Category Archives: Jamming

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#43 Another Round? (DONA NOBIS PACEM)

Posted on

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#38 Sixteen Beat Strum: Steal My Kisses

Posted on

UD#38 Sixteen Beat Strum: Steal My Kisses (Ben Harper) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek   OKAY, let’s look at Steal My Kisses by Ben Harper. The song has three chords in it: G C6 and D6. Here are the chords in open position on the uke: And here are the chords “up the neck”: NOTE: The D6 up the neck needs to be played at the 5th fret. There’s a little 5 there at the top of the diagram that is hard to see. The progression goes like this: | G                 |  C6                |  D6                    |  G                         …Continue Reading


UD#33 Mr. G7 Goes West: Low-Rider! (G7 in 4 positions)

Posted on

UD#33 Mr. G7 Goes West: Low-Rider (Play a G7 in four different places on the neck) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek THE INVERSIONS OF G7: First things first. Let me introduce you to my favorite one chord song. Lowrider by War. You can strum along with this song with one chord: G7. Give it a go and come on back and we’ll look at some different funky ways of playing G7.   Please find a fretboard chart on the right which you can use for reference as you go along through the lesson (click for printable version).   …Continue Reading


UD#32 The Thrill of Accidental Harmony (Jubilate Deo)

Posted on

UD#32 The Thrill of Accidental Harmony (Jubilate Deo) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek   Singing or playing in harmony is one of the most thrilling things to do in music. This week I want to introduce you to a type of composition called a round. A round is kind of melody composed in such a way as to allow different groups to start at different points. When the melody is “staggered” in this way it creates harmonies. Here’s a recording of some of my intermediate students from Ruby’s Ukes singing a beautiful round called Jubilate Deo: Some simple   …Continue Reading


UD#29 Stay Together Everybody!

Posted on

UD#29 Stay Together Everybody! (Staying in Time) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek This week I want to talk about playing together as a group. We are all familiar with the topsy turvy sound of a group of musicians who are not really playing together in time. I think this happens in large part because the members of the group are not listening to each other. Each individual is making their own playing more important then the playing going on around them. The other day I tried an experiment with a class to see if I could get   …Continue Reading


UD #27 SOLOING ON HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN

Posted on

UD#27 SOLOING ON HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek  This week’s newsletter, the last in a series of lessons on soloing, will be on the minor pentatonic scale and how we can use that scale to solo on tunes in a minor key like: BB King, The Thrill is Gone in C minor. St. James Infirmary by Louis Armstrong in D minor. Runaway, Del Shannon. A minor and A major! House of the Rising Sun by the Animals in A minor. We’ll focus on House of the Rising Sun and you can take   …Continue Reading


UD#26 Never Jam Alone – Episode 3 (Major Pentatonic)

Posted on

UD #25 The Major Pentatonic Scale: Solo Anyone? from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek   Last newsletter we looked at how to play a Major Pentatonic Scale on the ukulele. This scale is very useful for soloing over Folk, Pop or Jazz progressions that are in a major key. The Major Pentatonic Scale is easy to learn and very useful. It’s a big help to have some notes under your fingers that you know will sound fine. This way you are free to explore your creativity by playing with rhythm and phrasing without having to worry about hitting   …Continue Reading


UD#25 The Major Pentatonic Scale: Solo Anyone?

Posted on

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#21 Soloing on the Blues

Posted on

UD #21 Soloing on the Blues from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek THE MINOR PENTATONIC SCALE: Blues and rock musicians from Howling Wolf to Jimi Hendrix use this very simple scale for soloing. Here is a recording of a C Minor Pentatonic Scale: Play the recording a few times and get the sound of the scale in your head. Sing along with the recording. Try to sing the scale without the recording. Generally, make friends with the scale. NOTE: It’s called a pentatonic scale because it only has five notes as opposed to most scales which have 7   …Continue Reading


UD#20 Never Jam Alone ep. 2 – FUNKY MINOR BLUES

Posted on

UD#20 Never Jam Alone Episode #2 – Funky Minor Blues from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek Here is a funky little song to jam along with. It’s called “The Thrill is Gone” by B.B. King. It’s a minor blues which means that it uses mostly minor chords as opposed to major chords and 7th chords like most blues songs. Here is the progression. | Cm           | Cm           |Cm           |Cm           | | Fm           | Fm   …Continue Reading


UD#16 Never Jam Alone Episode 1

Posted on

UD#16 Never Jam Alone Episode 1 from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek I’ve often heard students say this: “I don’t understand what happens. I practice the songs at home and when I come and play them with you in class I make all sorts of mistakes! What’s that all about?” Playing by yourself is fundamentally different from playing with others in one very important aspect: timing. When students practice at home they often take a little bit more time playing tricky parts of a song and speed through the parts that they can play easily. When you play   …Continue Reading


UD#6 Lost in Progressions? (Hearing Chord Patterns)

Posted on

UD #6 Lost in Progressions? from Ukulele in the Dark w/Guido Heistek A student came up to me and asked me this question:   “I can hear the chords changing but I loose track of where I am in the progression. I can’t tell where the progression begins and ends and I get all confused. How can I work on that?” We had been working on a simple song in class. The tune was “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” by Bob Dylan. It has a repetitive chord progression that goes like this:   G               Am            C                G 1  2  3  4      …Continue Reading