Author Archives: guido

UD#112 Hark! The Herald Ukulele Duet

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UD#112 Hark! The Herald Ukulele Duet from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek  Last year we did a duet arrangement of “Coventry Carol”, which, from all reports, people really enjoyed. I was hoping to do something similar this year! One of my online groups requested that we do a version of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” So, I found a traditional arrangement and transcribed the soprano and alto parts for two ukuleles: high G and low G. I also added a third uke strumming chords. Have a listen! CLICK HERE TO LISTEN to “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” duet: I know some of   …Continue Reading


UD#111 The Adventures of Mr. Thumb

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UD#111 The Adventures of Mr. ThumbUkulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek Thumbs are important! As ukulele players, we use them for picking, strumming and fretting. Many of my students complain about pain in their thumbs. So, today, let’s take a little look at these vital digits! If are having trouble with your thumbs in your uke playing, it may be helpful to examine how you are using them in other areas in your life. Maybe it is possible to make different choices! These days, our thumbs are often called into duty for texting purposes:  I often encourage students to experiment with using their   …Continue Reading


UD#110 The Strum-o-lo-gy of Swingin’ the Blues

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UD#110 The Strum-o-logy of Swingin’ Bluesfrom Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek I’ve created an arrangement of “Blue Monk” by Thelonius Monk. Have a listen, and then read on!   CLICK TO LISTEN TO “BLUE MONK” The music sheet is below. Try it out with some uke buddies! Today, I am going to focus on strumming the chords.  In the song we use three chords: G7, C7, D7.  A lot of times when we play jazz music on the ukulele we use chords “up the neck.” So today, instead of playing the open G7 like this…   we will play the   …Continue Reading


UD#109 So What: Ukulele Jazz Band

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UD#109 So What: Ukulele Jazz Bandfrom Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek NEWS: Today’s lesson: I thought I would share with you one of the tunes that I’ll be teaching at the BC Swing Camp. It’s a song called “So What” by Miles Davis. Have a listen here: One of the really unique things about this song is that the melody is played by the bass. The students that I have taught this song have really enjoyed learning the bass part on the uke. The original key is D minor, but I moved it to C minor for the ukulele arrangement. Have a listen…   …Continue Reading


UD#108 Magical Skipping Ropes: Harmonics

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UD#108 Magical Skipping Ropes: Harmonicsfrom Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek I have written another piece for this week’s lesson. Every part in it is played with natural and artificial harmonics, except for the main melody. Can you hear how the notes in the backing part sound a little unusual, maybe a little more bell like? That’s the sound of harmonics. Have a listen: >TABLATURE for HARMONICS PIECE< NATURAL HARMONICS The easiest way to play a natural harmonic is to place your fretting finger lightly on the midpoint of the string: the exact middle point between the nut and the bridge. If you look at this   …Continue Reading


UD#107 The Great Race to the Melody Note

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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


UD#106 Wipe Out!

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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 Carol

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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 Breath

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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


UD#103 Harmony of One: Chord Melody Backing!

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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….


UD#102 Happy Hands!

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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 Chord

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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

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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