Category Archives: Beginner

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#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#63 Nice and Smooth: Legato

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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


UD #58 Getting from Chord to Chord: Leaving Early to Arrive on Time

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UD #58 Getting from Chord to Chord: Leaving Early to Arrive on Time from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek I was working with a student the other day.  A complete beginner. He asked me this question: “I seem to have no problem switching from G7 to C. But, I have a hard time going from C to G7. Do you have any tips to help with that?” We decided to play a simple two chord song using C and G7: Jambalaya. And indeed he was right. He went from G7 to C with no trouble. When it came   …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#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   …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#15 Gripping the Uke too Tight?

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Gripping the Uke too Tight? from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek Gripping the uke too tight? Maybe this will help. 1. TO THE FRET, NOT TO THE WOOD! Let me explain. To play an A note you can pluck the A string. To get other notes on that string you place your finger in the space between two frets. For example to play a B note you place your finger where the dot is in this diagram. Right? The note changes because the string comes to rest on one of the frets and becomes temporarily shortened. A shorter   …Continue Reading