Category Archives: Avoiding Injury

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#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#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#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