What are the Seasons of the Ukulele? And other FAQs with answers

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Half Uke Half Biscuit
Sep 6, 2020
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What are the Seasons of the Ukulele?

The Seasons of the Ukulele are weekly themed challenges, inviting forum members to post a video of themselves playing the ukulele, and for everyone else to listen, enjoy, and provide feedback and encouragement.

How does it work?

Every week, on Saturday, usually around late morning Hawaiian time, or late evening European time, a volunteer "host" will choose a theme for the week, and post the challenge in the Seasons of the Ukulele forum. Participants are invited to post a song, within rules and constraints set by the host. Everyone is welcome from complete beginner to professional.

Why are they called "Seasons"?

The weekly challenges arose from a 6 week long contest in early 2012, where there were six "seasons", one per week, each season with a different theme announced at the start of the week. People had so much fun with it that they decided to continue. So, in a sense, we are now well beyond the tenth year of a six week long contest, so we must be doing something right :).

These days, it's not a contest, though. Hosts sometimes offer a prize (often with a randomly selected winner) but mostly it's an opportunity to learn a new song - or sometimes, post a song you've been working on for a while that just happens to fit the week's theme - and share it with others in a friendly and encouraging environment. It's an excuse for people to have fun singing and playing songs with their ukulele.

What is a Seasonista?

A Seasonista is anyone who takes part in the Seasons. Post a song, and, welcome, you are a Seasonista!

What sort of themes have there been in the past?

You can see a full list here, but it really could be anything! One week it might be "songs released in 1968", another week it might be, "songs that include words about the weather" and another it might be "play a song that tells a story". Sometimes the theme is very specific ("play a song that mentions cookies"), sometimes it is wide open ("play a song that makes you happy!"). Participants often enjoy learning songs they've never heard by artists they've never heard of, as well as enjoying the opportunity to post songs they've been practising for years. Part of the fun is the variety of challenges week to week.

Is this just for experienced players?

No, anyone can take part. Many people (myself included!) have, in a sense, been learning the ukulele in public by taking part. You don't have to do that though :). Feel free to join in whenever you're ready, whether you've been strumming for a week or picking for decades.

How and where do I post a song?

You will need a YouTube account, and you can follow the instructions here to post.

Why do I have to have a YouTube account? There's so many other services.

A very reasonable question! For all the issues people might have with YouTube, it has emerged as the best compromise. Each week, the host will add the submissions to a YouTube playlist, and it is convenient for the host as well as listeners that all the songs are posted on the same platform.

Furthermore (see below) YouTube is one of very few hosting platforms that explicitly allows posting covers, so that Seasonistas can happily post without infringing any copyright laws.

Can I post covers? Is copyright a problem?

I'm glad you asked, rather than posting without thinking about it! The good news is that YouTube has negotiated arrangements with most music publishers which means that covers are explicitly allowed. When you post your song, YouTube will try to identify it (not always successfully, alas) and, if it does, tell you what your rights are. Almost always, it will tell you that you are allowed to post the song. It may show adverts, but realistically that's how we're able to post our songs for free.

There are some artists that experience suggests you should avoid, however. For example, the Eagles, Supertramp and Michelle Shocked have been known to react badly to people enjoying their music enough to learn to play their songs and post them.

Do I have to post them publically?

YouTube allows you to post a song as "Unlisted" which means that only people with the link can see it, and it's not searchable on YouTube. So, if you don't want comments from internet strangers (rather than the internet friends you'll find here), it's fine to post as Unlisted then link it to the challenge thread.

(Realistically, though, it's probably only Seasonistas who will see it, unless you become famous :))

What about original songs? Can I write something?

Yes, please! Many seasonistas enjoy taking the weekly challenge as a prompt to write a new song, and several have learned and developed their songwriting skills specifically via the Seasons. We'd love to hear your originals!

A host said "Usual rules apply" or something to that effect. What are they?

It typically means:
  • Make sure your video says somewhere that it's for the current season
  • Post as many songs as you like
  • Ukulele must be prominent, but otherwise big productions with other instruments are fine
  • The season runs from Sunday to Sunday (8 full days) Hawaiian time.
I'm nervous, will people be kind?

Everyone is delighted when a new participant arrives, and we're all learning, just at different stages. You can be guaranteed of a warm welcome and encouraging comments.

How do I give feedback on other people's submissions?

Ideally, comments should be left on the YouTube videos, so that the focus of the challenge thread can be on the submissions themselves. This isn't a rule, though, and comments in the challenge thread are fine. Just make sure it's clear which video you're commenting on, and if you post a lot of comments, please consider either batching them in a single post or putting them on the videos themselves And don't forget to be kind and encouraging (see above). People also appreciate a "like" on their post if you've enjoyed their song.

I have an idea for a theme, how do I host?

There is a sign-up thread with full details on how to host and when there are weeks needing a host. Feel free to volunteer! Ideally, you should have taken part in a few seasons first, so that you have a good idea how things work, but more volunteers for hosting are always welcome.

What is this "Thornton Rule" I sometimes hear about?

Sometimes Seasonistas will bend the rules of a theme in order to fit in a song they really want to post, but might not quite work according to the strict rules of the theme. In this case, they might say they're applying the "Thornton Rule", named after a Seasonista who was notorious for doing so. If someone says they're applying it, it is essentially an acknowledgement that they know they are being a little cheeky...
Mod note: As we do with all FAQs here at Ukulele Underground, to keep things tidy, we've closed this thread, and invite your comments, questions, suggestions, etc. at the related thread here: Seasons FAQ comments and suggestions thread.

Many and deep thanks to @jtsteam for all of his effort on this magnificent document!

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