Category Archives: Ear Training

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


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#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#25 The Major Pentatonic Scale: Solo Anyone?

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UD#25 The Major Pentatonic Scale: Solo Anyone? from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek When I was starting out as a player I loved to play blues music. I would play along with blues recordings for hours and hours. I used to jam with my uncle and we’d take turns accompanying each other as we took solos. What a blast! My main soloing material came from the Minor Pentatonic Scale which was first shown to me by my father. This worked great for blues songs and some songs in minor keys but I noticed that the Minor Pentatonic Scale   …Continue Reading


UD#19 What Key is it in?

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UD #19 What Key is It in? from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek I love this video of Bobby Mcferrin: What he demonstrates in this video is that on hearing a few notes of a pentatonic scale (5 note scale) people intuitively know where the rest of the notes are. This is because scales are all about the relationships between the notes. Once we’ve intuitively clued in to what scale we are listening to, we can guess the rest of it without hearing all the notes.  It’s a kind of musical extrapolation.The same effect can be demonstrated with   …Continue Reading


UD#18 How To Figure Out Songs By Ear

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UD#18 How To Figure Out Songs By Ear from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek Here’s the scenario: You hear a song that sounds pretty simple that you would like to learn to play. You can’t find the chords anywhere on the internet. How do you figure out how to play it? Last week we talked about diatonic chords (the chords that come from one scale). If you haven’t read that newsletter, please go here: UD #17 The Building Blocks of Songs. The first thing to do when you are figuring out a song by ear is to determine   …Continue Reading


UD#9 No Tab Necessary: Transcribing (SAKURA SAKURA)

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UD #9 No Tab Necessary: Transcribing (SAKURA SAKURA) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek -How to learn a song from a recording Transcription is notating (writing down in music or tab) a piece of recorded music that you don’t have the printed music for. It is one common way that musicians learn new material. They “lift” solos, riffs and melodies off of recordings. Transcribing is easier when you are transcribing from a recording of the same instrument that you play. The thinking goes like this, “That’s a guitar being played. I have a guitar here. The note I   …Continue Reading


UD#8 Musical Instincts and Inside Out Listening (Playing by “feel”)

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UD #8 Musical Instincts and Inside Out Listening from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek When most of us think of listening we think of an outside in process. Sound from the outside coming in. Listening this way is what teaches us a song when we don’t know it. But, once we know a song we have to listen the other way – the inside out. Once you really know a song you can let that knowledge tell you how to play it. When to change chords, how to sing the melody. I call this instinctual playing. Instinctual playing   …Continue Reading


UD#5: Scales, Intervals and Ukulele Ear Training

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UD#5  Scales, Intervals and Ukulele Ear Training from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek     -The C Major Scale: Here are two ways to play the C major scale on a ukulele: 1. Up the C string: (the numbers tell you which frets to play) 2. Across the strings or in “open position” -INTERVALS in a C MAJOR SCALE: The distances between the root note C (open C) and the other notes in the major scale are described by intervals. The distance between C and D is called a Major Second interval.  (M2) C to E is called   …Continue Reading


UD #1 Challenge Your Musical Memory!

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UD #1 UKULELE HIDE AND SEEK AND MUSICAL MEMORY GAMES… from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek     Have you ever had a tune playing in your head? I have never met anyone who answered no to this question. We all have musical memory: the ability to remember notes and sounds. Musical memory is very important for our enjoyment of music, but also essential when it comes to playing music -especially if we want to play by ear. To learn music by ear we must consciously sustain a note in our heads long enough to find it on our instrument.   …Continue Reading