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.