Monday, 31 March 2014

Progress at last, Mr Sandman instrumental!

I was talking about progress a couple of weeks ago. A piece I've been working on for just about a year is Mr Sandman, the instrumental version so beautifully showcased by Ukulelezaza, Remco Hautmann-Janssen. Here is Remco's,, complete with tutorial and TAB....

It's a catchy tune, quite well-known, and part of the appeal for a uke player keen to develop instrumental skills is that the chords used are easy, basic ones in the basic position... all except for a few.... they are the ones that challenge you. I've put them in bold here..

C | G7 | C | G7 |

C | B7 | E7 | A7 |
D7 | G7 | C | G#7 G7 |
C | B7 | E7 | A7 |
Dm | Fm6 | D7 G7 | C |

They are four-finger chords up the neck with the chord melody built on them, and you need to be pretty nifty on the changes. It's the final G7 (fingered 4535) that had me struggling the longest and hardest. I had to think about which fingers to use on the melody on the preceding D7 (which is 5655), and I'm using the little finger on 7th fret of the A string and leaving it there whilst moving to the other frets of the G7...453(7) then moving the little finger to the 5th fret. It's not easy to play quickly and cleanly. I tended to get lost on the fingerboard, then I'd play it on time but muted, or late but clean! But once you've got used to finding it quickly, turning the hand very slightly whilst fretting that chord helps to exert more pressure on the strings, for a clean sound. And of course, the old mantra - practice, practice, practice!

I don't usually post my own videos on here, I'm no budding star... but I am pleased that persistence with this has paid off at last, so I thought I 'd share. This isn't perfect, but it's as good as it's going to be for a while yet!

Thanks to Remco Hautmann-Jannsen (Ukulelezaza) for the tutorial and TAB... (see link above!)

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Phil Doleman - Spring and Summer dates!

A few days ago I posted one of Phil Doleman's excellent videos. If you can get to one of his gigs or workshops, don't miss the chance - I saw Phil at the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain in Cheltenham last year, and have my ticket for this year's festival, where I shall be highly delighted to see him him perform again... if you haven't got yours, the bad news is you're too late, it's already sold out! But the good news is, see this poster for lots of other dates and venues coming up in the UK! And he's doing a couple of them with the wonderful Manitoba Hal, Hal Brolund....

I know a lot of you see this blog on your all-singing, all-dancing smart phones - and perhaps you can't see the dates on the poster because they're too small. In any case check it out here - you may need to be a club member or to buy advance tickets. Good luck!

Thanks for dropping in - it's always nice to see you!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

I sent a friend my latest uke youtube, and her response was "You're mad...."

It's a very cold, very wet, rather miserable spring day. Temperature not set to rise above 6 degrees C all day. Already, at 9.00 am I've had time and cause to ponder deeply about life thus far. I've been wide awake since 4.30 am, mind wandering all over the place. I made tea at 7.00. Husband declared he'd had a vivid dream about his brother, who died nearly thirty years ago. I'd already been planning my day, and had resolved to get out my mother's photo albums from the 1970's. Drinking my tea in bed, (bliss, that first cup of tea of the day!) I opened the first album - and the first picture was of LSH's brother. Such a coincidence... there followed pictures of my family, many of them with LSH's family, as they all shared some holidays back then. Most of the people in the photos are dead now. Pics also of us as a young family around the time our children were born in the late 70's, and when they were still very small. Such a very long time ago. So much water passed under the bridge, and our lives completely different now... careers begun, followed through and ended, parents passed, children well grown and living their own independent lives.

And me, since that Eureka Joe Brown "I'll See You In My Dreams" moment - I play the ukulele now. Nearly every day. I promised I'd talk about my progress over the last two years since I started this blog... well, for one thing, I used to be terrified of my own web-cam, but I've got used to it now - I reckon that has taken a full two years to accomplish... and now, if I want to do a youtube video to take part in the Ukulele Underground Forum "Seasons of the Ukulele" contests, I no longer feel as though the Thing is watching me.

So, this week, having finally found a space in time to take part, and a friendly theme for last week's activity, ("choose a song - or lots of songs - written or co-written by a woman") I bashed off three videos in three days - in one take, two takes and three takes respectively. Quite fun. I adore the lyrics of Dorothy Fields... she wrote "On the Sunny Side of the Street" in 1930 - a song that I also dance to twice a week at the tap class I go to - another childhood pleasure revived.... and the third song I made a video of was this very one. Feeling reasonably happy with my effort, I did a rare thing - being one of our dance tunes, I emailed the video to two of my tapping friends. One of these friends is also an ex-work colleague - knows me from a former life in the classroom .... so has a different view of me from that of newer acquaintances... is that relevant? I don't know. I only know this... when I asked her, as we put on out tap shoes "Did you get my email?" she just laughed and said "You're mad!" and that was that.

So here I am, perusing photos from the 1970's when I was young with small children and a life in front of me, and looking at myself now, in my 60's, playing my ukuleles, tap-dancing, my dear Long-Suffering-Husband still supporting me in all I do, as indeed I do him. I'm thinking of that poem that used to get passed round a lot among women of a certain age,


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in the slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

-Jenny Joseph, 1961

Marilisa Sachteleben expresses my views entirely in her words about this poem here...

In my youth I was sober and sensible, we married young and took on all the responsibilities of adulthood, mortgage, bills... brought up children on a tight budget, worked hard... and now it's purple clothes and red hat time. LSH has been scuba-diving. Me, I play uke and make cr*ppy youtubes. And if I'm mad, I don't care a kipper!

And just to prove it, here's a link to that vid.

Thanks for dropping in - and now I'm of to do something useful. Or perhaps I'll go out in the rain in my slippers and pick the flowers in next door's garden.