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Ideas & Letters
Feedback from Ukulele Yes! Readers

Hi,

I told them we were going to be learning ukuleles next term ... It was literally the first time I saw smiles from a few of the more challenging kids!

Is there a website or resource that could teach me how to properly re-string the ukuleles?  I do play guitar and have changed the strings a few times so I imagine that it might be similar but I have never had the opportunity to try it out on the ukulele before.  Do you have any tips?  Our school just managed to find a bunch of ukuleles to borrow from another school who is no longer using them but they have a high G string and I would like to replace them with the low ones. 

Also, most students are going to be keeping their ukuleles at home and practicing on the school ones during music class.  Do you have any recommendations of how I can advise the students/parents to tune their instruments at home?  I am thinking of sending home an info sheet with the ukuleles when they go home and including some basic tuning tips and the website address of an online ukulele tuner that at least will play the proper pitches for the strings.  If you have any additional suggestions I can give to students/parents I'd love to hear them. 

Thanks again for your help.  I can't tell you how excited all of the music classes were when I told them we were going to be learning ukuleles next term! This was literally the first time I saw smiles from a few of the more challenging kids!

Lauren
Ontario, Canada

Hi Lauren,

Check out the following online ukulele tuners:

Ukulele Chordfinder
Get-tuned.com

Changing a ukulele from high- to low-4th tuning is a simple, reversible procedure. Remove the old string and replace it with a thicker one; for low-g use a metal-wound string with a thickness between 0.026" and 0.030" (for those using low-a tuning, either nylon or metal-wound strings can be used). The only thing you may have to do is widen the slot in the nut using a small file to allow the thicker string to pass through.

Finally, have a look at this letter that Jamie Thomas sends home with his beginning students. Use it as a template and edit for your own use. -- Ed.

Hi,

I've been a musician all my life but took up the uke only about a year ago.  My wife had long bemoaned the fact that the man she fell in love with (me) in the 80's used to be a musician, and that I became a business guy since.  I hadn't really touched an instrument much in years.  Last February we were on Kauai and while shopping around, we came upon a Ukulele store.  My wife pointed to it and said: "why don't you go inside?"  I said "well, ok."   Once inside she looked at me and said: "Why don't you try one?".  I said "ok".   After a bit she said "why don't you buy one?".  I said "ok".   She led me to it, and knew what she was doing apparently, as the guy she married, is back.  In the sense that our house is once again filled with music - as I'm playing the ukulele every evening - haven't been able to stop since I bought the first one.  

Thanks,

Keith
California, U. S. A.

Hi,

When I listen to [the Ukulele in the Classroom] recordings I often wonder what you are doing with your right hand.  Particularly when you do stops or muting, I am not very good at that.  I often play the rhythm part while my students sing or do the uke 1 and 2 parts. I would like to play it the way you do but it can be hard to get exactly the same.  I'm guessing you layer several tracks of yourself playing something so maybe it's not possible for one person to copy anyway. Any tips or video of you playing some of these songs would be greatly appreciated.  I can't wait until book 3 is out, is there a date set for that yet?

Fran
California, U. S. A.

Hi Fran,

Most of the Ukulele in the Classroom CD tracks are layered: strum, Uke I, Uke II each on separate tracks. The solo arrangements included at the end of each CD, however, are played all at once. These are included to inspire students to reach beyond the techniques and repertoire taught at each level. Book 3 is set for release in late Spring 2010. -- Ed.

Please send us your questions and comments from the contact page.

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