Author Archives: guido

UD#82 Holiday Chord Melody: Silver Bells

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UD#82 Holiday Chord Melody: Silver Bells from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   It’s time for our yearly holiday chord melody arrangement! I was going through some notes with a long time student and I came across a nice arrangement of Silver Bells that I had done years ago.The nice thing about this arrangement is that it sounds lovely, but is also quite manageable for the fingers. It only has two “up-the-neck” chords!   What are “up-the-neck” chords? As you may know, chord melody is a style of playing that allows us to play chords and melody at   …Continue Reading


UD#81 Where Do The Melodies Live?

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  UD#81 Where Do The Melodies Live? from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   When I was in university I had to stop playing guitar for a year or so because of tendonitis in my left hand. When I was getting back to playing guitar, I was advised to play very little at first: 5 minutes a day for a while, then 10 minutes a day for a while, and so on. The idea was to slowly build up my endurance for playing. It was really frustrating to play for such a short time. And, I found it   …Continue Reading


UD#80 Gorgeous Classical Piece: Spanish Romance

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UD#80 Gorgeous Classical Piece: Spanish Romance from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   My dad was around 30 years old when he started playing guitar. An adult beginner!  One of the pieces that I remember him practicing is Spanish Romance, which is one of the best known classical guitar pieces in the world. I’d like to teach you a uke version today. The full piece has two sections: a minor section and a major section. I’ll teach you the first section today. If you’ve never heard it before have a listen here:   Last newsletter, we talked about   …Continue Reading


UD#79 You are an Instant Guitar Player

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UD#78 You Are and Instant Guitar Player from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   I remember when I first picked up a ukulele. It was exciting because as a guitar player, I seemed to be instantly able to play a uke. I didn’t know the names of the chords and notes that I was playing, but all the shapes and patterns that I knew from playing guitar were instantly transferable to the ukulele. Why is this?   Why do guitar players seem to be able to play ukulele instantly? The answer is that the first four strings of   …Continue Reading


UD#78 How Do I Hold This Thing?

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UD#78 How Do I Hold This Thing? from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   I use to suffer from tendonitis in my left wrist from playing guitar. It was particularly bad in university. I was once unable to play my instrument for a year right in the middle of my music degree! I remember seeking lots of advice about how to “hold” my left hand: where the thumb should be, and how the wrist should be. I would understand the advice but, it seemed that when I went to play guitar, I would always revert to my habits.   …Continue Reading


UD#77 Right Hand Calling Left Hand

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  UD#77 Right Hand Calling Left Hand Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   Please fret this chord: Do it again and notice how you are using the fingers of your fretting hand. Do you fret the notes of the chord simultaneously or one at a time? If you fret the notes one at a time, which finger do you fret with first? Usually, I see beginner students fret the Em chord like this:   First, the index finger…   …then, the middle finger…   …and finally, the ring finger.   Is there any problem with fretting the notes   …Continue Reading


UD#76 Performing Without Practicing?

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UD#76 Performing Without Practicing? Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   I remember Liberace performing on TV when I was a kid. We loved to watch him. It’s funny to think of him playing piano so well with so many diamond rings on! He once turned to the camera between songs and held up his hands, wiggling his bejewelled fingers, and said,  “Look what you get when you practice!” This became a catch phrase around our house for years.   Today, I want to talk about a student of mine. For the purpose of this article let’s call her   …Continue Reading


UD#75 Broken Harpsichord to Ukulele Orchestra!

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Broken Harpsichord to Ukulele Orchestra! (UD#75) from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek I want to start with a little story… I studied music at Concordia University. My principle instrument was guitar. One of the first things that they did with the guitar players in the program was figure out who could read music well and who couldn’t. I didn’t do so well in that test! If you were a good reader you got to go to an ensemble where you were the only guitar player. Nice! But, if you failed your reading test, like me, you got put   …Continue Reading


UD#74 Beautiful Chord Melody: Love Me Tender

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Beautiful Chord Melody: Love Me Tender (UD#74) from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   Today let’s look at a chord melody arrangement for Love Me Tender. Here is a little video of me playing through the tune in my own personal style. I take a few liberties with the melody and chords, but it will give you an idea of how the tune goes.   First things first… The first thing I usually do when I sit down to do a chord melody arrangement is learn to play the melody. For those of you who would like to   …Continue Reading


UD#73 Chord Weaving: Finger-picking Patterns

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Chord Weaving: Finger-picking Patterns (UD#73) from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   Sometimes we want a different sound from strumming. Something perhaps a little more sparse, spacious, woven together. So, it can sometimes be nice to pick the notes of a chord one at a time, instead of strumming it. This is sometimes referred to as “playing broken chords.” The simplest way to do this is to fret a chord in your left hand and pick the notes one at a time with your right hand. Here is an example with a C chord. We pick one string   …Continue Reading


UD#72 Seeing With the Fingers

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Seeing With the Fingers (UD#72) from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   One of my students recently put a lot of work into playing without looking at his hands. The resulting change in his playing and confidence was just so startling that I really wanted to write about it in today’s newsletter.   The Puppeteer… We were in a lesson and I noticed just how much my student was “looming” over his fingers, trying to keep his eyes on everything that was going on. He was also having a really tough time getting the fingers of the left   …Continue Reading


UD#71 Remembering Lyrics: What’s My Next Line?

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Remembering Lyrics: What’s My Next Line? (UD#71) from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   One thing for sure, these days we don’t have to do as much remembering as we used to. With Google we can look up things we need to know at anytime. Our phones remember phone numbers for us. The musician standing in front of an iPad and singing songs is a ubiquitous sight. Obviously, it’s a big advantage for a musician to not need to be tethered to some kind of device to remember lyrics. There is great freedom in that. Also, it’s very   …Continue Reading


UD#70 The Great Uke Tuning Mystery

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The Great Uke Tuning Mystery (UD#70) from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   Let me start with a little story. I played in a band called Family Frankincense when I was a kid in high-school. We had one guy in the band who was really good at tuning guitars by ear. He used to tune the guitars for everybody in the band before every show. We all agreed it was best that way. But if your guitar went out of tune during the show, well, you were out of luck. One day we got our biggest gig ever.   …Continue Reading