Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day,and Holiday Pluckin!

      Holy's September already! It feels like 2 weeks ago I was watching the Rose Parade,and here we are. Football season is upon us,and Halloween is coming. It;s been a hot & humid August,and I can't wait for the cooler Fall weather to be upon us.
        I have re-activated the Hep-Kittens Baritone Ukulele Blog and moved it to a nicer location. You can find it here I'm considering moving this one as well. The other site is most impressive and this one has gotten messy. Soprano playing wise I've been doing tab arrangements of "Avalon" "China Boy" "Chinatown my Chinatown" among others in addition to learning "The Addams Family Theme". I'm playing my Daniel Ho concert model which I adore.
       There is a new model of soprano uke coming,which I have preordered to check out made by a company not previously known for uke making. I won't be able to get a hold of one till October. It will be hot pink,and it's by a company well known for making instruments for women & girls. Comes with a gig bag & book. It will be in my store for ordering once they're made available (if I deem it good enough quality to stock it that is) so stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sweet Sherrie Yvonne's Ukulele Paradise-My New Teaching Page!

I love Weebly as it's so easy to get a site going there! I started off this year by offering lessons in banjo & mandolin,thinking I'd have a pile of students by now,but this was not the case. To date,I have 1 mandolin student. So,I started looking over the clues given me by the Universe to see where my destiny lies. Last Xmas,I got a reso uke. This year,early,I was gifted 2 fixer upper banjo ukes. My most popular blog? This one. OK-I'm a little dense. (No comments from the peanut gallery) So I no longer offer banjo lessons,I do still take mandolin students,in addition to classical guitar students,however my main focus in teaching is now ukulele. (Including baritone!) 
    I feel like a weight has been lifted off me now that I decided to do this. If you'd care to visit the site & share it with your uke friends,click Sweet Sherrie Yvonne's Ukulele Paradise and have a look around. I adopted a surfy theme,wanting to stay true to my Native Californian beach roots. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back To School,Football,And Other Newness

The end of summer already! I hope it was a good one for you. And with Fall coming,it's back to school,football,and adding to one's song list. On the list of interesting things I'm doing uke-wise,I'm polishing up previously learned tunes and enjoying being a new subscriber to Ukulele Magazine. I'm crossing my fingers that in a year they become perhaps a bi monthly publication as opposed to being a quarterly one. 
  I've been exploring where I want to go musically. As many of you know,I'm a multi instrumentalist-and over the past two or so years have tried out a lot of different instruments. I also realize there's only so many hours in a day and only so much playing one's fingers can handle in a day as well. So I've decided to mainly focus on ukulele (of course!) mandolin,and guitar (classical/fingerpicking) While I'll still knock around with things like banjo,I seriously want to stay with small instruments. (I know guitar 
isn't small,but I've been playing one since I was 11 & I'm too far in to quit now.....) And flute.Which I'm doing a swell job on teaching myself to play. Back to ukuleles..........
    I've decided to restore a banjo uke that was given me quite awhile back. A Stella in much need of parts. As we speak I'm hunting for the bracket that attaches to the dowel stick to hold the neck in place-without that,any other part aquisitions would be useless. I'm hoping to have it restored before December-and yes I'm doing it myself. 
    As far as image goes (watch out boys,we're gonna talk fashion & makeup for a bit) I found some sweet Kindle book deals on flapper fashion & makeup. If any of you ladies are interested and have an e reader,do look up the titles "1920's Fashion For Your Body Type" and "Vintage Makeup: a simple guide to the 1920's,30's,40's,and 50's". Lots of awesome ideas in these books which I got the Kindle versions for 99¢ ea! And stage presence is always important. 
    Another cool discovery was thru Ukulele mag,where they mentioned a "new" CD by an artist named Papa Lemon. I never heard of this ukulele artist from so long ago,and you can hear some sample tracks on Amazon. I'll be picking this CD up soon. 
      Are you working on Halloween tunes & Christmas carols yet? Have any Holiday gigs lined up? Busking plans? And speaking of busking (I'm so glad you mentioned that!) There is a busking blog aimed at women. I never realized that there's not many chick buskers out there. The blog is The Womens Buskers Project & it's a hoot to look at-so do have a visit and say hi!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

