UD#48 Closet Banjo: The Clawhammer Technique

UD#48 Closet Banjo: The Clawhammer Technique

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UD #48  Closet Banjo: The Clawhammer Technique from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek   I am very excited to introduce the CLAWHAMMER style this week! What’s CLAWHAMMER? Here’s a video of me playing Wayfaring Stranger in the clawhammer style. It will give you a feel for how it sounds. Enjoy! When I first received a ukulele from my wife some 12 years ago I was struck by how it sounded a little like a banjo, an instrument I’d always had a soft spot for. The five string banjo has a high pitched string that is plucked by the   …Continue Reading


UD#47: Wine Tasting for the Ears (Ear Training Made Easy)

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UD#47  Wine Tasting for the Ears (Ear Training Made Easy) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek This week’s photo is from Drinks of the World by James Mew and John Ashton, 1892 SOURCE: openclipart.org “I don’t understand how musicians can hear a song and then be able to play it. How do you do that?” It’s really tough for me to answer a question like this. When I was young and learning to play guitar I was lucky enough to discover that the notes I heard on recordings were “findable” somewhere on my guitar. I loved to work away   …Continue Reading


UD#46 Stopping and Starting: Building Fluidity in Your Playing

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UD #46  Stopping and Starting: Building Fluidity In Your Playing from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek “I have some pieces that I know quite well but I can’t seem to play them smoothly. Especially in front of an audience. How can I work on that?” I want to share with you two approaches to practicing that I feel help with fluidity in playing. You can try one or both of these exercises. They work with any level of piece, from picking the melody of Mary Had a Little Lamb to a sophisticated solo chord melody arrangement. Remember you’ll   …Continue Reading


UD#45 What do the Sevens Mean? (The Numbers in Chord Names)

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UD#45: What do the SEVENS mean? (The Numbers in Chord Names) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek EVER WONDER what the numbers in chord names mean? C7, F6, A7… A student asked me an interesting question in class the other day: “What makes jazz different from other types of music?” This is a very tough question to answer but one potential answer did pop into mind: “Jazz music tends to use 7th chords (ex. Cm7, C7, Fmaj7) as opposed to triads or three note chords (ex.  Cm, F, Bbm).” What’s a seventh chord? A seventh chord is a   …Continue Reading


UD#44 The Case of the Mystery Chord: The Minor IV

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UD #44 The Case of the Mystery Chord: The Minor IV from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek EVER WONDER WHY THEY USED “THAT” CHORD? In UD #17 and UD #18 we looked at diatonic chords and how they help us to figure out songs by ear. Diatonic chords are the family of chords that are created out of the notes from the key the song is in. Once you figure out what key the song is inthe diatonic chords from that key are a good place to start when trying to figure out the chords by ear. There   …Continue Reading


UD#43 Another Round?

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UD #43 Another Round? from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek Learn a beautiful new round to play and sing with your ukulele group! In UD #32 we talked about rounds. I introduced “Jubilate Deo” a beautiful 12 bar round. It was so wildly popular that I’ve been on the look out for a follow up ever since. Happily, one of my students at Ruby’s Ukes introduced me to this gorgeous round, Dona Nobis Pacem. If you are not familiar with musical rounds, please go take a peek at UD #32 and come right back. Here is a recording   …Continue Reading


UD#42 Sus Chords: Got a Spare FInger?

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UD #42 Sus Chords: Got a Spare Finger? from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek I remember being excited by sus chords when I was a kid. Still am! Sometimes there are long periods in a song that only have one chord. Sus or suspended chords are one of the tools players use to add tension and release without changing chords. Here is a little exploration of the most common kind of suspended chord: the sus 4 chord. Hope you enjoy it. The first suspended chord I learned was on the guitar: the mighty Dsus4. On the uke this   …Continue Reading


UD#41 Chromatic Wrap-up: Applying the CHROMATIC SCALE

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UD #41 CHROMATIC Wrap-up: Applying the CHROMATIC SCALE Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek Use the chromatic scale to: CREATE SCALES, MOVE CHORDS UP THE NECK, LEARN THE FRETBOARD AND MORE! I ended off my last news letter with a list of uses for the chromatic scale. Here is a little expansion on each point and answers to the questions associated with each point. (Please check out last week’s newsletter if you haven’t read it: http://ukuleleinthedark.com/ud-40-chromatic-walk-in-the-park/) 1. Movable chord shapes  Question: How many frets up the neck do I need to move a C chord for it to become   …Continue Reading


UD#40 Chromatic Walk in the Park (A Foundation in Music Theory)

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UD #40 Chromatic Walk in the Park (A Foundation in Music Theory) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek   Today I want to talk about something that is incredibly useful when building a mental model for music. It’s called the chromatic scale. And in many ways it is the basis for all theory in music. Knowing the chromatic scale forwards and backwards really helps with learning scales, transposing, using moveable chords and more. THE SPACING OF THE NOTES IN MUSIC: A few lessons ago we talked about the C major scale up one string. If you take a   …Continue Reading


UD#39 Chord Melody: Spanish Melody!

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Chord Melody: Spanish Melody! (UD#39) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek This newsletter I want to share with you an all-time favourite chord melody piece among my ukulele students. The song is called Spanish Melody. I learned it from a book called Hawaiian Ukulele, The Early Methods published by Centerbrook. The song is a lovely lilting waltz. When I demo the song for my students they often say, “That sounds lovely, but difficult!” They are surprised to find that they are able to play it without too much trouble. One student commented, “This tune has a lot of   …Continue Reading


UD#38 Sixteen Beat Strum: Steal My Kisses

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UD#38 Sixteen Beat Strum: Steal My Kisses (Ben Harper) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek   OKAY, let’s look at Steal My Kisses by Ben Harper. The song has three chords in it: G C6 and D6. Here are the chords in open position on the uke: And here are the chords “up the neck”: NOTE: The D6 up the neck needs to be played at the 5th fret. There’s a little 5 there at the top of the diagram that is hard to see. The progression goes like this: | G                 |  C6                |  D6                    |  G                         …Continue Reading


UD#37 Horse First Then The Cart: One String Melodies

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UD#37 Horse First Then The Cart: One String Melodies from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek LETTING THE INNER MUSIC LEAD YOUR FINGERS: I remember being amazed by this experience when I was a kid: I used to listen to the same album again and again. I became so familiar with the songs on the record that when one song finished, the next song would “pop” into my head before the song had even started. This always seemed magical. Have you ever had a similar experience?This effect is one of the most magical things about music making: When you   …Continue Reading


UD#36 Chameleon Chord: Diminished 7th Chords part II

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  UD#36  Chameleon Chord: Diminished Chords Part II (The coolest thing you can do with dim7 chords) 
from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek The coolest thing you can do with diminished chords…in my opinion… NOTE: For simplicity I will refer to diminished 7th chords as DIMINISHED CHORDS in this lesson. ALSO NOTE: If you don’t feel like reading there is a video at the bottom of the page. Try this experiment Take a diminished chord like this one: Lower one of the notes in the chord by one fret. Let’s lower the note on the G string. What   …Continue Reading