Greetings were conducted by the great Liko Puha. A man whose heartfelt presence is enough to imbue even the most motley gathering of humanity with a soulful sense of ceremonial wonder.



We stood in a circle and each took turns to say a few words. Everyone seemed to make a point of saying, "Aloha". When it came to my turn I said, "In my homeland, by the windswept Yorkshire moors we don't say Aloha we say 'Owdo'." I nodded and resolutely spoke. "Owdo" I said.



I did it with a straight face though at the time I wasn't sure if I was being serious or not. But a little while later it certainly did make me smile when dear Liko came to me and asked with grave seriousness to say it for him again. He apparently wanted to get the pronunciation just right. I treasure the memory of this big Hawaiian carefully mouthing 'Owdo' a few times to help him remember. Perhaps he was afraid of offending my people should he ever meet more Yorkshire folk.



'Owdo doesn't quite do the job for me though. Not like Aloha. It's really just a shortening of the phrase "how do you do". After thinking some more I eventually remembered the old greeting from my childhood: "Sithee".



You may be surprised to know that in my village there are still people who use the ancient words 'thee' 'thy' or 'tha' instead of 'you'. The greeting Sithee was (and I hope still is) commonly used as hello and goodbye.



Sithee means 'see you'. "I recognize your presence". Frankly it still doesn't do

the emotional heavy lifting that Aloha can manage but its all I have. I even end some of my emails now with: Sithee, Ralph.

I like it. It keeps me in touch with the inner part of me that will always be near the purple-heathered moors of South Yorkshire.



When the Hawaiian group performed their songs I felt that I knew them. If you think about it every great performer does that.



Think of your favourite performer. I'm betting that seeing him or her on stage or screen gives you a feeling that you know who they are and what they are about. The image, the sound, the moves all add up to a feeling of completeness.



Who are you when you sing? How does the performance that you think you are projecting differ from what the audience is seeing? What can you draw on from your own history and background to make the ever expanding picture of yourself as complete as possible? It's something to think about.



And finally, thank you Hawaii; for Aloha and for ukuleles. Really, what more could we possibly need.



Sithee,




Ralph
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
August 10 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,








Ralph Reader was a famous impresario. Born 1903 his legendary career included the production of numerous Broadway and West End shows. But his most famous achievement is probably the creation of The Gang Show.








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

Word count this issue: 904 words

Estimated reading time: just over 3½ minutes

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


UE #45 Where to Look When You Sing



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




Gang Shows are shows put on by members of the scouting movement. Sometimes they've been huge international events broadcast live on radio or they can be intimate little productions held in a scout hut in front of a few parents and friends.



The latter is the kind I was involved with. I was a cub scout when I participated in my first gang show. It involved songs, sketches (= skits for all you Americans) and an enactment of the Pied Piper of Hamelin story. During rehearsals there arose a small problem when it was found that although we had boys to play the parts of children and rats there was no-one to play the part of the mourning mothers. This is a necessary part of the tale when the piper lures the children of the village away for ever because he was not paid his due.



So I volunteered. It didn't occur to me at the time that there was anything odd about wearing a dress and an apron. It was just a play after all. And nobody said anything. Unusually for boys of this age I was not ridiculed at all. Perhaps they were just glad to not have to become cross-dressing 9 year olds.



The moment came when Akela (our female cub leader) was tying on my headscarf prior to my stepping on stage and said,




"I think you're very brave."



It was only then that it began to dawn on me that I might be doing something that society might deem unusual. My thoughts went, 'Who, Brave, Me?' etc. and quite frankly I have to say that my potentially Oscar level performance was adversely affected by her ill-timed comment.



I can't say I was traumatized. I still have no problem putting on a skirt and apron if the circumstances deem it necessary. After all Scotsmen and free-masons do it all the time! (Ha Ha - please don't write to complain unless you are a Scottish free-mason with no sense of humour!)



Anyway all this is slightly off-topic.






Ralph Reader went to the USA to see Al Jolson perform. Jolson already had a reputation as the greatest entertainer who had ever lived. Other entertainers said that.



Mr Reader bought a ticket to the show but on arriving at the theatre was told the show was canceled because Jolson had gone to the races. He was given a ticket for the following night.



Reader was incensed. He spent the whole evening and next day thinking about Jolson's arrogance. He decided he disliked the man so much he wouldn't go to the show. At the last moment though he did walk through the theatre doors and found himself standing at the very back of a packed house.



He said that from the moment Jolson came on stage all the venom and anger he'd been harbouring towards Jolson melted away. He was mesmerized. Even at the back of a full theatre he said it was as if Jolson were performing for him alone. Every person in that theatre felt exactly the same way.



I find this story inspirational. Whenever I perform I aim to include everyone. My goal is to make every onlooker feel personally involved. Much of this has to do with eye contact. Where to look.



If you are singing on stage and your eyes are always closed or permanently looking away, either above or to one side, then you will not be able to fully connect with your audience.



In a theatre it is too dark to make true eye contact. Instead I do it in my mind. I choose several points throughout the entire theatre (say 5, like the spots on a die). I sing or talk to each point as if there sits an imaginary friend who is adoring every moment of my presentation. By doing this my focus is fixed on one point for a phrase or two before fixing on another point in the audience. This avoids having my eyes swim around looking for a place to land and never finding it.


Performing in the intimate surroundings of a smaller well-lit room can actually be more difficult. Now you truly ARE making eye-contact. But a similar rule applies. Sing a phrase to one person and then move to another.



Don't worry if you suddenly find yourself singing "darling you're the only one for me" to someone of your second favourite sex. You can either quickly look to someone more attractive or just smile and treat it as a moment of lightness.



From time to time you can break away and close your eyes or visualize a scene in the air but don't stay there too long. Keep returning to the people you are communicating with. It can feel risky to look at people like this. Reading their facial expressions and body language can also be distracting and off-putting. Get used to that. Try and spend more time on the smiling faces. However, if you feel the audience is uncomfortable with eye contact it is definitely permissible to sing with closed eyes. You have to judge this as you go.



If members of the audience look grumpy and are checking their watches you need to try harder to connect. Sometimes you'll succeed and sometimes you won't but its your job to try.



And if I could just add one more thing before you go on stage,





"I think you're very brave!"







© 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 is a great way to learn by yourself.


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.



Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card

Upcoming Events:


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



CDs available: www.RalphShaw.ca
Birds of a Feather - UnPlucked! CD of Music for Children
"..one of the best albums of family music ever made."

By George!Collection of Ralph Shaw singing his favourite George Formby numbers.

Table for Two 1930s and 40s hits plus some wonderful originals.

King of the Ukulele Ralph Sings his favourite songs of the Tin-Pan-Alley era.
(All CDs =$14.95 each)

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).

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

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




Forward email

This email was sent to sper@online.de by bowlerhat@shaw.ca.
Update Profile/Email Address | Instant removal with SafeUnsubscribe™ | Privacy Policy. Email Marketing by


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: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
August 24 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,









Thanks to the internet we now have easy access to the music of some amazing ukulele players. They are doing things on their instruments that I would never have thought possible when I began playing in 1990. However the high level of skill expectation can seem insurmountable to someone just starting out.









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

Word count this issue: 706 words

Estimated reading time: just over 2½ minutes

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


UE #46 What Ukulele Players Can Learn from a Juggler



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

I am glad that I learned ukulele in those long ago pre-internet days when access to ukulele related information was very scarce. As a result I spent years playing songs with relatively simple chord changes. I concentrated on playing them well while at the same time worked to be as entertaining as possible.


Many years ago I got an Extra part in a movie called Carpool starring Tom Arnold. What do mean, you didn't see it?!!!! That's OK neither did I.



In those days I was known as Ralph the Clown (its what I did between being a physicist and becoming King of the Ukulele, I know, I'll explain another time).



Being a clown was not a very social existence. Most of my performances were for events where I was the only entertainer. Therefore it would come as a welcome change to get a movie gig where they needed a whole bunch of circus performers.



The film set of a circus or old-style carnival made it feel like we were the real thing. Old style circuses are quite rare these days so it felt really cool to drive across the sawdust of a circus ring in a tiny car containing several dozen clowns. Actually it only held 4 of us - the rest popped out later using camera trickery - but it was still cool!



Being on the movie set with a bunch of clowns, acrobats and jugglers was always a good time. We'd chat and exchange stories and ideas. The only down-side was the actual filming. To be called to the set meant that we had to put aside our coffees and muffins and go outside into the Vancouver winter cold. Everyone wore summer clothes to create the illusion that we were in California in July. Heaven forbid that American viewers should have to see anything Canadian! Bright lights can make the darkest day look like summer in LA but unfortunately they don't provide the warmth.



I doubt I'm in the movie. The first scene to be shot did not include me and it was a scene they kept filming over and over. So while others paraded around providing background movement for the scene I had lots of time to hang out.



I was watching an acrobat-juggler friend manipulate a 4 foot length of rope. He was twirling it as if it were a baton. It looked easy. He let me try. Not surprisingly I couldn't do it. After a few more goes I gave the rope back.



He told me this is one of the hardest skills he has ever learned and yet it looks like the easiest. For this reason the trick is almost worthless to his show because it always fails to impress the audience. The irony, he told me, is that it is often the simplest, easiest tricks that get the most audience adulation and applause.



It can be the same with music. I have found that audiences will get more enjoyment from a 3 chord song played very well than from a 10 chord song played almost as well. They don't know that it took you only 1 hour to learn the 3 chord song compared to a week to learn the more difficult 10 chord piece. Not only do they not know - they don't care. They just want to be entertained.



Its what you do with what you've got that matters.



Too many players attempt music that is slightly too far beyond their reach and so have to put in many extra hours of work for only incremental results. Meanwhile their ability as an entertainer is not improving because they don't attend to the extra nuances that a good musical performance demands.



By choosing to keep the music simple there is more time to spend on the presentation of the song.



Look at your goals. If they are purely about learning musical skills then put your time into honing the trickier techniques. But, if your desire is to entertain an audience then they won't be impressed with how long it took you to learn a difficult piece. Figuring out an entertaining way to present a simple song may be a better use of your time.




© Ralph Shaw 2010

PS. Here's a related joke I heard not so long ago:-

Definition of Rock and Roll: 3 chords, listened to by thousands.
Definition of Jazz: Thousands of chords, listened to by 3.

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


The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series will help you to play and perform better. The DVD is a great way to learn by yourself.


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.



Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card

Upcoming Events:


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





Sept 24th Milwaukee Ukulele Festival



CDs available: www.RalphShaw.ca
Birds of a Feather - UnPlucked! CD of Music for Children
"..one of the best albums of family music ever made."

By George!Collection of Ralph Shaw singing his favourite George Formby numbers.

Table for Two 1930s and 40s hits plus some wonderful originals.

King of the Ukulele Ralph Sings his favourite songs of the Tin-Pan-Alley era.
(All CDs =$14.95 each)

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).

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

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




Forward email

This email was sent to sper@online.de by bowlerhat@shaw.ca.
Update Profile/Email Address | Instant removal with SafeUnsubscribe™ | Privacy Policy. Email Marketing by


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: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
September 7 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,










Think about this for a moment. What would you say is the most difficult common skill that we share? Most people use it every day and hardly give it a thought! If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!











Word count this issue: 856 words

Estimated reading time: just under 3½ minutes

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




UE #47 Speaking of Improvisation



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

What do you think it is... writing perhaps? Riding a bike or driving a car? How about the apparently simple act of walking? Maybe the mental arithmetic involved in figuring out the tip for a dinner for 8 including the guy who forgot his wallet, a disgruntled vegetarian and the couple who only had decaf because they ate before they came?


I learned from an expert on the radio (yes I still use mine) that the most difficult thing that most people ever learn to do is talk. The combination of knowledge and physical skill inherent in the act of speaking is quite mind boggling. First there is the massive vocabulary of words that we just simply need to know. Most of us use 2 to 5 thousand words to communicate. Then we have to know how the words fit together to form coherent thoughts, sentences and ideas. Grammar it is called; though we rarely think about that when we pick up the phone to order a pizza.



Knowing all about words and sentence structure is not nearly enough. Communication requires us to coordinate our mouths, lips, cheeks, tongues and air flow to make the sounds that represent the words we wish to use.



As well as knowing what to say we also have to be adept in knowing how to say it: Should my next words be said politely or in an angry tone? Is it appropriate to speak right now or should I save my thought for later? Should my tale be concise or filled out with interesting asides and additional information? Should I speak slowly, calmly, with a frown perhaps. Or quickly, excitedly, with a twinkle in my eye?



We can add humour; irony, double entendre, sarcasm, wit or hyperbole. Our words can be made poetically beautiful by delivering them in ways that create senses beyond which their meanings normally imply.



From early childhood we are told that schooling, learning and education are synonymous with one another. But think back... who taught you to speak? Which teacher, parent or friend showed you all the necessary intricacies vital for verbal intercourse? It was you wasn't it!



Our ability to speak began with us listening to others do it. Soon realizing that this skill would enable us to get stuff; attention, affection, cookies etc. we began using it whenever we could. Our first efforts were unrecognizable except to those closest to us but we kept trying and we got better.



Think about all the people you know. Did any of them never learn to speak? It is remarkable indeed that this most difficult of skills is shared by pretty much everyone.



But the most incredible thing to me is that we are able to do all of this "on the fly". Apart from the occasional speech that gets written out beforehand verbal communication is almost totally an improvised medium.



It is nothing short of miraculous that we can listen to others speak and immediately create a response incorporating all the above skill sets; vocabulary, sentence structure, meaning and intonation; all effortlessly combined to produce the desired results.



However like the aforementioned pizza; it's not necessarily all made from scratch. We have all sorts of devices to help us keep the flow of utterances coming smoothly. Our memory banks hold pre-programmed phrases; verbal snippets and sayings, references that we can habitually retrieve and repeat as required.



We are all natural born improvisers.



Teaching recently at the Augusta Swing Camp in West Virginia I discovered that "jamming" (playing informal, unrehearsed music with others) was one of the prime activities. I was surprised to be slightly uncomfortable doing it.



The truth is I don't know much about chord structure, harmony, scales and so on. I had a fear that my lack of formal musical expertise would come blaring out in a series of clunkingly discordant atonal utterances. I usually prefer to learn a song and then practice it to an acceptable performance level before showing it off in public. Indeed, many of the students seemed to be far more at ease with musical improvisation than I was. I was afraid of playing "wrong notes".



But why should music be different from speech? Fact was that in the jam sessions no-one made fun of anyone's incoherent musical babbling; anymore than we would criticize a 2 year old for improper use of syntax.



Thinking about how we develop speech helps me to be kinder with myself around the idea of musical improvisation. I wish I had a better understanding of musical theory but on the other hand I communicate just fine without having a diploma in English. Most of my knowledge of grammar I absorbed through everyday life. And those thousands of words I need for speech were memorized by daily use, not by rote learning.



We became the astoundingly good verbal improvisers that we are by:

a) having the desire to do it and

b) doing it.

Music should be this way too.



Next time I'll tell you more about my Augusta Swing Camp experience and how rewarding a great "jamming" environment can be.




© 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 is a great way to learn by yourself.


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.



Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card

Upcoming Events:


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





Sept 24th Milwaukee Ukulele Festival



CDs available: www.RalphShaw.ca

Birds of a Feather - UnPlucked! CD of Music for Children
"..one of the best albums of family music ever made."

By George!Collection of Ralph Shaw singing his favourite George Formby numbers.

Table for Two 1930s and 40s hits plus some wonderful originals.

King of the Ukulele Ralph Sings his favourite songs of the Tin-Pan-Alley era.
(All CDs =$14.95 each)

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).

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.
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
September 21, 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,












One of the highlights of my summer has been to spend a week at the Augusta Heritage Swing Camp. I was there to teach ukulele and live performance but I also learned a lot about the value of jamming. If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!











Word count this issue: 847 words

Estimated reading time: just under 3½ minutes

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




UE #48 Swing Camp



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

To the uninitiated "Swing Camp" could mean just about anything. (One of my relatives pictured open-minded couples swapping tents to the strains of live ukulele music). Wrong! So before you start conjuring up your own ideas of what "Swing Camp" involves allow me to enlighten you.

Every summer on a lovely campus in Elkins, West Virginia a teaching staff of first rate musicians and a host of eager students gather together to teach, learn and make wonderful music together. Called Augusta; not because it takes place in August, which it does, but because that was the original name for West Virginia.

Its an immersion into music in an atmosphere that could not be more supportive and friendly. During morning classes you learn: swing guitar, horns, fiddle, bass, percussion, ukulele strumming styles and more. Every afternoon was Band Class where students gather together in small groups to work out a song arrangement in a realistic band situation. Evenings, while a live band played, there was dancing in the sparkling outdoor dance pavilion.


After that: teachers and students go off to participate in Jam Sessions!

A Jam Session is commonly defined as: "an informal gathering of musicians to play improvised or unrehearsed music". Jam sessions would pop up almost any time there was nothing else going on. Often, rather than join in right away, I would stand or sit on the edge of the jam circle watching and listening.

The teachers are all top level professionals; some of them quite acclaimed and famous in their fields. You may not recognize the name of Trumpeter Peter Ecklund but he was the one who recorded the famous whistling part on Geoff Muldaur's version of the song Brazil. He has worked with Gregg Allman, Leon Redbone and Paul Butterfield amongst others.

The brilliant and soulful Rusty Mason, an 88 year old piano and horn player, was the first black musician in his area to join an all white dance band. Whether you listen to him talk or play music you are equally enthralled.

Guitarist Tom Mitchell has played with Dan Hicks, Bette Midler, Ricki Lee Jones, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and Brian Setzer.

Trombonist John Jensen has performed alongside Urbie Green, Milt Hinton, Stephanie Nakasian and Hod O'Brien and is part of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.

The inspirational Bassist Ralph Gordon has toured with Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians and the ground breaking folk ensemble, Trapezoid.

Those are just some of the teachers and I'm deliberately name dropping to give a good idea of the caliber of musicianship that the students were getting to jam with into the early hours of every morning.

It was clear how enjoyable this experience was to those involved. And addictive too judging by the number of hours that were devoted to jamming.

I also noticed the excellent manners of the participants:

1) Inclusiveness. Everyone who wanted to participate and solo could, and did, regardless of their ability

2) Acceptance. There was never any criticism of any kind. Neither positive nor negative comments came up. There was an occasional "Yeah" for a bit of really cool playing and someone might tell the trombonist what a great contribution she was providing. But mostly each solo was taken for whatever it was.

3) Supporting. When someone soloed everyone else did their bit to support the soloist. This was mainly achieved by playing quietly, sparsely or not playing at all. It would be bad taste indeed to play in such a way as to distract from the solo player.

4) Leadership. Not everyone knows every song therefore anyone who wanted to could choose to lead a song. Everyone else would do their best to join in and contribute; regardless of how well they knew the song or the key. The choice of leader would come about either by someone starting to play or by someone inviting another to contribute a song. I was new, so if it hadn't been for these invitations I would have probably participated a lot less than I did.

5) Kindness. There was an underlying pleasant tone which characterized every interaction. No-one was pushy, forceful, arrogant, mean, loud or belligerent. Such insensitivity would have stood out immediately.

6) Giving. Everyone gave of their best. Such serious fun! A smiling soloist was also doing their damndest to produce the best music they could possibly achieve at that time and place with whatever amount of wine or beer was (or wasn't) in their system.

The Augusta Swing Camp has existed for 22 years. Teachers who've been involved for all or most of that time tell me they don't ever remember a single unpleasant interaction. It could be that the unspoken rules for jamming have permeated into the very culture of Swing Camp.

The present day resurgence of the ukulele is leading to a world where a lot more home-made music and jamming is taking place. I'll be fascinated to see how the above guidelines of jamming etiquette become incorporated into everyday life. Its probably a foolish dream of mine but I'd love it if every day could be more like those laugh-filled musical days at Swing Camp.

© Ralph Shaw 2010


Find out more or sign up for the Augusta Swing Camp:

Look at the Swing Week At Augusta Facebook page (photos, videos, conversations with students)
Look at the Swing Week Webpage: www.augustaheritage.com/swing.html
E-mail Wendi Bourne at swing@augustaheritage.com

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

Learn Ukulele! The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series shows you how.



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.



Upcoming Events:


Sept 24th Milwaukee Ukulele Festival


CDs available: www.RalphShaw.ca

Birds of a Feather - UnPlucked! CD of Music for Children
"..one of the best albums of family music ever made."

By George!Collection of Ralph Shaw singing his favourite George Formby numbers.

Table for Two 1930s and 40s hits plus some wonderful originals.

King of the Ukulele Ralph Sings his favourite songs of the Tin-Pan-Alley era.
(All CDs =$14.95 each)

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).

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.

Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card




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: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

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












Are you a worrier, especially when it comes to your music and performance? I may not be able to cure you but I can tell you some benefits of creative worrying and maybe help you see the positive side of your negativity. If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!












Word count this issue: 930 words

Estimated reading time: just over 3½ minutes

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


UE #49 The Sacred Path of the Worrier

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

I just got back from the land of beer and cheese - Milwaukee. I attended an enjoyable one day ukulele festival there put on by Lil' Rev and his trusty band of uke playing volunteers.

