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Thread: I have 24 ukuleles... Well, sort of... An explanation is in order...

  1. #1

    Default I have 24 ukuleles... Well, sort of... An explanation is in order...

    Greetings from NorCal!

    After lurking here for a year or so, I've decided to join...Coming to you from Santa Rosa and Sonoma, CA.

    I've learned so much from this site in the past, I thought it was time to go all in. I researched here before I bought my first 'real' uke, and ended up with my Kala SSTU Travel Tenor, which I love. I also first heard about Pono ukes here, and so when one turned up used on Craig's List I jumped on it. And I REALLY love my AT-CR! What will I buy next? What would you suggest?

    Here is my ukulele origin story: After becoming a decent bass player but striking out on the guitar, it was time for something new. About a year and a half ago, my local public radio station KCRB was offering a Kala uke as a 'gift' for pledging. I thought "why not?" I picked up my yellow Shark right before Thanksgiving day, 2018, and started in. By Christmas, I was sounding pretty good and I upgrades to a Kala mahogany ply concert. Daily playing and the Rise Up Singing books made it happen.

    Next, I decided to try something: Teach all my students to play. I was teaching 6th grade at the time, and I suggested to all the parents of my students that they all give ukuleles to their kids as holiday gifts. At the same time, I started buying all the <$40 uke's I could find on CL to hedge my bet.

    I worked out great: Most of the parents came through, I loaned out all the ones I had collected, and everybody had one! I know lots of folks on this board like to list all the uke's in their collection. Well... I have 24 kids that all have uke's and all learned how to play. We performed for the entire school at the end of that year, and everyone was blown away by how well we played... It was awesome!

    And here is what happened next: It turns out ukuleles are the gateway drug leading to other stringed instruments! Many of my students moved up to guitars and basses, and last year when we were in seventh grade, bands started forming, and now many in the class are jamming together at every recess! Doubly awesome!

    Lately, I've been messing around with a borrowed Baritone, which brings my back full circle to my guitar days, almost. I can see now that my hands are too small for a guitar neck, but I can fly around the smaller necks of these ukuleles.

    I'm still playing every day and loving every minute of it. Not sure how I'm going to keep the music teaching going, though, what with schools all moving online now... suggestions, anyone?

    Anyhow, it's fun to able to post here after lurking for so long... and...

    Thanks, UU, for keeping these boards alive!

    Bill

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Ma., Ga., Fl.
    Posts
    2,381

    Default

    Welcome (officially) to the club Bill!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    Durham, UK
    Posts
    435

    Default

    Welcome to UU Bill!

    I really enjoyed reading your inspiring story. I think I'll evangelise a bit more too! I've got relatives to convince

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Los Angeles, near the Beverly Center.
    Posts
    5,156

    Default

    Welcome Bill. Great story. After playing guitar for almost 50 years, then joining my seniors uke group about 7 years ago, then a year later taking up the bass uke, I now have 9 ukes and 30 bass ukes/mini bass guitars. A few of us used to go to UCLA Children's Hospital every couple of months and play for the kids, plus give them ukuleles via The Ukulele Kids, where we donate money to buy the ukes.


    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly Grove near the Beverly Center
    9 tenor cutaway ukes, 4 acoustic bass ukes, 12 solid body bass ukes, 14 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 39)

    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
    • Member The CC Strummers: YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    2,494

    Default

    Welcome Bill. Thanks for sharing your story.

    What materials did you use to teach your kids how to play. I ask because I was involved with the Boys and Girls Club and helping to introduce ukuleles to them. I had to stop because I kept getting sick from the interaction in a small classroom. The program continued until COVID shut the club down.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Twin Cities Area, Minnesota
    Posts
    2,384

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kenn2018 View Post
    Welcome Bill. Thanks for sharing your story.

    What materials did you use to teach your kids how to play. I ask because I was involved with the Boys and Girls Club and helping to introduce ukuleles to them. I had to stop because I kept getting sick from the interaction in a small classroom. The program continued until COVID shut the club down.

    Kenn, you are welcome to check out my play along video approach. All the videos are out there free, but I do sell the organization of the videos for a whopping $9 (it gives you access to a folder with Google Slides documents). You can feel free to send me a message if you have any questions.
    My ukulele blog: http://ukestuff.info

    My ukulele YouTube channels:

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Twin Cities Area, Minnesota
    Posts
    2,384

    Default

    Hi Bill,

    Welcome to non-lurking status.

    I'd like to hear more about the teaching and your position (I currently teach elementary music K-5).

    As for a next instrument, i'd say a KoAloha product, maybe an Opio, would be a good bet...it's going to sound like nothing else. But do try one first, because not everyone loves them.

