UD#107 The Great Race to the Melodyfrom Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek When we play chord melody style, we play both the chords and melody of a song at the same time. We often use a simple thumb strum through the chord that finishes on the melody note. One of the challenges of this is getting the timing right between the chord notes and the melody note. That’s something that I would like to focus on in today’s lesson! For that purpose, I’ve written a short ukulele piece. Here is a recording of the song we will look …Continue Reading
I love to teach Wipe Out to my students. One of the great things about it is that the main melody of the song uses melodic patterns that repeat again and again with variations. I like to show my students the notes in the patterns and the shape that these notes make on the fretboard. Then, we learn the melody by ear, a little at a time. If that sounds fun, read on! Or, if you prefer, you can jump to the end of the lesson and grab the tablature there.
UD#105 Christmas Uke Duet: Coventry Carolfrom Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek One of my students suggested that we learn this carol. I have created a little two part ukulele arrangement that is loosely based on the traditional harmonization of the song. Have a listen! For those of you who are interested, let’s learn the main melody by ear! Here are the notes involved. They come mostly from the G harmonic minor scale. There are some notes that are altered in the song. This creates a really cool affect. On a couple of occasions, the Bb note is changed to a B natural …Continue Reading
UD#104 Ukulele and Breathfrom Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek I’d like to show you a little experiment that has been very useful to me and many of my students. It uses a procedure I adapted from an exercise by Kenny Werner. Kenny Werner was introduced to me by my friend Dominic Conway of Malleus Trio. Shout out to Dominic! Here goes. 1. First, I get my student to play something. So, if you want to, go ahead and do that now. It can be a piece you’ve been working on, something you are “struggling” with, or a song you know very well. With or without voice …Continue Reading
I love harmony singing and the richness that it creates. Sometimes when I am doing a song on my own, I miss that feeling: the feeing of two voices interacting. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with how to create a melodic interaction between the uke and the voice that can give a similar effect….
When playing bar chords, all uke players, at one time or another, experience “dead notes.” This is when one string does not sound clearly because we haven’t managed to get it down onto the fret. In my casual survey of students, I found that their general approach to this problem is to squeeze like crazy until all the notes sound clearly, or until they give up in frustration. For some time I’ve been meaning to create a lesson with some practical information about the workings of the hand and fingers as it relates to barring. Here goes….
UD#101 Chameleon Jazz Chordfrom Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek I love this chord shape. It’s super useful in jazz. There are many types of chords that this shape can play. I’ll just talk about one of them today, the 6/9 chord. How does it work? Let’s say that you are trying to play an F6/9 chord This shape can be used to play an F6/9 in two different places on the neck of the ukulele. First, a wee bit of theory. Here are the notes in an F6/9 chord. ROOT (1) 3 5 6 …Continue Reading
UD#100 Uke Bar-o-phobia!from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek Full disclosure. I don’t love barring, and I try to avoid it when I can. It’s tiring. So, in a series of chord shapes, if there is an opportunity to get up on my finger tips, I take it. For example, this chord shape would suggest barring with the index finger, as it has two notes on the same fret. Barring would look like this. However, I prefer to fret it like this, unless I have a really good reason not to. More comfy! Sometimes you don’t really have …Continue Reading
UD#99 Chord Melody: I’ll Be Home for Christmasfrom Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek The first thing I do before I make a chord melody arrangement is learn the chords and melody of the song. So, here is a simple song sheet for “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” You can strum the chords and sing it, or you can pick the melody. Click the image for a printable version: If you are unfamiliar with chord melody you might want to check out this earlier article: https://ukuleleinthedark.com/ud-68-how-chord-melody-works/ When we create a chord melody arrangement it’s often necessary to use different chord …Continue Reading
UD#98 The Tale of Billy the Gap Hunterfrom Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek It is really hard to fix a problem you are not aware of. I heard this story some time ago. I can’t remember who told it to me. And, full disclosure, I know very little about tennis and may have gotten some things wrong. Here goes. The back hand… There was a tennis teacher who noticed that her student was bending his elbow too much on the backhand. She told him again and again to keep his elbow straight and she was getting more and more frustrated. She …Continue Reading
UD#97 Your Amazing Shape Makers!from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek I was recently working with one of my students, Angela, on the chord melody arrangement of St. James Infirmary from my chorld melody book. She was having trouble getting to an inversion of the G minor chord in bar 7. Here’s the excerpt, if you’d like to give it a try yourself. We both noticed that she was placing her fingers one at a time to make the chord shape and we agreed that it would be better if the fingers could “fly in formation” and land all …Continue Reading
UD#96 Chord Melody: Brahms’s Lullaby!from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek Last lesson we learned Brahms’s Lullaby by ear with the plan of arranging it as a chord melody this week. If you missed the last lesson you can find it HERE. Have a look, and then come back to this lesson, when you are ready. For those of you who learned Brahms’s Lullaby by ear, here is the answer sheet so you can check your work. You can see that I have added lyrics, which I forgot to do last week. I used the third verse because I like it the …Continue Reading
UD#95 Confessions of a Uke-by-Ear Zealot…from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek When I started Ukulele in the Dark in 2012, my first plan was to create “audio only” lessons. No visuals! Hence, the name, “…in the Dark.” I came around to the idea that this would be a tad extreme, thankfully. But, I still wanted to create and share some material that would fill a gap in the way that uke was being taught. I wanted to get away from the traditional “do this, then do that” approach and create lessons that would facilitate experiences for students that would help …Continue Reading