Milwaukee was settled by Germans who found the local water & farmland perfect for brewing beer. Many of the big breweries have gone but some of the best beer I have ever tasted was home-made by my host Steve Yeo. After my long flight his beer, served with cheese, crackers and a bit of smoked salmon REALLY hit the spot. I swear it was one of the most delicious glasses of beer I have ever had the pleasure of washing my cheese and crackers down with. It was full flavoured without being too hoppy, too malty or too anything.


I've been doing a spot of brewing myself lately but my latest batch didn't work too well. When I added the yeast to the wort (thats the mixture of malt, hops and water) nothing happened. After a day or so I realized that the yeast wasn't activating. Steve informs me that this anxiety over whether the yeast will take or not is the origin of the term "Worry Wort" for someone who tends to worry about things. He may not be correct about this since the earliest written reference of the term is spelled Worry Wart.


But, whatever its origin, I am one. If everything in my life was flowing effortlessly in seamless perfection I would worry that it was all too perfect.

To regular readers of this newsletter I may come across as an upbeat sort of chap. A person with a positive and optimistic outlook. Actually I'm not that at all. The reality is that I have always been a bit of a worrier.


My tendency is to look into the future and think of everything that can go wrong. If there is a silvery lining then that only highlights the fact that a big looming cloud is coming over the horizon. I wish I were one of those eternally cheerful people who walk around grinning as they enjoy every moment on this green earth but I'm not. Since I can't make my tendency to worry go away I have learned to embrace and use it.

They tell me, "Don't worry" and "Think positive". And that's another thing. Who exactly was it that got to decide that thinking positive was such a grand way to be? I would argue that many people who achieve excellence do so through having a healthy dose of negative thinking. Though I prefer to call it contingency thinking or defensive pessimism.

It turns out that I still get uptight and nervous before many performances and festivals. Its because my mind is busy creating every disaster that might befall me: What if I forget the words/chords to the songs? What if I get lost on the way to the gig? What if I forget the electrical cord for my amplifier? What if the audience doesn't like me? and so on...


I also notice that as I think about these things my mind also comes up with solutions: I work on the songs so that I remember them. I look at the map. I asked questions to find out what sort of people I'll be performing for so as to plan my set accordingly. I double check the equipment I need to bring etc.

Negative thinking, when used properly, can be a powerful and vital part in attaining excellence or even just attaining being quite good. (Btw. extreme negative thinking in the form of a debilitating mood disorder is a sign of severe imbalance and needs to be treated).

Positive thinking on the other hand is really not much use at all. Positive emotions are no guarantee of positive outcomes. I'm not saying positivity is a bad thing but aside from making you feel good it really doesn't help with the specifics. Your negativity is what prepares you for all the stuff that can go wrong. Contingency thinking is vital for seeking out and correcting those little imperfections that make your musical performance less than it can be.

It is as difficult to change your average emotional state as it is to achieve a new average weight. Apparently its coded into our genes (see: Lykken's set point theory of happiness) If something really good, or really bad, happens in your life you'll likely be back to feeling your normal self within 3 to 6 months. And its encouraging to note; studies show that grouchy people are just as healthy as smiley people. Nature has endowed us with enough negativity to get the job done right so don't worry about worrying.

I once read that 95% of the things we worry about never happen. Good to know. But when the 5% does go wrong, and it happens on stage in front of hundreds of people, I want to be prepared!

The flip side of all this is that when things do go wrong it can be completely unexpected. No amount of preparation or pre-planning will help. So once you've dealt with all the reasonable worries learn to set them aside and live in the moment.

The positive use of your natural negativity may lead you to a place where you can actually relax and enjoy life more. Which, in spite of all I just said, is a good way to be. It may not feel like you are living in a land of milk and honey but you may find yourself in a land of beer and cheese. Which for for some of us is infinitely preferable.

© Ralph Shaw 2010


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

Learn Ukulele! The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series shows you how.



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.



Upcoming Events:


March 4-5th 2011: Gorge Ukulele Festival, Hood River, Oregon



CDs available: www.RalphShaw.ca

Birds of a Feather - UnPlucked! CD of Music for Children
"..one of the best albums of family music ever made."

By George!Collection of Ralph Shaw singing his favourite George Formby numbers.

Table for Two 1930s and 40s hits plus some wonderful originals.

King of the Ukulele Ralph Sings his favourite songs of the Tin-Pan-Alley era.
(All CDs =$14.95 each)

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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: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

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















Humans have existed in an illiterate state for millions of years. Nevertheless the ability to read is a useful one. But just because we can read doesn't mean we always should. There comes a point where needing to have the words and chords in front of you can be a real drawback.

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













Word count this issue: 918 words

Estimated reading time: just over 3½ minutes

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UE #50 Paper View

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Paper.



Let's look at a piece of paper.



It has the lyrics of the song clearly shown. Above them are the chord names. This is how most of us learn a song. The words and chords are written or printed on a piece of paper and WE READ THEM.



There was the story of the great concert violinist who, at a birthday party, was asked to play Happy Birthday. He unfortunately was not able to do so because he couldn't do it without the written music.



We don't want to be that guy. So we play it safe. We go onstage carrying the PIECE OF PAPER with us. There it is now, clipped securely to a music stand.





Here are some PROs and CONs of having your paper on stage :



PRO:

Useful when you don't have time to learn the song.

Listen to Johnny Cash sing A Boy Named Sue as performed in San Quentin Jail. The way he sings it you'd swear he's been singing the song for months or even years. But no. He had just got the song shortly before and this was his premier performance of that ditty. Could it have been done better without paper? Probably not.



CON:

Its a physical object.

Paper bears the major disadvantage of possibly being: lost, torn to bits, burnt to ashes, forgotten, stolen, left on the kitchen counter or being eaten by your neighbour's turtles.



PRO:

Paper can provide helpful nudges to an ailing ability to memorize.

Let's face it. Remembering chords and lyrics can be difficult for some.



CON:

It tends to inhibit physical movement.


Come on now. Dance a little. Use that Mojo



CON:

The music stand creates a physical barrier separating you from your audience.

Better connection with your crowd will be achieved if the space between you is more open. As a general rule, before starting my performance, I always try to remove any physical objects that stand between me and the people.



PRO:

Paper can provide helpful nudges to someone too busy or too lazy to memorize.

Todd Butler is a friend of mine who entertains by singing satirical songs combined with amazing guitar picking. I once asked him why he performs with the lyrics in front of him. He said,

"Oh I've got better things to do than spend my time learning the words to my songs."

But he uses it so well that after seeing his hilarious performance you'd be walking away with no thought for the mental crutch with which he flies.



CON:

Some may use paper as a way to avoid eye contact with the audience.

It is vital that you keep the connection to the audience. Eye contact can play a major role here. Though not always. Great blind performers are unequivocal proof that a powerful connection can still be achieved without eye contact. Mind you they obviously aren't using paper either...



CON:

It can lessen the ability to act out a song.

Incorporate a song into your being and you've gone beyond merely memorizing. (Think Twinkle Twinkle Little Star; could you forget that song even if you tried?) At that point you can act the song to a far greater degree than by reading lyrics.



Generally though I believe you'll do a better performance without the paper.





But if it is unavoidable;

Here are some pointers for using paper successfully:



1) Position the paper at a level where you don't have to move your head. Have it high enough to read while easily maintaining eye contact with the audience. Using a microphone? Make absolutely sure that you're not moving your mouth away from the mic every time you turn to look at your paper. You could, and this is real innovation now, try using 2 PIECES of PAPER. See Photo of Todd Butler below with 2 music stands. In fact, now I think of it, why stop there? Have 3, 4 or 5 music stands! Its up to you.





2) Rehearse with your paper. If necessary mark the points where you can comfortably look away from your sheet and easily return to the correct place on the paper. In a group situation it is a problem if everyone is singing one verse but the loudest voice in the group has skipped over and is singing a different verse.



3) If you normally need glasses to read then don't take them off just before going on stage. I have seen this so many times. Someone thinks they look more attractive without spectacles. So they spend the whole time on stage stooping and squinting while they puzzle over the blurred markings on the lyric sheet. Believe me, the glasses are more attractive than that!



4) Get a Kani Ka Pila Klip. Its a flexible holder that clips onto your headstock and holds a small lyric sheet.



5) Have the paper in your back pocket. There is a certain amount of stress involved in getting up to sing a memorized song. The stress can cause you to forget lyrics. Having the paper with you onstage is insurance that, should you need the lyrics, they are within easy reach. This reduces the stress and HEY PRESTO! - you don't need the paper after all.
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

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














Last issue I wrote about not using paper on stage. I then received email asking for help with memorizing words and chords. I do apologise, it was forgetful of me to not mention my earlier newsletter: How to Remember Lyrics part 1. Also I intended to write a "part 2" but it er...it slipped my mind. Not a problem - here it is now. If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!













Word count this issue: 955 words

Estimated reading time: just over 3½ minutes


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UE #51 How to Remember Lyrics part 2
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They call it, "Getting a rush!" It's the feeling that comes from the release of adrenaline in response to stress. Fight or flight. Unbelievably there are people who willingly seek out this feeling by taking part in life-threatening activities. Activities which, to some degree or other, often use gravity as the primary locomotive force.



I'm talking about skiing, hang-gliding, white water rafting, rock climbing, bungee jumping and so on; all those 'sports' that I choose to watch from afar knowing that, were I to participate, I would sooner or later come to find myself either wrapped around a large wet boulder, free falling with no bungee to stop me or impaled on a cold Spruce. Therefore I don't do gravity.



I'm not saying that others shouldn't. In fact I'm quite happy for you and everyone you know to risk getting a broken this or a crushed that in pursuit of getting a "rush". But its not for me. The terror of knowing, that whether I will be having a rest of my life, or not, depends on the decisions and actions I make in the next 30 seconds, is enough to scare me into blank minded knee buckling witlessness. If I really want to feel like that then I'll just go and perform on stage.



That's right. Going in front of an audience is very much like setting off at speed down a snowy mountain. You're fine so long as you remain relaxed and keep within your skill and experience level. But when the tilting slope suddenly gives your momentum an unexpected lurch; when you can no longer influence your direction and are unable to stop. Panic sets in and your mind goes blank - AAARGH!!!



I've heard it called a brown-out. With a black-out you actually lose consciousness and fall to the floor; a brown-out, in some ways, is worse because you get to stay fully conscious while your mind goes fully blank. It's a stress reaction.



Its that awful moment when you're in front of a crowd singing a song that you may have sung faultlessly for 10 years. Suddenly you have no idea what the next lyric line is.



Such onstage mind blanking may be triggered by all kinds of factors. With me it seems to begin with some distraction which induces the mind to wander. This distraction can be externally triggered, as in noticing a fly on the head of the bald man in row 2. Or it may be a self-induced distraction, as in thinking, 'It would be simply awful if I were to forget the lyrics right now'. And then you do.



The distraction only takes a millisecond but when the brain clicks back to the task at hand you'll find it has split into its 2 component hemispheres which then chatter accordingly:



Right Hemisphere: WHAT ARE THE WORDS?! We don't know the words!! We've forgotten the song. What are we going to do?!!



Left Hemishere: Will you shut up. I'm trying to think.



Right Hemisphere: You're the one with all the technical know how. You're supposed to keep up with routine processing.



Left Hemisphere: Listen, I'd be doing fine if you hadn't started making entomological observations about that bald guy. Have you any idea how distracting that is?



Right Hemisphere: I'm the artistic one - that's what I do.



Left Hemishere: Well don't. Because right now we are in the middle of a song and I have no idea what to sing next.



Right Hemisphere: I know, I'll improvise! I'll make something up!



Left Hemisphere: Oh good grief. Alright then. But it has to rhyme with luck.



Right Hemisphere: Oh dear. We really suck.



Left Hemisphere: You could say that.



Mind blanking rarely happens to someone while stresslessly playing alone at home. Your goal therefore is learn to feel as relaxed on stage as you do on your sofa - obviously you may never fully arrive at that state but that's OK. Here are some pointers:



1) Build your inner confidence. Replace fearful worries of forgetting with reassuring thoughts confirming that you actually do know your material very well.

2) Practice recovering from mistakes. During rehearsal time try and create bad memory moments for yourself and then try and get out of it. Figure out what you'd say or do in a worst case scenario.

3) Practice creating lyrics on the spot. Difficult at first but, like a muscle, the ability to improvise gets stronger the more you do it. When this happens for real you'll feel like a fraud. But do it with confidence and it can be impossible to tell whether that 'shooby dooby doo' fill-in was intentional or not.

4) Abandon a song that isn't working. One mistake can lead to another as the stress mounts and the self-confidence plummets so know when to cut your losses. Move quickly to the next song and say no more about the mishap.

5) Or, abandon the song and talk about it. Treating your mistake as a bit of fun may endear you to your audience. Calling it a "seniors moment" while you obviously look to be in your 30s will get a chuckle.



Aim to reduce stress and build confidence. Being good at what you do, all the while gathering a colourful palette of experiences, is what will create the unflappable confidence that rarely forgets a lyric.



But, should you falter, should your mind go blank at the critical time, should your whole show fall flat on its face be comforted by the fact that at least you didn't. Gravity plays no part here. No matter how bad it seems at the time; once the adrenal glands have stopped their pumping you'll realise that everyone went away unharmed. Now that's an extreme sport I can handle!
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

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
































I have written before about minimizing distractions in your ukulele show. But sometimes we have to work with a distraction and maybe even use it to our own advantage. If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!











Word count this issue: 978 words

Estimated reading time: just over 3½ minutes


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UE #52 Poppy Power
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




Two young cadets stood in the middle of my outdoor performance space. One, an air cadet; the other dressed smartly in his naval uniform. This included apparently, spats! The boys looked to be about 13 and from their necks hung poppy trays. They were selling plastic poppies in the run-up to November 11th (known as Remembrance Day or Veterans Day). Raising money to help local war veterans.



Of course it's an extremely good cause but that didn't prevent me getting slightly irritated. You see, my performance space was at Granville Island and I was busking. That is, performing for tips.



I love doing outdoor shows there. Granville Island is a major attraction for tourists and locals alike who come to buy everything from groceries to gifts and bananas to boats. The authorities allow performers to put on shows for which remuneration comes in the form of tips and CD sales. It's a win-win situation. The "Island" (joined to the mainland is not, strictly speaking, an island) gets free entertainment and the entertainers get to make a few bucks and acquire future bookings.



The only things that can spoil my show are poor weather and distractions. Of distractions there are plenty. Birds, dogs, kids, bikes, power tools, phones, fools and food; all of them threatening to lure the attention of the audience away. Over time however I have come to embrace most of the distractions that unwittingly trespass into my space. Each has the potential to be brought into the show in some way. Even a momentary acknowledgement of their presence can strengthen the performer-audience bond.



It's necessary to deal with unexpected situations in a positive way. Lighthearted fun is what people want and displays of negativity are a downer. Having a downer in the show won't cause complaints but will result in audience members looking around for other things to do. If this happens many of them won't bother to throw a tip in the instrument case as they leave.



Those 2 military cadets with their uniforms and poppy trays was a major downer just waiting to happen. Almost any way to tackle it would reflect poorly on me.





They stood in the area between myself and the audience; accosting passers-by, exhorting them to purchase poppies. Often you'll see volunteers selling poppies outside liquor stores. One friend commented that by standing near my instrument case the cadets were doing the equivalent of entering the liquor store and standing by the till!



I felt pretty certain that the public, given a choice of supporting myself or donating to a couple of fresh faced lads collecting for the brave and fallen, would soon be ignoring my CD table; and pinning poppies on themselves as they walked by. What to do?



I thought of asking them to take their poppy sales elsewhere; away from the show area. I'm sure they would have politely done so. But instead I chose to include them in the show. I just didn't tell them that!



My show that day was mostly from the repertoire of the early 1940s. Songs by George Formby, the Inkspots and Vera Lynn. In between I talked about the significance of those songs during World War II.





The cadets were a little surprised when, from time to time, I would also refer to them in the show. In fact they looked a little nervous and even seemed to be thinking of moving location. But I kept things happy and the boys stayed. The audience enjoyed the interaction and a curious thing happened; everyone became part of the show. We were one company. This is what I love.



I noticed people buying a poppy and then also pausing to put money in my ukulele case. Enough for all of us. I asked the naval cadet about his spats and found out they don't call them spats in the navy. But I sang a song with spats in anyway. Puttin' on the Ritz. It was all getting rather jolly. I sang and danced my way around the 2 figures. They stood their ground, each one clutching his poppy-tray more tightly whenever I came close.



I sang George Formby's Our Sergeant Major. During the instrumental I shouted at them, in true Sergeant Major fashion,



"Come on now you two. Pick up those feet!! Left Right and a Left Right Left."

They didn't march. They were talking; trying to ignore me. Oh well.



The show ended with Gracie Field's song: Wish Me Luck as You Wave Me Goodbye. Cheerio here I go on my Way...



It really was a good time. The audience showed their appreciation with applause and donations.





The 2 cadets came over to my CDs. After perusing them for a moment the air cadet turned and beamed at me saying,



"That was a great show. We both really liked it."



I smiled at this unexpected outpouring of pleasure. He continued,



"I was trying to get him" he nodded at his laconic friend, "to march with me but he wouldn't so we didn't."



He looked a little regretful. So I said,



"That's alright, you can march next time."



I'll never know what sort of future these two kindly young men will march towards. It genuinely touched me to know, that wherever they go a part of my show will go with them. Perhaps they will be inspired to find laughter and music in times of difficulty and boredom.



The air cadet looked around, as if searching for something and then said,



"I'd like to give you one of these."



He would probably have given me money if he had it. Instead he picked a poppy out of his tray and pinned it on the left lapel of my suit; over my heart.



I stood to attention and looking him in the eye, I saluted. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

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
































I'd like to try something different this week. I thought it would be useful to get a perspective from someone who is just starting out. Ginny recently took up ukulele and also wants to try her hand at writing. Here she is, take it away Ginny! If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!











Word count this issue: 954 words

Estimated reading time: just over 3½ minutes


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UE #53 Ginny the Beginner
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




Ok yah like Ralph said I'm like TOTALLY into uke and writing also. Someday I want to do like my own newsletter and have a blog but Ralph is so neat to let me use his newsletter for practice.



So yah I think uke is awesome. Ive been playing it for like quite a while but not too long say a few months. My mom thinks its really cool. She says she never heard me sing since I was like 4 and says I have a good voice. She might be lying - she's my mom LOL.



What I like about the uke is... its small. It fits in my locker and is no hass to carry on the bus. One time this guy asked me to play and I was totally freaked but I did anyway even though I only know like 4 songs. I didnt even do a whole song because my stop came and I had to get off but people were smiling and 2 clapped. The guy said I have a nice voice. He must know my mom LOL.



What I didnt know was that like I thought it was going to be way easy. It kind of is but it isn't. I couldnt tune it. That took like forever. Then I learned a song real quick which was kind of a surprise but it was an easy song I guess. I want to sing like really good songs like some of those really amazing youtube guys. Right now I want to learn Im Yours by Jason Mraz. I think hes hot. My mom says he looks like a young Hugh Grant. Who is waaay not hot. But maybe he does, I dunno.



Playing uke gives me a lot of friends. I know I already have friends on facebook and whatnot but I see my uke friends more in real time. I know you can play music like online using skype and stuff but I find I like playing with real people. We talk and sometimes we eat and do different things. One time some of us were just strumming in the park just doing our thing and these guys came and listened. They wanted to know if they could download our music on itunes!! They were joking ha ha. But they went to a store and came back with drinks (diet soda - not my thing but nice of them to buy it). I guess that was the first time I got paid for playing uke. I guess Im a professional now!



Uke keeps me awake. I cant go to sleep because I get music going through my head. Its a bit of a hass but I dont mind. Sometimes I play it in bed. You cant do that with a piano. Except a Casio.



If I could be anything at all I think Id like to have like 50 million hits on youtube and be really famous and recognized all the time. But Id want it to be for something good like a good song or something and not something retarded or skanky where people see me at Safeway and go, "Uh - theres that weirdo". I know there are people who will do any random $*** (pardon my language) to get on TV or famous or whatever but Im not like that. I think its like bad for your family if they have to be related to you because you did something like that.





Either that or a writer. Maybe a writer for kids. When I baby-sit theres this kid. His name is Smith Jones which is kinda weird to have Smith as a first name but it works I guess. He wont go to sleep unless I tell him a story. So one day I made up a story about my uke coming to life and going back to see his family and friends in Ukeytown. And I made up all these characters who were all ukuleles come to life. There was a police uke-ciffer and a uke-doggy dog and even a uke-Barbie. I kinda remember the stories. I should probably write them down before I forget.



If not Id kinda like to work in the travel industry like as a tour guide or airline person. I really want to travel but we don't have much money right now so we dont get to go to places where some of my friends go. I dont mind but I think it would be neat to like work in different places and always have my uke with me. Playing uke is a good way to make friends...and enemies LOL.



