music

Workshop with Kimo Hussey and Kalei Gamiao

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Last Saturday I made the trek up north to visit The Strum Shop in Roseville for a workshop/concert with two of my favorite ukulele artists playing today, Kimo Hussey and Kalei Gamiao.  I have been hearing and seeing a lot about the Strum Shop over the past year as they have had some great artists and teachers come through their doors as of late.  It was great to finally meet local ukulele guru and Strum Shop owner, Stu Herreid.  He has created a really great community up in the Sacramento area through teaching, different events, and organizing the local ukulele club, Uke University. SShopWorkshopSShopWorkshop2

Kimo taught a fantastic workshop covering some basic chord movement and chord replacement.  He also discussed training your ear to learn when to hear when chord changes should happen.  He had such a great energy and was really good at connecting with all of the participants.  Kalei's workshop covered some of the basic ideas behind his right hand techniques, from strumming to lead picking.  It was interesting to hear about some of his creative process and how he discovers and executes some of his incredibly intricate rhythms.

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The concert portion of the event was one of my favorites by far.  Kimo's solo set was so intimate, he is such a great musician and story teller and his ability to evoke different feelings and emotions in his playing is unparalleled.  I have been waiting to hear Kalei play live for quite some time now, as he was one of my first inspirations when I started playing ukulele.  His technique is breathtaking to watch, and their were several wow's from the audience at the end of a few of his more intense pieces.  After both solo sets they played a short set together which was the highlight of the night for me.  It was really special and I feel lucky to have been there to enjoy it.

Both of these guys are real busy the next couple of months with teaching and performing at different events around the world so be sure to check them both out if you have a chance.  Also if you are in the northern California area keep an eye out on the Strum Shop's calendar where there are always some great ukulele events happening!

Kimo Hussey:  http://kimohussey.com/

Kalei Gamiao:  http://kaleigamiao.com/

Strum Shop:  http://thestrumshop.com/

 

Thank you to Derek Gamiao for use of his pictures and thanks to all you for all of your support, if you found this or any of our resources helpful be sure to [fblike url="https://www.facebook.com/UkuleleInspired" style="button_count" float="none" showfaces="false" width="200" verb="like" font="arial"] us on facebook and sign up for our email list under SUBSCRIBE in the sidebar to keep up with everything new at Ukulele Inspired. I want this to be interactive so don't be shy and send me some requests for the songbook and other content that you would like to see!

Artist Spotlight: Ukulenny

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ulfullbanneruljump I had the opportunity to meet our newest featured artist at one of his local Bay Area uke jams, and he was nice enough to answer a few of our questions about the uke and where he gets inspiration.  Ukulenny is an amazing performer, educator, and youtube sensation.  Be sure to check him out, subscribe to his channel, and attend one of his events or performances if you get a chance!

UI: How did you first start playing ukulele? Ukulenny:  The seed was planted on a family trip to Hawaii when I was 10 years old, I picked up a cheap ukulele and some books and started strumming some chords (I had a little experience with guitar so it made sense to me).  The uke was too cheap to stay in tune, however, and I lost touch.  It wasn't until after college that I picked up the instrument again, and rejuvenated with Jake Shimabukuro as inspiration, I decided to buy a real ukulele and began taking it more seriously.  In 2010, the magic happened.  I was playing bass for a musical in SF, which meant commuting every weekend from the East Bay.  I decided to bring my ukulele each way, practicing during each trip, and eventually found myself playing and singing my heart out to the BART crowd.  It was then I started going by the name Ukulenny, and found my new favorite instrument, the uke.

UI: How long have you been playing? Ukulenny:  I've been playing music my whole life, started on piano at age 5 and moved on to the guitar through my middle school and high school years, picked up the saxophone in the Cal Marching Band, and everything in between - bass, cello, flute, clarinet, drums, among other things.  Officially I've been playing uke since 2008, so 6 years, but I've been able to apply all my love of music to this awesome little instrument.

