Thanks Geoff for your review of the Stukulele Sweet ‘Caroline Ukulele’ Workshop on Saturday 4 January, which kicked off the BUMS Inc events for 2020.
Hi … Grab a glass of that wine that you were given as a Christmas present, take a comfy seat, and relax while I tell you my story about Stu’s Workshop …
The workshop got off to a disastrous start – at least as far as I was concerned, because just as Stu started, my meal buzzer went off to tell me my chips were ready downstairs. I decided to quickly race down and pick them up. I returned to find my mobile phone, which I’d left on the table, had decided to switch on and play music in my absence. How embarrassing.
The workshop was built around Neil Diamond’s classic ‘Sweet Caroline’. Stu prepared eight different arrangements of the song including 1. lyrics and chords, 2. mid part, 3. low part, 4. High part 5. rhythm part, 6. Melody, 7. tenor part, and 6. bass part. We started by singing and strumming the song. Then Stu got to choose a part we would play and broke us up so that people playing the same part sat more-or-less together. He then focused his instruction to each group of players in turn, with their respective parts. I confess to having my doubts about whether it was going to work, given the number of different parts and the variable skill level we possessed. If it had been me on stage, I would have been tempted to suggest we forget the music and go and have a beer instead.
But Stu persevered. To start with the low G ukuleles provided the underlying rhythm, and the other groups slowly joined in. I was impressed with how the arrangement catered for new starters, but also provided challenges for more experienced players. And bit by bit, the arrangement started to come together. Stu’s partner, Amber, sang the melody. By the end, we were able to speed it up a little, and the rough edges were disappearing.
Something marvellous that Stu did was to demonstrate a musical concept when it arose. For example, he explained that the melodic notes that each group was playing, when combined, formed the chords of the music. He also taught everyone the chuck (or muting) strum, the optimal part of the ukulele neck on which to strum, and how to do a blues shuffle.
This was the first time Stu ran this workshop. He commented that ideally people need to practise their parts beforehand, so that the coming together is more of a performance after practice, rather than a learning exercise itself. I agree with him. I wished I had done that. We wondered if it would be possible for Stu to return for a second workshop so that we could all perfect the song. Whilst this isn’t manageable this time, Stu is considering changing how this style of workshop is set up.
I rated the whole experience highly, and would definitely come again to an event run by Stu.
The second part of the evening was a jam. Stu and Amber’s daughter, Rosie, together with our own inimitable Cath McCourt on bass, joined in. Everyone joined in with enthusiasm playing new and familiar songs.
“Such a fun night. Thank you to Stu & ladies and Jo” Lori K via Facebook
Stu prepared downloads, tabs, and song sheets along with video of the individual parts so participants could prepare for the workshop but also practise afterwards. You can find them all here on the Uke Mellum website https://www.ukemullum.com/sweet-caroline-workshop/
Stu Eadie (Stukulele) is a James Hill Certified Level 3 Teacher. He teaches private and group classes for ukulele in and around Mullumbimby, leads Uke Mellum and the popular Uke Night monthly at the Ballina RSL Club.