Welcome to Ukulelear

Back in 2005 I brought a Roy Smeck ukulele to school. Kids were intrigued and wanted to try to play it themselves. The sound was pretty cool with just a few simple chords. Within a few weeks kids had bought their own Mahalo ukes and started to really enjoy playing.

Since that first ukulele group the Cal-Mum Uke club has had about forty students join-up every year. It has been a joy to teach in a school that is filled with the plinkety-plunk of the uke music.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Video Christmas song with chords and music

I've been trying to think of a way to get a song with the old "bouncing ball" video so kids could play along and not loose their place. I think I came close by capturing multiple images of a Word document with chords and words. I used the free software of Chordette to create the chords, and some screen capture software to take pictures of the document. Then I dumped them in the correct order into Movie Maker. An hour later... or was it two hours...? Well, here is the song, I Wanna Go To Hawai'i:

Easy to play along :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lesson One: Brother John

Starting back with the Cal-Mum Ukulele Club this last week and decided I needed a practice book with companion videos. I'm not getting as much contact time with the club members, so I'm putting up the videos and searching for those self-starters to help get the uke tunes rolling.

Life is busy, and I have to capture these videos in one take - as you can see.
Oh, also, I switched the blog format back to the original - much easier to edit.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Toyama Celebrates

As a band and instrument instructor he has brought music to countless students at Cal-Mum Elementary School. Now, T. Toyama captures the pure joy of the birth of his grand-dauaghter "Grace" in a musical piece for ukulele that he has aptly entitled "Celebrate".

Toyama recorded the beautiful number on his Kamaka tenor ukulele that was purchased last summer on a trip home to Hawaii. The tenor was added to his Kamaka collection that he started while in 6th grade when his parents purchased a brand new Kamaka soprano for him for $25...

You can follow him on his new YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/tmuse2010

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Carol Anne McGowan's "The Humming Song"

Well, for my taste she has done it again. Carol Anne has created a dreamy uke song that is in the same realm as her earlier song "I'll be Seeing You". This one is called "The Humming Song". I know it wouldn't be a song for everyone, but I watch the video transfixed on the visual imagery as the song lulls me into the past - a nostalgia for a time I never knew and people I've never met.
More of her music is available at: http://carolannemcgowan.bandcamp.com/ 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Buzzo Music - Geneseo, NY

Buzzo (Al Bruno) at Buzzo Music, 106 Main St. Geneseo, NY, is the main supplier for ukuleles for the Cal-Mum Uke Club. He attended SUNY Geneseo from 1967-70 and has operated his music store for over forty years. local people know that Al had a near-death experience on a motorcycle that left him in a coma for nearly two weeks, and that probably changed the course of his life. Prior to this accident he was the greatest wrestler that SUNY Geneseo had ever had and to this day he still holds this honor. (see video of Al below receiving wrestling honor)

Al has put together a great price on a package that includes a Savannah ukulele, Aquila strings, and a Snark clip on tuner, all for the low price of $50.00 if paying with cash or check (add $4.00 if paying by card)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ukulele Spring Concert

Fun final song for the end of elementary school for these wonderful 5th grade uke club kids. These song that have an infectious appeal for students really make practice an easy and enjoyable experience.

Grunge Grows Up - Finds a Uke

Ukulele Songs isn't a novelty record; it's a statement of truth. Made calm and open by the ukulele's intimacy, Vedder sounds like someone getting out of his own way and discovering what really matters within his art. Vedder has taken up one of the most useful creative tools available: limitation. It's embodied in a little finger-strummed thing that the Pearl Jam singer picked up during a beer run in Hawaii nearly 15 years ago, an instrument whose limits he never pushes...
by Ann Powers of NPR Music

Full article and song files at NPR Music:
Link to music at NPR Music 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Martin at Kure Beach, NC