UI: What is the best part about playing the ukulele? Ukulenny:  My favorite part about playing the ukulele is that I can play it anywhere.  Being the music addict that I am, the thought of making music at any given moment with the uke on my back brings me joy.  Its portability also means that you can practice virtually anywhere at anytime, which is great for any traveling musician who might not normally be able to find time to practice.  That I can play it on BART quietly enough to go unnoticed, yet loud enough to entertain a crowd, is a huge plus.  But perhaps even better than that is the fact that the uke is so accessible - it's an instrument for all ages and skill levels, which makes it such an exciting instrument to teach.  I enjoy teaching, and the uke is an incredible instrument for building community and gathering a whole bunch of people together to make music.

UI: Where do you find inspiration? Ukulenny:  The uke community is full of happy, joyful people.  How could one be sad with an instrument like this?  So I definitely find my inspiration from all those wonderful people out there who play the ukulele and make it such a pleasure to be a part of the uke world.  I have to give special shoutouts to my Uke Idols, Jake Shimabukuro, Troy Fernandez, Aldrine Guerrero, Kalei Gamiao, and the many others who have done so much for the ukulele.  But all of my friends who are making incredible music now with the ukulele continue to inspire me to do the same - folks like Ben Ahn, Melvin Gutierrez, Cynthia Lin, Craig Chee, Sarah Maisel, Robbie Lee, and Jion Jugo.  These musicians make me proud to play the uke and keep me going.  Finally, I draw much inspiration from the people I teach, whether it's folks at ukulele nights and workshops, students in my Ukulele Club at Oakland School for the Arts, or those watching my videos on YouTube.  Whenever I'm having a tough day I stop and read nice messages from uke players all over the world, some people that successfully played their first song or something or other from one of my videos.  It might seem cheesy but it really means a lot to me to know that people are learning to play the uke through me, and are thus inducted into our amazing community.  I'm just so happy to know that because of my work, somebody else is making music and gets to share in the joy I feel every day as an ukulele player.

LINKS: http://www.ukulenny.com/ https://www.facebook.com/ukulenny https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4NA3TVpatvSWx0rZ1P18Ow

Artist Spotlight: Scott Stahlecker

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scottstahleckerAUFI For our next Artist Spotlight we are featuring talented multi-instrumentalist Scott Stahlecker who hails from my own home state of Alaska.  He was kind enough to answer a few questions about the ukulele and where he gets inspiration.

UI:  How did you first start playing ukulele? Scott:   I grew up on Oahu and at that time the schools didn't have much of a band program. Instead, they had ukulele programs. I remember getting my first ukulele. My dad had driven me to a music store in Honolulu and bought me a Kamaka. On the drive home he wouldn't let me play it in the car because I might make too much noise, so I remember holding it backwards and strumming the back of the neck instead. Hawaii 5-0 was the first song I learned.

UI: How long have you been playing? Scott:   I started playing the ukulele around age five, and played it through my elementary school years into Jr. high school. When I moved away from the islands I stopped playing ukulele, and switched to the drums. I really didn't play the ukulele again until I took a trip back to the islands in 2005 and bought a 6 string tenor ukulele. So, I've been playing about 16 years. In my home studio I have 4 tenor ukuleles, and a Kala U-Bass. I put out my first CD Rainforest Dance in 2012, and I'm currently recording a second CD, along with my newly formed band.

UI: What is the best part about playing the ukulele (or being a ukulele player)? Scott:   Although I grew up in the islands and have a genuine love for the traditional Hawaiian ukulele style, I think it's great that the ukulele has gone mainstream. People from all over the world who play in many different kinds of genres are incorporating the ukulele into their own brand of music. What I like about the ukulele is its tonal qualities. It also has a distinct sound that blends well with other instruments. It's great for playing rock, pop, jazz, the blues, and what I play, ukulele fusion. Most of the songs I'm recording now are a blend of ukulele with acoustic and electric guitars, piano, flute, keyboards, bass, and strings such as the cello and violin. The ukulele  blends great with these instruments. It's extremely versatile.

