REVIEW: Modern Pieces for Ukulele by Paul Mansell

Review of first three pieces from the new book Modern Pieces for Ukulele by Paul Mansell

Paul Mansell, the multi-instrumentalist composer and arranger in England, is publishing new books for the ukulele every year. I had the pleasure of meeting him in person just before the pandemic lockdowns cascaded across the world in Spring 2020. I am a year late in my review and recording of the first three pieces from his book “Modern Pieces for Ukulele,” published in January 2021.

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Group piano class in Zoom

Introducing my group piano class online: Group Piano Class in Zoom. The first series of seven weekly one-hour class started on Thursday June 24, 2021. The second (continuation of the first) started on Wednesday 6th October 2021 at alternating weeks, until end of December (seven sessions) at $179. Highly interactive and custom tailored to the participants.

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Chifuru Noda (3-29-1957 to 12-26-2018)

Chief Noda, as he was affectionately called, would be 64 years old on 29th March 2021. When he brought his Ubass for the Beatles’ Carpool Karaoke jam session on Thursday 12th July 2018, Chifuru Noda certainly wouldn’t have known that he’d not live to see his 64th, 63rd, or 62nd birthday. None of us knew any better at the time.

Join us to celebrate the music he loved so much. See the list of songs from Chief Noda’s Birthday Party Open Mic in Zoom.

When I’m 64 with Chief Noda
While Chief Noda was in the hospice in Milton, members of the Ukulele Union of Boston sang “Hey Chief” in Boston on the Thursday before Christmas (December 2018)

Three Chord Thursdays

Since lockdowns cascaded across Europe and America, I have been hosting an online, interactive song session called “Three Chord Thursdays.” Each Thursday, we ukulele enthusiasts (whether vocalists or instrumentalists) meet for an hour to share songs of a particular theme, category, or era. It’s entirely free to join by registering in advance for the login/password details. Volunteers submit their requests to perform in advance. We aim to fit up to 10 songs for the hour-long session in Zoom.

We welcome everybody everywhere in the world. Restated, that’s anybody anywhere in the world.

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Ode to Joy, a song in the time of corona

Music can soothe, heal, and unite. The song that comes to mind is “Ode to Joy” in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Unlike other symphonies, this one features the human voice. Its power is discussed in the documentary “Following the Ninth” – which I hope to get the link for everyone to watch BEFORE our Sunday global virtual jam session of “Ode to Joy” in its original key. See my blogpost.

When musicians meet, they play together

Today five virtuoso musicians met for the first time. Quartet San Francisco (QSF) was warming up in Gilman Chapel in Cedar Grove Cemetery. They had just driven up from Rhode Island where they were staying for a string workshop and concert at the university in their concert tour of Rhode Island, Boston, Lexington, and Martha’s Vineyard.

Robert Bekkers, who gave the inaugural concert of this new concert series, walked into the church and shook hands with them. He and Jeremy Cohen, founder and leader of QSF, had corresponded by e-mail after my introduction. One member of my ukulele pluck ensemble had told me about QSF, and after watching their videos, I was hooked.

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Review: Melodic Meditations by Daniel Ward

What a delight and a surprise to see the melodic counterpart to Daniel Ward’s first book “Arpeggio Meditations” — six of which serve as accompaniment to the pieces in his new book “Melodic Meditations.”  Like the previous book, each piece is carefully noted and represented in both notation, tablature, chord name (diagram), fingerings for right and left hands.

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Bryan Tolentino workshop and concert in Boston

On a chilly wet spring evening, I fought the drizzle and the descending darkness to get to a church near the bust stop. Jamaica Plain, or JP for short, was dead quiet, save those going into the famous ice cream shop.

I intercepted a young woman in a fluffy pink dress carrying what looked like a ukulele case. Concerned that I might have missed the event entirely, I asked if Bryan Tolentino was still inside. She nodded and pointed at the entrance to the First Baptist Church on Centre Street.

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Short courses for guitar and ukulele

Music education is one of the most expensive investments in time and resource. It requires a serious commitment to reap the benefits of individual music lessons taken over a long period of time (measured in years  not months or weeks). Is there another way to acquire musical skills and knowledge?

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Review: Ukulele Ceilidh by Kevin Carroll

In the run up to St Patrick’s Day, I was looking for songs suitable for our “Fun with Ukulele” jam session at the local library in Dorchester, Massachusetts (part of Boston). St Patrick’s Day is celebrated like any other big holiday such as Christmas and Fourth of July in Boston. Coincidentally, Austin-based Kevin Carroll had just published “Ukulele Ceilidh: 18 Traditional Celtic Tunes arranged for Ukulele Session Playing.” The 67-page spiral-bound book is an amazing resource for the ukulele player.

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