I dont know if Ralph will let me do this again but its been neat to tell you about myself and my uke thing. Im kinda busy right now but eventually I want to do my own blog and if I do Ill get Ralph to tell you where to find it. One day I went to a friends house and she was learning to play from one of Ralph's DVDs and I went, "I know him". Like it was no big deal but she started freakin out and going OMG!!! You KNOW Ralph Shaw!! Like he was some big movie star or something. It was kinda weird because Ralphs just this guy I know and just because he has DVDs and whatnot doesnt make him any different. Anyway whatever.



Now that I have a uke I dont think I could live without it. It sounds like Im addicted to it or something. I guess maybe I am but it cant be that bad or my mom wouldn't be encouraging it LOL.



Chow

Ginny



PS. I love my II=00





© Ralph Shaw 2010
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
December 7, 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,
































I think I started to look for similarities in the lives and careers of George Formby and Elvis Presley while flipping through a copy of The Vellum. If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!











Word count this issue: 1006 words

Estimated reading time: about 4 minutes


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UE #54 George Formby Has Left the Building
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Formed within 6 months of Formby's passing in 1961, the George Formby Society continues 50 years after his death. George Harrison (of 60s pop group The Beatles) was a member. The GFS holds 4 annual conventions in Blackpool where followers of Formby's unique style of showmanship meet to perform his songs; often doing their best to look and sound like their smiling buck-toothed hero. It's the convention photos that I was looking at in my copy of The Vellum, the quarterly magazine of the George Formby Society.


Any of that sound familiar? Conventions, where afficionadoes emulate their musical hero? What other performer has had such charismatic appeal that they inspire such devotion, decades after their death? Only Elvis Presley.



Say the name Elvis to most people and it probably won't be the Canadian figure skater Elvis Stojko who comes first to mind. Similarly the name Formby is much more associated with the uke-wielding funny man than the west coast town after which he got his name. Ask an Englishman, even today, "who is 'Our George?'" he'll probably say George Formby.



Such are the iconic natures of these 2 men.



Their talent provided them with great fame and riches. Elvis had his own jet. Formby was Britain's highest paid entertainer for 6 years in a row. Yet it must not be forgotten that each owed his fortune in large part, to the incredibly shrewd business savvy of their managers. Colonel Tom Parker was Elvis' manager and Beryl Formby was George's manager and wife. Each of these relationships, though financially successful, were also the cause of much unhappiness for the 2 men as time went on.



They made movies at a breakneck rate. Often 2 or more per year. Formby made nearly 30 and Elvis just over 30. Neither could be described as grade A actors but audiences didn't care. In both cases they wanted to see the man; and in every movie they got to see them play the same man. No method acting for them. They played themselves. The names of their characters may have changed, but their persona never did.



That both had enormous international appeal is undoubted. Formby's movies were watched throughout the British Empire and Scandinavia, also breaking box-office records in Russia. He was said to be the 3rd most popular celebrity there; after Stalin and Churchill.



Both Formby and Presley had the gift of innovation and a knack for knowing how to use it. In Formby's case it was the use of the ukulele. These days the instrument is part of our everyday lexicon but back in 1920s England the playing of a banjo-ukulele was as daringly modern as todays DJs who play turntables. Done with a preposterously high degree of musicality his rhythmic skill is still emulated by many. Similarly Elvis' bodily gyrations produced an indelible effect on the public. And, were it not for his use of guitar rather than piano as his lead instrument, rock-guitar culture may never have happened. My father recalls being unable to find other guitar players in his home town in the early '50s. Returning from 2½ years in Antarctica he discovered guitars were everywhere. He wondered what happened. Elvis happened.



Nothing succeeds like success but success succeeds better with censorship. Both Elvis and Formby were unwitting victims and yes, beneficiaries of the powers of censorship. In George's case his songs: With My Little Ukulele In My Hand and The Window Cleaner were banned by the BBC leading to unrivalled record sales. For Elvis it was his physical movements that were held accountable for the moral decay of society. On one TV show he gyrated his little finger through not being allowed access to his pelvis. But showing him from the waist up only fueled the thirst of those wanting to see his live concerts.



Its ironic that Elvis never performed in Britain and Formby never performed in the States, though both were given tempting offers to do so. Elvis was offered $28,000 to perform at the London Palladium. Only much later did we learn that Colonel Tom Parker was actually called Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk. He was never a Colonel nor was he a citizen of the United States. He therefore didn't book any shows for Elvis that necessitated a passport.



With Formby it was on the heels of his enormously successful concert at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. The show, a fundraiser to help flood relief victims, was relayed to 730 radio stations across Canada and the USA; the biggest ever such broadcast. The next day he was offered $10,000 to perform 8 shows in Chicago and $5000 for one night at Carnegie Hall. He turned them both down saying that Americans wouldn't understand his humour. He was probably correct. It would be the equivalent of a Jewish American comedian doing his act in Blackpool. In that era the cultural gap was probably just too great for such an exchange.



It seems that both men were inherently fair when it came to issues of race. Elvis borrowed heavily from black gospel and blues and was surprised when southern DJs wouldn't play his music because it was "too black". George and Beryl Formby despised segregation. On a tour of South Africa they discovered he was to perform for "white only" audiences. In response, and at their own expense they set up a tour of the black townships, even paying for their own police escort. As a result the black citizens of SA adored them. But their behaviour so incensed the pre-apartheid authorities that they were deported.



Other similarities: Each did scenes singing to a dog; Elvis sang 'Hounddog' to a Bassett hound on the Steve Allen show. George sang 'Goodnight Little Fellow Goodnight' to his dog, Mickey Dripping, in the revue 'Formby Seeing Life'.

Both Presley and Formby made use of prescription drugs which affected them adversely.

At the end of their lives each man was engaged to be married again, but passed away before the wedding could take place.



Two cultural icons. Two unforgettable shining beacons of raw talent and charismatic appeal. Both so different, yet so similar in the power that they held as performers. Noone can deny each his rightful place on the pedestal of immortality.



It makes me smile to think that the descendants and heirs of Elvis' legacy, may be proud to proclaim that Elvis Presley is America's George Formby.




© Ralph Shaw 2010
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
December 21, 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,
































Christmas.


Supposedly a time of joy; the season of goodwill also tends to deliver a certain amount of pain. Music provides a soothing balm for the extreme emotions that the season brings, and ukulele players have a unique opportunity to heal the spirits.

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











Word count this issue: 896 words

Estimated reading time: about 3½ minutes


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



UE #55 DANGER - Christmas Ahead
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




I went to the movies last night. I rarely go anymore. Truth is I get so distracted by the goings on in the crowd around me; the popcorn, the phones, the standing up and sitting down etc. I usually prefer to wait until I can watch the movie at home on my old tube television.



The movie was The King's Speech. It contains some excellent lessons on stage fright. I may talk about those another time. Unbelievably it has an 'R' - Restricted rating. This is due to the use of some delightfully appropriate anglo-saxon language. However, and at the risk of sounding like an insufferable snob; I have to say that the R rating, plus the non-violent, non-sexual content of the film, did a wonderful job of eliminating riff-raff from the movie theatre.



It was the most enjoyable cinema experience I have had in many a year. I didn't see or smell a single bucket of popcorn. No glowing phone screens were in operation, and no-one was heard sucking the dregs from the bottom of a hideously priced vat of carbonated sugar water. This was all good. If we don't tolerate it during a live performance why should we have to put up with it in a movie theater?





Unfortunately there was nothing anyone could do about the onslaught of advertising.



They told us the movie would start at 7:10 pm. It didn't. It started at 7:35. For 45 minutes we were subjected to trailers and advertisements. My friends and I marveled at the number of commercials to advertise pain relievers. Headache pills mostly.



I don't know if the push to sell pain medication is a direct response to the tooth-rattling volume levels in modern cinemas. I rather suspect that its more likely a Christmas thing. A lot of people are under a lot of stress and strain at this time of year and the pharmaceutical corporations have obviously discovered another lucrative market for their wares.



There are a lot of things not to like about Christmas. Any festivity which leads to such marked increases in drunkenness, depression and suicide should come with an official health warning. DANGER - Christmas Ahead - Enter at your own Risk.



But I won't dwell on all that.



Better than pain pills; a more holistic approach to keep mind, body and spirit together is to sing. And we ukulele players are the doctors for the season. In our little black cases we carry no instruments of medication. Instead we carry instruments of jollification. Purveying good cheer with which to sweep away the seasonal blahs.



Its good tidings indeed that while Christmastime can generate stress it also provides us with opportunities to sing together. Loudly, boisterously and joyfully. That is how it should be done. In the western culture Christmas is one of the last strongholds where our tribe still willingly gathers to sing informally.



At a Christmas lunch, where I performed for a society of volunteers; it amused me, as it always does, to loudly sing, "Sleigh bells ring" and without any urging the crowd joined in on, "are you listening". Exactly the same effect can be achieved by belting out, "Five Go-old Rings..." Wild reindeer can't stop the resulting, "fo-our calling birds, three french hens, two-o turtle doves..." In fact, just for fun, try doing that as loud as you dare in some crowded area and see what happens. It can't hurt.



Learn some well known Christmas songs. If you're not comfortable with the religious aspects of certain songs there are lots of winter songs to choose from: Jingle Bells, Winter Wonderland, Marshmallow World, Silver Bells, Let It Snow, White Christmas and Blue Christmas.





But also take a look at some of the traditional carols. Try: In the Bleak Midwinter, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, O Holy Night. Christian or not, many would agree that the language and melodies are very moving.




I know several musicians who refuse to learn any seasonal repertoire. That's a choice. But I think they are missing out on a lot of fun for themselves and for others. I agree that there are few things more nauseating than Christmas music played too soon, too long and in the wrong place. For this reason timing is everything and is also why the little ukulele shines like a Christmas star.



Its small. So, at this time of year carry your uke around with you everywhere. No matter whether you play it or not. That's not important. Your role is that of a musical shaman. Your power is the ability to transform a group of wary individuals into an openhearted band of humanity. Be ready to open your case and release the music whenever it seems right.



It could be a party, on the subway, at the office. A song can change everything. You are the facilitator. The instigator. The brave leader who opens his/her mouth and thereby allows others to open up and sing. It doesn't always work. Sometimes you'll fail to judge the mood correctly. Doesn't matter. It is compensated for in those times when your individual spark bursts into flame and lights up everyone around you.



At the Christmas lunch where I sang, a gentleman approached me saying, "That's, er rather an unusual instrument on which to be playing this kind of music."



I had to respectfully disagree. The ukulele is made for Christmas-tide. Along with trumpets and harps, the angels are surely strumming their ukuleles as we sing along in joyful unison.





I wish each and every one of you the very best that the season has to offer, and a healthy and prosperous 2011.




© Ralph Shaw 2010




EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Music is indeed a wonderful gift. But that doesn't mean you don't need to practice! Whether you're a beginner or more experienced player, you can grow and expand your repertoire of skills with: The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series



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, clawhammer, bossa nova, bo diddley, reggae, march, waltz, syncopation 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 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.


Upcoming Events:

Burnaby Village Museum Outdoor Christmas shows on a Vintage Street. Dec 23rd 3:00 to 4:45pm and Dec 29th 2:00 to 3:30pm. 6501, Deer Lake Ave
Burnaby BC. Bring the family and ride the 1930s Carousel.


March 4-5th 2011: Gorge Ukulele Festival, Hood River, Oregon




March 18-20th 2011: Reno Ukulele Festival, Reno, Nevada



March 25-26th 2011: Vancouver Ukulele Festival




Ongoing - Frequent Performances at Granville Island in Vancouver, BC




- Vancouver Ukulele Circle meets 3rd Tuesday every month



CDs available: www.RalphShaw.ca

Birds of a Feather - UnPlucked! CD of Music for Children
"..one of the best albums of family music ever made."

By George!Collection of Ralph Shaw singing his favourite George Formby numbers.

Table for Two 1930s and 40s hits plus some wonderful originals.

King of the Ukulele Ralph Sings his favourite songs of the Tin-Pan-Alley era.
(All CDs =$14.95 each)

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).

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.

Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card




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: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
December 29, 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,































Out with the old and in with the new! That's what we say on New Year's Eve. It's a fine sentiment, but one that is difficult to follow through on if you're the type who doesn't like getting rid of stuff. If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!












Word count this issue: 726 words

Estimated reading time: a whisker over 2½ minutes


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



UE #56 In With the Old
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




I have no difficulty with the 'In with the new' part. I like new things. It's the 'Out with the old' that gives me trouble. There are some things that I just hate to throw away. One of them is food. In my home, leftovers are carefully scooped into clean containers and put in the fridge. Sometimes they even get eaten. More often than not they are kept nice and cold until way past any reasonable date where they might still be deemed edible. Then, with a reluctant sigh, I open the containers and scrape the contents into the garbage. I can't bear to throw away good food. That's why I keep it in a cool place until it is mouldy. Then I throw it out. See - it makes perfect sense.



Similarly with ukulele strings. When my uke strings are no longer good for playing music I always feel they must still be good for something. So I keep them; in a box. Many crinkly string packages bursting with bent and gnarly strings whose playing days are over. But for what conceivable purpose can old ukulele strings be used?



I finally have the answer. Cat toys.



After changing my last set of strings and in a state of absentmindedness; I tied them together with a simple knot about ¾ of the way along, and then threw them onto the coffee table. The ends of the strings continued to bounce. The cat saw the movement and pounced.



The cat played with the strings for about ½ an hour. She loved it! This particular toy has given our cat more quality playtime than any of the bought toys from the pet store.



Now, where to take this amazing idea? I did think of marketing my brainchild to the multi-million dollar cat-toy industry. But in the end I have decided to offer my invention for the benefit of all humanity. Therefore dear reader, I give it to you for the same amount that it cost me. Nothing. Nada, zilch, diddley squat, absolutely sweet-bugger-all. That is to say, more or less Zero.



I'm thrilled to have found a use for those old strings; but I would love to know if there are other sensible and practical ways in which our old, curly and indented lengths of nylon may be put to work.



Here's what we'll do. Send me your suggested use/s for old ukulele strings. If its a good one I will publish your idea in a future newsletter. The winner with the best suggestion (to be decided by my highly paid research team) will receive one of my CDs or DVDs (your choice) and a ukulele chord chart poster (9"X17") to go on the wall of your practice room. PLUS - not only, but also... a free-e-e cat-toy!!!



Below is a picture of my cat toy. I had some trouble working out how to make an image of it. The advent of the digital age has rendered me unable to take photographs. I don't even own a camera anymore. Even if I did own one I'm sure it would take me 3 years just to learn how to upload the pictures; or download them or whatever it is. However I popped it in the scanner, which I do know how to use, and I think it came out rather well.





Cat Toy Made from Old Ukulele Strings






I tried scanning the cat too but that didn't really work out.



So please email me your uses for old strings. And do send an accompanying picture; should you be conversant in the ways of such modern day wizardry.



Well now, after all that I'm feeling a little peckish.



Hmm, I wonder what's in the fridge?





P.S. A small disclaimer: I have not checked with a veterinarian that this is a safe toy. You should check that its safe before use. If you know any reason why my toy is not suitable for said purpose please let me know. Also metal or wound strings are probably not a good idea; so only use nylon strings. Cat-gut strings are definitely out.



P.P.S. No animals were scanned in the making of this column.





Thank you for a wonderful 2010. I truly appreciate all the feedback, kind words and greetings you have given me all year long.



I wish you a very happy new year and a musical and joyful 2011



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
December 30, 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,































Oh dear! I thought it might happen - and it has. Along with BP and Toyota I too must suffer public embarrassment for a faulty product.




I have been reliably informed that the cat toy idea I proposed (see recent newsletter below) is possibly dangerous for our furry friends, pelted pals and matted mates.





A veterinarian writes: I also hate to throw my old things away but old strings should not be used for a cat toy. There is a condition called string foreign body that generally refers to the swallowing of string or yarn. Also called linear foreign body. If a linear foreign body is swallowed the intestines will attempt to move it along with peristaltic contractions. Because the offending material is long one segment of the intestine will be contracted with the adjacent segment relaxed. This action is repeated causing a stretching out of the foreign body until it can start cutting through the wall of the intestine. I've performed many linear foreign body surgeries. Probably better to throw those old strings away.

Always enjoy reading your letter,


I wish to thank Jim Hardesty DVM for supplying me with that valuable tidbit of information. As a cat owner who once paid to have a kitty cut open for the removal of foreign objects I can tell you that it is not fun and not cheap.





But all is not lost. Many of you have already sent in great ideas for using those old ukulele strings. Keep them coming and in a few weeks I'll declare a winner for the grand prize which will no longer include a cat toy made from ukulele strings.




Bye for now,

Ralph













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



UE #56 In With the Old
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Out with the old and in with the new! That's what we say on New Year's Eve. It's a fine sentiment, but one that is difficult to follow through on if you're the type who doesn't like getting rid of stuff.





I have no difficulty with the 'In with the new' part. I like new things. It's the 'Out with the old' that gives me trouble. There are some things that I just hate to throw away. One of them is food. In my home, leftovers are carefully scooped into clean containers and put in the fridge. Sometimes they even get eaten. More often than not they are kept nice and cold until way past any reasonable date where they might still be deemed edible. Then, with a reluctant sigh, I open the containers and scrape the contents into the garbage. I can't bear to throw away good food. That's why I keep it in a cool place until it is mouldy. Then I throw it out. See - it makes perfect sense.



Similarly with ukulele strings. When my uke strings are no longer good for playing music I always feel they must still be good for something. So I keep them; in a box. Many crinkly string packages bursting with bent and gnarly strings whose playing days are over. But for what conceivable purpose can old ukulele strings be used?



I finally have the answer. Cat toys.



After changing my last set of strings and in a state of absentmindedness; I tied them together with a simple knot about ¾ of the way along, and then threw them onto the coffee table. The ends of the strings continued to bounce. The cat saw the movement and pounced.



The cat played with the strings for about ½ an hour. She loved it! This particular toy has given our cat more quality playtime than any of the bought toys from the pet store.



Now, where to take this amazing idea? I did think of marketing my brainchild to the multi-million dollar cat-toy industry. But in the end I have decided to offer my invention for the benefit of all humanity. Therefore dear reader, I give it to you for the same amount that it cost me. Nothing. Nada, zilch, diddley squat, absolutely sweet-bugger-all. That is to say, more or less Zero.



I'm thrilled to have found a use for those old strings; but I would love to know if there are other sensible and practical ways in which our old, curly and indented lengths of nylon may be put to work.



Here's what we'll do. Send me your suggested use/s for old ukulele strings. If its a good one I will publish your idea in a future newsletter. The winner with the best suggestion (to be decided by my highly paid research team) will receive one of my CDs or DVDs (your choice) and a ukulele chord chart poster (9"X17") to go on the wall of your practice room. PLUS - not only, but also... a free-e-e cat-toy!!!



Below is a picture of my cat toy. I had some trouble working out how to make an image of it. The advent of the digital age has rendered me unable to take photographs. I don't even own a camera anymore. Even if I did own one I'm sure it would take me 3 years just to learn how to upload the pictures; or download them or whatever it is. However I popped it in the scanner, which I do know how to use, and I think it came out rather well.
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
January 11, 2010
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,































There are many things you could think about while performing; but you can only ever really think about one thing at a time. Today we look at the single most important thought to have in mind when playing or singing for others. If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!












Word count this issue: 885 words

Estimated reading time: 3½ minutes


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

UE #57 Serving Beauty
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




Winter in Canada. The phrase invokes images of bitter cold, hardship and skiing. Trees hung heavy with snow; water everywhere frozen as hard as a prospector's mukluk. The hardy, frostbitten daredevils who brave such a brittle climate are invariably wrapped in thick furs. They live in igloos, have no sentiment when it comes to baby seals and invent wonderfully obscure phrases such as 'you hoser', 'just givin er' and 'eh'. They occasionally resort to sleeping alongside their dogs for warmth thus giving us another great phrase: 'a three dog night'.



The above may be true in some parts of Canada but not on the west coast. Here in Vancouver we are rich enough to obtain our snow in liquid form. Our Christmas days aren't quite so Hallmarkesque but our cars start and shovelling is something we only do with dessert.



We get rain and lots of it. Drab, dreary and incessant; soul soaking rain.



Its a grey and rainy Vancouver day. I turn the corner of a colourless suburban back-street and I notice a mother and her 7 year old daughter on the other side of the road. They are African. The young girl, in school uniform, is carrying an enormous black umbrella in both hands. She is dry and she grins. The mother is draped in clothing of bright fabrics. The orange and purple robe covering her body hangs down to her ankles. A substantial scarlet and yellow headscarf covers her head, neck and shoulders.



She also carries an umbrella. Hers is pink; but it's not in her hands. Her umbrella lies flat and unopened on top of her head. She carries it in the same fashion as I imagine she might carry a basket of fruit through a Kenyan market. The simple scene jolts my senses alive. It is so surprising and so colourful I can't help but stop and stare. The mother, if she sees me, ignores me. The young girl does see me and her grin becomes bigger than ever.