UI: Where do you find inspiration? Scott:   I enjoy listening to many of the up and coming ukulele instrumentalists, because they push the boundaries of just how well this instrument can be played. But my interest in playing the ukulele extends beyond mastering it like an instrumentalist might want to master it. I've played drums for a number of bands through the years, and dabbled in other instruments as well. Great guitar players like Al Di Meola, Satriani, and Jeff Beck, or drummers like Neil Pert of Rush, still inspire me. I also get inspiration from listening to music from many different genres. My musical roots are from playing in a band. So, my focus these days is in taking the ukulele even more mainstream, by composing songs based in the ukulele that also work with a band.

Big thanks to Scott for taking the time to answer a few questions, be sure to check out his music and videos and stay tuned for more from Ukulele Inspired.

LINKS: [sixcol_one]website: youtube: facebook: soundcloud:[/sixcol_one] [sixcol_five_last]http://www.scottstahlecker.net/ http://www.youtube.com/user/Thinkadelics?feature=watch https://www.facebook.com/alternativeukulelefusionexperience https://soundcloud.com/scott-stahlecker [/sixcol_five_last]

"Spiral Staircase"

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Big thanks to Seth Martinez and MVMNT Studios for filming and use of their beautiful space in Berkeley, CA.  Check them out at:

MVMNTlogo          http://www.mvmnt.co/

Thanks again for all of the support and be sure to [fblike url="https://www.facebook.com/UkuleleInspired" style="button_count" showfaces="false" width="450" verb="like" font="arial"] us on facebook and feel free to email me any links or files for your own performance videos or videos that inspire you and maybe we will feature them!  Also click on the youtube link in the sidebar and subscribe to our channel to keep up with everything new at Ukulele Inspired.

Beginner Questions 7-10

7.  WHERE CAN I FIND ONLINE RESOURCES?Some of the best online resources out there and what they offer:

Ukulele Underground  http://ukuleleunderground.com/UUlogo The underground is a great place to improve your ukulele playing. They offer the highest quality instructional videos, and are consistently adding to there enormous amount of content.

Ukulele Hunt  http://ukulelehunt.com/ UkeHuntUke Hunt is one of the longest running blogs about the ukulele and offers such a wide variety of content. You can find almost everything uke related on this blog, from funny and informative articles to a wide variety of instructional and inspirational videos. They offer a large selection of ebooks, both free and for sale, that can be a good resource for introducing you to the ukulele.

Dominator Ukulele Tabs  http://dominator.ukeland.com/  got_tabs_1 Dom has created a great resource that is more geared towards the intermediate and advance ukulele player. His tabs are some of the only ones available that are specific for the ukulele and he has some great performance and instructional videos.

uke_inspired_small_logoUkulele Inspired  http://ukuleleinspired.com A little biased, but want to list it as a resource for getting inspiration and information. We want to offer high quality video and written content for all aspiring ukulele players out there.

 

15mins8. HOW OFTEN SHOULD I BE PRACTICING? The best way I’ve found to practice is for short periods of time as often as possible. Since learning an instrument involves a lot of muscle memory, the more often you do it the better. Practicing for 15 minutes every day is going to produce results much faster than an hour of practice once a week. Finding a qualified teacher for private lessons can be great in providing personalized instruction as well as accountability for your practice every week.