ReVamping Your Style

    Everyone needs to revamp their playing style every now & again as well as their performances......not so much in skill & perfection but also in your songlist and the how's of how you share your playing. It's wonderful when we get a bunch of songs down,and then the thing to watch out for is when do they start to get stale? Having a rotating song list can be mighty helpful to not only keep your playing fresh,but to also prevent you from getting into a hum-drum as a player. 
    How bout your performing wardrobe? Have the clothes you wear for performing gotten to be more like uniforms? Perhaps it's time to dazzle it up with some new clothes and donate the old ones. (unless of course there's an item you wear that's more like a trade mark for you)  
Nothing against the Hawaiian look,but I really wish players would get away from wearing tropical prints so much. Yes,I know the uke is a Hawaiian instrument but that doesn't mean everyone has to dress like they went to a gift shop on the islands. Be innovative (and decent!) with what you wear when playing for folks. Stand out in a good way. 
   How about videos? Have you made any lately? (I need to do this) Have you recorded anything? (another need to do for me) I have found it's all too easy to make videos and then just "forget it" for awhile. Time flies (I was shocked at how long it's been since I wrote an entry here) and before you know it, it's been half a year with no new videos or recording. I'm making a goal of doing one new video a month. And with Christmas season just months away,I want to do some carol videos. Not to mention Halloween? (I have a great arrangement of "The Addams Family Theme" I need to start plucking again) 
    Make a short list of what you'd like to do in the reVamping yourself areas listed above. Don't make it overwhelming,say a list of 5 things to start with. Start haunting vintage clothing stores,looking at songbooks & sheet music at used book stores or online,etc. Make a video of yourself playing every so often. Get a new strap if you use one. You get the drift by now,I'm certain. It's frightening how artists can get into a rut-I know this from personal experience. It happens quicker than you think it can. 
      And have fun with it- the most important thing! 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Public Domain Song Sites and Upcoming Holidays

     One of the biggest things that has prevented me from writing "how to play" or "tunebooks" of my own has been the fear of copyright infringement. I'm not sure of what trouble one can get into for using a copyrighted tune in a book,but never wanting to get myself into trouble,I opted for the "safe" solution of not writing.
      Until I contacted an online friend who has written some ukulele books and they were more than generous in directing me to a site that is as fascinating as it is helpful. Ladies and Gentlemen,I present to you.......... PD Info ! (warning: this site really envelops you as you get fascinated with learning what songs came out you may end up spending a lot of time browsing.)
       As a helpful tip for those considering Christmas Carols,I found the ones considered to be more modern such as  "White Christmas" "Holiday Inn" "Frosty the Snowman" are copyrighted tunes and cannot be used without getting proper permission first-which is a disappointment. (unless you have a book deal with a publisher and then it's their job to get the permission for you!)
      Now I have no excuse for writing a book,and neither do you. :-)
                                                   Memorial Day Weekend/4th of July
     What are you going to do for these days- planning to play at any BBQs or get togethers? Now is the time to get those patriotic tunes going. Memorial Day is fast approaching,but it you start now it should be easy to have a few songs under your belt-and by the 4th you should be absolutely golden.
      Just be sure to take your "street worthy" uke with you and not one of your prized babies. Never know who's going to want to try it out.
      Buskers should have a ball on the 4th. Be sure to wear some red,white,and blue on the 4th and don't be shy about drawing attention in the way of wearing oversized uncle sam hats,glitzy red white & blue sunglasses,or dressing as a colonial soldier bearing a ukulele.
       And most important-don't forget to take water with you-in the warmer weather staying hydrated is every bit as important as wearing sunscreen and a hat!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Resurrecting Your Ukulele Playing-And Coming Out Of Your Tomb

      I suppose it's normal from time to time that we let our ukulele playing lapse-due to what seems to be "reasonable" demands....the holidays,working extra hours,going on vacation,moving,and so on. What often happens in these cases is that when things settle and you have the energy and time to pick up your flea don't.
     It sits in the corner,and you've gotten accustomed to not playing,and you've allowed other things to take up what used to be your "ukulele time".  Then you notice you're not as good natured as you used to be,you're out of sorts,and watching too much TV or you're on your electronic device(s) too much. 
     This is what I refer to being in "the tomb". You've unwittingly given up playing,meaning to get to it later,but as the old saying goes,"tomorrow never comes. There is also another aspect of being in the tomb: only playing in your living room,hushed away in your home or anywhere that nobody can hear you. You never record or make a video because no matter how long you've played,you've deemed yourself as "not good enough" or you could be following those voices who have told you you'd be a show off,ham,or scene stealer for playing for folks. Well,if you're experiencing any of these scenarios,or more than one,and you happened to have stumbled onto this's time for your ukulele resurrection! Take that flea of yours out of the tomb (and be sure you go with it) 
      How to get out of the tomb,you say? Well, we can start with baby steps. Take that uke of yours in the backyard or front porch and tune it up,sit,and play. Sing if you want. If the weather is too cold for this,then make a utube video of yourself playing and post it. Record songs and put them on CD-for friends,if nothing else. Have a relative who's having a B-day? 
  Sing and play "Happy Birthday" for them either live via video chat,or make a video and email it to them. Videos are great for surprising people in fun uplifting ways. 
    Get some "new to you" songbooks. Learn a new style on your uke like blues or swing jazz....whatever calls to your heart. Join a uke club or subscribe to a ukulele magazine to keep you current in the ukulele world. Subscribe to this blog. (couldn't resist that one!) 
    Read books on unblocking your creative self....anything by Julia Cameron is good,as well as Alan Cohen. (I recently ordered "The War of Art" to read on this very thing) Shake the dust off your golden self and let yourself shine in the sunlight. 
      Look for cool hats,scarves,and so forth to wear for your videos  when you make them. Find your colorful,funky ukulele self and let it show. And most important: have fun in the doing and being! 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Catching Up On Inquiries About Zither Heaven Ukes.....And Other Interesting Tidbits