There is beauty all around us, all the time. But you have to seek it out. Slow down and look carefully. It doesn't always smack you into wide awake attention as in the above example.



My wife Kathryn is a great one for seeking out beauty. Many times on an outing I'll be daydreaming about something or other when Kathryn says, "Come and look at this." I dutifully go and stand in the spot where she indicates. And I look. I find I am gazing upon a scene of postcard-like perfection. I drink it in with my eyes; which are the only camera I have since my ability to take photographic images somehow disappeared with the digital age.



There are few places left on earth that remain untouched by humans; therefore any beauty that most of us experience comes as a result of mankind working with nature.



Take the ukulele. 100% of its construction materials are found in nature. How could they not be. The wood grows as trees, metal parts are mined. The plastic parts, such as nylon strings and tuner knobs, come from oil; and so on. The physical form and unique voice of the instrument then come into being by virtue of the luthier's almost alchemic skill.



Then the ukulele becomes yours.



And with it comes a certain responsibility. Your instrument has descended from a long lineage of beauty; trees have grown and died, stone bearing iron has been forged and formed in the bowels of the earth wherein the mysterious creation of oil has also taken place. Centuries have gone into the development of strings and tuners. All of it is finally combined by the luthier's hand to become an instrument of music. An 'ukulele, as the Hawaiians call it.



Ask yourself. Is it fair, after such an epic journey of creation, that the beauty should end with you?



Of course not. You took up the ukulele because you wanted to create something awesome, not awful. Didn't you?



Say 'Yes Ralph'.



Thank you.



Although beauty surrounds us, it still needs our conscious attention if it is to be noticed. The creation of beauty requires a similar dedication of focus.



Ever watched a plant grow in a time-lapse movie? Its fascinating to see a vine move, sway and coil; more like animal than vegetable. Every growing tree consciously and constantly strives for beauty. The luthier's attention to beauty must also never waver. If it does the finished instrument will tell of it.



And so, when you pick up your instrument and start to play, you too need to focus on the beauty.



It's impossible to make true music any other way. There is far too much to think about. At any given moment you will not be able to think about the chord, the word, the strum, the vowel shape, the volume and vibrato all in one go. You have to give it all up and aim for one thing: Simple Beauty.



If every moment of your song is delivered with the conscious intention of serving beauty, then the result is bound to be beautiful.



I can't guarantee that everyone will notice your efforts. Perhaps only someone like Kathryn; but if your creation is colourful and surprising it will shine like a mother and her daughter walking home together in the rain.





© Ralph Shaw 2010




EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Learn to play better in 2011. Expand your repertoire of skills with:
The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series



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, clawhammer, bossa nova, bo diddley, reggae, march, waltz, syncopation 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 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.


Upcoming Events:


March 4-5th 2011: Gorge Ukulele Festival, Hood River, Oregon




March 18-20th 2011: Reno Ukulele Festival, Reno, Nevada



March 25-26th 2011: Vancouver Ukulele Festival




Ongoing - Frequent Performances at Granville Island in Vancouver, BC




- Vancouver Ukulele Circle meets 3rd Tuesday every month



CDs available: www.RalphShaw.ca

Birds of a Feather - UnPlucked! CD of Music for Children
"..one of the best albums of family music ever made."

By George!Collection of Ralph Shaw singing his favourite George Formby numbers.

Table for Two 1930s and 40s hits plus some wonderful originals.

King of the Ukulele Ralph Sings his favourite songs of the Tin-Pan-Alley era.
(All CDs =$14.95 each)

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).

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.

Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
January 25, 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,












There are many techniques to help conquer stage fright but sometimes all it takes is a change in attitude. If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!


Word count this issue: 944 words


Estimated reading time: over 3½ minutes













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

UE #58 Stage Fright part 1 - Getting the Job Done
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A nurse who had recently begun a singing career was being interviewed on the radio. She spoke about how her singing and nursing worlds had collided powerfully one day in such a way that it solidified her decision to pursue singing as an alternative vocation. Her tale was an important lesson in thinking about performance; in particular the phenomenon known as stage fright. I'll get back to her story in a moment.
Stage fright is a puzzling affliction. It affects speakers, singers, job interviewees and others who have to get up in front of an audience. Debilitating though it can be, the exact nature of the problem is not easy to understand. Terrifying thoughts about an upcoming performance can happen just before going out to face the crowd; or they can occur days, weeks or even months before the dreaded event.

Degrees of stage-fright can differ markedly. The fear can manifest as a slight fluttering in the tummy lasting only a few seconds. Or it can be a black mind-numbing terror that overwhelms all thought and is strong enough to rid the body of its stomach contents.

We should also remember that it is possible for a performance to be entirely free of anxiety. At such times the engagement is met with a sense of peace, calm and even happy anticipation. Everything goes swimmingly well and the time spent with the audience is a delight. Such moments can provide useful clues about how do to do it right.

The nurse being interviewed, said she had once been attending a dying Italian man. He was in a great deal of pain. His family were in the room, and as they stood around talking quietly amongst themselves there was a general feeling of helplessness.

Meanwhile, the nurse, who was holding the man's hand, suddenly found herself moved to sing. Softly she sang the hymn Ave Maria. Continuing with the song she soon observed the man becoming calmer and noted that his breathing slowed. The furrows on his face relaxed and smoothed, as his tension and pain dissolved.

Slowly the man's family became aware of what was going on and quietly observed the transformation and healing that was taking place.

The nurse went on to say that whenever she performs, she uses her memory of the anguished patient for guidance. When she sang Ave Maria that day, she was not nervous. Not even the merest concept of stage fright crossed her mind. Far from it; she was simply doing her job.

That is how she now approaches every singing performance. If she has thoughts other than those required to deal with the task at hand then she knows something is wrong. Her attitude is, "I'm just doing my job and I don't allow any other thoughts to get in the way of that."

Its a very practical approach and one that can serve us well.

When you think about your job, or whatever the responsibilities are that you deal with on a day to day basis, ask yourself if they generate stage fright. For the most part I would guess probably not. Performing for people by singing, dancing or speaking doesn't really need to be any different.

Street performance used to be terrifying for me. But I have now performed outdoor solo shows at Vancouver's Granville Island so often that the act of setting up my gear and putting on a show has become as routine for me as the job of librarian or carpenter is for others. That's not to say I don't get stage fright in certain situations; I do, but at least I have become aware that it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. Stage fright is not a given, we create it for ourselves.

One day I was setting up and getting ready to perform. Visitors to Granville Island were sitting, waiting for the show to begin. A friend of mine, another performer, interrupted me as I plugged the last few cables into my amplifier. He nonchalantly sidled up to me and whispered, "Jamie Lee Curtis is watching you".

Just as he said those words I happened to look up towards the audience and my eyes locked with those of the actress who had starred in A Fish Called Wanda. At that moment I could have cursed my friend. One second earlier, I had been happy, relaxed and ready to entertain the expectant crowd. One second later I was nervous and jittery, just as surely as if it had been my first time out in public.

I began my show. Then I had to stop and start over because, in my newly conceived panic, I'd forgotten to plug the microphone in. My entrance now ruined I spontaneously chose a different opening song which I soon realized was a mistake because it lacked the drive & energy to really get things going. I continued on. Slowly I dug myself out of the hole that I'd managed to get into. By then however, Ms Curtis, who had probably sensed that her presence was problematic for me, had already gone on her way. I didn't even see her get up to leave. After that my show picked up and was soon successfully back on track once again. Only now without a celebrity in the audience.

I am not normally of a violent nature, but I was so annoyed with my blabbermouth friend for breaking my stride in the way that he did, I could have happily kicked him all the way around the Island and back again. Should he have wanted to know why I was kicking him, I would have replied,


"Never mind, I'm just doing my job!"


© Ralph Shaw 2010

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Learn to play better in 2011. Expand your repertoire of skills with:
The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series



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, clawhammer, bossa nova, bo diddley, reggae, march, waltz, syncopation 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 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.


Upcoming Events:


March 4-5th 2011: Gorge Ukulele Festival, Hood River, Oregon




March 18-20th 2011: Reno Ukulele Festival, Reno, Nevada



March 25-26th 2011: Vancouver Ukulele Festival




Ongoing - Frequent Performances at Granville Island in Vancouver, BC




- Vancouver Ukulele Circle meets 3rd Tuesday every month



CDs available: www.RalphShaw.ca

CD Birds of a Feather - UnPlucked! CD of Music for Children
"..one of the best albums of family music ever made."

CD By George!Collection of Ralph Shaw singing his favourite George Formby numbers.

CD Table for Two 1930s and 40s hits plus some Ralph Shaw originals such as I Just Wish I Was In Love.

CD King of the Ukulele Ralph Sings his favourite songs of the Tin-Pan-Alley era.
(All CDs =$14.95 each)

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).

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.

Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card



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: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
February 8, 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,













There are several ways to play Triplets on a ukulele. Today I offer you a trio of triplet techniques. If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

















Word count this issue: 1093 words

Estimated reading time: just over 4 minutes











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



UE #59 A Bathful of Triplets

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



Regular readers of these columns may have noticed that the 'powerful pointers' I purvey in order to 'perk up your playing' are not always about specific ukulele techniques. I tend to favour giving instruction for other aspects of playing such as technical help and performance skills; these being so much easier to put in writing.



It is so difficult to teach musical skills using words alone.



At school, during a computer class, we were once given the exercise of describing how to run a bath. It sounded supremely simple. However it was only after writing it that we discovered how easily the simplest instructions can be misinterpreted. The teacher showed us that almost every instruction we wrote could be taken the wrong way; the lesson was that writing inexact language would be disastrous in the case of computer code.



The lesson was partially lost on me. I couldn't stop obsessing about what sort of a person would have sufficent education to read detailed written instructions, yet, by the same token, was so ignorant they couldn't even begin to work out how to operate a bathtub. Our computer teacher, Mr Donaldson-Wood (known as Quack to at least 2 generations of cruel schoolchildren), claimed that there were indeed places in the world where people never take baths because they only ever have showers. He didn't say specifically where those places were and to this day I don't know.



Be that as it may, I will now attempt to describe three different ways to play Triplets. There are several ways of strumming Triplets. Each method has its own particular advantages and disadvantages.



First we need to answer the question: What is a Triplet?



A Triplet is the sound of 3 strums played over 2 musical beats.



For example: Begin by playing evenly spaced down-strums like this:



1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

Strum Strum Strum Strum Strum Strum Strum Strum



Now let's put a Triplet in the middle so it looks like this:



1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

Strum Strum strum-strum-strum Strum Strum Strum Strum



Those 3 strums near the middle are the Triplet. If you are new to this and unsure of the rhythm, think of the children's rhyme: One Two Buckle My Shoe. The syllables of 'Bu - ckle - my' are the Triplet. Like this:





1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

One Two Bu - ckle - my Shoe Strum Strum Strum



Or:



Three Four Knock - at - the Door Strum Strum Strum



Or, continuing the British bath analogy:



Right Chaps Turn - on - the Taps Strum Strum etc.





For it to sound like a proper Triplet those 3 strums all need to carry equal weight. Some people find it helpful to sound the word: 'Tri - Pel - Let' when they are learning this.



If you are playing along you'll notice that strumming 3 times, where before you were just strumming twice, means that when playing Triplets you have to strum faster. It also means that for up-tempo songs Triplets become harder to achieve using down-strums alone.



Here are 3 ways to play Triplets:



Triplet No.1 = Down-Up-Down , Up-Down-Up



In the above example: You can replace those 3 down strums (strum-strum-strum) with: a Down strum followed by an Up strum followed by a Down strum. This works to make a perfectly agreeable Triplet sound. It also leads us to a bit of a problem since the sequence ends on a 'Down' strum. The chances are very great that the next strum we want will also be a 'Down' strum. You'll find it is difficult to impossible to get the hand back above the strings in time to strum down again.



Solution: Follow the Triplet with another Triplet. The second Triplet begins on an 'Up' strum and goes: Up-Down-Up. You are now playing 2 Triplets in succession: Down-Up-Down , Up-Down-Up. Your strumming finger is now poised above the strings ready for the next Down beat. Although this Triplet technique is great for playing a series of Triplets its not so good for just playing a single Triplet. To do that you'll be better off using one of the following techniques:





Triplet No.2 = Finger-Thumb-Finger



For this one the index finger strums Down all 4 strings. The thumb follows the finger to do an exactly similar Down-strum. We complete the Triplet with an Up-strum of the index finger.



Its important to note that the first strum is done by flicking the index finger down over the strings. If your finger starts off curled, as mine does, by the end of this part of the strum it will be straightened and pointing, at an angle, towards the floor. Meanwhile it has now separated from the thumb which rests momentarily on the 4th string. The thumb then does its Down-strum. Finger and thumb then rejoin one another as the index finger strums up to finish off the Triplet.



Does that make sense? If not then perhaps taking a relaxing bath will help.



My standard 'default' strumming style is to use the tip of my index finger to strum the strings. The thumb rests on the end joint of that finger. Strumming in this way makes it quite simple to separate the finger and thumb whenever I need to play a Triplet.



Remember: Keep the 3 strums of the Triplet of equal spacing. Its OK for the Triplet strum to look robotic as you work to attain that exact rhythmic evenness of sound.





Triplet No.3 = The Flash-Hander



This one looks cool. The sound you produce should be the same as Triplet No.2; but its the way this strum looks that is the real reason for its existence.



If you are using a standard strum similar to my 'default' strum mentioned earlier; you will notice that most of the fingers are curled into the hand like a fist. The exceptions to this being the index and thumb which stick out in order to do the strumming. The Flash-Hander involves the opening of the whole hand so that all the fingers are fanned out and extended.



The way it works is this: At the moment of playing the triplet open your hand into a five-fingered-fan. As you do this the pinky finger strums down the strings. The thumb comes to wait, briefly poised on the 4th string, ready to strum the next part of the Triplet. The thumb strums down the strings. The fingers of the hand curl in once again as the index finger strums up to complete the Triplet with an Up-stroke. It goes: Pinky-Thumb-Index and repeat, with the hand opening and closing in a circular motion.



As with all new techniques; work on it slowly, building your speed bit by bit. When you are able to play several of these Triplets in succession, the effect of your hand opening and closing is quite dramatic and exciting to see.



Now: be careful stepping out of the bath and be sure to dry your uke before placing it back in its case. If you were playing in the shower, be sure to drain all the water out of the sound hole.





© Ralph Shaw 2010



EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Do you find it easier to see and hear how to play rather than just reading about it? Then take a look at: The Complete Ukulele Course DVD series


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, clawhammer, bossa nova, bo diddley, reggae, march, waltz, syncopation 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 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.


Upcoming Events:


March 4-5th 2011: Gorge Ukulele Festival, Hood River, Oregon



March 18-20th 2011: Reno Ukulele Festival, Reno, Nevada



March 25-26th 2011: Vancouver Ukulele Festival



Ongoing - Frequent Performances at Granville Island in Vancouver, BC



- Vancouver Ukulele Circle meets 3rd Tuesday every month


CDs available: www.RalphShaw.ca

Birds of a Feather - UnPlucked! CD of Music for Children
"..one of the best albums of family music ever made."

By George!Collection of Ralph Shaw singing his favourite George Formby numbers.

Table for Two 1930s and 40s hits plus some wonderful originals.

King of the Ukulele Ralph Sings his favourite songs of the Tin-Pan-Alley era.
(All CDs =$14.95 each) 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).

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.

Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
February 22 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


For such an innocuous little instrument the ukulele seems to carry more than its fair share of controversy.

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


Word count this issue: 983 words

Estimated reading time: Over 3½ minutes

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


UE #60 How to Pronounce "Ukulele" ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Ukulele players are used to having friendly disagreements over which tuning is superior (GCEA or ADF#B), whether it is preferable to use a high or low 4th string, or even, whether a banjo-uke is a ukulele at all.



Heck, we can't even agree on how to pronounce the thing.



For most of my life the pronunciation of ukulele was never in question. It was spoken like this: Yoo-ka-lay-li :with the i sounding like the i in, well, in in. I never heard anyone pronounce it any other way. That is, until I went to California. Which, by far, sends more tourists to Hawaii than any other State.



I should mention: although I did visit Hawaii before I had my first California visit, I never noticed that Hawaiians spoke the word 'ukulele' differently to myself; this was probably because almost every word they uttered was different than in my South Yorkshire brogue.



In California I found it slightly surreal to walk into a room and see several dozen uke players all dressed in colourful Hawaiian shirts. Do other musical instruments inspire their own dress codes?



I wondered: what had given these people the strange and identical need to dress in such a way; Have they been brain-washed by some strange Tiki-Guru into joining a bizarre Polynesian cult? Are Hawaiian shirts and leis a secret fetish clothing that enthusiasts like wearing in group situations? Do loudly patterned fabric prints help dull people to feel more interesting? The answer to all these questions is, in most cases, No.



The people who bedeck themselves in colourful shirts just happen to have been caught up in the wondrous spirit of all that is Hawaiian (that, plus the fact that a carefully chosen flowered print instantly takes between 10 to 25 pounds off the wearer). The Aloha spirit is reflected in Hawaii's music, food, clothing, attitudes and words. Travelers can't help but bring some of these cultural keepsakes back to the mainland. Ukuleles, Leis, Macadamias and Mahalos are all part of a cultural oneness. Their presence is what keeps the visitor's Inner Island Spirit alive.



But, I have to confess, when I heard people pronouncing ukulele as 'Oo-koo-lay-lay' it bothered me.



My thinking was (note the past tense) that saying, 'Oo-koo-lay-lay', while being correct in Hawaiian, sounds somewhat pretentious when used in an English language context. It is similar to hearing an English speaker refer to the capital city of France as 'Paree' or the capital of Germany as 'Bearrr-leen'.



The English language is full of words that have been taken from, or imposed on us by, other cultures. Over time the pronunciations of these words have adapted and changed, often becoming quite different from their origins.



Conquerors are loathe to learn the language of their defeated subjects: which is why Hawaiians now speak US-English. Similarly, after the Normans defeated the army of King Harold near Hastings in 1066, French became the language of successful English-folk. It was the language spoken in English Parliament (a French word) and for 300 years French was the language of the English Legal system. That is until the great plague killed so many people that there were no longer enough French speaking judges available.



The English language was flooded with French words. Crafts people maintained their anglo-saxon job titles: Fisher, Shepherd, Weaver, Baker and so on. But the skilled artisans were known by French trade names: Plumber, Carpenter, Butcher, Mason. And, if you know an Irishman with Fitz as part of his name, then that too is French - it comes from 'fils de' meaning 'the brother of'.



We also get a myriad of words that are pronounced quite unlike their French counterpart. Take the following French words that all take the same ending: voyage, plumage, pillage, village, cage, bandage, mariage, image and visage. All of those words rhyme with 'nuage'; the French word for cloud. In English however, not only do we not pronounce those words like the French, but, with the exception of village and pillage, the words don't even rhyme with each another.



What would we think of an English speaker who insisted on saying all the above words with their original French pronunciation? I imagine it would sound a little pretentious. Or, we might wonder what obscure upbringing had caused them to develop such a mannerism.



But if that person also happened to wear a beret, carried an accordian and had a Joann SFAR comic book poking out of his pocket, perhaps then we'd say, "ah, I understand, this person is embracing French culture."



Several years ago it hit me how much of a fluid state all language is in. An erudite compiler of a British Dictionary said that the word 'ask' was now being pronounced 'aks' by so many people around the world that 'aks' has become an acceptable pronunciation. As he talked about this, in his rich Oxford tones, I was struck by how this fact didn't bother him at all. He took the organic, ever developing, nature of language quite for granted.



It seems to me that the ukulele has travelled so far and so widely that it is no longer an instrument of a single culture. To a Californian (and countless others) the ukulele speaks to them of Polynesia, particularly Hawaii. To a Brit or a Baltimorian it might be the era of Music Hall or Vaudeville to which the ukulele transports them. To a Japanese teenager it'll be something else again.



It's a wonderful thing that the ukulele has been a part of so much cultural diversity. Surely this diversity ought to be reflected in all the ways people choose to pronounce it.



'Oo-koo-lay-lay' and 'Yoo-ka-lay-li' both sound so right to me now; both are perfect ways to pronounce the name of the petit chordophone that has been instrumental in creating so much cultural togetherness.



All I ask, is please don't call it, as I have sometimes heard, a 'Yoo-kyoo-lay-lee'. That is just plain wrong!



source: Singers & the Song Gene Lees, 1987

© Ralph Shaw 2011
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
March 08, 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,

X, the anonymous member of a ukulele club that does gigs in pizza parlours and nursing homes, writes: "I am the only one of us practicing each week that tunes before and occasionally between songs. We play/talk/play/talk for two hours. It would be helpful to send a nudge from YOU rather than me about the value of tuning, that is if you value such a thing."
If you find value in this newsletter please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 839 words

Estimated reading time: Under 3½ minutes

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


UE #61 Tuning Avoidance Techniques

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


I love that X says, "...if you value such a thing."



...If? ....IF?!!!



