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ukulele to replace recorder

The Sandman 08 Jul 09 - 08:38 AM
Mr Happy 08 Jul 09 - 08:53 AM
Mr Happy 08 Jul 09 - 08:57 AM
WalkaboutsVerse 08 Jul 09 - 09:08 AM
Acorn4 08 Jul 09 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,leeneia 08 Jul 09 - 09:37 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 08 Jul 09 - 09:37 AM
Jack Campin 08 Jul 09 - 09:42 AM
The Sandman 08 Jul 09 - 10:05 AM
Mr Happy 08 Jul 09 - 10:09 AM
meself 08 Jul 09 - 10:49 AM
The Sandman 08 Jul 09 - 10:59 AM
Darowyn 08 Jul 09 - 11:05 AM
WalkaboutsVerse 08 Jul 09 - 12:59 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 08 Jul 09 - 01:07 PM
Jack Campin 08 Jul 09 - 01:07 PM
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Subject: ukelele to replace recorder
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 08:38 AM

Schools ditch unpopular recorders for trendy George Formby-style ukuleles

By David Wilkes
Last updated at 10:39 PM on 01st July 2009

    * Comments (19)
    * Add to My Stories


For generations their shrill sound has echoed through school corridors.

But now recorders are being replaced by an instrument that is easier on the ears - the ukulele.

Not only do they produce rather less dribble, but they have more 'street cred' with pupils and are simpler to play, according to teachers.

One of the first schools to make the switch is Rood End Primary in Oldbury, West Midlands, where ukuleles were introduced at the start of this academic year.
Pupils at Rood End Primary play their ukuleles beside binned recorders

There's a new instrument in town: Pupils at Rood End Primary in the West Midlands play their ukuleles beside binned recorders

Headmistress Barbara Carter said: 'There is an element of the children liking them because they look like a guitar so they think they're cooler.

'But the main benefit we're finding is that it's far easier to get a fairly instant, pleasing sound from a ukulele than a recorder, especially when they are playing together in a group or along with other instruments.

'The pitch of a standard recorder is incredibly high and if you don't blow it gently enough it can shriek.

'On top of that, you've got to move your fingers about a lot over the holes to pick out notes to play a tune, which can be quite difficult and make the children frustrated.
Banjolele at the ready, George Formby entertains British troops in Normandy in 1944

Inspiration: Banjolele at the ready, George Formby entertains British troops in Normandy in 1944

'With the ukulele, they can see where they have to put their fingers on the fretboard and strum the same chord for a few bars without having to change.

' It means everyone can get involved, and when the children do ukulele performances in assembly everyone can sing along. It's fun, inclusive and brings everyone together.'

The 300-pupil school has bought dozens of ukuleles, costing as little as £12 each. The idea was put forward by a member of staff who plays the ukulele as a hobby.

Fred Pearson, secretary of the Ukulele Society of Great Britain, welcomed the instrument's growing appeal among youngsters.

He said: 'A lot of people will find that it is relatively easy to play. With the recorder it's hard to get to the point where you can play anything impressive.
Enlarge   Stings versus wind, George Formby


'With the ukulele you can get going and get great songs played in just a day.'

The ukulele also has the advantage of allowing you to sing along as you strum.

Bob Whitmarsh, secretary of the Society of Recorder Players, said it would be a shame if the recorder disappeared from schools.

He said: 'There's a lot to be said for it as a first instrument to learn music on. There's a lot of skill and coordination involved in mastering it and it's a marvellous thing to take forward into later life.'

A study by the Institute of Education found the instrument most commonly used by children aged five to 16 at state schools in England and Wales is the violin, followed by the guitar, flute, clarinet, keyboards, trumpet, piano and drums.
what are mudcatters opinions?


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Mr Happy
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 08:53 AM

Wonder how they'll be for Dancing Master tunes??