9. HOW DO I LEARN NEW SONGS?

searchbarThere are a lot of resources out there for learning new songs. If you are starting to become familiar with your ukulele chord shapes, then searching the name of the song and “chords” should get youyoutube to some links with lyrics and chords. You can also type the name of the song and “ukulele tutorial”. There are many videos on YouTube and other places of varying quality and helpfulness, but in general you are looking for a more detailed description of the chords and strumming pattern. There are a few ukulele specific tab sites out there as well:

http://www.ukulele-tabs.com/

http://dominator.ukeland.com/

10. HOW DO I STAY INSPIRED? ukulelecommunityLast and definitely not least, inspiration is something that I feel is so important when learning anything new. Inspiration can help you get excited about playing the ukulele, it will encourage you to practice and get better, and when you are ready can help to cultivate your creativity should you begin to write your own music. Inspiration is something we take very seriously here at Ukulele Inspired, whether it is our own video content, links to other videos, articles or interviews, we try to provide as much as we can for all aspiring players out there.  I encourage you to find and interact with your local ukulele community as well. There are so many local and regional ukulele clubs around the country there is sure to be a group that meets nearby. If there isn’t, maybe you can start one up! Stay on the lookout for performances by ukulele artists in your area, and start to listen to as many players as you can. Inspiration is out there, you just have to find it!

Click here to see the full list of beginner questions answered.

Thanks again for all the support, if you found this or any of our resources helpful be sure to [fblike url="https://www.facebook.com/UkuleleInspired" style="button_count" float="none" showfaces="false" width="200" verb="like" font="arial"] us on facebook and sign up for our email list under SUBSCRIBE in the sidebar to keep up with everything new at Ukulele Inspired. I want this to be interactive so don't be shy and send me some requests for the songbook and other content that you would like to see!

Beginner Questions 4-7

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Here is the next installment of our beginner questions series, please comment and leave me suggestions for future questions you want answered!  Click here to see all of the 10 questions that we are answering in this first series. 4. HOW DO I TUNE THE UKULELE? ukulele-tuningStandard ukulele tuning is from the top string down: G C E A By far the easiest way to tune is to use a digital tuner. This is device that clips onto the headstock of your uke and reads the vibrations of the string and tells you if you are lower or higher than the desired note. Simply turn the tuning peg until the display reads the appropriate note for that string. I strongly encourage everyone starting out to make the small investment ($15 to $25) in an electronic tuner.

5. WHAT ARE THE FIRST CHORDS I SHOULD LEARN? The best chords to learn first are the ones that are the easiest to play. There are two chords that require you to use only one finger, those are C Major and a minor. Learning these two chords should be fairly quick.  When reading the charts the left string represents the top G string and goes down to the bottom A string from left to right.  Push down the appropriate string on the fret where the dot is shown.

CMajorchord                    aminorchord

The next chord you should learn should be F Major which is made with an a minor chord shape with your first finger added on the first fret of the E string.

FMajorChord

The next chord is a G Major which is a bit more of a challenge but will help us to make a complete song. Sometimes it helps to visualize this chord as a triangle with your ring finger on the point closest to you.

GMajorChord

If we put these chords in this order: C G am F, then we get the basic chord progression for a number of songs. No Woman No Cry, I’m Yours, With or Without You, Country Roads and so many others.

CMajorchord               GMajorChord               aminorchord               FMajorChord

6. HOW DO I STRUM? strumimageWe use the fretting hand to create chords and we use our other hand to strum and create rhythm. Most music is in what is called 4/4 time, which means that a natural pulse within that music can be counted out in 4 separate divisions, or beats, before repeating another 4. Learning to develop an internal clock that can keep you playing in time is paramount for any one learning music. The first strum that you should learn is to play is all down strums while counting out 1,2,3,4 in an even and slow pace. Getting this down will provide a solid foundation for learning more intricate strums later.

D     D     D     D
1      2      3     4

Next will be to further divide the beats by adding one between each of the four that we have. You can count this out as 1 AND 2 AND 3 AND 4 AND. Keep playing down strums on numbers 1,2,3,4 and saying AND between each.

D          D           D            D
1     +     2     +     3     +     4     +

Now add up-strums on every and, and practice counting while strumming. This down and up pattern will serve as the basis for learning a variety of strums.