   During the last part of 2013 I had "accidently" bumped into an extended family member who I hadn't seen in over a decade. Why this individual dropped contact I don't know-but after being in touch for a week,he called and informed me he had been diagnosed with brain cancer and had it for quite some time. While he knew some of his mental processes were not working right,he never went to the Dr. to find out what was going on with him. To make a long story short,he was operated on,but passed away a little earlier this year. This was a difficult time as there was so much I wanted to catch this person up on,as he was like an uncle to me in my growing up...but that was not to be. I can only guess he's hearing the playing I would've liked to have done for him while he was still on the planet in spirit. Hence my absence here.
     To those who had sent questions in during that time,I'm sorry for not getting back to you. As you know,there's never a good time to lose someone but it always seems worse when bad news like this hits around the holidays.
      At any rate-to answer a question about Zither Heaven instruments being shipped to New Zealand........not at this time. The company ships only in the USA and it looks like they're sticking to that. My suggestion would be that if you have a friend or relative coming to the US,perhaps you could have them pick one up for you while they're here and bring it back with them. It should qualify as a carry on piece.
       I'm trying another method of getting ukulele news out- it's a program called "Scoop It!" and it's quite easy to use. I'll be adding links to the bottom of the page here in the links section. In the meantime you can find it here there's a lot of fun info and articles there,in addition to videos. I never know what I'll be finding to share there,so check often. This is a partner to my Twitter paper "Ukulele Utopia".
       Looking over a book I'll be reviewing......a ukulele tutorial. Will keep you all in mystery until my next entry! (Trust me,it's worth the wait!)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Getting Started For Spring- Blues and Busking....And My Reso Uke!

    I was amazingly blessed this past Christmas with a Gretsch Reso ukulele!
Once the holidays were over,I had time to play it. It has a wonderful feel,great bluesy tone,(the resonator actually reacts to the strings) and has a very solid feel. Gorgeous abalone inlay on the fingerboard,too. The intonation is absolute heaven.
I have now been more focused on learning blues with this particular ukulele.....and found a wonderful book on how to play blues on your flea. 
If you want to buy a copy,I have it in my store here . It's amazingly well written,has lots of fun examples,teaches you blues scales,riffs,and more. As usual,with the coming of warmer weather,my love of ukulele has blossomed once again as this book challenges me. I'm doing fingerpicking,and starting to use a frailing technique to pluck melodies. Frailing is a banjo technique,but I find it most useful as well on uke. (Frailing isn't taught in the book,BTW)
     I also have a ukulele page on Facebook-see the link to the right of the blog here to go visit! 

I'm pleased to say Ukulele Magazine is offering a free digital read of their latest issue-which I'll be ordering as there is a cool article on how to "swing" a tune by chord substitution. And seeing as how I love swing jazz (I play it on guitar as well as mandolin) this article will prove most helpful. Google or Bing Ukulele Magazine and you'll be taken to the site where you'll have the option of downloading or just reading thru it without storing it on your computer. 

Off topic,I have finally started learning how to work with leather. I purchased one of those Tandy beginners kits oh.....two years ago....possibly three? At any rate I just finished my first project - a coaster. Humble but useful beginnings! (It will be used on my night stand to hold my morning cup o coffee) I'm pondering what ukulele accessories I can make with it. If you have any ideas,please share. All I've been able to think of is a pick pouch. 

Busking. I did mention that in the title,right? Well there is another wonderful book on how to do's only available in a Kindle edition at the moment and the price is right. A mere 99¢. The author covers most everything you'd need to know about busking. From costuming to where to busk at for filling up that coin bowl with "Thank yous" It's called The Busker's Handbook .
 Only thing I will add is the city I live in no longer issues performers licenses (which has saved me $$ by the elimination of them) so I have a business license instead....which I needed anyway for my store. Check with your city hall to see if they have a performers permit before you just go out there and open your case and start playing. Law enforcement can fine you if you don't have one,and be sure to keep track of the money people give you for tax time. Read the book first is my advice....then do your bit. You may want to busk with a partner as this will make things like using the restroom and grabbing something to eat a lot easier as someone can watch the equipment.