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Mr Happy
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 08:57 AM

But seriously, I agree that anything which will encourage children, or other learners, to play music, can only be to the good


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 09:08 AM

Hawaiian school kids can learn the ukulele; English the recorder/English flute and, thus, help keep our world nice and multicultural.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Acorn4
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 09:18 AM

I used to do a guitar class at the school I taught at, run as a club, with up to about 15, and the main problem was the tuning. If a teacher has to tune 28 ukeleles before he can start the lesson + the problem of broken strings, they won't get much teaching in. Some would be able to tune their own, but imagine them all trying to do it at the same time.

The advantage of the recorder is that it doesn't need tuning, and it doesn't normally take too long to teach them not to screech. It's also good for teaching sight reading. If a child makes progress you can then advise parents that it will be worth their while to go out and buy an expensive flute or clarinet.

No harm in the ukelele idea but I can see a few pitfalls in this idea.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 09:37 AM

You're right, Acorn4. There are quite a few practical problems involved when switching from recorders to ukeleles.




The ukes have street cred? Are they preparing the kids for life in the streets, then?


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 09:37 AM

In the primary sector in England, I'd be surprised if the recorder is still not the most taught instrumen, but it seems to me that there is hardly any attempt in the English schools' system for carrying on with recorder playing when kids move to secondary school.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 09:42 AM

Ukuleles were pretty popular when I was a kid in New Zealand in the Sixties, but I never met anybody who could play a tune on one. I remember the girl next door telling me in a tone of great self-satisfaction that she'd just learned to play some well-known song of the time, and proceeded to demonstrate - I couldn't recognize it. She'd just learned a chordal strum. (It would have helped if she'd managed to sing in the same key she was strumming in, but she was a Florence Foster Jenkins awaiting discovery).

Obviously there are tunings and techniques that let you play tunes on them, but are there educational methods that get you there, and which teachers can use? Not everybody has the Ukulele Orchestra of GB in residence.

Bad arguments for the recorder:
There's a lot of skill and coordination involved in mastering it

Which is true, but it suggests the cello, sarod, french horn and freebass chromatic accordion would be even better.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 10:05 AM

then there is the Tin Whistle,a wonderful little instrument,and also ausful pea shooter.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Mr Happy
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 10:09 AM

ausful?

Awful, awesome?? 8-)


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: meself
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 10:49 AM

"trendy George Formby-style ukuleles"? "street cred"? Ah, the children of England, so charming and innocent - I can just see the little darlings gathered on streetcorners, strumming their ukeleles, their sweet voices joined in the latest George Formby hit, to the indulgent smiles of passersby ...

Seriously though, folks, there was a trend to move from recorders to ukeleles in Canadian schools starting, I believe, in the late '60s. I don't imagine most of the uke programs survived the neo-con budget-slashing frenzy of the '90s. The main proponent of the ukes-in-the-schools idea was probably the Nova Scotian musician and educator Chalmers Doane, a first rate jazz ukelele player. He produced a body of pertinent educational resources.

The main advantage of recorders is that they are so small and simple - nothing to be replaced or broken, can easily be slipped into a backpack, etc. On the other hand, ukelele probably provides a better preparation for guitar, which - at least, in Canada, but I suspect it's the same throughout the West - seems the first choice instrument of most kids.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 10:59 AM

a useful pea shooter.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Darowyn
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 11:05 AM

George Formby Ukeleles have very little in common sonically with a Hawaiian Uke.
One is a guitar and the other is a banjo- but not in that order.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 12:59 PM

"The ukes have street cred? Are they preparing the kids for life in the streets, then?"...this relates, I feel, to a broader problem in England nowadays whereby people, young and old, are led to believe that the height of culture is being good at some aspect of another culture - a problem which has grown under New (Scottish) Labour, and via the BBC, and suchlike, trying to keep Kingdom plus Commonwealth together, and English nationalism/republicanism down.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 01:07 PM

so what has happenened in mainstream celebrity media culture
that has sparked of this dramatic new teen fad for ukes !!??

.. my 17 year nephew suddenly announed he'd bought one a few months ago;
and now in the last couple weeks while i'm trawling my favourite ebay guitar gear sellers,
I'm seeing a huge wave increase in buyer feedback for ukes
and specialist uke accessories..!!???


