UD#56 Money and Sound: New Instruments

UD#56 Money and Sound: New Instruments

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Money and Sound: New Instruments (UD#56) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek “I’ve picked up some very expensive ukuleles in the store and I don’t really hear any difference from the ukulele that I have. Why would I bother to pay so much money?” The decision to upgrade your ukulele to a “higher-end” instrument can be a tricky one. How much better will it sound? Is it worth it? I’ve put together a little listening experience so you can compare the sounds of 2 different ukes: one well-made entry level instrument and one ukulele that is considered “higher-end”.   …Continue Reading


UD #54 & #55 Green Day Ukulele Duet (When September Ends)

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Green Day Ukulele Duet (When September Ends) UD #54 & #55 from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek Today I’d like to teach you a simple and beautiful arrangement of Wake Me Up When September Ends, a song by Green Day. Here’s a recording of the arrangement. The backing part is in the left speaker and the melody is in the right speaker. Give it a listen and we’ll learn it!   When September Ends Ukulele Duet: http://ukuleleinthedark.com/filesUD/September-Duet.mp3   Okay, there have been some requests for more transcription lessons (learning by ear) so, I thought we would learn this little   …Continue Reading


UD#53 Latin Rhythms: Picking Patterns for Bossa and Samba!

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Latin Rhythms: Picking Patterns for Bossa and Samba!  (UD#53) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek Here’s a video of me playing a tune called Blue Bossa with my Mya Moe baritone, Martin T-1 and a little help from my looper pedal. Please give the video a look. It will give you an idea of the type of the rhythm and groove that I am interested in teaching today. BASIC BOSSA NOVA: Before I start talking about technical details like fingering and counting I’d like you to get a really clear idea of the rhythm that we are going   …Continue Reading


UD#52 Trimming Away: How to Simplify Song Sheets

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Trimming Away: How to Simplify Song Sheets  (UD#52) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek Today I want to talk about simplifying song sheets and chord charts. Sometimes it can be handy to know how to “trim down” or simplify chords on the fly. This is particularly true when you sit down to play with others. Sometimes there’s no time to look up chords you don’t know. It can help to know what your options are. I thought I would put together a few words on this subject today. CHORD CHART SURVIVAL: I often find myself saying something like   …Continue Reading


UD#51 Play 12 CHORDS with THREE SHAPES

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12 CHORDS with THREE SHAPES: Around the Clock (UD#51) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek   Today I want to share an little activity that I use with my students. I find it helps for remembering the names of chords. Also, it creates a framework to see how chords are related to each other. And it’s a good introduction to chords “up the neck”. More on moving chords “up the neck” here: http://ukuleleinthedark.com/704/ We use three familiar open chord shapes for this activity: C, F and A. Images: If you are using a mobile device please make sure   …Continue Reading


UD#50 Tablature: The Secret of the Shapes in the Numbers

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Tablature: The Secret of the Shapes in the Numbers, The Forest for the Trees (UD#50) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek In today’s article I want to talk about a common challenge that many of my students experience when they are reading tablature. Okay let’s get going… As many of you know, I am a big fan of learning music by ear. But, the reality is that we often have to learn music from the the written page. Either in STANDARD NOTATION. Like this:   Or in TABLATURE (often referred to as tab for short) like this:     …Continue Reading


UD#49 Chord Melody: Christmas Don’t Be Late Solo Uke Arrangement

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Chord Melody: Christmas Don’t Be Late Solo Uke Arrangement (UD#49) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek Today I want to teach you how to play this song! Please check out this video: If you have never tried CHORD MELODY before, you might find this past lesson helpful: http://ukuleleinthedark.com/ud-34-the-magic-of-chord-melody/ OKAY HERE WE GO! There are two versions of the song for you to learn. Each version has an accompanying video. Both versions include the basic strumming chords, melody in music notation and tab, the words, and a chord melody arrangement in tab.   VERSION 1 CLICK HERE for SHEET   …Continue Reading


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? (DONA NOBIS PACEM)

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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