The Holiday Season in Melbourne is nearly upon us. It might be beach weather but there’s no shortage of snow related decorations and evergreen pine trees in people’s homes.
While it is summer here, Australians still love to sing and play winter songs on the ukulele. An old favourite is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, probably because it tells a fun story that we all loved to hear as children. It is also easy to play on the ukulele and for those who want a simple version, the following lesson by the talented Elise Ecklund is a good one.
However for those who prefer very silly lyrics you could also substitute the original with the lyrics of Robert the Red Nosed Reindeer by Aussie legends Bucko and Champs of Aussie Jingle Bells fame. It’s probably not suitable for little children so save it till later when the adults need a laugh.
If you want to go down a really controversial path and risk insulting some of your relatives at family celebrations, there’s always Bucko and Champs Completely Useless Gifts to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. But maybe don’t play this if you want to see them again next holiday season.
Whatever you play on your ukulele have a Wonderful Festive Season and a very Happy New Year.
It’s the first day of winter down under and next weekend marks the beginning of the ski season in Victoria. Many snow lovers will be heading to the Ski Resorts to enjoy the slopes. It has already been snowing heavily in the Great Dividing Range with the unique snow gum trees covered in snow.
Whether you enjoy these types of winter sports or prefer the warmth of the fireside, it is fun to celebrate the beginning of winter with some appropriate songs on the ukulele. In the Southern hemisphere this season is separate from the end of year festivities so it is nice to find and listen to songs that are only about the wintertime. Some of these are very beautiful like the following examples.
Firstly, a cover of Fleet FoxesWhite Winter Hymnal by Naomi.
Secondly, Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson’sWinter Song is covered by Katie Goffman and Beth Stafford Laird on ukulele with some lovely harmonies.
Thirdly, an oldie but a fun one to play is Let it Snow. Bosco from Ukulele Cheats shows you how.
While we may not get the severe weather of the Northern Hemisphere, Winter, especially in the Alpine regions of Australia, can be quite cold. Luckily it is easy to warm yourselves with some ukulele songs.
Let’s hope you all stay cosy this winter and can enjoy your ukuleles through the cold months.
It’s been very hot down under with too many bushfires. You can smell the smoke in Melbourne. Time for a cool and calming song.
The following tutorial, given in a picturesque winter setting by Bosco of Ukulele Cheats, demonstrates how to play the beautiful To Love Somebody by the Bee Gees, with lots of playing tips. Love the way he can still play in freezing conditions without his fingers going numb.
Great to see so many members back on board last week. We had a fun session revisiting songs and trying a new one. Looking forward to Tuesday night.
Getting into the rhythm of a strumming pattern is something that challenges many beginners. The following video demonstrates a useful technique using an egg shaker to improve your strumming. A shaker that fits onto one of the fingers of your playing hand would also work.
I also like to use a finger shaker when playing with a group as it adds another dimension to the overall sound. Although don’t overdo this. One or two shakers in a group are enough. You don’t want to sound like a hail storm.
Syncopation is a technique that sounds fantastic on the ukulele and can really enhance your playing style. It is also good when you find instructions for this method that are easy to understand. The following video does this well.
I recently purchased a baritone uke because I wanted one with a deeper sound than my faithful concert ukulele. It’s a great alternative to a tenor ukulele, especially if you have played the guitar. The chords are very similar because the baritone is tuned to DGBE, which is the same as the top 4 strings of a guitar. There is also the advantage of four strings, rather than six, which makes it easier to play for those with RSI or arthritis who may be having problems with left hand fretting on guitar.
Some people are put off from playing this great instrument because it requires different chord shapes from GCEA tuned ukuleles to be in the same key (G chord is C chord shape while D chord is G chord shape). For guitar players this is less of a problem, but it still can be tricky if you a jumping between uke sizes and find yourself playing the wrong chord shape. This can do your head in at times. It does become easier with practice and this type of switching is good for the brain. In the beginning you need to work out the DGBE shapes where a song only gives the GCEA chords. Some songs are easier than others but with practice and a little forethought it will get better. Free Baritone chord charts can easily be found online.
I have played the guitar and I find that some songs just sound richer with the similar tuning of the baritone, particularly songs that I played or wrote on my guitar. Having a baritone in a group gives the overall sound more of a punch. On my instrument the D and G string are wound nickel over nylon, which are very resonant and add a lot of depth to a piece. The other two strings are nylon. I find that when I strum these metal strings with my nails it wears them down so I use a pick. This would not be such a problem for pickers who use the pads of their thumb and fingers or those with synthetic nails.
It is very satisfying to be able to play different sized ukuleles. For me it is the concert and baritone. Others may prefer the soprano and the tenor. If you want to try something different don’t be put off the baritone because the chords seem more difficult. You may have already played these shapes by another name in standard tuning.
Ukulele Mike gave a great explanation of the difference between baritone and GCEA tuned ukuleles with plenty of good advice in the following video.
Here is another baritone ukulele tutorial that packs in a lot of information for both beginners and more experienced players.
For those who want to develop their finger picking on the baritone this lesson takes you through simple to more complex picking patterns with clear instructions.
So give the baritone ukulele a try. Although it is similar to a small guitar, it’s still a ukulele and sounds great when played with other ukes of various sizes.
Bosco from Ukulele Cheats does a lovely rendition of Redbone by Childish Gambino in a beautiful forest setting. It would be wonderful to be able to play in such a location all the time. That is the convenient thing about a small ukulele. You can take it with you when you venture into the great outdoors. There is usually a log or rock to sit on and play while you contemplate nature.
Here’s another great strum to add to your repertoire. Ukulele Zen’s Stuart Fuchs gives a helpful lesson and demonstration of the “Boom Dit-ty” strum. It’s good to be able to put a name to this familiar strum, which can be used in lots of songs.