..i bought a uke so long ago it was still considered a novelty
to play Clash & Damned songs on it..

now everyones doin it !!!!


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 01:07 PM

So, what other culture was Formby imitating?

What other culture has got anything like the UOoGB?


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 01:12 PM

Formby could have been playing the English cittern - with a feather plectrum, perhaps.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 01:23 PM

I expect[under those circumstances] Formby,would have sung the pheasant pluckers song.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 01:50 PM

Of course, CB,...not sure what bird he'd have had to pluck for his plectrum though..?


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 02:06 PM

What Formby actually chose was something that gave him the tone quality of a banjo (well established in jazz and dance bands by the time he started out) but volume and range better suited to his voice and material.

There never has been a distinctively English kind of cittern, and no form of it has ever been popular in Britain except in the drawing rooms of the elite.

If you think you can do a convincing performance of a Formby song on anything now sold as a "cittern", let's hear it.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Artful Codger
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 02:34 PM

Do they teach them "Fanlight Fanny" and "With My Little Ukulele Under My Arm"? Now that's a school recital I might want to attend.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 02:36 PM

What Formby actually chose was something that gave him the tone quality of a banjo (well established in jazz and dance bands by the time he started out) but volume and range better suited to his voice and material.

A banjolele, in other words - a uke with a banjo drumhead, or a four-string banjo tuned like a uke. Or so I've heard (I don't play anything with strings myself, so I may be burbling).


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Darowyn
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 02:45 PM

That's what it was, Pip. There are also eight string versions, which are Mandolin/Banjo hybrids, and six string Guitar Banjos.
I would have thought that there were very few performers who were more English than George Formby and Gracie Fields. They were far folksier than any mead-drinking, cittern playing revivalist playing part-composed Cecil Sharp-ised rural ditties.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 03:14 PM

Formby played both banjolele and ukulele. I friend of mine who owns a music shop says that the uke has been the cheap instrument of choice for kids for some years now.

And WAV - Formby could have been playing the English cittern - with a feather plectrum, perhaps. - we've all been here before, haven't we? Please don't hijack a perfectly straightforward thread for the usual pseudo-nationalistic gabble.

Anyway, no-one's mentioned Tessie O'Shea yet...

And my favourite Formby songs are "In A Little Wigan Garden" and "Sitting On The Ice In The Ice Rink".

Sitting on the ice in the ice rink,
Sitting on the skates with me skates on.
It's the finest fun I've ever had -
Put it on the ice, it'll never go bad...


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Aeola
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 03:15 PM

Well, I live in Formby and you don't see many young ukes on the streets!!


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 03:33 PM

"ukelele to replace recorder"

I think it's wonderful!

"
Hawaiian school kids can learn the ukulele; English the recorder/English flute and, thus, help keep our world nice and multicultural"

by introducing the the uke to English children worldwide multiculturalism is ensured, and we don't need xenophobia interfering with the proceedings.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 04:14 PM

Formby is on YouTube playing both a Hawaiian-type uke (large size) and his banjolele.

I suppose his musical idiom is a sort of English ragtime - is there a better word for it?


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 04:18 PM

I think Formby was really music-hall - for want of a better word. His first stage act was based on that of his father, George Formby Senior, who was a music-hall star in his own right. He died at a relatively young age, and George Junior took it over - until he found his own voice, as it were.

When you listen to late recordings of George Senior and early recordings of George Junior, the vocal resemblance is amazing.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Acorn4
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 05:24 PM

The ukeleles are too fiddly.

What about replacing the recorders with MELODEONS?


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Acorn4
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 05:25 PM

...oh, and I've heard that Ozzie Osbourne is learning the uke -and he's going to finish each set with a Child Ballad!


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: M.Ted
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 05:30 PM

Darowyn/Dave has hit the nail on the head concerning George Formby, Gracie Fields, and their respective ukuleles--your C# revivalists have my respect, but they have always had my heart.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 05:32 PM

Acorn4: why not have German kids learn the melodeon and English the English flute and/or concertina - thereby keeping our world nice and multicultural?