D    U    D    U    D    U    D    U
1     +     2     +     3     +     4     +

Most strums you will learn in the beginning are created from taking away certain parts of this basic structure.  Try this simple pattern and practice it slowly gradually building speed.  Keep in mind that your hand should still be moving in the same up and down pattern, just don't touch the strings on the up-strums that are removed.

D           D           D    U    D
1     +     2     +     3     +     4     +

Artist Spotlight: Madeline Tasquin

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madelinebannermadelineukelarge We are really excited to have our first artist spotlight here at Ukulele Inspired, and even more stoked that it is the Bay Area's own Madeline Tasquin!  She is currently on tour in Europe, but before she left we were lucky enough to get a few questions answered about the ukulele and where she gets inspiration:

UI:  How did you first start playing ukulele? Maddy:  I was backstage at my friend's birthday party/show in San Francisco and this friend had been gifted a nice little Lanikai concert uke for his birthday. As soon as I started playing it I knew I needed to have one for my own. I went to my local music store in Berkeley the following week and scoped them out until I found one I fell in love with -- also a Lanikai concert.

UI:  How long have you been playing the uke? Maddy:  By my count, I first started in December 2010. So that makes it about 2 and a half years... a quarter of a decade. Wow it doesn't seem like it's been that long.

UI:  Best part about playing the ukulele? Maddy:  It's portability! My main instrument is the piano, which I find isn't all that easy to sling over my back to take with me on a hike or the subway or on my bicycle. The only thing more portable than my ukulele is my voice... my other main instrument. So together uke + voice is a perfect way for me to compose songs in places where I can't drag my piano.

UI:  Where do you find inspiration? For songwriting, in nature. I write the most when I'm far away from my computer and my mind isn't crowded.   As far as ukulele inspiration goes... all the guest performers, guest teachers, and participants at the monthly Ukulele Love-In gathering I put on at the Actual Cafe have inspired me to push my playing further.  Organizing that event really flung me into ukulele land, something I didn't expect or even know existed. For that I'm grateful.

Thanks again to Maddy for taking the time to talk with us.  If you want to stay up to date with her follow the links below and remember to mark your calendars for September 8th, when her Ukulele Love in makes it's return to Actual Cafe!

Websites: http://www.tasqu.in http://manamaddy.bandcamp.com http://soundcloud.com/manamaddy

"Relentless"

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samandjohnrelentlessOur first production here at Ukulele Inspired and we had such a great time filming it here in Berkeley, CA.  Big thanks to Sam Diaz-Romo for lending his percussion skills to the performance.  Also huge thanks to Kelly Warner for filming, editing, and sound production.  

 

If you are into the video, please click here and vote for it.

Thanks again for all of the support and be sure to [fblike url="https://www.facebook.com/UkuleleInspired" style="button_count" showfaces="false" width="450" verb="like" font="arial"] us on facebook feel free to email me any links or files for your own performance videos or videos that inspire you and maybe we will feature them! Also sign up for our email list under SUBSCRIBE in the sidebar to keep up with everything new at Ukulele Inspired.

 

 

 

Beginner Questions 1-3!

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As promised, here are answers to questions 1-3.  Check out all 10 of the questions we plan on answering here and please feel free to send me any questions that you want answered in the future.

1. Why should I play ukulele?jakearail

The most important reason to play ukulele is because it is fun.  Other than that the ukulele is fairly easy to learn compared to a lot of other instruments.  With some very simple chord shapes and only 4 strings that are easy on the fingers, the uke is a great introduction to music for people with little or no experience.  Portability is another reason I love the ukulele and why it has become one of my constant companions, music can happen anywhere so its always good to be prepared!

wallofukuleles2.  What kind of ukulele should I buy?

