A Change of Scene and Theme

Originally, for the May newsletter, I wrote an item about baritone ukes, inspired by two very brave baritone beginners who attended February’s Ukulele Bootcamp. No … John, Julie and I don’t play baritone, and we’d never had baritone players sign-up for Bootcamp before. So it was a little bit daunting. However, our baritone beginners soldiered on using their own baritone chord charts to adapt the materials as we taught. Their enthusiasm and persistence inspired me to investigate the advantages of baritone uke.

However … you’ll have to wait until June to learn more.

Why defer the item?

There’s a new more urgent topic — Ukelation!

There’s currently an explosion of ukelation in isolation in online communities, and according to Paul Morris of Morris Brothers Music Store, in-store and online ukulele sales are up in music stores across Australia.

In response to our President, David’s suggestion that members reach out to members during the pandemic,  John and I began phoning some of our long-term members. We chose members who are in the high risk category because of their age, and we asked what they’re doing to replace attending jams. Their enthusiastic responses surprised and delighted us.

One member, Loretta de Leede, was very enthusiastic about a new hobby. Like many of our members, Loretta is a music enthusiast, and now a multi-instrumentalist. Determined to improve her keyboard and piano skills, Loretta took to YouTube, and found gold. Loretta’s now whiling away the COVID-iso hours working her way through keyboard & piano tutorials by Karen Ramirez.   Loretta highly recommends visiting Karen’s YouTube channel to work your way through a wealth of eleven years of tutorials.

But let’s also look at the ukulele isolation options.

Ukelation in Aussie Isolation

With regular jams a COVID impossibility, you could be excused for thinking ukes are gathering dust on the shelf. But you’d be wrong! There’s a COVID explosion of ukelation!

Henk Brent

Elaine & Robert Soothill recommend Hank Brent’s online jams. Perhaps you’re familiar with Henk Brent’s brilliant KaraUkey program. Pre-COVID, Henk hosted Karaukey strumfests at the Fox & Hounds Country Inn at the base of Tamborine Mountain. In COVID-iso, Henk’s moved his strumfests online. I contacted Henk and asked if he minded if we joined his closed Facebook group to attend his next jam. Henk’s response was ‘the more the merrier’. Thank you Henk! The strumfest was fantastic. So if you’re at a loose end on a Saturday afternoon, apply to join Henk’s Facebook Strummers.

NUMB BUMS, Len Farina and Lesley Allen are also members of the Sunshine Coast Ukulele Masters (SCUM). They regularly attend SCUM and NUMB BUMS sessions run through ZOOM.

BUMS member, Vic Kena is back in business, offering online individual and group lessons and fabulous first lesson free and family discount offers.

Now that distance is no object, further afield, Stukulele (Stu Eadie) from Uke Mullum (Mullumbimby) is also offering online lessons and online jams. Check out the recording of Stu’s first online jam on the Uke Mullum website.

Covid Collaboration

If you’re willing to weather the time differences (or view the recordings), there’s a wealth of ukelation activities offered by some of our overseas friends.

Manitoba Hal (Brolund) demonstrates that musical collaboration is possible in isolation and across great distances. He’s published a new uplifting song about COVID times. ‘Love, Love Shining Through‘ was written in collaboration with colleagues as part of the Little Acorn Songwriting Challenges group with inspiration from Nicole Colbeck. The musicians who joined Hal in this collaboration are Kay Oh Clay (keyboards and harmony vocals), Kev Corbett on drums, piano, guitar, and tambourine, Riikka Pennanen with harmony vocals, Glen K Amo on harmonica and harmony vocals and John Bowman on guitar. The result is amazing.


And for a little fun, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain’s contribution to ukelation in isolation is their rendition of The Model from their bathrooms.

Other Overseas Ukelation Activities

Craig Chee & Sarah Maisel boosted ukulele spirits across the globe, and promoted other artists through their first ever online ukulele festival. You can view the archived version of the ‘not-so-mini uke fest’ on YouTube. But wait … there’s more … UkeFest # 2 will be held on 2 May 2020, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm Pacific Time. More details can be found on Craig and Sarah’s minifest website. Thanks Jim Bills for letting us know about the event, and Liz Crunkhorn for recommending May’s minifest.

Teaching artist and Ukulele Zen touring musician, Stuart Fuchs, offers free online tutorials. If you’re into meditation (or even if you’re not), Stuart’s unique approach might be for you. His tutorials include Ukulele Zen techniques to help you deepen your musical awareness. Follow Stuart on Facebook, or try this YouTube tutorial, Learn to Play “Three Little Birds” | Livestream Lesson | Global Ukulele Meditation
The tutorial works on two songs, “Three Little Birds” & “Keep on the Sunny Side”. Links to the songsheets are provided below the video.

On his Play Ukulele by Ear website, Jim D’Ville offers free tutorials and popup uke sessions.

Cynthia Lin issued a Facebook challenge! Although it officially began on 7 April, you can still start today. As part of The 100 Day Project, Cynthia launched 100 Days of Ukulele Songs 2020! Visit Cynthia’s Patreon site to find out more. Or, you can view Cynthia’s contributions on her Facebook site.

Ukulele Russ & His One Man Frontier Band launched a Fake News Radio show. If you enjoy a truly whacky sense of humour visit Russ’ Facebook site and check out his series
RUSS-TV Alaska’s Fake News Report.

BUMS Ukelation

Not to be outdone, BUMS launched their own ukelation activities for members in isolation. The management committee carefully explored the technicalities of online options and investigated the legal aspects. The result is a plan that ensures the best results for members while observing music copyright.

The phrase, Do Little Things with Great Love, typifies the ukulele movement, and reminds me of our media magician, Jo Kunde. As BUMS Inc Media Manager, Jo pays attention to the little things with such infinite care and enthusiasm, that the bigger things are a masterpiece of her energy and passion. Together with Andrew Hunt, the rest of the management committee, and our regular jam and set leaders, Jo has brought you BUMS Online — a closed Facebook group for BUMS Inc members. To become a member, go to the Extraordinary Membership for Extraordinary Times web post.

But BUMS Online is more than a jam venue. Members are posting open mics, playalongs and mini tutorials. To find out how to video your ukulele tutorial or open mic, read Jo’s advice on the Video Tips for BUMS Online web post.

Take advantage of one or all of the opportunities on offer. And … if you know of more, please let us know by posting your ideas in BUMS Online.

Then … create your own bit of magic to add to ukelation in isolation!