    Chris
    My ukulele blog: http://ukestuff.info

    My ukulele YouTube channels:

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Posts
    358

    Default

    Welcome; and what a nice story!

    Did you work with the school/music program? Or is it just an after-school activity?
    I think it is great to introduce kids to music.

  9. #9

    Default

    You know, I checked out a "How to play ukulele" beginners book from the library in January and we started with Jambalaya and The Lion Sleeps Tonight - just two chords - and we also worked through the chord chart daily. We played every day for a month and then three times a week for a couple more months. We worked on strumming by watching some videos and playing along. By April, everyone was proficient!

    I lean heavily on the "Rise Up Singing" book from Sing Out publications... the newer "Rise Again" is also excellent... 1200 songs in each book! You can't go wrong there... We picked up Three Little Birds, Don't Worry Be Happy and Fishheads from those books... and soon enough the class were bringing in their own songs to learn (Riptide and some Bruno Mars stuff at first) and we were on our way! We were working out While My Guitar Gently Weeps by the end of the year...

    Anyhow, the students were really into it, and it re-energized my in-class music program. They were tired of playing recorders and singing all the time, and so the uke's came in like a breath of fresh air. Since then, about a quarter of the class have moved on to other instruments... A success story!

    Oh yeah: I forgot to mention the most important bit: I started teaching how to tune on Day One. No tuners were permitted at first, ears only. If they got out of tune while practicing at home, I sent them to the Uke Buddy site, and it's tuner app, to get them back to reality. But when you are playing with 25 ukuleles all going at once and you are not all in tune? You'll be wanting to end it all before 5 minutes have gone by...Do yourself a favor: Learn to tune by ear (if you don't know already) and teach the kids to tune... You'll regret it if you don't!

    As for getting sick while being around students: Comes with the territory! I recall being sick for almost my entire first year teaching, one thing after another. Here are a couple of things that help: Airbourne is a product you can buy - super expensive - that helps a bit. I used to gently boil honey with a head of chopped garlic mixed in, cooled it, and then took a spoonful daily. Works well, tastes beyond horrible. Some people put it into tea... but why would anyone want to waste a perfectly good cup of tea that way? Now I take elderberry tincture. Doesn't work quite as well but way easier to take.

    A teacher's immune system appears to build up over time, and I rarely get sick anymore... But the Covid thing? I'm really worried about that as an older teacher. We are not going to start on campus this year... How to continue with our uke playing? I'm just not sure. We'll see how the year evolves, I guess...

    Bill

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    2,494

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by bbkobabe View Post
    You know, I checked out a "How to play ukulele" beginners book from the library in January and we started with Jambalaya and The Lion Sleeps Tonight - just two chords - and we also worked through the chord chart daily. We played every day for a month and then three times a week for a couple more months. We worked on strumming by watching some videos and playing along. By April, everyone was proficient!

    I lean heavily on the "Rise Up Singing" book from Sing Out publications... the newer "Rise Again" is also excellent... 1200 songs in each book! You can't go wrong there... We picked up Three Little Birds, Don't Worry Be Happy and Fishheads from those books... and soon enough the class were bringing in their own songs to learn (Riptide and some Bruno Mars stuff at first) and we were on our way! We were working out While My Guitar Gently Weeps by the end of the year...

    Anyhow, the students were really into it, and it re-energized my in-class music program. They were tired of playing recorders and singing all the time, and so the uke's came in like a breath of fresh air. Since then, about a quarter of the class have moved on to other instruments... A success story!

    Oh yeah: I forgot to mention the most important bit: I started teaching how to tune on Day One. No tuners were permitted at first, ears only. If they got out of tune while practicing at home, I sent them to the Uke Buddy site, and it's tuner app, to get them back to reality. But when you are playing with 25 ukuleles all going at once and you are not all in tune? You'll be wanting to end it all before 5 minutes have gone by...Do yourself a favor: Learn to tune by ear (if you don't know already) and teach the kids to tune... You'll regret it if you don't!

    As for getting sick while being around students: Comes with the territory! I recall being sick for almost my entire first year teaching, one thing after another. Here are a couple of things that help: Airbourne is a product you can buy - super expensive - that helps a bit. I used to gently boil honey with a head of chopped garlic mixed in, cooled it, and then took a spoonful daily. Works well, tastes beyond horrible. Some people put it into tea... but why would anyone want to waste a perfectly good cup of tea that way? Now I take elderberry tincture. Doesn't work quite as well but way easier to take.

    A teacher's immune system appears to build up over time, and I rarely get sick anymore... But the Covid thing? I'm really worried about that as an older teacher. We are not going to start on campus this year... How to continue with our uke playing? I'm just not sure. We'll see how the year evolves, I guess...

    Bill
    I hope there is a rational, and effective way to teach in person. Alas, I don't know what it could even be.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

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