Finally made it to Easter break at Kure Beach. The weather is beautiful after driving through some of the sadness that was caused by the recent storm. I'm taking a break to think about my teaching assignment for next year - third grade. I'll keep teaching ukulele, it just will be to a younger crowd. I put my Martin in the dune for this shot; then a bit of iPhone photo magic. Looks pretty cool there.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Decemberists "January Hymn" Video

I had to go one step further and make the video of the Decemberists' song. This band has very vivid, poetic, and intellectual lyrics in their songs that take the listener on a journey. Whenever a song is copied by someone (me in this instance) it is almost always degraded from its original by any number of degrees. I know that I have, in no possible way added to the beauty of this song, but it is like reciting poetry - it begs to be done. And, so...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Decemberists "January Hymn" Cover

It is still cold here. As I walked out of the school it was late and I captured the sunlight that was no longer offering any amount of warmth. The Decemberist capture the mood in this cover of their song January Hymn that I recorded on my Martin "0".

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mr. Sandman

This is a beautifully made tutorial of the timeless classic "Mr. Sandman". After the kids go to bed I'm going to give it a try...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Such a Nice Guy

The Cal-Mum Ukulele Club was Invited to Penfield High School near Rochester, NY, to watch Jake practice with the orchestra prior to the 41st Jazz Fundraiser. The music was sensational. I had no idea that the orchestra would perform as beautifully as they did. Jake was fantastic to watch and listen to, and the uke club kids stayed back and had their t-shirts signed by one amazingly nice guy...

A review of the performance by a viewer I happen to know is posted here at Ukulele Underground.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fun at UkuZoo

The UkuZoo site has been around for a while and has not been advertised very much as far as I have noticed, but a lot gets by me with so much ukulele stuff going on. I just posted my two vintage ukuleles to Terry's web site because I want them to be part of the ukulele record. I think this site has the potential to become the place to research and enjoy the beauty of the vintage ukulele.

Another cool thing that Terry does is to send out a tweet for every uke that is added to the site. I dropped out of Twitter a while back but just might sign up again to see what happens over at UkuZoo...

On Twitter at: http://twitter.com/UkuZooKeeper
Web Site: http://ukuzoo.com/

Terry's bio from his web pages:

The Keeper of UkuZoo is Terry Tucker. No chops as a musician, no money as a collector, he keeps his hand in the ukulele game by writing about it. UkuZoo is the only ukulele database on the internet! Brought to you by Terry Tucker, in beautiful SouthBay, San Jose.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blue Valentine

I'm trying to get out and see this movie, but life has a way of getting in the way...

You always hurt the ones you love...

Big Muffin Serious Band - pdf music


Great Site with links to a lot of pdf sheet music

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Xtranormal: Just to See if I Could

Well, I thought this might be an interesting way to teach kids how their written dialog might sound when spoken. But, I got suckered into it, and had to make one myself. The only problem comes when you want the xtranormal characters to say odd words like ukulele. I had to play around with the spelling and finally found that "yewkah laylee" sounded pretty good when the electronic voices reproduced the sounds. This is not really all that interesting a video unless you are a kid in my Cal-Mum Uke Club. If you happen to make a xtranormal ukulele video please share it with me - I would love to see it.

This is called: I Need a Ukulele

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Neil Armstrong the Ukulele Player

Without the amazing photographs by journalist Don Blair, the world may never have known that a ukulele was present at the moment these brave men, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin returned to Earth. As a kid growing up in the mid-70s I was part of the generation that had the beauty and fun of the ukulele stolen from us. Had I known of these pictures, I would have had a much different feeling about the little instrument. I am happy to be able to play and enjoy my ukulele today, but I'm a bit saddened to think of the fun I could have had as a kid pretending to be an astronaut with a uke.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Well the new year has come and I find that I'm still in a bit of a panic trying to get New York State curriculum covered while also having time to work with students on their ukulele skills. My skills have fallen by the wayside as the year has progressed and that is a shame.
So, anyway, the song de jure is Hey Soul Sister. It's the kind of song you either love or hate - thank goodness I love this tune or i would be in a bad way. Here are a couple of my students having a go at recording this during their lunch break: