Friday, April 12, 2019

The Ukulele Lesson

My knitting and crochet friend, Suzette, expressed an interest in learning to play the ukulele. In the past, she took 5-string banjo lessons and worked up a considerable repertoire, so I knew she'd be easier than most to teach.  I've never taught anyone how to play a musical instrument, but I have taught knitting and crochet.  I've taken enough lessons in my life, that's for sure! There have been music lessons, painting lessons, knitting and crochet lessons, sewing lessons, cooking lessons. I know when a teacher gets through to me, so I thought that I could teach Suzette the basics of beginning ukulele.
Naturally, I suggested that Suzette take the upcoming beginners class from my ukulele teacher, Cali Rose, at Boulevard Music in Culver City. Suzette lives in Silver Lake. It's a long trek in L.A. traffic between those two points. Maybe, eventually, she'll want to make the trip to Culver City for Cali's Beginners PLUS class.

Suzette came over to my house this past Tuesday afternoon at 1, bearing gifts! Really, she didn't have to give me anything to teach her the basics, but I accepted her offerings: Fresh baked bread from her husband, Mark's bakery, a set of ukulele strings and Jason Arimoto's CD of ukulele tunes.  Jason Arimoto is an excellent musician and ukulele teacher. He is one of the proprietors of U-Space, a ukulele-centric store in Little Tokyo. 
Yummy home-baked rye bread
U-Space Gift Bonanza!

I'd offered to loan Suze one of my ukuleles to see if she was really interested. We started her lesson with my Ohana Concert-size ukulele. It has an extra long neck and a really mellow, rich sound. It's probably my favorite sounding ukulele. We learned the parts of the ukulele, how to tune the uke (George Clooney Eats Arugula) for the standard GCEA tuning. We learned how to hold the ukulele and we learned a basic downward strum. No chords yet. We also learned some strength and warm-up exercises.

Suzette is a quick learner. Soon we learned the "F" chord and the C7. With just these two chords, you can play a multitude of songs! We strummed and sang a few, then I threw in another strum! The "down-up" strum. We played and sang some more songs. Suzette was great! Larry walked in and took a few photos of us. He is always amazed when someone can play an instrument and sing at the same time! Hah!
I switched from my ukulele to the banjolele just to give Suzette an idea of how it sounded, since she previously played 5-string banjo. I really like my banjolele, but if you're playing with a group, you definitely have to be sure of what you're playing, because the banjolele is louder than a standard ukulele. If you play the wrong note, chord or strum crazily, everyone is going to hear it! I played a few tunes for Suzette that we're playing in Ukulele Workshop right now....jazzy tunes.

THEN, I had Suzette try my Kamoa soprano ukulele. Suzette has small hands. She was fine with the concert-sized uke, but I thought she just may be more comfortable with the soprano. Suzette took to the soprano even better and was strumming and playing songs beautifully.
I LOVE my little Kamoa Pineapple Soprano Ukulele! I bought it at U-Space from Jason Arimoto!
Suzette is a natural. It won't be long before she adds to her chord and strumming library. You may see her on a corner in Silver Lake with a tip-jar at her feet, busking for cocktails!
Suzette, on her way to the next gig!

Next lesson, we'll talk about I, IV, V chord progression and work on the Island Strum! I get a real sense of satisfaction from teaching something new to an enthusiastic student! Thanks for the opportunity, Suze!

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