Last night I had the great honor and privilege of hosting Kimo Hussey and Zanuck Lindsey at my home studio here in Oakland, CA. Kimo has been a real inspiration and mentor over the last few years with both my ukulele playing and teaching. I was really excited for some of my own students, as well as the ukulele community here in the bay area to get to interact with him. It was also my first time meeting Zanuck Lindsey, who turned out to be an equally skilled musician and instructor. Their were a couple of workshops to start before they put on an an amazing performance. I was really impressed with their connection and feel, and also intrigued by Zanuck's new 6 string ukulele that he has officially named a "Kiku". The lower registered kiku served as a great foundation and really complemented the ukulele and extended the range of their sound. In the last part of the set we were treated to some impromptou hulu by Herman Tachera. Herman's son David is is the founder of Ukes for Kids of SF Bay Area, an organization that provides free ukulele and lessons to kids. I will be participating in their event on Sunday, August 2nd at the SF Bay Area Aloha Festival in San Mateo, CA. Thanks to all those that came to learn and support and a big mahalo to Kimo and Zanuck, be sure to check them out and what they are up to in the coming months! http://kimohussey.com/https://www.facebook.com/KapalaMusic
Want to learn to play the uke in a small group setting? Check out our 4-week beginners series focusing on the basics of playing the ukulele. The class size will be 6-8 people so go to https://squareup.com/market/ukulele-inspired to purchase and receive location details!
When: August 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th from 8-9PM
Where: Ukulele Inspired Studios Oakland, CA
Why: Cause it's gonna be fun!
How much: $100 until 7/29
An instrumental version of John Lennon's "Imagine" shot at the home studio in Oakland, CA. Big thanks to Aldrine Guerrero of the Ukulele Underground whose composition of this song, and playing in general is a big inspiration for me.
Big thanks to Craig Chee, our most recent artist spotlight here at Ukulele Inspired, for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. Craig has been gaining lots of visibility in the past few years and is creating quite a name for himself as an artist and teacher. His name has become a common sight on international ukulele festival lineups, most recently as one of the headliners at the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain. I had the pleasure of getting to meet Craig and his constant companion, Sarah Maisel at a workshop/concert last year. Read more about it here. Be sure to get his latest album release, Life in the Key of Chee, and don't miss an opportunity to see him teach and perform if he is in your area! UI: How did you first start playing ukulele?
Craig: Learned a few songs growing up in Hawaii but because the cello was my main instrument I didn't really dive into the ukulele until college.
UI: How long have you been playing?
Craig: Started playing a ton in 1999 getting ready for college at the university of Oregon.
UI: Best part about playing the ukulele (or being a ukulele player)?
Craig: Best part of playing- you can take it pretty much everywhere. And it's also such an addicting and fun instrument!
Best part of being a player- getting to travel and meet some of the most amazing people around the world...
UI: Where do you find inspiration?
Craig: Everyday life. Watching people do what they need to do to pay rent and then finding other ways to express their creativity. I have a young student who mowed yards all summer just to take a few lessons from me... It was so inspiring. I am absolutely so fortunate to be doing what I'm doing.
"The Following" is the latest single from the new album "Moment". Huge thanks to Aaron Almquist for such beautiful work and a fantastic concept. Shot on location at:my room, Ukulele Inspired Studios, Actual Cafe, MacArthur BART Station, Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland, CA and at the Ferry Building, Sue Beirman Park, Ferry Plaza, and BART car #3 from the back in San Francisco, CA.
This video has been a labor of love for both Aaron and I and it is incredible the amount of work that it takes to create something like this and share it with all of you. If you connect with this in any way please stop by my Patreon page: http://www.patreon.com/johnnash
The newest release from the new album "Moment", get a copy at: Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/moment/id901209059 Bandcamp: http://ukuleleinspired.bandcamp.com/ CD Baby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/johnnash1 Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/ukulele-inspired
I've been waiting awhile for the Ukulele Underground to make it to the bay. I headed over to San Francisco last Tuesday for a workshop/concert by the world famous Aldrine Guerrero and Aaron Nakamura. Unfortunately I had students until late that day and of course hit rush hour traffic on the bridge so I unfortunately missed the workshop section of the event. The event was organized by Edgar Dang of Aloha Warehouse. If you haven't got a chance to check out his shop yet, do yourself a favor and stop by to talk ukes and drool over his incredible inventory. Although I missed the workshop, the concert was well worth the trip over. Aldrine and Aaron put on such a memorable performance and I haven't seen a crowd have a better time at any other ukulele event I've ever been to. Aldrine was really funny and genuine and I loved how much he interacted with everyone in the audience. They played a good mix of stellar covers and some of my favorite originals all while keeping a very funny and informal vibe to their set. Check out all of us chanting for Aaron "The Voice" Nakamura to sing us another song.
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.
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.
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!
Just finished mastering the new album and I thought what better way to celebrate then to shoot some video for one of the songs. I was lucky enough to meet a talented videographer by the the name of Aaron Almquist who was inspired by the music and was interested in collaborating on a video. First shoot day was a lot of fun and we went to a number of different locations around Oakland, including my house and local uke friendly spot Actual Cafe. Big thanks to those guys for letting us come in and do a quick take inside their busy spot.
Also got to get out into nature in the east Oakland hills and shoot at some of my favorite spots up in Joaquin Miller Park. Hopefully after a few more days of shooting we will have enough footage to go to post and come up with something awesome to share with you all! Look for the full length album to be on sale soon.
Thanks again for all the support, if you want to stay connected 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 songbook updates and everything else new with 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!
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]
Big thanks to Seth Martinez and MVMNT Studios for filming and use of their beautiful space in Berkeley, CA. Check them out at:
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.
7. WHERE CAN I FIND ONLINE RESOURCES?Some of the best online resources out there and what they offer:
Ukulele Underground http://ukuleleunderground.com/ 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/ Uke 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/ 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.
Ukulele 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.
8. 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?
There 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 you 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:
10. HOW DO I STAY INSPIRED? Last 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!
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? Standard 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.
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.
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.
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.
6. HOW DO I STRUM? We 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 +
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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 email@example.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"]
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"]
I thought that a great way to start off was to answer a some questions that people might have when they are first introduced to the Ukulele. So for the next few posts I will be answering these ten questions. If you find them useful, then please feel free to comment and let me know some other questions you might have so I can do another round of these in the future. For now:
QUESTIONS FOR UKULELE BEGINNERS 1. Why should I play the ukulele? 2. What kind of ukulele should I buy? 3. What is the deal with different size ukuleles? 4. How do I tune the ukulele? 5. What are the first chords I should learn? 6. What is the first strum I should learn? 7. Where can I find online resources? 8. How should I be practicing? 9. How do I learn new songs? 10. How do I stay inspired?
Just wanted to welcome you all to Ukulele Inspired. Please check back often, we are excited about all of our upcoming videos, interviews, and articles that can help to keep you growing and inspired!