By suggesting that I, Ralph Shaw, a ukulele player of 20+ years, might consider the act of tuning to be of negligible importance, X has put his/her finger on an attitude which is far too common among uke players:



Its only a ukulele, why bother tuning?



Ukulele is associated with leisure: hammocks, porches, beaches and blenders. Nobody wants to hear that playing ukulele will create more work. We, the promoters of the fab 4-string, have long extolled its easy-to-play virtues. I am as guilty as others in perpetuating this view; sometimes boasting of being able to get a novice playing in under 5 minutes...



... that is, if I gloss over the awkward and inconvenient truth about tuning.



We want results as soon as possible. It looks good for everyone if the student arrives home from lesson 1 already playing a recognizable song. In the process we have created an assumption that real learning begins only after the ukulele has been tuned.



Tuning by ear needs to be practiced. Some people take weeks, months or years just to learn which of 2 notes is the higher one. Ear-tuning can seem an inconsistent and nebulous skill. If you currently have trouble tuning to a piano, tuning fork or a pitch pipe (essentially a circular harmonica) try tuning to an instrument that sounds similar to your own: say another uke or a guitar.



Tuning by 'eye'. Electronic tuners give a visual indication of when you are in tune. With conscious use they help develop your ear tuning too. Try a few out before you buy one. Some work better than others. Each has a built-in sensor that picks up vibration either by 'hearing' the sound through the air or by 'feeling' the sound through the instrument's vibration. They are remarkable devices. They tell you the note you are currently plucking and whether you need to tune up or down to get the string into pitch.



The importance of tuning cannot be overstated. If you remember only one thing from this column, it should be this: If your ukulele is not in tune to begin with, nothing you do from that point on is going to sound all that good.



Unfortunately, tuning is a hassle. And so, legions of uke players the world over have invented a host of Tuning Avoidance Techniques:



1) "I can save time by not wasting it on tuning"

For anyone who isn't used to tuning an instrument, the time involved can seem grossly exhorbitant. The poor beginner with a new instrument is treated to a double whammy because, once tuned, new nylon strings continue to stretch out of tune. The process of tuning and retuning new strings can take a couple of days till the tensions within the instrument are balanced and stable. Keep trying. The more you work on it the faster you'll get.



2) "I don't have a tuner"

The investment in music doesn't end with buying the instrument. You're also going to need learning materials such as DVDs or lessons. You also need to be in tune. Make sure to rent, redeem or revive whatever gadget you need to make that happen. In 1990 I paid $120 for my first electronic tuner. You can now find perfectly good ones for under $20.



3) "The audience will be amused by my hilarious fumblings if I wait to tune until I'm actually onstage"

No they won't. Please allow time to tune before going up there.



4) "The sound of many ukuleles playing together hides any tuning inconsistencies"

This is true. Sort of. I've often likened a large group of ukes to being like the wash of the ocean. On average, a roomful of ukuleles, each slightly out of tune, will sound quite sweet. But there will inevitably come a time when you are heard to strum alone...



5) "I don't wish to annoy others with the sound of my tuning"

That's nice of you. But ultimately others will be far more annoyed by being trapped in a room with your dissonant offerings.



6) "What's the point if my uke keeps going out of tune anyway?"

Have an instrument in solid condition that gets in tune and stays in tune.



The tuning finally ends when:



a) When your instrument is in tune.



b) When you're close, but, to continue tuning will detract from the musical experience you and others are having. It's a judgment call. For example: in an informal jam session it is overly persnickety to aim for consistent perfection. Sometimes "close enough" is better.



There are people who still think of the ukulele as a toy or joke instrument. If we don't work to be in tune we'll do the instrument and our own musicianship a great disservice.



To X and his/her uke club friends I say this: Please take individual responsibility to keep your instruments in tune whenever possible. If everyone does this your group will be uplifted with a superior sound.





© Ralph Shaw 2011





Corrections to previous column; How to Pronounce "Ukulele":



When I wrote that: in French, 'fils de' means 'brother of' I should have written 'son of'. I knew this perfectly well; why my 2 typing fingers, in a moment of self-sabotage, took it upon themselves to write 'brother of' is a mystery.

Barbara, a Hawaiian reader, says a more correct Hawaiian pronounciation of ukulele uses the softer sounding 'oo-koo-leh-leh' rather than 'oo-koo-lay-lay'. This is an important distinction which I did not make clear; possibly because in my Yorkshire accent 'leh' and 'lay' are pronounced exactly the same.


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


DVDs to help you learn ukulele:

1 The Complete Ukulele Course gets you started with tuning and strumming. Then learn left and right hand techniques such as rolls, triplets, ornament notes, the Formby split stroke, waltz and jig time, playing chords up the neck and the basics of melody chording.

2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele gives you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, clawhammer, bossa nova, bo-diddley, reggae, march, waltz, syncopation, and much more. People tell me they come back to this DVD again and again.

3 Ukulele Play Along has the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. A fun way to practice!

4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids- Get this dvd for the child in your life and it could change their life. Ukulele is a joyful introduction to music education.


Upcoming Events:

March 18-20th 2011: Reno-Tahoe Ukulele Festival, Reno, Nevada



March 25-26th 2011: Vancouver Ukulele Festival, Vancouver, BC



April 9 2011: Winnipeg River Family Festival: Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba



April 15 2011: Victoria Uke Fest, Victoria, BC.



May 13 2011: Kootenay Children's Festival, Cranbrook, BC



June 17 2011: North Country Fair, Musical and Arts Festival. Alberta



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).

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.

Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card




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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
March 29 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


Continued from last week. Further exploring the many reasons for the resurgence of the ukulele.

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


Word count this issue: 858 words

Estimated reading time: Less than 3½ minutes

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


UE #63 Ukulele - From Unique to Ubiquitous (part 2 of 2)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


There is a school of thought that human beings are 'hard-wired' for music. Our evolutionary process has depended on music to uplift, calm, educate, entertain and energize us. This has gone on since someone first decided it sounded good to repeatedly clonk a stone upon a hollow log.



But eventually, with the advent of Rock and Roll, melody and rhythm making was taken out of the hands of the many and put into an elite realm of the few. Only those with the capability, and desire, to form bands comprised of electric instruments plus drumkits could participate. Although the folk movement of the 1960s provided a home-based reaction to the mass selling of Rock music: ukulele might well have taken off then; instead, it was the banjo that came into its own, largely thanks to Pete Seeger.



But anyone who has carried a heavy banjo for any length of time will appreciate what a ukulele has to offer. It can go anywhere. You can make music anytime: campfire, party, sleepover, boat ride or wedding. Its easy to carry on the bus and unobtrusive enough to play in an airport lounge.



Ukulele provides an easy way into song for musical people who are intimidated by more difficult instruments. Perceived as an instrument on which a modicum of success seems readily attainable, it fulfills the need that many people have to make their own music; especially within groups of friends and acquaintances. These days it seems that ordinary folks are more willing than ever to get up and perform even though they know they'll never sound like Mariah, Shania, Manilow, or Willie.



Ukulele groups continue to spring up everywhere. Andy Andrews, another ex-hippy, or freak, as they were once known and founder of the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz (California) says, 'There's a ukulele wind blowing across the land.... Here and there a vortex whips up; and where it touches down that's where a ukulele club begins.'

I think he has something there, and he wasn't on drugs or alcohol either!



Ukuleles are powerful in bringing communities and generations together.



My own Vancouver Ukulele Circle is one of the oldest of the modern clubs. Members include everyone from tiny toddlers to 20 year olds to old codgers nearly double my own age. Since the year 2000 I have seen hundreds of people go from shy beginner to grinning stage performer.



Chalmers Doane taught scores of Canadian teachers to play uke and as a result of his work generations of children have learned an instrument with which one can sing, and, is gentle enough on small hands. His work continues thanks to James Hill, himself a product of Doane's work, whose ukulele teacher certification program will ensure future crops of young ukulele enthusiasts. While this is going on, older generations are taking it upon themselves to meet up in community halls and retirement centers, learning uke and singing together.



Innovative are the ways that the internet can be used. For example; When a group of facebook friends want to meet and play music they may find themselves without a strong musical leader. The solution? Have everyone sit around a computer and play along with their favourite performances on Youtube. All it takes is some pre-work to find words and chords in the same keys as the Youtube songs. It should also be noted that advances in electronic tuner technology have made it far easier for beginners to keep in tune with each other.



A huge boon has been the access to good learning materials. It took me years to learn the tricks of my troubadour trade. After 12 years of self-learning, I brought out my 1st DVD: The Complete Ukulele Course. I held nothing back. I taught everything I could think of in the best way I knew how. Nearly 10 years on, it gives me a thrill to think that my DVDs have helped to teach 1000s of new ukuleleists, often in faraway places. These days you'll find books, dvds and teachers galore. You can learn to play uke in just about any style for about the cost of a haircut and sometimes for free (thanks to volunteers and online tutorials).



Ukulele is fast losing its status as a 'joke' instrument. It is poised to join mainstream instruments like the saxophone. The sax was once a musical device associated with clowns and vaudeville comedians until the persistent virtuosity of Coleman Hawkins brought it securely into the jazz fold.



There is no longer any need for ukuleles to sit on the musical fringes. The quality and numbers of musical converts, plus inspired luthiery, mean that the ukulele is about to find its rightful place alongside the list of 'approved' instruments which include violins, guitars, mandolins and harps.



Many years ago the Harmony company produced a ukulele on which was inscribed: Music self-played is happiness self-made. That is as true now as it was in the 1920s.



In predicting the present pervasiveness of ukulele it turns out I did pretty well; albeit for reasons I could never have foreseen. Therefore I now draw on my proven powers of premonition to offer the following statement:

Ha! you ain't seen nothing yet.



© Ralph Shaw 2011

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

DVDs to help you learn ukulele:


1 The Complete Ukulele Course gets you started with tuning and strumming. Then teaches you left and right hand techniques such as rolls, triplets, ornament notes, the Formby split stroke, waltz and jig time, playing chords up the neck and the basics of melody chording.


2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele gives you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, clawhammer, bossa nova, bo-diddley, reggae, march, waltz, syncopation, and much more. People tell me they come back to this DVD again and again.


3 Ukulele Play Along has the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. A fun way to practice!


4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids Get this dvd for the child in your life and it could change their life. Ukulele is a joyful introduction to music education.

Upcoming Events:

March 25-26th 2011: Vancouver Ukulele Festival, Vancouver, BC



April 9 2011: Winnipeg River Family Festival: Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba



April 15 2011: Victoria Uke Fest, Victoria, BC.



May 13 2011: Kootenay Children's Festival, Cranbrook, BC



June 17 2011: North Country Fair, Musical and Arts Festival. Alberta



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).

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.

Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card


© Ralph Shaw 2011





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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
April 12 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


Most suggestions I get for this column appeal to me right away. I instinctively know that I can find something to say that may prove useful or entertaining to a fair percentage of readers.

Then there is the other kind of suggestion: the sort that makes me want to respond, "No-one will be interested in that!"

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


Word count this issue: 863 words

Estimated reading time: Less than 3½ minutes

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UE #64 Stringing Up ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Three people have asked me to write a piece about how to put strings on a ukulele. The suggestions came after I wrote a column about the importance of having the right type of strings in order to get the best sound out of your instrument. Although 3 is more suggestions than I have ever received for an individual topic I pretty much dismissed them out of hand. I have been putting strings on my ukes for 20 years. One forgets what it is like to be a beginner. Nowadays putting strings on a ukulele is, to me anyway, such a rudimentary and common-sense skill that I couldn't imagine anyone having much trouble with it for long. But some people apparently do.



At a recent festival I attended an excellent workshop given by luthier Gordon Mayer. Entitled: Make Your Uke Sing! Gordon spoke about the various elements that go into making our ukuleles sound bad, good or great. When he got onto the subject of strings he told the story of his first guitar. When it came time to put new strings on the guitar; Gordon took it back to the shop where he'd bought it in order to get the strings changed. He approached this in the same way as one might take an instrument in for repair.



I was shocked to hear this. It occurred to me that if a practical craftsman and accomplished luthier such as Gordon Mayer once felt fearful of changing his own strings perhaps this might be a suitable subject for a newsletter after all.



I think it all comes down to individual fears. The same person who has no trouble making a speech may on the other hand be terrified of driving a car. Someone who is unable to look after small children may have no problem at all calmly helping the victim of a heart attack.



Many fears are due to a simple lack of knowledge. Once we understand the knowledge and skills needed to do a task we can then look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.



So, if you're ready to change your uke strings, let's begin:



a) Gordon's 1st instruction in his workshop handout: Don't be afraid!



b) Removal of old strings. Replace 1 string at a time. Removing all the strings will cause the tension in your instrument to relax. Unfortunately it will take longer for your instrument to reach a stable tension if you do this.



c) Tying the new string. Most ukuleles have what is known as a tieblock that is right behind the bridge. To tie the string securely to the tieblock the string goes:

i. Through the hole

ii. Back over the top of the tieblock.

iii. Around the string

iv. Through the loop twice (see diagram below)


(Less common are the ukes that have a notch in the tieblock. For those you need to tie a knot in the end of the string and simply slip the string into the notch).



d) When you wrap the strings around the post of the tuning peg they should look like the diagram below. Notice how the strings wrap around from the inside of the post. Strings 1 and 2 wrap clockwise and strings 3 and 4 wrap counter-clockwise (btw. string #1 is closest to the floor when you hold your uke in the playing position):









First make sure there is some slack in the string. Then put the string through the post-hole 2 times if possible (this may not work for the fatter strings). This gives a good grip on the string so that when you start turning the peg the string is held firmly in place. Then continue turning the peg to tighten the string. Make sure that the string wraps 3 or 4 times around the post.









Notice how the string wraps from the top down so it ends near the bottom of the post. This is important. It makes sure that there is downward pressure on the nut to prevent buzzing.



e) Stretching the strings out may take a while. You'll notice that the strings keep going flat. You'll probably feel like you are re-tuning for days. Eventually the strings will stay in tune.



To speed up the stretching process put 2 fingers on one side of the string about 1 inch apart. Put the thumb on the other side of the string in between the fingers. Now squeeze your thumb and fingers together as much as you can and twist sideways hard. This stretches the string quickly to get it ready to play. You may feel that you are dangerously close to breaking the string. Don't worry; the pain of the string digging into your digits will deter any desire to continue squeezing and twisting long before there is likelihood of string breakage.



This string stretching technique is specifically given as an alternative to pulling on strings to stretch them: which Gordon does not recommend because you may tear the bridge off the uke that way.



f) The remaining ends of the strings need to be snipped, shortened or curled so that they don't snag on clothing and otherwise become distracting.



g) Enjoy the sound and feel of your new strings.



© Ralph Shaw 2011



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


DVDs to help you learn ukulele:

1 The Complete Ukulele Course gets you started with tuning and strumming. Then teaches you left and right hand techniques such as rolls, triplets, ornament notes, the Formby split stroke, waltz and jig time, playing chords up the neck and the basics of melody chording.

2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele gives you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, clawhammer, bossa nova, bo-diddley, reggae, march, waltz, syncopation, and much more. People tell me they come back to this DVD again and again.

3 Ukulele Play Along has the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. A fun way to practice!

4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids Get this dvd for the child in your life and it could change their life. Ukulele is a joyful introduction to music education.


Upcoming Events:

April 15 2011: Victoria Uke Festival - Larsen Music, Victoria, BC. Canada http://www.larsenmusic.ca/



May 13 2011: Kootenay Children's Festival, Cranbrook, BC



June 17 2011: North Country Fair, Musical and Arts Festival. Alberta Woodstock of the North!



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).

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.

Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card


© Ralph Shaw 2011





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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
April 26 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


Banjo-ukuleles are so similar and yet so different from wooden ukuleles. Today I offer some pointers to help banjo-ukes co-exist peacefully within the modern ukulele family.

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


Word count this issue: 1034 words

Estimated reading time: About 4 minutes

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UE #65 The Sensitive Banjo-Uke Player ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Mirfield, Yorkshire, 1996. I'll never forget the broad smiles on my mum and dad's faces after walking into a meeting of the Yorkshire Ukulele Circle. I was there thanks to an invitation by Dennis Taylor, then president of the George Formby Society. My parents had come to drive me home. It was the end of the meeting and the YUC members plus myself were playing the closing "Thrash" (a raucous and cacophonic medley of Formby songs with about 30 to 40 banjo-ukes all playing at once).



There are some individuals to whom my description of a "Thrash" befits a grievous punishment from one of Dante's circles of hell. But my parents and I were carried away by the tidal wave of exuberant joy that is produced by a roomful of smiling banjo-ukulele players. Unforgettable and inspirational. Its why I started the ukulele circle in my own town.

I had arrived there with wooden ukulele in hand. One of the kind members examined it and said,

"That's a very nice instrument," before adding, "its no good here of course".

He meant that any instrument other than a banjo-uke would soon be rendered inaudible once the serious playing began, he handed me his own instrument and said, "Use this for tonight".

I don't remember what make of instrument it was; it may have been a "Ludwig"; but I'll not forget the feel of its substantial heft in my arms. It was beautifully set-up too. I could sense its well-balanced tension; one strum and the thing just rang.

Fifteen years on and everything has changed. Ukulele clubs featuring wooden ukuleles are everywhere now. At these gatherings banjo-uke's are about as welcome as a rowdy and uncouth uncle who noisily invades and ruins every conversation but who continues to get invited to dinner because he is "family".

There's a time and place for everything and the flamboyant shout of a banjo-uke is no exception. But playing with others requires special care; so here are some tips to help ensure that you and your banjo-uke continue to get invited to ukulele family dinners.

1) Make Your Banjo-Uke Sound as Good as it Possibly Can.

You'd think that banjo-ukes would all sound pretty much the same being that each one consists of 4 strings whose sound is amplified by a vellum (vellum is the name for the skin or head) - but you'd be wrong. The structure of an instrument is critical in having a good sound (see: hey this drum has a handle). However there are things you can do to optimize the tone of any Banjo-uke:

i) Make sure the vellum is nice and tight. You don't want a 'boggy' sound. Tighten the tension rods in small increments: a ¼ turn at a time, going all the way around. Always tighten opposite rods to keep the tension even across the head. Test the tension by bouncing the handle of a small screwdriver on the vellum. If you hear 'Top Top Top' tighten it some more. When you hear 'Tap Tap Tap' you're getting close. When it sounds like 'Tip Tip Tip' you can stop tightening.

ii) Placement of the bridge. Unlike with wooden ukes the banjo-ukuleleist gets to decide where he wants to place the bridge. Unfortunately there is only one correct place. The distance from the bridge to the 12th fret should equal the distance from 12th fret to nut. A misplaced bridge makes for poor intonation. A useful tip: If you find that your bridge keeps sliding around by itself while you play don't glue it down to the vellum. Instead get yourself some rosin (the stuff violinsts put on their bows). Crumble a small fragment and put the powder under the feet of your bridge.

iii) Use warm sounding strings. For most wooden ukes I would not hesitate to recommend Aquila's Nylgut strings. However I find that they sound far too brash on most banjo-ukuleles. I use black nylon strings instead. Make sure to buy strings that are long enough such as GHS strings. I notice that some of the Hawaiian manufactured strings are cut too short for banjo-ukes (unlike wooden ukuleles, whose strings are tied at the bridge, the strings on a banjo-uke get tied at the very end of the instrument).

iv) Try different vellums. The Vellum type can make a difference to the sound. Available vellums include calf skin, goat skin and man-made. Calf skin has been traditionally used by most banjo-uke players but try different ones to see what works best for you. The fitting of a natural-skin vellum is a bit of a process but its not hard. I learned to do it using Dennis Taylor's instructions on how to fit a vellum.



2) Play With Care and Sensitivity.

I was once playing my 1920's Ludwig banjo-uke in a music festival parade. An audience member afterwards commented that he could clearly hear me from several hundred yards away. Awesome!!! Unfortunately that sort of power is not so welcome in more intimate gatherings so we need to be very sensitive in our playing style:

i) Strum lightly. A single banjo-uke player in a group of 30 wooden ukes will be as unobtrusive as an orange penguin. Don't strum as you normally would. Be as light as a dieting fairy. Use the fleshy part of the thumb to strum. Listen to the overall sound and aim to be an integral part of it.

ii) Strum less often. Not just the volume but also the quality of a banjo-uke's sound is what makes it stand out. The very difference in sound type that the banjo-uke projects will ensure that it still comes through. Think of it as a percussion instrument akin to a clave or cowbell. If played all the time its sound will smother all the other sounds. Therefore don't play every single 'up' and 'down' beat. Try playing just 'down' beats. Or every other 'down' beat. Or every fourth 'down-up' beat. Sparse playing is cool and can provide a welcome addition to the group sound.

They say you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. So when Uncle Ludwig comes to tea its nice if he can be welcomed with smiles and embraces. If you are that Uncle Ludwig then try bringing some sweet sounding honey to the party.



© Ralph Shaw 2011



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


DVDs to help you learn ukulele!:

1 The Complete Ukulele Course gets you started with tuning and strumming. Then teaches you left and right hand techniques such as rolls, triplets, ornament notes, the Formby split stroke, waltz and jig time, playing chords up the neck and the basics of melody chording.

