Monday, February 23, 2009

What Would I Recommend to Beginners Like Me

I was recently asked if I knew of some videos that are especially good for beginning ukulele players to learn from at home. I now have the benefit of some knowledge acquired from nearly three years of a few festivals, going to a variety of local ukulele clubs of Hawaiian and Popular music preferences, and attending several workshops at Mike DaSilva's studio and at the effervescent Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz.

I must let you know that my musical aptitude is quite low but my desire is quite high. Part of the fun is being able to participate in something musical for the first time in my life. We'll actually I did go to violin classes in the 3rd and 4th grade but I never really got it, I was lost, and never really connected with the instrument. Looking back, I wish I had made the connection then. Back to the point, although I have developed some skills and built up my muscle memory and chord knowledge, I haven't gotten to the point where I am completely happy with anything I play.

Mike DaSilva, is a ukulele builder, and ukulele player's best friend around the S.F. Bay Area because his workshop and studio attract outstanding talent and teachers. I hope I can remember the majority of classes that I've been to...

Boulder Accoustic Society
Lil' Rev
James Hill
Spanky's Fingerpicking
Michelle Kiba
Joel Eckhaus

I would put BAS and Lil' Rev together since they are both folk music enthusiasts and proponents of breaking things down and helping beginners make things as simple as possible. Trying this and that. Developing strums. They always have great instruction and make it simple for a player to understand and start using. Break stuff down to "Turtle Steps" and don't berate yourself. Everyone learns differently. I have three of Lil' Rev's books which I think are great for the beginner. They are Hal Leonard books: Ukulele Method Book 1, Ukulele Method Book 2, and Easy Songs for the Ukulele (There are songs with chords and single note melodies). I would recommend raw beginners to music to start with book 1.

I think the second book to start off with should be James Hill's Ukulele in the Classroom books, see You can also get a CD to go along with book. If you're in the USA be sure to get the C-tuning book for GCEA ukuleles. I like this system because it start of actually reading musical notation for notes on the open strings and then builds your knowledge progressively.
I do like Ralph Shaw's Essential Strums DVD. Ralph is quite an enthusiatic embassador for the ukulele. The ukulele club standard strumming could use a break and Ralph's instructions can lead you into new avenues of strumming. I think it is better for strumming to be seen. This DVD will definitely give you some challenges.

Using these materials at home and practicing regularly will the basis of becomming a better player. But attending a club and having a knowledgable instructor will speed up your progress considerably. I'll leave you with this for now, but I definitely have some more items to mention on another posting.

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