Home

UD#75 Broken Harpsichord to Ukulele Orchestra!

Posted on

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

Posted on

Beautiful Chord Melody: Love Me Tender (UD#74) from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek     SPRING SALE: 20% OFF Chord Melody Book for Ukulele DOWNLOAD AND PRINT EDITION   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   …Continue Reading


UD#73 Chord Weaving: Finger-picking Patterns

Posted on

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 at   …Continue Reading


UD#72 Seeing With the Fingers

Posted on

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?

Posted on

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

Posted on

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


UD#69 Chord Melody: Huron Carol

Posted on

Chord Melody: Huron Carol (UD#69) from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   Today we’ll look at a chord melody arrangement of the “Huron Carol”, which, I recently learned, is Canada’s oldest Christmas song! Here is a little video of me performing today’s song, live from my teaching studio in Vancouver. I do the song twice through. First, I do a finger-style version, which we will cover later in today’s lesson. The second time through the song I use a standard thumb strum, like we covered in the last lesson. Here is the video!   Here’s what I propose.   …Continue Reading


UD#68 How Chord Melody Works

Posted on

How Chord Melody Works (UD#68) from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek The process of creating chord melody arrangements is quite simple. There are three basic steps:   1. Learn the melody. 2. Learn the chords. 3. Put the chords and melody together! Let’s start with a song that we are all familiar with: Mary Had a Little Lamb. Not the coolest tune, I know, but making your own chord melody is SO cool that it will more than make up for it. You’ll see. At the end of the lesson there is a video recap with a special   …Continue Reading


UD#67 Good Tone From the Start

Posted on

Good Tone From the Start (UD#67) from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   Most players start out picking single notes with the thumb. So, one of the things that I have been trying to teach more clearly is how to get a good clean robust tone when you pick that way. I’ll talk about this technique today as it relates to picking AND to my first love on the uke. Here is a little video from the studio. I am playing “Danny Boy,” a song that appears in The Chord Melody Book for Ukulele: If you watch the   …Continue Reading


UD#66 Make Friends with your Metronome

Posted on

Make Friends With Your Metronome (UD#66) from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek When we play in groups the timing issue can sometimes get a little bumpy. Tell me if this sounds familiar: “Play a little quicker. You are dragging! No! A little slower. You were a little late on that note. Hmmmmmm….You were just a pinch early.” What a nightmare! Consider this for a moment. When you are playing music with someone, the sound leaves their instrument and enters your ear and is perceived by you AFTER it happens. Same goes for the sound coming off your instrument   …Continue Reading


UD#65 Carrying a Tune!

Posted on

Carrying a Tune! (UD#65) from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   I have a lot of students who claim to “not be able to carry a tune.” These are often people who have been labelled “tone deaf,” or have been asked to “just mouth the words” instead of singing. How heart breaking! Many of these people love music but feel that they simply can’t and never will be able to sing. The happy news is that in all my time teaching I have not had one student who couldn’t learn to “carry a tune.” Maybe there are people   …Continue Reading


UD#64 Constructing Solo Ideas: Take it!

Posted on

Constructing Solo Ideas (UD#64) from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek WHAT IS SOLOING? Soloing is when a musician improvises their own melody along with the chords in a song. Imagine you are playing a song with a friend. If he/she strums the chords you might like to play along with some cool sounding improvised picking. That’s called “taking a solo.” Pop and Blues music often feature instrumental solos. In Jazz as well as Bluegrass music it is the tradition to sing or play the melody of a song and then the musicians take turns playing improvised solos. If   …Continue Reading


UD#63 Nice and Smooth: Legato

Posted on

Nice and Smooth: Legato (UD#63) from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   I was working on legato playing with a student a little while ago. What’s legato? Playing in a legato style means to play a series of notes smoothly with little or no gap in between. One note should last until the very moment a new note is played. It creates a beautiful and fluid sound. The simplest melodies can sound gorgeous when played in a flowing legato style.The problem is that my student found it impossible to do!  No matter how much I encouraged him to   …Continue Reading