2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele gives you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, clawhammer, bossa nova, bo-diddley, reggae, march, waltz, syncopation, and much more. People tell me they come back to this DVD again and again.

3 Ukulele Play Along has the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. A fun way to practice!

4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids Get this dvd for the child in your life and it could change their life. Ukulele is a joyful introduction to music education.


Upcoming Events:



May 13 2011: Kootenay Children's Festival, Cranbrook, BC



June 17 2011: North Country Fair, Musical and Arts Festival. Alberta Woodstock of the North!



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).

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.

Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card


© Ralph Shaw 2011
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
May 10 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


How many people do you personally know that you can honestly say is a living legend? I know one. You may be interested to know that the person to whom I am referring could very well have been responsible for your birth, or, if you're somewhat older, the conception of your children.

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


Word count this issue: 1314 words

Estimated reading time: Over 4 minutes of enjoyment!

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UE #66 Lyle Ritz's Role Model ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


He's called Lyle Ritz. Even his name is cool and laid back. A razzle dazzle name like that must surely conjure up images of a smiling gold-tooth Lothario; a smooth talking, slow walking son-of-a...but wait you've got it all wrong. Lyle is a humble bass player and he is cringing right now (I happen to know he reads these newsletters).



It was the Portland Ukulele Festival; the same year that Lyle was inducted into the Ukulele Hall of Fame. Piper Heisig (producer, singer and multi-instrumentalist) was on stage about to play Lyle's bass. Its an instrument whose body displays the dents and dings resulting from decades of work. Piper leaned over it and spoke to us,



"Do you realise how many people have gotten pregnant because of this instrument?"



To prove her point she played a classic bass riff from a Righteous Brothers hit. The audience understood immediately. Lyle has probably played on more recordings of 'make-out' music than anyone on earth.



In the 1960s through to the mid-'80s Lyle played in over 5000 studio sessions. He and the musicians he regularly worked with were known as The Wrecking Crew. You've heard their work many times; most of it uncredited. If you ever listened to The Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, Herb Alpert, Frank Sinatra, Tina Turner, Johnny Mathis, Ray Charles or the records that contain Phil Spector's 'wall of sound' then you have heard Lyle's bass. But that's just one reason for his legendary status.



In the world of ukulele Lyle is best known as the musician who:



1) plays the song "Tonight You Belong To Me" in the movie "The Jerk". Although an excellent banjo player Steve Martin was uke-syncing as he strolled with Bernadette Peters.



2) made 2 albums of jazz instrumental ukulele music called "How About Uke?" and "50th State Jazz". This was back in 1957 and they were unique and innovative pieces of work.



His jazz-ukulele albums were not platinum sellers but they were highly influential to numerous Hawaiian and mainland ukulele players. Lyle was well enough known that even in the mid-1990s, well before the present ukulele boom, my audience members in Canada would occasionally approach me to say they owned one or more of his LPs.



When I first met Lyle we didn't say much. I guess neither of us are the greatest when it comes to networking. But I sure watched him. I found him hilarious. I never expected him to be so physically funny.



His knack for wordless expression carries far beyond his music. We were performing in a Dusty Strings concert in Seattle. After being introduced by the emcee each performer had to work their way through the audience to get to the stage. Lyle was having all sorts of trouble; shuffling between chairs in a curmudgeonly way, muttering to himself and asking audience members if they knew the way to the stage. He finally made it and sat in the brightness of the stage-lights: shading his eyes and scowling at the audience. Then he noticed the microphone that had been carefully placed for him. Glaring at it with utter distaste he pushed it to one side like a mouldy offering. Then he began to play.



It was wonderful showmanship. Without words he had made us laugh and at the same time clearly showed us that instrumental music was the only thing we'd be getting from him. After that I always found myself checking out the part of the room that he was in. To others Lyle may appear quiet and low key but I began to think of him as a physical clown par excellence. I was always on the lookout for his comic gems. Once in a cafeteria food line; he picked up a plate and did, what to me were, small but wonderful bits of improvised business.



However, it was my thinking of Lyle as a comedian that eventually got me scratching my head in confusion. It was after one of the Portland Saturday night shows. I was standing at the audience meet and greet when Lyle came up to me and said,



"I really like your playing."



All I could think was, 'Gosh. Lyle Ritz is complementing me!' I said, "Thank you very much".



Lyle continued, "I love the way you strum. Its amazing how you do that."



"Thanks again" I said.



Lyle continued, "Gee I wish I could strum like you."



Now I was thinking, 'enough already with the compliments Lyle'. Then he added,



"Do you think I could learn to do that?"



This was getting too much. 'He's making fun of me' I thought. So in defense I responded a little sarcastically,



"Well I do teach workshops you know."



Obviously I teach workshops; we were both there to teach workshops. Therefore I was further taken aback by his reply,



"You do! Really, would I be able to take one of those?"



It was a twilight zone moment. I thought, 'now he's really taking the piss' as we say in England.



These days, I know Lyle a little better; and I know he was being sincere. But what can happen, and it happens to me fairly often, is that having a reputation as a funny guy means that people don't take you seriously when you say something genuine and heartfelt. In fact they are usually waiting for a punchline; a kicker to undo the earnestness of the setup. No punch-line came and I was perplexed at the situation. It seemed impossible that ukulele jazz master Lyle Ritz could want to learn anything from me. Even supposing he did, all our workshop sessions were now completed anyway.



As a way of solving my conversational crisis I went over to the nearby merchandise table and removed one of my own "Essential Strums for the Ukulele" DVDs. I handed it to Lyle. He in turn behaved as if I'd provided him with the answer to his prayers. It was getting more surreal. I think I may have signed it for him.



In the years and festivals that have followed it is always a joy to meet up with Lyle. I still watch his antics closely. And Lyle usually lets me know how his strumming work with the DVD is coming along. It turns out that although his left hand ability is nothing short of masterful his right hand style wasn't developed to the same degree. For years he has used the sort of felt pick that was thought to be a necessary accessory with ukes sold before the 1970s.



I still shake my head in disbelief when I consider the idea of Lyle Ritz learning from me. But it has taught me a great lesson.



No matter who we are; whatever our status and station in life; there is something we can learn from everyone. Lyle Ritz didn't get to be one of the Wrecking Crew by practicing a few notes and riffs and leaving it at that. He has proven that he is a life-long learner and he is not ashamed to show it. He continues to strive; always moving forward; improving his art and enriching all our lives to the very end.



Lyle has since created his own ukulele teaching DVD where he shares many of his playing techniques. There's a heck of a lot in there for me to learn. I may be an Okay strummer but jazz chords are not exactly my main strength.



Lyle Ritz's DVD is called "Lyle's Style ". When it was released he mailed a copy to me. I have it in front of me now. He has written on the front cover:



"Hey Ralph - Thanks for being a Role Model & Pal! Lyle Ritz



You're welcome Lyle. But I want to thank you too. You have taught me that we are all each other's role model.



If I may say so that is a far more valuable lesson then any of the strumming tricks you may have gotten from me.





© Ralph Shaw 2011


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


Ralph Shaw DVDs to help you learn ukulele:
1 The Complete Ukulele Course gets you started with tuning and strumming. Then teaches you left and right hand techniques such as rolls, triplets, ornament notes, the Formby split stroke, waltz and jig time, playing chords up the neck and the basics of melody chording. Updated version of this DVD includes extra playing and performance tips plus original footage.

2 Essential Strums for the Ukulele gives you specific strums and a song to go with each one. These include: samba, blues, clawhammer, bossa nova, bo-diddley, reggae, march, waltz, syncopation, and much more. People tell me they come back to this DVD again and again. Just ask Lyle Ritz!

3 Ukulele Play Along has the chord changes up on the screen and you get to strum and sing along. A fun way to practice!

4 The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids Get this dvd for the child in your life and it could change their life. Ukulele is a joyful introduction to music education.


Upcoming Ralph Shaw Performances + Workshops 2011:



May 13: Kootenay Children's Festival, Cranbrook, BC



June 17:North Country Fair, Musical and Arts Festival. Alberta Woodstock of the North!



May 4: Cottage Bistro with the Swing Sisters. Evening of nostalgic musical fun. 4470 Main St.Vancouver. Show starts 8pm.



October 7 and 8: Uketoberfest, Eugene, Oregon



October 14 and 15: Langley Ukulele Workshop. Langley BC



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).

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.

Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card


© Ralph Shaw 2011
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
May 24 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


This week I've got some ideas to help you put your songs in order when you're creating a set-list. Also...The Ukulele Entertainer Book is now underway. A collection of wit and wisdom from the first 18 months of this newsletter plus new material too. If you haven't yet pre-ordered there is still time! Go to: Ralph Shaw Book pre-order info

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


Word count this issue: 958 words

Estimated reading time: about 3½ minutes

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UE #67 Seven Suggestions For a Superior Set-List

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If you don't know what a Set-List is it's probably because you have never performed in public. The Set-List is a list of songs chosen and placed in, what the musician hopes will be, the ideal order that they can be played. The songs are written down and the finished list is placed where it can be seen during the show.



That's it. Sounds easy, yes? In a way it is simple and most beginners have no problem writing out a list of songs before performing them. However it seems
that with experience the task of writing a set-list becomes more and more difficult. The performer acquires the notion that a show should "flow" and that there must be a way to optimize the impact on the audience.



Set-Lists are tricky things. A set that rocked the house last night can fail miserably for the next crowd. There is never a guarantee of success. However there are some elements worthy of keeping in mind when creating your set list:



1) The First Song

This is your introduction. It's where the audience gets to check you out. They are looking at your clothes, your face and your instrument and don't necessarily have their full attention on your music. You, on the other hand, are meeting the audience with a sense of nervous anticipation and its during the first song that you are most likely to make mistakes. So make it one of your best songs but also one that you can play with ease. The band Led-Zeppelin began many of their concerts with the energizing "Rock and Roll". You'd think they'd chosen this song because of its high-energy and familiarity. Yes but less obvious is the fact that its easy playability helped the band to get comfortable on stage. Yep. Big stadium stars get the jitters too.



2) The Second Song

Unless the second song NEEDS an intro then consider not talking at all. Many performers are still somewhat nervous at this point and they have a tendency to talk in cliches: "Hi I'm so and so, its great to be here, how are you doing, here's a song I wrote when I was breaking up with my boy/girlfriend, I hope you like it, it goes something like this." Yada yada yada...

You'll create more curiosity and anticipation by being a silent presence than by spouting drivel. Find a song that is strong enough to tell its own story and, ideally, is quite different from your intro song.



3) Make the Show Flow

Think about the concept of taking your audience on a journey. Your musical mystery tour should contain as many elements of variety as possible: Alternate fast and slow songs or put them in groupings; e.g. follow two or three fast songs with a couple of slower ones. Change keys from one song to the next. Alternate major and minor keys. Look at the song themes. Avoid singing 3 songs in a row about breaking up with your girl/boyfriend unless the intent is to relate the unfortunate episode as an epic trilogy.



4) Bring it Down

Before growing the show to a crescendo it's a good idea to mellow things out so that the crescendo will be as pronounced as possible. Pick your most beautiful "quiet" song. This is the time for the audience to get introspective.



5) Build to a Crescendo

Think about raising the energy for the last few songs; whatever that means to you. Create a sense of letting-go. Even without being told, the audience should get the idea that the set is building to a climax.



6) Finish Strong

There is a reason for the showbusiness adage, "Always leave them wanting more." End your set while the audience is still enjoying themselves and END STRONG. Avoid ballads and songs about breaking up with your boy/girlfriend. Consider putting your best song here. Let the audience know when to applaud by giving them a strong finish.



7) Encore!

Even if you don't expect to be asked for an encore it's a good idea to have something prepared in advance. Think of it as the cherry on the cake; an extra treat for the good people with whom you have shared time. So judge their mood. You may want to continue playing more of the same style; especially if people are dancing. On the other hand you can use the encore as an opportunity to do something quite different to what they've seen so far. For example: If you've been singing all originals you might want to try a well known cover song or a singalong. If all your other songs were backed by ukulele now's a good time to try that quirky thumb-piano number you've been working up. This is your chance to have a bit of fun; and fun is much more likely to be had if, before the show, you already took some time to prepare for this moment.



Ready-Set-LIST



I may be large I may be small I may be short I may be long.

Most performers write me out before they sing a song.

Sometimes I don't exist at all 'cept in the singer's head

But usually I am placed at the singer's feet instead.



I'm always being perfected though I'm very rarely seen

A map to show the band where its going, where its been.

They could try to sing without me but I'm afraid they'd have to wing it

A song might not get sung at all without my showing when to sing it.



Some think that I'm essential, others not so much

I could be consequential or considered just a crutch

After the show I'm left behind, never to be missed

Taped to the stage by the microphone stand; a lonely forgotten Set-List





© Ralph Shaw 2011


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


Become involved with my exciting new Book and CD projects: Receive various benefits (signed Book and/or CD, your name in the credits, a personalized song and more). Please go to: New Book and CD by Ralph Shaw





Upcoming Ralph Shaw Performances + Workshops 2011:



June 17:North Country Fair, Musical and Arts Festival. Alberta Woodstock of the North!


May 4: Cottage Bistro with the Swing Sisters. Evening of nostalgic musical fun. 4470 Main St.Vancouver. Show starts 8pm.



October 7 and 8: Uketoberfest, Eugene, Oregon



October 14 and 15: Langley Ukulele Workshop. Langley BC



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).

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.

Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card


© Ralph Shaw 2011
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
June 07 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


What I'm about to say to you may sound somewhat strange; a tad creepy, or deliciously blasphemous, but I assure you that it's irrefutably real. I, Ralph Shaw, have the ability to channel the spirits of long-dead performers. And I'm going to tell how you can do it too!

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


Word count this issue: 1185 words

Estimated reading time: just over 4 minutes

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UE #68 How to Channel the Dead for Fun and Profit!

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



Less than two hundred years ago theaters were regarded with extreme public distaste. In North America, only ne'er-do-wells were found within the walls of theatrical establishments. Theaters were places for men to drink and smoke and meet ladies of ill-repute. Not for decent men and women folk.

This presented a problem for the show-biz entrepreneurs of the day; if only they could find a way to make theater palatable for the well-bred, church-going families who might attend. It was P.T. Barnum who made it happen.

Barnum was a veritable wizard of public relations. In 1841 he created Barnum's American Museum. On several floors and occupying almost an entire city block his museum was the Disneyland of its day. Under the guise of "education" Barnum cleverly constructed an atmosphere that attracted both the worldly and the innocent to come together under one roof. He achieved this with a certain amount of lying and trickery; albeit done in such an entertaining way that few minded. After watching a lecture or a temperance melodrama in one room you might go on to the next to meet George Washington's 161 year old nurse (as if!) or view the Feejee mermaid (actually the head of a monkey sewn on a fish's body).

This innovative use of pseudo-education to bring entertainment to the masses is what eventually lead to the creation of Vaudeville. Vaudeville theaters were palaces of variety entertainment suitable for the whole family. But there was another off-shoot of the mid-19th century dime museums which retained its educational roots and whose rise paralleled that of Vaudeville. It was known as Chautauqua. Chautauqua had its own circuit and delivered entertainment and culture to communities via teachers, entertainers, preachers and specialists of the day.

One of the intriguing things I learned about Chautauqua (forms of which still exist today) is that its presenters teach history by embodying historical characters. They become the character and address the audience as if they really are, say, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain or Marie Curie. It is the mark of their art to truly convey the persona of the figure they wish to represent.

I first heard about Chautauqua while in Reno to present a one-man-show about the life of George Formby. During the show, whenever I went into the character of Formby, I experienced the curious feeling that I was becoming a vessel for Formby's spirit. I was fascinated to discover that proponents of Chautauqua make an occupation of this phenomenon.

In the attempt to portray a person who once lived and breathed a performer can happen to find him or herself in somewhat spooky territory. To dismiss the technique simply as acting does not quite do it justice. It is the total embodiment of a persona. Sure, one can say, it's a technique that actors use all the time. But that still begs the question, "What exactly is going on?" Any of us who have been present to see the milli-second transformation of an actor as he becomes an entire other person is both eerie and miraculous to watch.

On the other hand, to call it "channeling" seems somewhat over the top. But I'll tell you something: whenever I turn on that little switch inside myself that tells me to become someone else, "channeling" is the only descriptive word that seems to fit. But really...channeling? And then I remember this:

I once met a 52 year old woman, called Susan, in a bar near where I lived. On any given day, after work, you'd see her sitting at a table having a couple of drinks, before heading home on the bus. She never looked happy. As I got to know her I learned she worked in the Post Office Complaint Department; all day every day she dealt with customers whose mail had gone missing. No wonder she never appeared to be imbibing the joys of life along with her draft lager. I learned that in her Twenties she'd been a drummer. A pretty good one, she'd idolised the Led Zeppelin drummer: John Bonham. I asked her why she quit. She couldn't remember, and said, "I guess it was no longer a part of my life".

As she talked about her love of drumming I ventured to suggest that she might want to take it up again. She became quite gung-ho about the idea. Whenever I saw her I persisted in encouraging her to buy a drum-kit. I felt it would be good for her to play again. Eventually she did. She reported to me how her skills were coming back and of her re-ignited joy of playing. Then, about two months later, she told me she had sold the drum-kit. I asked why. Her reply was very, very unexpected. She said,

"I sat down to play one evening after a bad day at work. As I played I thought about John Bonham and, it sounds crazy I know, but all at once I felt his spirit take over my body and I played the drums like I've never played before. I don't even fully remember the experience but I played non-stop for two and half hours. At the end of it I was exhausted."

Susan had been through a profound experience. It changed her. In a curious way it emptied her of the need to play drums. She became released from thinking about what might have been and instead was ready to take on the future on its own terms. Did Susan, the 52 year old postal worker, really channel John Bonham? She wouldn't insist that was the case but on the other hand she had no alternative explanation, and, she noted, alcohol had not been a factor.

Some famous performers have been convinced that the channeling effect is real. Early in her career K.D. Lang felt she was the reincarnation of Patsy Cline. She hasn't mentioned this recently. It's clear that she is a talented mimic. Watch her stage moves and tell me that you don't see some Elvis in there.

Whether you call it channeling (for dead people) or mimicry (for alive people) it's a common performance technique. Used effectively the ordinary ukulele entertainer can go from ho-hum to a dazzling, electrically-charged showpiece.

Some Channeling Basics:

1) Build your skills. Develop your vocal/instrumental technique and movement sense to such a degree that you can adapt them to different styles. You won't get taken for Marilyn Monroe if you only walk like a trucker and your only vocal sound is a nasal twang.

2) Find the switch. It helps to discover a mental trick or physical movement to trigger the persona. Usually a small movement is all it takes (impersonators of Rodney Dangerfield always adjust their tie-knot). Find a mannerism that is integral to the personality of the performer.

3) Become the whole person. Its all or nothing. If you are thinking about all the individual elements that comprise the personality then you're not doing it.

4) Commit fully. Believe you are the character then the audience will want to believe it too. You'll break the spell if you perform with any sense of self-consciousness.

The idea of invoking the spirits of the dead as part of the panoply of performance skills may not sit well with everyone. But don't worry, it happens all the time. You may have done it too. And why not? Its actually rather good fun!



© Ralph Shaw 2011


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


Pre-order the new Ukulele Entertainer Book:

Go to: New Book and CD by Ralph Shaw





Upcoming Ralph Shaw Performances + Workshops 2011:



June 17:North Country Fair, Musical and Arts Festival. Alberta Woodstock of the North!


October 7 and 8: Uketoberfest, Eugene, Oregon


October 14 and 15: Langley Ukulele Workshop. Langley BC



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).

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.

Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card


© Ralph Shaw 2011






You can Contact me by...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
email:bowlerhat@shaw.ca
phone: 604 689 2937 (Intl +1)
on the web:http://www.ralphshaw.ca/
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Powerful Pointers to Perk up your Playing
June 15 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


I'll be taking some time off from writing to work on summer projects. Before I go I'd like to tie up a few loose ends...

btw. If you're wondering why you are receiving this its probably because you are a friend of mine who is not normally a subscriber to my Ukulele Entertainer Newsletter. You're getting this as a one-off; I just thought you might like to see the video.

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


Word count this issue: 693 words

Estimated reading time: just over 2½ minutes

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


UE #69 Tying Up Loose Ends for the Summer

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



1) Its been a while since I put any videos up on Youtube. To remedy that here's a performance piece of my song "Movie Stars, High Rollers and Big Shakers" that I shot while taking a break from adding new footage to my Complete Ukulele Course DVD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e64O5AklB4I

Feel free to send to any friends who might like to see musical madness as cooked up by one guy with a ukulele and no editing!



2) If you have already participated in my Book and CD fundraiser by pre-ordering then THANK YOU! I'll be in touch with you presently to let you know how things are going. If you've been meaning to get involved and haven't you still can...but time is running out. Go quickly to: http://www.ralphshaw.ca/New_CD_and_Book and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your participation.