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 05:44 PM

presumably, not the anglo german concertina,[unless they are German WAV],but whats wrong with the duet concertina is that not an English invention too?.
Sadly most concertinas cost more than 12 sterling,so are beyond the financial budget of schools


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 05:45 PM

"thereby keeping our world nice and multicultural? ?"

*sigh* the world IS multicultural.....

I mean look at me, a North American aboriginal (and yes that is the correct term, we are NOT Indians)playing The English Tradition, on guitar (electric and acoustic) mandolin (ditto), piano and I'm in the process of learning the melodeon. Doesn't get much more multicultural and it's all happening in England doncha know!


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 05:48 PM

oops that was me, cookies disappearing left, right and centre. here....

by the way the world doesn't have to conform the English way...The Empire died along time ago, thank goodness.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: M.Ted
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 06:34 PM

Why not let people play the music they like, on the instruments they like?


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Rowan
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 06:49 PM

At the National (Folk Festival, in Oz) a couple of years ago, Mike Jackson (not to be confused with the late Michael Jackson) arrived with a couple of cartons of ukeleles of various colours; all had a set of four coloured stickers to mark finger positions for three basic chords. Just before his workshop on ukeleles he started selling them for $25 and had a reasonably brisk trade.

Daughter #2, who is a bit of an eisteddfod champion on the recorder, wanted me to buy her one so I did. We went to Mike's workshop and, although I've known (and sung and played with) him for much of the last three decades and was well aware of his abilities with kids' music workshops, I was a bit gobsmacked. Within 10 minutes, he had got around 30 instruments and checked they were all in tune to A440 and, as well had the entire audience strumming chords while singing a song. Over the next half hour they all sang more and more complicated songs requiring up to four chords.

Daughter #2 (now 15) is still a heavyweight on her recorders and daughter #1 (now 18, a bit of an eisteddfod champion on piano and doing her HSC with music as an Extension subject) intends taking the ukelele with her when (if?) she travels during her gap year. She reckons its size (read "portability") and cheapness lend itself to such use, allowing her to keep music and its sociability close at hand with ease.

Radio National has a series "Into the music" which, last week, dealt with the history and current resurgence of ukeleles, and Mike was one of the featured interviewees; the announcer commented (at the end of the program) that the broadcast was dedicated to Mike and Di (his partner) Jackson for their efforts at raising awareness of, and teaching how to play, ukeleles in schools. Unfortunately, the program is not available on podcast.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 07:08 PM

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is performing in a Prom concert at the Albert Hall next month, on 18th August.

One of my work colleagues is married to a music teacher who spent the last Christmas holidays tuning brightly coloured ukuleles for her primary school classes.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Tangledwood
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 07:23 PM

During my primary school years in England (almost 50years ago) recorders were it. I used to be kept in during morning and afternoon breaks to work on my handwriting. That's another story, caused by changing schools where different styles were taught. During those breaks the room was used for recorder practice. The sound of that out of time screeching still haunts me and I cringe whenever somebody produces a recorder at the folk club.

Recently I was chatting with a teacher from a secondary school here in Brisbane which apparently has a well regarded music curriculum. He has a large class learning ukelele but as well as that the students are building their own instruments first, of the "flying V" design.

Traditional or not, some changes in music are welcome!


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 10:36 PM

QUOTE
Bad arguments for the recorder:
There's a lot of skill and coordination involved in mastering it
UNQUOTE

... There's a lot of skill and coordination involved in mastering ANY instrument...

"The Violin, easy to get a sound out of, but difficult to play well"


and so on...


sigh...


