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Ideas & Letters
Feedback from Ukulele Yes! Readers

Hi,

Last November I started a ukulele group in Petaluma, hoping to find people for jamming. Instead, most people who come have never held an instrument, never played any instrument, can't read music, etc. As a result, I turned into a teacher. Now they are happy strummers!

Fortunately, we also have some guys who have played for over 50 years to help me. We meet 3 times a month, and communicate through a Petaluke yahoo group in between times. Several of us play for senior groups and homeless shelters.

As I tell friends, I now know why I was put on this earth: to start a ukulele group. I had a wonderful career, and never realized retirement would be so rewarding.

Clarice
California, U.S.A.

Hi,

When will Ukulele in the Classroom Book 2 be available?

Carole
Québec, Canada

Glad you asked, Carole! Book 2 will be released in January 2009; you can preview some of the content here. -- Ed.

Hi,

I have found that most ukuleles have poor intonation when C6 low G tuning is used, but I can see the advantages of teaching with low 4th string tuning. Do you have recommendations as to ukulele manufacturers, ukulele scale length, and string manufacturers for teachers and students using the Ukulele in the Classroom program?

Jim
Oregon, U.S.A.

Intonation can certainly be an issue on cheaper instruments (with or without the low fourth string).  It's important to get the right gauge of string and to have the nut space properly widened if necessary.  I highly recommend the CL500 "Classic" concert-size uke by Empire Music.  It's less than $40.00USD and, most importantly, they will set them up with the low fourth string at the factory before they ship them.  These folks have been doing this for many years and they are true pros. -- Ed.

Hi,

I am a classroom teacher (1st/2nd) and heard James Hill at the Tucker Farm in Calistoga, California. What a great night of entertainment! At what age do you think this program should start in the schools? Are my students old enough (6/7/8)? I am a beginner also and love it!

Thank you for your time.

Jeanne
California, U.S.A.

Thanks for the kind words, Jeanne. It's generally agreed that grade four is the best time to start (sometimes grade three if you have a 3/4 split). Jamie Thomas addresses these questions and others in his article Mr. T's No-nonsense Guide to Starting a Ukulele Program. Enjoy. -- Ed.

Hey James! 

Okay-you won't believe it!!! All of a sudden, our adults and kids have this "renewed" interest in practising! The adults all want to do open mike at our Xmas party. They are calling Norm and asking him to back them up on solo stuff on bass and guitar.  One of our adults came to the house to show Norm what he had done with a uke, amp and acoustic pick-up.  He wanted to perform it for open mike and felt that he should run it past Norm to see if it sounded okay.

The kids are at home, working up ideas and experimenting with their ukes.  A few even showed up to class with chopsticks and showed us the different sounds that they were trying to make. Way to go!

Elayne
Ontario, Canada

Hi,

My Ukulele in the Classroom materials arrived and my two intermediate uke students (7 years old) have started on it and are very excited.  Thanks for getting them to me so quickly.  

It's funny, those boys like scales alot more than the girls do; I think they want to be Eric Clapton and ROCK OUT.  Its fun watching them tear up the C scale up & down the neck. I have another student, a beginning 6 year old who I started teaching 2 weeks ago and he has already put a video of himself playing on Youtube!  He even composed a song and played it.  I love teaching this instrument! 

Rock on,

Fran
California, U.S.A.

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In This Issue: PRELUDE IDEAS & LETTERS UKULELE REPORTS INTERVIEW FEATURE ARTICLE FREE ARRANGEMENT PEDAGOGY CORNER FROM THE VAULT