Review: Ukulele School by Paul Mansell

The ukulele literature for children is entirely different from that for adults. A picture paints a thousand words. Children’s books have color and pictures. Big fonts. Pictures. Fewer words, Shorter words. Shorter sentences. Landscape orientation. Easier on the eye.

Such is the new book by Northampton-based Paul Mansell, whose youtube clips show his versatility on the ukulele and guitar. His latest book demonstrates his insight as a ukulele teacher.

Continue reading “Review: Ukulele School by Paul Mansell”

Review: How to Play Ukulele, a complete guide for beginners

Hot off the press, Dan “Cool Hand Uke” Scanlan’s new book, lightweight paperback and nicely designed, is full of tips and advice gleaned from the author’s sixty years of playing and teaching the ukulele. In that time period, the author has undoubtedly encountered all sorts of questions, for playing an instrument isn’t just about playing. Adults like to ask questions. It takes an experienced teacher to explain the answers without taxing the brain and intimidating the beginner.

Continue reading “Review: How to Play Ukulele, a complete guide for beginners”

Ukulele: Beginner Basics

a.k.a. Ukulele Basics for Beginners

Announcing the first beginning ukulele workshop for the general public.
Where: Boston, Massachusetts — near the Milton T (red-line) station in Historic Lower Mills.
When: Wed 7th Feb 2018 at 7 pm. Please register to get a seat!

Continue reading “Ukulele: Beginner Basics”

Music for Halloween

When we think of Halloween, we think of music of horror movies. Saint-Saens’ Danse Macabre and Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King come to mind. But there are others suitable for beginning piano students.

After posting the re-writing of the first section of the Mountain King piano piece for beginners on my blog, I became curious about other suitable tunes for this spooky occasion.

Halloween conjures up night time, darkness, horror movies, scary things, costumes, and kids that go trick or treating.

In the classical music world, we think of Saint-Saens’ “Danse Macabre” (Dance of Death). This would make a very engaging lecture recital, with audio and visuals.

The Twilight Saga is about vampires and a love story. In Breaking Dawn, there are two songs that are hardly music for Halloween. After testing the arrangement I made in C major for nearly a year, I will soon upload “A Thousand Years” on my own website, two versions: very beginner’s level and a next level one; together with a piano duo version.  Note: since the first time I checked, there is now a proliferation of youtube tutorials on how to play this sticky love song.

Bella’s Lullaby is also a lovely tune from Breaking Dawn, but I have not yet looked into rewriting it for my beginning piano students, simply because there has not been a request.

Harry Potter is about wizards, hence appropriate for Halloween. Hedwig’s Theme is easily adaptable for beginners.

One of my friends from high school reminded me not to forget Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells,” a minimalistic work that became very popular while we lived on Okinawa. The work was created BEFORE the movie “The Exorcist” which made it famous. After the movie, we’d associate Tubular Bells with the movie and not the instrument. How interesting!