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 04:16 AM

"I mean look at me, a North American aboriginal (and yes that is the correct term, we are NOT Indians)playing The English Tradition, on guitar (electric and acoustic) mandolin (ditto), piano and I'm in the process of learning the melodeon. Doesn't get much more multicultural and it's all happening in England doncha know!" (Rifleman)...others are chanting and drumming in traditional ways - check my myspace Top Friends for a start.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 04:18 AM

I started off on the recorder and the ukulele....and look what trouble that's caused :0)


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: M.Ted
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 09:52 AM

Some of those "friends" are dead, WAV--


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: meself
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 11:30 AM

Yikes! I'd better stop drumming and chanting while I still have a chance ...


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: meself
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 11:31 AM

(I have been feeling a little under the weather lately ... )


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: katlaughing
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 11:54 AM

I think it is wonderful! My kids all had recorder and it didn't stick. We've always had ukes in my family and now, my 5.6 year old grandson has one and loves it, esp. because it seems like a kid-sized guitar to him. He can do a couple of chords, but I think I'll add some tape/markers for him to make it easier. I didn't used to believe in using them because of ear training but I think at his age he'd get more enjoyment out of it and he has a good ear already.

If you search youtube, you'll find plenty of young'uns who could grow up to be another Jake Shimabukuro.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 12:04 PM

M. Ted - I accept that myspace Top Friends, as above, are really just web-links.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: M.Ted
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 02:03 PM

That's a bit confusing.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 03:59 PM

Ukes are great, but there's a lot of crap with poor intonation on the market. I would hope any school that's thinking about buying a bunch of them has someone who knows what to look for and reserves the right to reject any that are unsatisfactory. A uke whose strings go noticeably sharp or flat when fretted is not anything to learn music on. It's firewood.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 04:21 PM

"others are chanting and drumming in traditional ways

sorry to wreck your stereotyped image (I lied, I'm not sorry at all)

"- check my myspace Top Friends for a start."

no thanks I want to keep my dinner inside me


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 09 Jul 09 - 04:31 PM

and just maybe I should tell Robbie Robertson to stop playing electric guitar and singing whiteman's music...Robbie for those who don't know is,like me, half and half.Mohawk and white.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 06:16 AM

check my myspace Top Friends for a start.
Some of those "friends" are dead, WAV--

I'd expect most of them to be undead.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Don Firth
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 02:05 PM

I dunno. I've sorted through a lot of relatively inexpensive ukulele's, and generally found that if you want to find one with good intonation, you have to spend a fairly substantial amount of money.

Also, I'm sorry to say so, but just learning to play chords may be part of it, but it's not really "learning music."

####

My great grandparents on my father's side came from Scotland (Orkney, to be precise) and my grandparents on my mother's side came from Sweden. I was born in California, have lived all but my first nine years in Washington State, lived in big cities, grew up listening to pop, classic, and jazz on the radio and got interested in American and British Isles folk songs and ballads while I was in college.

Although I've seen and heard Native American chanting, drumming, and dancing in movies and on television a couple of times, the only time I have ever seen and heard it live was once, and the people doing it were a young non-Native American anthropology professor and his half-Native American wife doing a demonstration at a folk arts festival.

And yet, there is someone on this thread who has told me several times on other threads that I should not be singing the songs I sing. I should be doing "Amerindian chanting and drumming," because, as an American, he tells me, this is my true cultural heritage.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 02:23 PM

obsessive narrow minded 'holier than thou' xenophobes
who constantly insist on preaching 'who you are'
and what your cultural identity
'should be'
are usually complete w@nkers !!!


..and George Formby was a bloody amazing Uke player..


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 04:27 PM

Good to read a post of yours again, Don - it's been a while.

Maybe, as with Aboriginal Australian, much Amerindian music and dance is NOT seen and heard due its sacred nature...?

And, not sure who you're referring to in the last paragraph, but, when pushed, I answered that if I was in America, or Aus., I'd probably be trying to perform rock along the lines of Crowded House, Bon Jovi, sort of thing - rather than indigenous music (which, when it is available, I do like listening to/seeing; and, hence, have presented for others on my myspace profile, above).


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 05:31 PM

I suppose anything is good, as long as the instruments are kept in good condition and there are teachers who know how to teach the children to play them.

