Monday, May 24, 2010

Where has the time gone

Noticed that it has been a while since I posted. I was going to wait for another video, but that may be a couple of weeks yet. The school year is coming to an end and I am wrapping up the last class of 'ukulele students this year. They are getting it and having fun. Good news is that I get to teach beginning 'ukulele again next year. I will have students for a trimester, about 13 weeks instead of 9. The class will continue to meet every day for 5o minutes. I think that we will be able to really get some serious playing in.

Also, we just had our schools annual "Extravaganza" where the choirs, bands, Grupo Latino, Color Guard and this year the 'ukulele club perform for the community. The 'ukulele club did a great job. We played 2 songs, "She Was Mine" by A J Rafael and "Island Style" by John Cruz. There were 9 students who worked to perform and they did a great job. Then, I managed to have Karsten perform a solo. The event is held in the Logan High school Gym and Karsten sat near the center, plugged into an amp and brought the house down. He did a rendition of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" that was all his own. He received a standing ovation and the respect and admiration of those who attended. When I get copies of the video I will post them here and on SchoolTube.

All in all it has been a productive year for the 'ukulele at Alvarado Middle School.

Friday, February 26, 2010

"The Mighty Uke"

This last Tuesday evening, in the rain and traffic, we went up to San Rafael to see the screening of "The Mighty Uke." It is a documentary done by two Canadians from Montreal. It runs about 80 minutes and is full of interviews, history and 'ukulele playing by all kinds of people. After the movie there was a short talk, and a short concert with James Hill. If you get a chance to see the movie, do so. Check out the web page too (click on the title of this entry). There will be a DVD coming out in a few months so get on their list. The movie goes a long way to explain the phenomena that is the 'ukulele. One of the players (Uni I think) refers to it as "the peoples instrument."

Another fun thing that I have found on James Hill's site Ukuleles in the Classroom are some arrangements in four and five parts for 'ukulele Big Band. "Way Beyond the Blues" is a beginning piece that I may try with my Beginning 'Ukulele class this quarter. This group is wanting to learn more picking so I might be able to get them to do it. We will see. I will keep you posted.

We will be heading to the Tahoe area in March for the Tahoe Uke Fest. Am saddened to find out that the Northern California 'Ukulele Festival is not happening this year. What I have been able to find out so far is they do not have access to the Hayward Adult School any longer. (Can you say Budget Cuts) :-( I hope they find a place for next year. I would hate for the East Bay to lose this event.

Oh, and my Mom has joined the ranks of the happy ukers. She now has a Kala Spruce Top Concert and is busy practicing and learning new chords.

Check out the movie and James Hill's Ukuleles in the Classroom.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February already!

It is February already. Starting a new quarter with 24 new students to introduce to the 'ukulele. I am also putting together a booklet of songs for the students to play. I hope this month to start a lunch time jam session during school on the last Thursday or Friday of the month. The idea is to have 'ukuleles available during the lunch period for kids to come and play. That is why I am putting together a booklet of songs for the kids. We'll see if I can get this going this year.

This Friday we are going to see Herb Ohta Jr. with Jennifer Perry and Jon Yamasota. I am also taking Karsten to a private lesson with Herb tomorrow. It should fun for all.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Musings and Reflections

Well, coming to the end of the first semester of the school year on Friday. Thinking about the 'Ukulele Club and the class I am teaching. The numbers in the club have settled down quite a bit. Those who were looking to be cool have fallen to the wayside when they realize they have to practice. I also did not check out 'ukuleles right away. There were over 40 kids who wanted to check one out and I only have about 15 that I can check out. Sadly, not everyone is able to get their own. I wonder if I was able to put an 'ukulele in the hands of every kid if more would stay?

At any rate I have 20-40 who show up each week (depends on the competition of activities after school) and we are moving along. They still look to me to teach them but that is okay. Means I have to stay on my toes which is good for me. It also means I have to find songs that they want to play and that they can play. What I do find with kids is if they really want to learn to play something they don't care how "hard" it is.

My 'ukulele playing was taking a bit of a back seat as I was getting geared up this fall for the class and the club. Now, I am playing every week at the Freight & Salvage, taking a class from Hiram Bell. He is a local teacher from Hawaii. It has been good to work on some more picking and ensemble playing.

I am also looking forward to Herb Ohta Jr. coming to town the first week of February. He is giving a concert and I will try to get Karsten a lesson with him.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Karsten and his Ukulele

Check out Karsten on You Tube playing "Here, There and Everywhere". The more views the better chance I have of finding him a 'ukulele sponsor. He is talented and motivated, a wonderful combination in a 13, soon to be 14 year old young man. Please share with as many folks as you can.

(click on the title of this entry to see the You Tube Video)