Category Archives: How to practice

UD#100 Uke Bar-o-Phobia

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UD#100 Uke Bar-o-phobia!from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek One week only SPRING SALE  25% OFF CHORD MELODY BOOK for UKULELE and more…   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   …Continue Reading


UD#98 The Tale of Billy the Gap Hunter

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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!

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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#95 Confessions of a Uke-by-Ear Zealot…

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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


UD#94 Send a Song!

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UD#94 Send a Songfrom Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek Moving to Zoom… When the pandemic hit, I pictured myself shutting down the teaching studio and being forced to find some other way to make a living. I am so grateful that I have been able to continue teaching online. I’ve been surprised at how well it works. In fact, for practically all of my students, this period has brought significant growth.  There is, however, one serious drawback to online lessons: I can’t play with my students. This is because of the delay or latency in the system. What   …Continue Reading


UD#91 The Joy of the Lonely Round

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UD#91 The Joy of the Lonely Roundfrom Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   Row Row Row Your Boat Gently Down the Stream Merrily Merrily Merrily Merrily Life is but a dream   Way back in UD#32 and UD#43 I shared with you two of my favourite rounds, Jubilate Deo and Donna Nobis Pacem. Rounds are great fun to play or sing in groups. It’s exciting to hear the harmony that is created by the melodies entering at different points. Generally, you need at least two groups to do a round. Each group plays or sings the same tune   …Continue Reading


UD#90 A High-Tech Uke Tip

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UD#90 A High-Tech Uke Tip from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek You Use Your Tuner for What? I was working with a student the other day, and I noticed that she kept glancing at her tuner during the lesson. I asked her what she was doing. She said, “I am trying to see what notes I am playing.” Interesting! I had never thought of using a tuner that way. Your tuner can tell you the name of any note you are playing, anywhere on the neck of the uke. Using your tuner this way can help you learn   …Continue Reading


UD#87 Build It, Then You’ll Know

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UD#87 Build It, Then You’ll Know from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek “THAT’S JUST LAZINESS!” I was very resistant to learning music theory when I was in my teens.  I thought that my time would be better spent learning to play my guitar. Besides, so many great players didn’t know theory.  I remember trying to make this case to one of my music teachers, and he said, “THAT’S JUST LAZINESS!” So much for getting him to buy in. My anti-theory stance continued until I went to music school, and I became very afraid of flunking. I spent hours   …Continue Reading


UD#86 Recording!

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UD#86 Recording! from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   “Wow, it sounds a lot better than I expected!”   This was the pleased reaction of one of my students. We were getting ready for an upcoming student recital and she, like many of my students, had made a recording of her pieces as a final run through. She was pleased with the result. When I suggested making the recordings she, and many of the students, had been quite reluctant.   “Why record? Isn’t it better to not know how you sound? I hate the sound of my own   …Continue Reading


UD#85 Playing Fast Notes on a Uke!

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UD#85 Playing Fast Notes on a Uke! from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek The Riddle: How can you play two or three notes in a row, but only pick the string once? Answer to follow! Now for today’s lesson. BLUES RIFF! (A riff is a short musical phrase or pattern that can be played repeatedly.) To warm up, please play this simple blues riff. Play it a few times so you get comfortable with it. It has the same notes as the opening riff to “Layla” by Eric Clapton. You can click the tablature to listen to how   …Continue Reading


UD#84 The Ultimate Ukulele Scale

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  UD#84 The Ultimate Scale Practice (Use all your fingers) from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   Do you have reluctant pinkyitus? It’s common among guitar and ukulele players. I am recovering from it myself. When I was just starting out, I only used my first three fingers on my left hand. My pinky felt weak and unreliable, so I avoided using it. I was encouraged when I learned that Django Reinhardt, one of the greatest Jazz guitarists of all time, played with only two functioning fingers. But, then, eventually, I came around to this thought, “Well, if   …Continue Reading


UD#79 You are an Instant Guitar Player

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UD#78 You Are and Instant Guitar Player from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek   I remember when I first picked up a ukulele. It was exciting because as a guitar player, I seemed to be instantly able to play a uke. I didn’t know the names of the chords and notes that I was playing, but all the shapes and patterns that I knew from playing guitar were instantly transferable to the ukulele. Why is this?   Why do guitar players seem to be able to play ukulele instantly? The answer is that the first four strings of   …Continue Reading


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