When I was in elementary school, there was a music program in which a child could learn to play nearly any orchestral instrument. Children couldn't start on a saxophone, but they could later switch to one if they learned the clarinet first. I don't think piano was part of the curriculum, but _every_ schoolroom had a piano in it.

On the face of it, it sounds great, but there were a few catches. The program had existed for a few years already, and by my time, the instruments were all somewhat worse for wear. I had a cornet, but I didn't stick with it for more than a couple of weeks. I didn't like the (group) instruction at all. The whole program was designed to train children to play in the various musical groups; orchestra, marching band, jazz band, etc. This was also true in high school, where I briefly took oboe lessons.

In junior high school, I played the piano in the "stage band" (junior high kids apparently didn't play "jazz"). I was pretty lousy, in contrast to the boy who had played the year before and had graduated, who was quite good and was already playing the organ in local churches. It all seemed to be centered around contests. Musically, it did nothing for me, except for the unforgettable experience of dying on stage when I was supposed to improvise a solo (something I no more could have done than fly to the moon).

The man, now deceased, who ran the program for the elementary and the junior high schools in my hometown, and put a lot of work into it, was mentioned on the radio here in Germany not too long ago. It was in a jazz program where they interviewed a professional musician who came from my hometown. I suppose he was on tour here. I know that quite a few people from there went on to study music and I suppose a reasonable number have become professional musicians.

In high school, it went more or less according to the same pattern. I wanted to play the oboe, but the oboe they had was cracked and couldn't be repaired, or they didn't want to pay for it. They wanted me to play the bassoon instead, because they already had oboists and wanted bassoonists for the orchestra. However, I wanted to play the oboe and didn't want to play the bassoon. I still feel that way.

I'm sure it was great for some kids, but it wasn't for me. I'm sure a lot of other kids were turned off, too. From both a pedagogical and a musical point of view, I think it was a bad approach.

In Germany, they don't have that. Recorders are very big here. I don't know; I've got mixed feelings about it. It seems a bit monotonous to me to have everyone play the recorder. Same with ukelele, though I like the idea of hordes of British schoolchildren singing "When I'm Cleaning Windows" and "With Me Little Stick of Blackpool Rock".

I've never really liked organized group activities. It seems to me there ought to be a better way of teaching music to children, but I don't have a patent answer, either.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Tangledwood
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 06:31 PM

that if I was in America, or Aus., I'd probably be trying to perform rock along the lines of Crowded House, Bon Jovi, sort of thing - rather than indigenous music

At a recent indigenous music festival here the profiles in the program include the bands influences. Ones that keep appearing are: indie, urban roots, r&b, funk, reggae, soul, jazz fusion.
Yeah, that sounds like Australian indigenous music. :(


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Don Firth
Date: 10 Jul 09 - 07:35 PM

David, I got it from a genuine Native American, a member of one of the Northwest tribes whom I met at a science fiction convention. Other than a certain ruddiness of complexion, I would not have known his ethnic background if he hadn't mentioned it. He was an anthropologist by profession, a fan of science fiction, and an aspiring writer of science fiction. By the way, he had no objection to being referred to as an "Indian." He was amused by the fact that the sobriquet was probably first given by a European (Columbus) who didn't know when he set out where he was going, when he got there he didn't know where he was, and when he got back, he didn't know where he had been.

Anyway, he said that most chanting, dancing, and drumming is considered part of their tribal spiritual or religious ceremonies and they don't like non-Indians doing it when they don't understand it and it is not within its proper ceremonial context. Nor do they like it to be recorded and played outside of that context.

So, out of respect for Native American culture, non-Native Americans should leave it alone.

Besides, as I said, in addition to being an American and the descendant of Scottish and Swedish immigrants, most of the songs I sing are also immigrants. I sing many English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh songs and ballads. I also sing many "American" songs, which were brought over by Europeans settling in America and that varied over time and transmission by "the folk process"—along with songs written here by and about mountaineers, miners, loggers, not to mention courting songs, love songs, et al.