3) Some regular readers of my newsletter/blog may have wondered what happened to the "used-ukulele strings contest"; the one where I offered prizes for the most creative use of old ukulele strings? Well here it is:



Picking a winner from the many fabulous suggestions was not easy. To narrow it down a little I decided to exclude suggestions that involved merely substituting a ukulele string for regular nylon string.



The winner was Flynn who wrote, "My idea would be to crochet the old strings into a strap for your uke. Recycled and useful." Flynn has been working on the item and has promised to send me a photo.



I liked this one because: a) it keeps the old strings still connected to the ukulele and b) it took a heck of a lot more commitment than the simple writing of an email.



Other notable suggested uses for old uke strings include:



Using old strings to hang things: such as pictures, photographs, driftwood mobiles and festive ornaments,



I got several suggestions for creating jewellery: necklaces, bracelets, earrings (use an old uke pick as a pendant). You can even use a string as a clear retainer for piercings. For example, "your boss may frown on your eyebrow ring but you can keep the hole open invisibly with a clear string while you're working."



Some ideas for tying and fixing included: use strings as fishing leaders, stitch up old pillows or the seats in your car/boat/covered wagon. Use them to tie to garden stakes or as a support for a climbing plant. Try making dream-catchers or thread one through your zipper to use as a zipper pull. Tie them together for an emergency clothes-drying-line.



Some were funny: With reference to my short-lived cat-toy idea, Tom said, "Banded together, a used set of nylon ukulele strings would make an extremely strong, yet narrow support tether, with which to attach an endoscopic camera, for the sole purpose of detecting string or yarn in a cat's stomach."



This one was naughty: "Tie all the strings together at each end to create one really really really long piece. Get a friend to hold one end, and you the other. Crouch down at each side of a doorway and wait for an enemy to walk by. Pull the string tight and watch them fall!" I won't say who suggested that but she's a ukulele player and her initials are V.V. My advice: stay friends with her!



Some suggestions were just ridiculous:

Beach Fashion: Wear a g-string as a g-string.
Religion: Throw a bunch of them onto the floor. If one curly string happens to resemble Jesus (or Buddha or Krishna or any other iconic icon), build a shrine and start a cult." Thanks Bartt for the element of surrealism.



Old strings can be used to cut up all kinds of things: such as rolls of cookie dough, cinnamon rolls, cheese, soap and pottery clay, "The more bent and crinkly they are the more interesting facets you can create."



Uke strings can be used for art: Judy from Vancouver took my original cat-toy picture and made a digital collage using sheet music and a photo of a Vancouver Ukulele Circle member.



Finally, I notice, they are fantastic when it comes to tying up loose ends.



Thanks to everyone who participated in this and to all who took time to send me thoughtful, heart-warming and inspiring comments over the past year and a half.



Have a wonderful summer. I'll be back in the saddle when the days grow cool and the leaves begin to fall.



Sithee with Aloha,

Ralph Shaw



© Ralph Shaw 2011
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Inspired Ideas to Maximize your Music
October 18 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


I'm back! The Ukulele Entertainer has returned for a fresh bout of musical musings to pump up your strum, reform your performing and supersize your vocalizing. I want to welcome all the new subscribers who joined this summer. I have teaching ukulele DVDs available (see below or click here) and there is a new book in the works to tell you about in the coming weeks. If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!


Word count this issue: 1033 words


Estimated reading time: about 4 minutes

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UE #70 Five Ways to Become a Ukulele Genius



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

Genius is something we're born with, right? How else could Einstein, a simple clerk in a patent office, have changed our world-view with his visionary insights? What else could have enabled Mozart to write his first pieces of music at such a young age? (At two years old? - get away.) Tiger Woods' innate "genius" for the game was frequently used to explain the almost supernatural way that he roared onto the pro-golf scene and tore apart his more experienced opposition.



But what is genius? Those who have studied it have no doubt found many interesting things, but it's what they haven't found that is most notable. So far researchers have been unable to find a set of characteristics in brain makeup that conclusively gives away the fact that its owner is an Einstein, a Mozart or a Woods.



Our brains develop from birth and change according to environment and activity. Thus the brains of taxi drivers, history teachers and air traffic controllers all end up exhibiting their own special characteristics. But the defining qualities that signify genius are still mostly speculation at this point.



One thing that researchers do know is that every acclaimed genius has put in an extraordinary amount of work. At least 10,000 hours and some suggest up to 50,000 hours of dedicated practice. To put that in perspective: they are saying that every genius you've ever heard of did the equivalent of at least twenty hours of practice per week for a period of ten years in order to get good enough to be recognized as a genius.



But hold on a moment, I hear you cry. How was Mozart able to put in 10,000 hours before he was two? Well here's the thing about Mr. Mozart. He was the product of an extraordinarily gifted teacher: his father. Wolfgang Amadeus's dad created and developed innovative music teaching methods that were used with enormous success on both his son and his daughter. (That young Wolfgang became the big success and his sister didn't is due to the small matter of gender - girls didn't become music stars in those days. By the way, if you think our culture has grown beyond such attitudes: Quick, right now, name three female geniuses. Possibly because of our current social conditioning that's not quite so easy to do.)



Nowadays, thanks to clever teaching methods, we are used to the sight of six and seven year old violin and piano prodigies. Mozart was not much different from today's Suzuki school graduates except that he happened to be doing it a few hundred years earlier. But wait! I hear you bleat. He wrote music when he was two!



Have you heard the music he wrote as a toddler? Has anyone listened to it lately? No they haven't. And do you know why they haven't? Because it was crap that's why. Mozart's first major success was at the age of twenty-one and it was his 271st composition. Before that his education followed a trajectory much like anyone else's: first he copied other composers and then slowly introduced original concepts into his work as he diligently refined and improved his art.



When The Beatles landed on American shores they seemed to come out of nowhere. In truth they'd spent years honing their skills, both individually and as a group, performing for eight hours a day, often seven days a week (sometimes even eight days a week - ha ha) for months on end in some of Hamburg's dingiest night-clubs. In the process they covered countless songs and cultivated their song-writing technique to an extremely high level. When the Fab Four burst onto the public scene it was no accident that their chops were tight and their confidence ran high.



Of course the total amount of time spent working is not the only key to success. I'm sure that if most of us had been opera school classmates of Pavarotti we might have soon felt discouraged. Pavarotti's talent would have taken him more quickly to a place that we, lesser divas and divos, found unattainable no matter how many hours of ear-bending, glass-breaking fa-sol-la-teeing we put in. Nevertheless, my drift is yours for the getting.



If the greatest musical talents had to practice for the equivalent of a shrew's lifetime (about 10,000 hours) to reach their potential, what makes us ukulele players think it's enough to strum for half an hour every three days? Sadly, at least for those of us who took up ukulele believing it was an easy option, the only conclusion to be drawn is this: If you want to be a good ukulele player, you need to practice.



So what can we do to make sure we put in as many ukulele playing hours as possible? Here are five suggestions:



1. Practice daily at the same time each day. Make your ukulele practice a part of your everyday routine, like brushing your teeth in the morning and answering telemarketing calls at dinnertime. This makes your practice period easier to remember and less easy to skip.



2. Find a length of time that works for you. Set a timer. Knowing that you have a fixed amount of time available to practice can help you use that time to the fullest. Even if it is short, aim to maximize whatever time you've set aside for yourself.



3. Practice often. Sometimes life doesn't permit us to take longer breaks. Play when you can. Say, between tasks or seeing clients. Ten three minute practice sessions is the same as one half hour session. If you take your ukulele to work this tip will be useful for all you taxi drivers and air traffic controllers. No planes coming in right now? Strum a few bars of Lady Ga Ga.



4. Perform and jam as often as possible with as many people as you can. Playing live adds a layer of intensity that helps the mind to focus. Much learning will come about by playing for and with others.



5. Reward yourself. The work will be so much more bearable if you know there will be a movie, a pleasant beverage or a banana coming to you at the end of it.



There. I've finished. Now for that banana. Mmm, mm, that's good. Its hungry work being a genius.



© Ralph Shaw 2011





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


Want to learn ukulele? or improve your ukulele playing? My Complete Ukulele Course DVDs shows you how. DVDs for adults and kids: The Complete Ukulele Course DVD Series



Essential Strums for the Ukulele. Learn ukulele in the following styles: Samba, Bossa Nova, Bo-diddley, Reggae, Blues, Swing, Syncopation, Frailing - clawhammer and Waltz. Available from: www.RalphShaw.ca



Upcoming Ralph Shaw Performances + Workshops 2011:



Coming soon: The Ukulele Entertainer Book - Powerful Pointers for Players and Performers



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).

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.

Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card


© Ralph Shaw 2011






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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Inspired Ideas to Maximize your Music
November 1 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


If my school had given out grades for looking gloomy I would have been a glowering A+ student. I still get the richest mirth from a hilarious zinger delivered without the hint of a grin to telegraph the coming devastation; however, times change...
If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 768 words

Estimated reading time: about 3 minutes

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


UE #71 Smile dammit, Smile!



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

Although it pains me to admit it, I have finally accepted that smiling is smart. My early life near Barnsley in Yorkshire is possibly what led me to believe that anything worth doing was worth doing dourly. It seemed to me in 1970's Barnsley that smiles were saved for special occasions; not wasted on frivolities like good jokes, acts of kindness or major celebrations.



In primates the baring of teeth demonstrates a readiness for violence. In some Asian cultures the smile is a sign of embarrassment or confusion. Other cultures reserve their smiles for friends and family. They wouldn't think to smile at strangers. An American may state that Russians don't smile enough, your average Russian will be quick to respond that Americans smile too much and in the wrong places.



From a ukulele entertainer's point of view I have to grudgingly acknowledge that it's those "over-smiling Americans" who have the right idea.



Smiling has many advantages. For one it makes people more attractive to others. And get this: economics professor Daniel Hamermesh (author of Beauty Pays) has demonstrated that ugly people earn less than attractive ones, are less likely to receive bank loans and if they are running for office get fewer votes than those with above-average looks.



It has been shown that people who smile receive greater trust and more help from others. Apparently your smile even helps others to remember your name more successfully. People in service and hospitality work are trained to smile. How big would your restaurant tip be if the maitre d' looked like a rainy day, the bar staff were miserable and the waitresses looked like their underwear was on back to front? Not very big, unless you happen to be Russian, in which case you've probably had the time of your life.



For some activities a smile should be a given; playing ukulele for instance. Who wouldn't rate ukulele strumming as the happiest occupation ever invented? Ukulele players should be high in the category of people most likely to be constantly smiling. Sadly this is not always the case.



Picking, strumming and singing is great fun when you can do it. But becoming skilled requires hours upon hours of focused concentration. With minds intent on wrapping fingers around an F#m7 chord many people unknowingly train their faces to become quite gargoyle-like. Harpo Marx used an extreme case of this condition to create a comedic face that he named a 'Gookie'. Gookie was a real person who rolled cigars in a tobacconist's window oblivious that his neglected face was being carefully studied by the young Harpo Marx.



We know the saying practice makes perfect. But many players also hold onto the belief that the stage will magically improve their playing. Others are certain that their live show is always inferior to the rehearsal. The truth is that our public performances are very similar to what we do when we play alone. Unfortunately this is also true for the expression we wear while playing. I have seen many otherwise worthy musical performances be quite undermined by the player's tortured facial contortions.



As well as making you look more appealing the right kind of smile can improve your singing. Smiling can brighten the quality and expression of your voice. A slight lift of the cheeks plus aliveness in the eyes brings more sound to the front of the face; which is what you want. To see how this works make a relaxed, neutral face and let your jaw hang. Sing the following words on one note, "We are playing now". Repeat the phrase a few times. Now, while keeping your voice the same, lift the corners of your mouth into a smile and sing the words again. Listen for changes in tone. Is it darker and muddier or brighter and clearer; probably the latter. Do it a few times. Listen carefully to the quality of your vocal sound.


When you practice: Consciously relax your face and smile while your fingers strive to attain their desired degree of dexterity. As the playing gets trickier, smile more! Your performances will benefit immeasurably if your audience perceives that you take delight in attempting trickier passages. Avoid showing grief, worry, tension and other unhappy emotions that your listeners are hoping to be lifted away from.


Watch the faces of your favourite players and singers. Decide how you want to appear to others when you are in the limelight and keep that intention whenever you play. Twisting your face to resemble Quasimodo's uncomely cousin won't improve your music.



Remember: Practice makes permanent - so be careful what you practice.



© Ralph Shaw 2011






Harpo Marx Throwing a "Gookie".



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


Want to learn ukulele? or improve your ukulele playing? My Complete Ukulele Course DVDs shows you how.

DVDs for adults and kids: The Complete Ukulele Course DVD Series



Essential Strums for the Ukulele. Learn ukulele in the following styles: Samba, Bossa Nova, Bo-diddley, Reggae, Blues, Swing, Syncopation, Frailing - clawhammer and Waltz. Available from: www.RalphShaw.ca





Upcoming Ralph Shaw Performances + Workshops 2011:



November 5: McGill Library 10th anniversary (Burnaby BC) Events all day. Ralph Shaw performs at 6pm

November 15: Vancouver Ukulele Circle monthly meeting



December 11: Cool Yule Christmas show at the Cellar Jazz Club with the Swing Sisters. (3611 W. Broadway, Vancouver, BC: Reservations 604 738 1959)

December 20: Vancouver Ukulele Circle monthly meeting


Coming soon: The Ukulele Entertainer Book - Powerful Pointers for Players and Performers




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).

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.

Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card


© Ralph Shaw 2011
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Inspired Ideas to Maximize your Music
November 11 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


It was once a part of everyone's life that has all but disappeared. The good old-fashioned singalong.
If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 778 words

Estimated reading time: about 3 minutes

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


UE #72 The Art of the Singalong



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

The last great group of singers was the World War II generation. They kept the rickety pub pianos vibrating with song and laughter well into the 1980s. But since the pubs were renovated and those cranky pianos cast out along with the battered cigarette machines and charred lampshades we turn our heads only to discover that those old songsters are mostly gone. Some survive, but the ones that do are now into their nineties and unlikely to gather for a singsong at happy hour. As each one passes away so do more memories of that generation's great moments. It was an age when every event was marked with music.



Sure, there are still a few places where one can stand around the piano with like-minded veterans of song - perhaps to croon hits by the likes of Vera Lynn, Bing Crosby or Al Jolson - but they are rare now. One example is Vancouver's Billy Bishop Legion. Their regulars still drink pints and sing songs every Friday until midnight when they all link arms for the final medley. Their pianist, Bea Blackwell, has played an almost unbroken line of weekly singalongs and annual Remembrance Days for many decades.



One obstacle to the modern singalong is that even amongst those who can or would like to sing there is no common repertoire. Let's say we had an opportunity to get together and sing - what then? How would we choose the songs? I can imagine much vying over whether to sing Rock and Roll, Rhythm and Blues, Ragtime, Rockabilly, Reggae, Religious or Rap.



The demise of the family piano is also partly to blame for the decline in singalongs. Once it was the family's entertainment system but now the piano's place has been taken over by the large, black, rectangular void known as the big-screen TV.



Thoughts of all this came very strongly to me recently when I was booked to visit the family home of a prospective client. Her brother had mentioned me to her. She told me,

"My father is going to be ninety years old and he loves to sing and I can't think of a better birthday gift than a family singalong. I hear that you lead singalongs and even do house calls."



This was a misunderstanding and I could see how she had come to this conclusion. Yes, I have been known to entertain in people's homes and yes, I do lead a monthly ukulele get-together, essentially a singalong for strummers. However, a family singalong with people I'd never met was a new idea for me. But I liked the concept and went with it.



Right away I realized that with an age difference of eighty years between oldest and youngest, deciding what to sing would be the first puzzle to solve. My solution was to suggest to my client that she create a songbook especially for the occasion. I emailed to her a number of song suggestions from my own repertoire. Armed with these songs, plus additions of her own, she came up with a selection of ditties. Hopefully they'd cover the tastes of everyone at the party. The book she made was spiral bound and had a picture of her dad on the front. She sent a copy for me to work with.



Before too long I found myself, in the hour before dinner, standing on a fireplace rug leading a boisterous family singalong. It struck me what a rare privilege this was. The ukulele had taken the place of a piano but the unique feeling that comes from a group of voices singing happily together was still there. In unison we crooned, amongst others: Blue Moon, For Me and My Gal, With a Little Help from my Friends, Rubber Duckie and a song with particular meaning for me: Edelweiss.



As we sang of the alpine flower that greets us every morning and whose snow-white petals we urge to blossom and grow forever, I found myself thinking back to past singalongs in my life. Many of the participants are no longer around but I suddenly remembered them clearly. Along with an almost painful ache of nostalgia came a barely remembered sense of tender belonging; a nearly forgotten feeling of warm togetherness that I'm sure used to be more commonplace. My memory suddenly felt sharper and richer thanks to the words and melodies of the songsmiths whose strange powers have the ability to conjure up long neglected senses and recollections.



Every November 11 we are reminded of the phrase: "Lest we forget." As we remember the lost, the brave, and the good let us also spare a thought for the humble singalong whose very presence in our lives gives us something to live for.





Next week: Some hints on how to lead an awesome singalong!



© Ralph Shaw 2011



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


Want to learn ukulele? or improve your ukulele playing? My Complete Ukulele Course DVDs shows you how.

DVDs for adults and kids: The Complete Ukulele Course DVD Series



Essential Strums for the Ukulele. Learn ukulele in the following styles: Samba, Bossa Nova, Bo-diddley, Reggae, Blues, Swing, Syncopation, Frailing - clawhammer and Waltz. Available from: www.RalphShaw.ca





Upcoming Ralph Shaw Performances + Workshops 2011:



November 15: Vancouver Ukulele Circle monthly meeting



December 11: Cool Yule Christmas show at the Cellar Jazz Club with the Swing Sisters. (3611 W. Broadway, Vancouver, BC: Reservations 604 738 1959)

December 20: Vancouver Ukulele Circle monthly meeting


Coming soon: The Ukulele Entertainer Book - Powerful Pointers for Players and Performers




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).

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.

Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card


© Ralph Shaw 2011






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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Inspired Ideas to Maximize your Music
November 22 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


People's access to all kinds of music has increased enormously thanks to the internet and portable music players. Now, with ukuleles in the hands of many, it is possible to provide chords and rhythm in almost any situation. The potential for group singing is limitless and today I offer ten tips to help make it great. If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 952 words

Estimated reading time: just over 3.5 minutes

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


UE #73 How to Lead an Awesome Singalong!



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

To simply sing with others is a basic human need as essential to our social lives as eating and drinking. But, although they were once as natural as the afternoon nap, singalongs don't happen by themselves. They require a special person: someone to organize and motivate a group of wary screen gazers and transform them from being habitually passive observers into shining pillars of song. If you think you might be one such person here are some hints to help you get it right:



1) Attract willing people. Ideally folks should know ahead of time that they are going to be singing. That way they can bow out gracefully if they so wish. If your crowd contains too many arm-folded non-participants then you'll be fighting an uphill battle.



2) Be a leader. Being a leader means several things. Its up to you to put across the idea that singing in a group is a completely natural and acceptable thing to do. Be confident and enthusiastic. Be more outrageous and silly than you normally are. If others see you letting go perhaps they'll be more willing to unshackle their spirits and free their voices. A good leader is there to serve the group by keeping things fun and flowing. This means creating a plan but also having the flexibility to stray from the plan when inspiration takes the group in unexpected directions. Avoid being over-controlling and pushy.



3) A singalong is not a performance. In our world where everything musical is presented as something to be observed by others, the philosophy of unwatched group singing can seem a very foreign concept. The listeners are the same people making the music so there should be no fear of outside judgment. As a leader it is up to you to find every way you can to make the singers understand this. Whenever anyone comments that they will sing quietly because their voice is no good, firmly and kindly tell them that there are no bad voices. Nothing matters except to do your best and have fun doing it.



4) Get others to lead. Spot the stronger singers in the group and offer them the chance to lead one song or more. This is an especially good idea if you are a better organizer than you are a song leader.



5) Choose well known songs and stay close to the original. Your singalong will be a very quiet one if people don't know the words or the tunes. I recommend you pick songs that are known by at least a slim majority of your fellows (say 60%.) Popular songs have famous recorded versions that most people know. It can be helpful for cohesiveness to keep reasonably close to these arrangements. Fancy phrasing and stylizing make it harder for others to follow. This is not a fast rule however. It can be a lot of fun to play a song completely outside the genre in which it is usually heard. I recently led my group in a high speed rendition of Amazing Grace that clipped along at breakneck pace while still suiting the song.



6) Know your material. Practice the songs before venturing to lead them. Make sure you know the beginnings, endings and the starting note. You'll make mistakes as you go but keep remembering the mantra: do your best and have fun.