Ultimately the answer to this question is to buy one that you like, but if you don’t know what you like yet this can be a bit more complicated.  As far as price goes, if you are a beginner you want to find one that is near the $100 dollar range.  There is a good selection of instruments for around that price that can work well to learn at first.  You can then determine if you want to invest in a higher quality instrument later.  My suggestion would be to go to music shops and play as many ukuleles in your price range as you can.  Start to listen to the different sound that each instrument makes and see if there is a certain sound that you like.  Some sound more “bright” with an emphasis on the higher end of the sound spectrum, while others sound more “warm” with a more “round” and bottom ended sound.  Like developing your taste for certain food or drinks, you can develop your ear for hearing certain intricacies in sound.  Try strumming the instrument with the sound hole facing you as you will get a better idea of what the instrument sounds like to those that are listening.  Eventually you will develop your taste for what looks, feels and sounds right for you.

See Ukes by Size3.  What is the deal with different sized ukes?

There are 4 different standard sizes of ukulele each with there own particular feel and sound.  In general, the ukulele’s sound will get louder and deeper with each larger size.  The soprano is the smallest size, it has the smallest neck and fret size which limits its range but it is oh so transportable!  The concert is a sort of “in between size” that ends up being the go to for players that are looking for a good balance of small size and bigger sound.  The tenor is larger than the concert and because of its increased range and deep, rich sound seems to be the standard for most professional and advanced players out there.  The baritone is the largest and is in a bit of a category of its own.  In my opinion the baritone plays and sounds more like a small guitar than a uke.  It has a different tuning then the other three sizes which means the chord shapes are different as well.

Looking forward to answering more questions on the next post!

 

Ukulele Love In

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DSCN0107 Wanted to say big thanks to Mana Maddy and everyone in attendance at the last Ukulele Love-In on May 11th.  I was the featured performer and had so much fun teaching a workshop and performing in front of 31 ukuleles and their owners (or temporary caretakers)!  For those of you that don't know the Ukulele Love-In is a monthly event started by the Bay Area's own Madeline Tasquin, that includes an all levels ukulele lesson followed by a featured performance then group sing-along.  Oakland North did a great piece about the event as well.  The event takes place place at Actual Cafe, a favorite Oakland hangout spot that has great food and drink, displays local artists' work, and has live music.  Please support local, and check them out if you haven't already.

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The BIG news is that Maddy is leaving very soon for her first European tour and the Love-In will be put on hiatus during her trip.  For all you East Bay ukers that want your monthly fix, there will be a new event starting at the brand new music school and venue Mynah Music at 543 Athol Street in Lake Merrit, every 1st Saturday of the month starting on June 1st.  The event will involve an all levels lesson of a song chosen by YOU!  Or one of you, or some of you...really I choose, but I choose from your suggestions so if you want to get your two cents in, shoot me an email at ukuleleinspired@gmail.com and tell me a song you have always wanted to learn on the uke.  Maybe you'll be the lucky one chosen! If you haven't already done so, you can sign up for the East Bay Ukulele Love group on facebook for more info and latest news.  Good luck Maddy, and we are eagerly waiting for the return of the Ukulele Love-In in a new second Sunday of the month time-slot starting September 8, 2013.  Set your calendars!  [fbshare type="button"]

Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel

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I was so excited to get to meet Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel this past weekend.  Craig's workshop was a lot of fun and he shared some strumming and rhythmic techniques that he uses in his unique and exciting playing style.  Sarah taught some classic blues and jazz progressions and some her favorite variations and chord shapes that she uses in her own music.

In the evening concert following the workshops, both artists put on incredible shows.  Both performances included covers, collaborations, and originals and really showcased how talented Craig and Sarah are on stage.  The highlight for me was their collaboration of "More Than Words", a song that brought a lot of memories and a few tears (I got to admit) when they sang it together.

Afterwards I got to chat with them a bit and get some autographed copies of their albums.  They were both really down to earth people that are passionate about their craft.  The next couple of months is very busy for these two, please check them out and support if you can.

Craig Chee  http://craigchee.wordpress.com/

Sarah Maisel  http://www.sarahmaisel.com/

Thanks again to Mike DaSilva of DaSilva Ukulele Co. for hosting such a wonderful event and to Craig and Sarah, really great job to both of you guys.[fbshare type="button"]