REVIEW: Discovering Fingerstyle Ukulele Songbook by Colin Tribe

Colin Tribe’s new book offers new possibilities for ukulele players who aspire to fingerpick their way through thirty of the most popular songs of all time. These chord melody arrangements show a variety of ways the high G ukulele can be used for instrumental solo or duet (such as chord accompaniment and melodic fingerpicking) . Whether reading notation or tablature, fingerpicking is not for the faint-hearted. The book is well suited for intermediate and advanced players hungry for interesting arrangements that stretch the limits of the high G ukulele.

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REVIEW: Piano Animals (duet) by Heleen Verleur

This 31-page book of four hand piano music is sheer FUN with a capital F. The composer Heleen Verleur knows just what pianists love playing: music that is easy to read, sounds hard to play, but is so much fun that you don’t want to stop until it ends.

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REVIEW: Ukulele Picking Tunes Classical Gems by Paul Mansell

This 40-page book is the latest contribution to the ukulele repertoire by the UK-based ukulele and guitar composer Paul Mansell. Guitarists who play the ukulele are few and far between, for many adult learners pick up the ukulele without knowing the guitar. Yet it takes a guitarist who understands the possibilities of the re-entrant tuned four string instrument to arrange what’s well-known to classical guitarists so that it’s both easy and enjoyable to play on the ukulele.

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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 in June 2021. The second (continuation of the first) started in October 2021 at alternating weeks, until end of December (seven sessions). The third series of 16 consecutive weeks started at the beginning of 2022. The fourth series will start in mid-May 2022 for 8 consecutive weeks. These sessions are highly interactive and custom tailored to the participants, who are encouraged to submit video recordings for feedback.

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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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