7) Kill the video and photo. The recording of sounds and images implies that someone will eventually observe and judge our efforts. This creates tension no matter how polite the camera person may be. No-one likes to have their image taken while eating so why allow video and photos while singing? You're in a group but it's still private time and just because someone owns an expensive piece of gadgetry made by slave labour in a far off part of the world doesn't automatically give them the right to use it. For the most part our wannabe paparazzi think they are far better at photography than they actually are. They believe that pressing a button is an art form. It isn't. Next time one of these bottom feeding lowlifes starts "taking" your picture without permission tell them you'd prefer that they set up an easel and paint your image instead. See what kind of an artist they truly are. Seriously though, let your group decide the culture they want. For example, they may choose to allow video and photos for one or two songs only but I strongly advise against unlimited recording.



8) Include variety. Most songs are repetitious and singing a song the same way twice can get boring. Find ways to vary the music: Get the crowd to sing sections by themselves. Change the strumming style and the volume level. Play with the phrasing a little. Do what you can to make the same words and chords seem interesting all over again. If you have several short songs that are fun but which don't bear repetition then make them into medleys.



9) Encourage without compliments and critiques. Offering words of encouragement like, "sing louder!" and "oh yeah, you got it now!" loosens up voices without inflating and deflating personal egos that individual remarks can do. Conversely, pay close attention to what the group is telling you. React to their comments and gestures. They may provide wonderful inspiration that you can draw on to make the experience spontaneous and exciting.



10) The singalong is made and enjoyed in the immediate moment. It is never the same way twice. It is timeless. Compared with such a reality, the production values of even a space age high-definition 3-D holographic camera are as empty and worthless as dry dust. It's a precious time. Be fully present and remember, because it can't be said too much: do your best and have fun!



© Ralph Shaw 2011



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


Want to learn ukulele? or improve your ukulele playing? My Complete Ukulele Course DVDs shows you how.

DVDs for adults and kids: The Complete Ukulele Course DVD Series



Essential Strums for the Ukulele. Learn ukulele in the following styles: Samba, Bossa Nova, Bo-diddley, Reggae, Blues, Swing, Syncopation, Frailing - clawhammer and Waltz. Available from: www.RalphShaw.ca





Upcoming Ralph Shaw Performances + Workshops 2011:


December 11: Cool Yule Christmas show at the Cellar Jazz Club with the Swing Sisters. (3611 W. Broadway, Vancouver, BC: Reservations 604 738 1959) dinner from 6:30, 8pm show.



December 20: Vancouver Ukulele Circle monthly meeting


Coming VERY soon!: The Ukulele Entertainer Book - Powerful Pointers for Players and Performers




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).

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.

Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card


© Ralph Shaw 2011






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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
_______________
Ich bin ein Prootcher: www.prootchers.de
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Inspired Ideas to Maximize your Music
December 6 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


My new book The Ukulele Entertainer is in the final stages of production. Order soon and you should receive your copy in time for the holidays - it's down to the wire I know! In a day or two I'll email your ordering information so that your copy can be sent out as soon as they come in. Btw. If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 860 words

Estimated reading time: less than 3.5 minutes

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


UE #74 Longevity Tips from the World's Oldest Ukulele Entertainer



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

The ukulele community has learned that Bill Tapia passed peacefully away on December 2, 2011 aged 103 years. His incredible professional career spanned over ninety years. At ten years old he was already playing "Stars and Stripes Forever" on his ukulele at USO shows for the World War I troops. Amazingly, he'd learned the song directly from the composer, after hearing it played by John Philip Sousa's own band. By age twelve he was playing in Vaudeville. He later moved on to play guitar as a jazz sideman. He had some notable highlights too, including occasions when he got to accompany Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley, Billie Holiday and Bing Crosby. It's even said that he was the one to introduce legendary broadcaster Arthur Godfrey to the ukulele.



Towards the end of his life the remarkable centenarian was touring again, performing live shows, recording CDs and signing them for countless fans of all ages. He is said to have been the oldest unionized performing musician ever.



Words like "remarkable", "amazing" and "incredible" come easily to mind when thinking about Bill Tapia. Such superlatives arise from a rare combination: his spritely old age plus his renowned talent as an entertainer. In a world where great music is often associated with youth cut short in its prime it can feel both surreal and slightly overwhelming to contemplate the human scale of time that was traveled by Mr Tapia and his uke.



As for me, I already feel old! I seem to bruise more easily now and my joints don't bend with the flexibility that they did in my younger days, when they said I was the spitting image of Michelangelo's "David" (well, one person said it anyway.) I've also had my share of root canals, strained ligaments and grey hairs. My eye-sight is very good but it's clear to see that it's not everything it was. I'm not complaining but here's what gets me: to reach Bill Tapia's final resting age I will have to live my whole life again and then several years on top of that. And quite frankly I find it very hard to imagine.



To gain some perspective on the length of his career, consider this: when Bill Tapia was a little boy there were no cars, radios or refrigerators. Or if there were he wasn't aware of them. As a young Hawaiian boy in 1915 he bought his first uke from Manuel Nunes, inventor of the ukulele, for 75 cents. And was already strumming ukulele chords when the instrument was just being introduced to the United States mainland. The roaring twenties hadn't even started.



We now think of "hapa haole" that is, "part-white" Hawaiian songs, like Ukulele Lady, My Little Grass Shack and Sweet Leilani as being substantially older than "Golden Oldies". They were popularized in the 1920's and '30s and now seem positively archaic to us. Bill Tapia was playing those songs when they first came out of the sound cones of wind-up gramophone players. And he was hearing and playing jazz right when jazz was invented. It's nothing short of astounding!



Shortly before Bill Tapia's 100th birthday he and I performed on the main stage at the Southern California Ukulele Festival in Cerritos, California. We'd both completed our sets and, as musicians often do, we were standing around at the back of the concert hall watching the rest of the show. Probably to be near our respective merchandise tables when the show ended.



A thought occurred to me that this was a unique opportunity to speak with Bill. Perhaps I could glean some secrets that might help me survive the rigours of musicianship for as long as he had done. I strolled on over and said, "I want to be doing this when I'm ninety-nine. Do you have any hints or advice to pass on?" He thought for a moment and then answered me in four words, "Just keep doing it."



I almost left it at that but felt to push the matter a little further. I said, "No, come on Bill, there's got to be more to it." He thought for a spell and said. "Well I always took pretty good care of myself. I didn't do drugs and I wasn't a drinker except for a social drink. I exercised by riding my bike every day until my doctor said I had to stop because of angina but even now I walk daily. The only bad thing I did was to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day until I was eighty-seven. I quit smoking because of the angina."



Here then, as far as I can surmise, are Bill Tapia's seven rules for a long and healthy musical life:



1) Have the good fortune to be born with long-life genes.



2) Be born into a time when everyone eats natural organic food and there are no unhealthy petroleum or corn derived products. Neither is there electromagnetic radiation from cell-towers, nuclear power stations, radio transmitters or X-rays. (There could still be the occasional World War or flu epidemic to survive but hopefully, with luck and some help from No. 1 you'll sail through all those.)



3) Exercise daily.



4) Don't do drugs and only drink alcohol in moderation.



5) If you smoke heavily it's a good idea to quit, at least by the time you're in your late eighties.



6) Play ukulele and sing.



7) Just keep doing it.



© Ralph Shaw 2011



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


Thinking to buy a ukulele teaching DVD in time for the holidays? When you purchase from my website we try to ship within 24 hours.

Find learning DVDs for adults and kids here: The Complete Ukulele Course DVD Series



New Book Coming VERY soon!: The Ukulele Entertainer - Powerful Pointers for Players and Performers



Essential Strums for the Ukulele. Learn ukulele in the following styles: Samba, Bossa Nova, Bo-diddley, Reggae, Blues, Swing, Syncopation, Frailing - clawhammer and Waltz. Available from: www.RalphShaw.ca





Upcoming Ralph Shaw Performances + Workshops 2011:


December 11: Cool Yule Christmas show at the Cellar Jazz Club with the Swing Sisters. (3611 W. Broadway, Vancouver, BC: Reservations 604 738 1959) dinner from 6:30, 8pm show.



December 20: Vancouver Ukulele Circle monthly meeting



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).

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.

Make a financial contribution to support this newsletter:
Make a Donation using Paypal or Credit Card


© Ralph Shaw 2011






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: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Inspired Ideas to Maximize your Music
December 12 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


Tell your friends - The Ukulele Entertainer is here!!!


"The collection of Ralph Shaw wisdom we've been waiting for. Keep it in your ukulele case, under your pillow, in your car... anywhere you might need a little inspiration from a true entertainer and a gifted teacher."

-From the foreword by ukulele master James Hill



The New Book by Ralph Shaw (click pic to order from website!)


My new book is ready and I'm taking orders now...

Click here to order your copy immediately!

It's an exciting time in the Ralph Shaw household that's for sure. The book looks great and is everything I wanted it to be.

Here's what will happen:

Books get to me by Wednesday December 14. And mailing begins right away. First ones to be sent out will be to the supporters who already contributed towards this project. If you also want to have an excellent chance of receiving yours before the holidays order right now to make sure your book/s are sent out in the very next shipment. (If it's a gift for someone else you can use their shipping address so the book goes direct to them.)

Here's what you'll be getting:


The Ukulele Entertainer is a must have guide to improve your skills as a player and as a performer. With this book you'll learn how to:



Put strings on a ukulele - correctly,



Play three styles of triplet strum,



Know where to look when you sing,



Tackle nerves and stage fright,



Start and run a ukulele club,



Remember lyrics and sing on pitch,



Create a killer set list and much more.



Learn from a seasoned pro how to relax and improvise, introduce more dynamics into your playing, even-just for fun-how to make ukulele wine! You'll get some lessons in musical history and be royally entertained by the "King of the Ukulele" himself. This book is the definitive collection of top tips from the Ukulele Entertainer newsletter series and is surely for you!





This book is only available directly from me, Ralph Shaw. So click here to Buy Now and be the Best Ukulele Entertainer You Can Be for only $19.99!



Note for international customers: Only orders from USA/Canada are sent by airmail. Other international orders are shipped by surface mail (approx. 6 to 10 weeks.) If you're a faraway customer who would like airmail please contact Ralph directly to place your order.


About the Author
Ralph Shaw is an "uber-talented performer with the soul of a teacher" who brings, along with his ukulele, the best of British Music Hall to the stage. The wit, charm and comic energy of his live performances are also evident in his writing. His original songs have been featured regularly on CBC Radio and can also be heard in movies and TV shows. Ralph lives in Vancouver, Canada, and travels widely to perform and teach at ukulele festivals and other events. This is his first book.





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


To subscribe to the regular newsletter: just visit my Newsletter Signup page where you can also link to the Archive of previous newsletters.



© Ralph Shaw 2011

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ukulele Entertainer

Inspired Ideas to Maximize your Music
December 26 2011
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Raimund,


I wish each and every reader a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful Holiday Season. Btw. If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 1233 words

Estimated reading time: Under 5 minutes

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


UE #75 How to Build a Ukulele Case



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

Do children still get home-made Christmas gifts? I certainly did. I don't mean to infer that I come from a particularly poor family. It is true that money was pretty tight in those days, but so it was for most young families in the little Yorkshire village of Millhouse Green. I'd gaze through my bedroom window at the frosty garden hoping for snow and wishing for toys from the toyshop. Oh, how little did I know. My future playthings were not residing on store shelves waiting to be bought. Neither were they at the North Pole undergoing construction by Santa's undergrown munchkins. Neither were they hidden; wrapped and ready in the mid-morning of my childhood, lying dormant in secret coves known only to my parents. In fact, they were not so very far above my head.



For many years the weeks leading up to Christmas would find my dad up in the attic making gifts for me. I was asleep. Either that, or too young to be curious as to why my father spent so much time up above the trapdoor. Now I am older I remember those secret gifts with far more clarity than I do any of my shop bought toys.



There was a fort or "castle". Its formal name changed depending on whether it was occupied by small plastic cowboys repelling equally small plastic "indians"; or knights in armour, fighting, what else, but American G.I.s who were the only other adversary available to me at the time. I also remember a black policeman's hat. My dad even made me a flyover (or overpass) for me to push my toy cars over and under. I had no roads, just a single go-anywhere bridge. It worked. It was also quite bumpy. The fort was lumpy and bumpy too; so much so that my weapon waving warriors would rock precariously at the battlements anytime the fortress was nudged. This is because my toys were made from paper maché: my father's chief medium when it came to my Christmas gifts. In case you've never come across it, paper maché is a porridgey mixture of wallpaper paste and torn scraps of newspaper that becomes quite solid and substantial when dry.



One year I clearly recall a wondrous sight in the window of the toy shop at the top of Shambles Street in Barnsley. It was a glorious thing to behold. A bright red rock 'n' roll drum-kit. I thought about it, I longed for it and I must have talked about it. For on Christmas morning I had my very own set of bright red drums. My dad had taken two plastic plant-pots, one small, one large, and, attaching them together, he cleverly transformed them to make a very credible pair of bongo drums. Their tops were painted silver and trimmed with gold braid. When I think about it I can still smell the paint we used in those days.



I would be lying to say I wasn't disappointed. Bongos did not make the cut. I wasn't interested in "hand" drums. It had to be sticks. My disappointment was slightly alleviated when my dad hand-carved two wooden drumsticks for me. However it wasn't long before my sticks pounded through the paper maché drum-tops and my bongos went back to being plant-pots once again.



My goal in relating to you these tales of unusual, and uniquely undulating, gifts is not to elicit sympathy. Neither is it to make any claim that my dad was any cleverer, kinder, more frugal or resourceful than your or anyone else's dad. Though he could be all those things at times. My only goal is to suggest that the objects we make for ourselves are immensely cooler than anything you can ever possibly buy. I played with those attic-born gifts more than any mass-made factory fare you could mention. They were magical objects, and though they're now long gone, the memory of them is burned into my consciousness.



I make my own things now. I use a technique not unrelated to paper maché. It was shown to me by the great Tomas Kubinek who learned it from the legendary Al Simmons. Here's what you do: Take some corrugated cardboard and cover it with canvas and carpenter's glue. You'll discover that it hardens to become an extremely strong and light material. The product is very tough and happens to be perfect for making ukulele cases. It is also light, strong and always fixable. I wrote a song that describes the technique in detail and I've been singing it for some time. The lyrics are below and I offer them to you now. All I beg in return is that you please send me a photo of your home-made ukulele case or any other object that you make using this technique.



If you want to see and hear the song being sung here it is on youtube.



How to Build a Ukulele Case by Ralph Shaw



Use corrugated card for the top and base

But the sides should be of the none-corrugated kind

Use half-inch foam to pad your case

A sleeping mat from a camping shop is fine



The handles, clasps and hinges can be rescued from a knackered old doctor's bag

Or make-up box or satchel ready for the dump

And buy some paint, of a suitable hue

And a great big bottle of carpenter's glue.



It can be a lot of fun when you know what to do

Using cardboard, canvas and carpenters glue

You can do it by yourself you can put it on a shelf

You can tell the neighbours, "I did that my-self"



Be-gin by drawing 'round the thing you want inside the case

Add one inch around then cut it out and that will be the base

Do the same for the lid, then measure for the height,

Add one inch then cut the cardboard for the sides.



With a sharp sharp knife score the board on the bends

Then attach the sides to the base with sewing pins

Do the same for the lid as what you just did

Doubling up the sides to make a little lip



With hot glue you can hold the edges firmly in their place

Re-move the pins then smother glue on the top and sides and base of your case...

Cover with cloth, thin canvas is best

Shmear more glue and while it dries......have a rest!



Once it dries, good and hard

It should sound like knocking on wood and not like card

Paint the whole thing, with the second coat on

Add the handles, clasps and hinges now you're done



You can buy a case for thirty eight dollars or less in an average store

But the one I made excluding time cost me quite a bit more...

But I'd do it all a-gain 'cause I know what to do

Using cardboard, canvas and carpenters glue.



The things we buy today are made in China and Taiwan

But you can build things just as well as a Szechuan manufacturer can.

Check it with your eye does it all look true

Made from cardboard, canvas and Carpenters glue.

© Ralph Shaw



It's been more than a delight to receive, in my email, photos of ukulele cases that people have made after attending one of my concerts; their only aid to construction was the words of my song. I can't describe how unutterably wonderful it is to think that people have made these things using only song lyrics as guidance.
Der große Gründer des Ukulelenclubs
Registriert: Jan 2006
Beiträge: 9932
Ort: Moers
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The Ukulele Entertainer

Inspired Ideas to Maximize your Music
January 03 2012
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Dear Raimund,


There are many ways to play a roll on a ukulele. Today I will attempt to describe the most economical way of all.
Btw. If you find value in this newsletter then please consider forwarding it to a friend!

Word count this issue: 735 words

Estimated reading time: less than 3 minutes

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UE #76 How to Do the One Finger Roll



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One of the great advantages of not using a pick is that having your fingers and thumb available gives you access to a wider variety of playing techniques. One such technique is "the roll".



What is a roll? A roll is what you hear when several individual beats happen so quickly that it sounds like a continuous vibrating sound. I often call it a "thrum". For example if you flick through a deck of playing cards slowly you'll hear flak-flak-flak. But do it quickly and it sounds more like: fl-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r (the rolling r-r-r-r sound being like the front-of-tongue vibration of the 'r' when a Spaniard says "Burro").



The roll is also one of the signature sounds of Spanish flamenco guitar. The sound is achieved by strumming down on the strings, one finger at a time, using some or all fingers of the strumming hand. You can try it right now. Find a level surface and drum the pads of your fingers on it as if you were impatiently waiting for something. Try it using three fingers. Do it slowly at first making sure to keep all the beats evenly spaced. Speed up the roll. Now add another finger and then the thumb until all five digits are making a nice "thrumming" sound. Now reverse it: if you began the roll with your pinky now start it using the thumb.



Playing a roll on the ukulele is very similar to drumming on a desk except that instead of using the pads of the fingers you'll more likely be doing it with the fingernails or sides of the fingers. Experiment with the three and four finger roll. Always aim for a clear rolling sound and incorporate it into your playing. I show the technique on two of my DVDs: The Complete Ukulele Course and Essential Strums for the Ukulele.



As any baker will tell you: there is more than one way to bake a mole, erm that is, make a roll. Most players favour starting a three or four finger roll with the pinky finger. Others, like myself, begin the roll using the index finger and ending with the ring or pinky fingers. The former method has the advantage that it allows you to do a five finger roll, ending with the thumb, if you so wish.



Ever heard of the six finger roll? It sounds like the start to a joke but it actually is a real technique. I first heard of it as being taught by Bob Brozman. It involves changing the direction of the roll so that one or more fingers are being used more than once in a seamlessly continuous sound. This leads us to the highly improbable but very real ten finger roll. Matt Dahlberg showed me this extraordinary technique. It involves the five digits rolling first in one direction and then immediately rolling back the other way. The slinky movement of the hand while doing this is an effect I call "the ukulele double helix". The ten finger roll sounds exciting, is visually stunning and musically pretty useless. Even Matt admits that the technique, though highly cool, is not one that fits comfortably into most musical situations.



Myself, I prefer simpler techniques. You can get an excellent roll by having the finger strum down immediately followed by the thumb. This "thumb-roll" is shown in the syncopated strum section of my Essential Strums DVD.



But for sheer simplicity nothing can beat the one finger roll.



This is an unusual technique. My usual policy is to instruct learners to practice new techniques slowly before gradually building up speed. Unfortunately I find that the one finger roll only truly sounds like a roll when played at speed. So you'll have to figure it out on the fly. Also note that it is effective if you strum with your finger-end like I do. But it may not work for thumb-strummers.



Start by playing one of your faster numbers. As you strum, put in a quick shake of the finger and then return to the regular strum. That's all there is to it. Technically what you're doing is inserting a very short and fast tremolo. Keep a nice loose wrist as you strum down-up-down-up then quickly add some additional down-ups at double speed. But it is far easier to simply think of it as incorporating an added finger-shake.



A bonus of this technique is that, if you do happen to strum with a pick, you can now play a fast roll without having to use any additional fingers.



© Ralph Shaw 2011



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



New book by Ralph Shaw
New Book: The Ukulele Entertainer
Powerful Pointers for Players and Performers

Be the Best Ukulele Entertainer You Can Be!
available from www.RalphShaw.ca

Put strings on a ukulele - correctly,
Play three styles of triplet strum
Know where to look when you sing
Tackle nerves and stage fright
Start and run a ukulele club
Remember lyrics and sing on pitch
Create a killer set list and much more. Learn from a seasoned pro how to relax and improvise, introduce more dynamics into your playing, even-just for fun-how to make ukulele wine! You'll get some lessons in musical history and be royally entertained by the "King of the Ukulele" himself.

"The collection of Ralph Shaw wisdom we've been waiting for. Keep it in your ukulele case, under your pillow, in your car... anywhere you might need a little inspiration from a true entertainer and a gifted teacher."
-From the foreword by ukulele master James Hill

Ralph Shaw Australia Tour in March and April:

I'm pleased and excited to announce that I'll be at the Melbourne Ukulele Festival March 8 to 11. After that I'm going to visit ukulele clubs and other venues in Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra (so far.) Plans are still under way. If you'd like me to visit your bit of Australia to perform and/or teach then please let me know. I'll do my best to fit you into my schedule.

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).

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© Ralph Shaw 2011

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