Guitar meets piano; guitar orchestra & ukulele club

When musicians meet, they want to play together. They exchange recordings of themselves. Playing together is a way to establish whether they are compatible, whether they want to collaborate, whether there is a future together.

Such was the case when I met a classical guitarist more than seventeen years ago. He copied a recording of his guitar quartet on CD as a takeaway gift.

The next time we met, I brought the only piano guitar piece I owned — an arrangement of Vivaldi’s guitar concerto for guitar and piano. Eager to find more pieces to play, I visited music bookshops in my travel as magazine editor. He arranged music for us to play. Before long, we had collected and arranged enough sheet music to give a concert. Soon composers started writing for our piano guitar duo.

The subtitle of our first concert at the Makawao Union Church in Maui, in December 2007, was “four centuries of music for piano and guitar” —- which comprised of arrangements, original compositions, and commissions. We released the live recording of the concert as a CD in January 2011.

Nearly two decades later, the guitarist is conductor of a guitar orchestra while I have founded my own ukulele group. How do we combine the two? Is it possible?

Continue reading “Guitar meets piano; guitar orchestra & ukulele club”

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Ukulele repertoire: song selection for ukulele groups and clubs

How do ukulele groups approach the task of song selection to serve the dual purpose
of attracting and retaining members and audiences? This question addresses both repertoire development and concert programming.

  1. Members are those who attend the meet-ups to play ukuleles and/or sing along
  2. Audiences are those who attend the performances, and may sing along from where they sit or stand but don’t play with the group

Does the responsibility for choosing songs, finding, creating, or altering existing song sheets, making them available online or in print, as links, individual song sheets, compiled songbook, etc rest on one individual such as the leader?  Does an official “gig book” or “song book” exist for the group, from which participants call out their choice of song? Or does a new songbook or song list get compiled for each gathering? Alternatively, do participants bring copies of the song sheet of their own choosing to distribute to others?

Continue reading “Ukulele repertoire: song selection for ukulele groups and clubs”

Hey Jude on ukulele

As usual in our jam sessions, we get bolder and bolder the later it gets. By 9 pm, the ten chords in “Hey Jude” don’t look formidable anymore. How can we sing “Let It Be” and exclude “Hey Jude” the last number in the Beatles Carpool Karaoke? Besides, Paul McCarney sings it in the same key as the song sheet from San Jose Ukulele Club.

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City of Stars from La La Land

I watched “La La Land” with my high school classmate June and two of her children, one of whom delighted in figuring out the songs on the keyboard — by ear.

The tunes from the movie La La Land are catchy and sticky. I daresay all songs are played on the piano, and as such pianists everywhere will feel emboldened to figure out the notes. I am positively sure that one of the songs will get an Oscar. [Feb 27: in fact, this song did win the 2017 Oscar for best song from a movie!] Continue reading “City of Stars from La La Land”

Flowers for your heart: Subete no Hito no Kokoro ni Hana O (すべての人の心に花を)

From BEGIN’s Hana to Kina’s Hana, Anne Ku is on a quest for nostalgic songs of Okinawa.

No sooner than finding sheet music to BEGIN’s Hana, my retired Japanese language professor friend in California introduced an even more nostalgic song from Okinawa. It’s also called Hana. The composer is Kina Shoukichi (喜納昌吉).

Continue reading “Flowers for your heart: Subete no Hito no Kokoro ni Hana O (すべての人の心に花を)”

Theme from the Titanic for Easy Piano and Flute

James Horner’s sudden death rocked the film music industry. Fans of the Titanic theme have arranged it easy versions for piano solo and other instruments, too.

Alex (piano) and Jason (flute). N. Virginia, June 1999.

The sudden news of the fatal plane crash of James Horner is rippling through the music and film industries. James R. Horner was a prolific composer of music for film.

As I discover piano transcriptions (also known as piano covers) of his music online, I am reminded that I, too, was once an obsessive fan.

I listened to the love theme from the Titanic over and over again until I configured an arrangement for flute and piano for my friends’ young sons in Northern Virginia in June 1999. Continue reading “Theme from the Titanic for Easy Piano and Flute”

Crowd funding: get the music to my orchestra

The title “get the music to my orchestra” begs for attention. The orchestra produces music how does one get the music to the orchestra? Read about crowd funding that’s needed to get the scores to the orchestra.

An orchestra produces music. Why would you need to get music to the orchestra?

The title of Robert Bekkers’ crowd funding project begs attention. He needs to raise enough funds to rent the sheet music of the blind composer Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” or the “Aranjuez Guitar Concerto” so that the musicians can read from the score and perform it for his Doctorate of Musical Arts recital at the New England Conservatory (NEC) in Boston on Sunday May 11th, 2014.

Continue reading “Crowd funding: get the music to my orchestra”