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.
For our 20th consecutive week, we started editing our video recordings to share with the community through Brookline Interactive Group (BiG), which serves Brookline, Boston, and other surrounding areas in Massachusetts. Their Three Chord Thursday playlist contains our videos.
I actively encourage my students to check out Three Chord Thursdays. It’s an opportunity to learn (not just the first five minutes of warm-up when I teach a new chord, chords, strum patterns, or other techniques) and expand one’s repertoire (of songs, skills, and more). Those that volunteer to “perform” a song ultimately will practice for it.
As founder and host, I get to
- research, explore, and learn new songs
- practice, rehearse and perform songs I lead
- observe and learn how participants learn or struggle with (this translates directly into my teaching and curriculum development — to teach music through the ukulele)
- practice in moderating and leading groups
- meet new people (from all over the world, all walks of life)
- receive feedback
- simplify and arrange song sheets that will get used
- develop new working relationships through collaborating with performers (those that volunteer to lead a song, everyone else muted)
- learn to edit videos (this is still time consuming)
As a passive participant (with choice of switching off the video so as not to be seen or recorded), you get to
- listen to the zoom session as background music
- tune in and out
- practice by following the shared screen of song sheet(s) and someone else singing/playing
- participate in the poll and chat
As an active participant (video is switched on), you get to do all of the previous four items plus
- participate in the tagging/relaying (that is, sequential performance)
- unmute yourself during the sunglasses ritual, after a performance, and when requested
- fill out a form to request a song or perform
As a performer (— a result of submitting a request to perform a song for a particular song session and being selected), you get to
- unmute yourself and introduce and perform the song
- select the song sheet — and/or create one or edit/adapt one for use during the session
- choose the key you want to sing and play it in
By far, the most popular theme is location-based songs. I’ll have to schedule part 3 for 2020. Next popular is songs in the 1960’s, the golden era. The idea of a thematic song session started years ago — with solo piano concerts on Maui, thematic chamber music house concerts in Houston, London, Bussum and Utrecht.
It has beeb my dream and goal to start my own ukulele club, which I launched in January 2018. Each week, I’d prepare the downstairs room in the chocolate factory in Boston, bake cookies and cakes, make herbal teas from the Netherlands, France, and England, promote the free get together like crazy in Facebook, Meetup, Boston Calendar, Nextdoor, my websites, and other social media. Somehow, it has been MUCH MUCH EASIER online to reach more people who didn’t get traumatised by the rush hour commute or attempts to find a parking space close to the jam session.