Since this is what many of my friends such as Bob "Deckman" Nelson, Nancy Quensé, Stewart Hendrickson, Reggie Miles, Judy Flenniken, and others also sing, this, to me is "indigenous music."

I hear a lot of music on the radio or television (Bon Jovi, The Tragically Hip, Clint Black, The Metropolitan Opera, The Chicago Symphony, P. D. Q. Bach) that, although I may enjoy listening to it, I do not care to perform it myself.

People make their own culture, which, if it's a living culture,, keeps varying all the time. To insist that people conform to arbitrary cultural norms will surely kill a culture.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Will Fly
Date: 11 Jul 09 - 04:11 AM

Wise words from Don, David.

We've had our to-ing and fro-ing in other threads about your musical philosophy. But, in all the post that you've put up in said threads, I can never recollect one where you comment on the fact that music is there to be enjoyed.

As far as I'm concerned, music flows in through the ears to the heart and, if it's the "right sort" of music - whatever that may be at the time - it strikes a chord, rings a bell, etc. (pick your own cliché...). Music is not a political or philosophical construct - it's an art form that appeals to the senses and, being so, has no boundaries - and is not subject to a cultural hegemony. If it were so, then we'd be back in Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany, or in any other period when the arts were subject to political dictatorship. I can listen with equal enthusiasm to the Dransfield brothers singing "The Rout Of The Blues" and to the Reverend Horton Heat belting out "It goes real fast and it feels real good" in true psychobilly style. And why not?

Tell me: supposing that your vision of England came true, and all schools taught just "English" music on "English" instruments, and that all folk clubs allowed only "English" stuff to be performed in them - how would that make England better? (and what's "English", by the way?). How would that improve the mood of the nation? What's inherently "better" about that state of affairs? Why is it better for me, for example, that I should only listen to the music of English composers when I'm moved beyond measure by Janacek's string quartets, or Japanese koto music?

If you can answer those questions logically, with reason and without recourse to the stuff on your website, then I'd be very interested to listen.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 11 Jul 09 - 08:41 AM

Will: from your post, we both "listen" to and have "enjoyed" diverse music from our multicultural world - and, to keep it that way, school kids should be encouraged to perform/practice their own music, whilst appreciating that of others.

Piers - I understand the recorder in Germany has slightly different holes/fingering...what is it usually called there?...it can't be the German-flute as that's another name for a transverse-flute...is it "block flute"?

"At a recent indigenous music festival here the profiles in the program include the bands influences. Ones that keep appearing are: indie, urban roots, r&b, funk, reggae, soul, jazz fusion.
Yeah, that sounds like Australian indigenous music. :(" (TW)...so what do you call sicks, chants and didgeridoo..."trad. Aboriginal music"?


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Will Fly
Date: 11 Jul 09 - 08:49 AM

No answer, as usual, David. End of conversation. If you can't explain to me why people shouldn't play what they want to for musical, as opposed to ideological reasons - there's no hope for you, cock!


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Jul 09 - 08:59 AM

what David seeks would be possible with the Northumbrian Pipes,but it is only one style of English Traditional music,and is not racially pure,as it has been influenced by Scottish Music [Shock Horror].
personally,I am just glad to see children playing music.
I am not sure whether ukeleles are better than recorders,I can see advantages and disadvantages to both.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 11 Jul 09 - 09:17 AM

Getting back to the ukulele, there are a bunch of reasons why the ukulele is actually a great instrument to teach in schools:

- they are relatively cheap, compared to many other instruments
- they are small and playable by small hands
- they are incredibly versatile instruments, suitable for many styles of music
- you can play rhythm or melody on them
- you can quickly get a group playing together, even if players are at different levels.

Someone above referred to Chalmers Doane's pioneering school programs in the 60's and 70's. Chalmers is now working with uke virtuoso James Hill to revamp the learning materials and start introducing them in the classroom. I just went to a workshop for teachers a few months ago, led by James. I have the first two books in the "Ukulele in the Classroom" series, which is an excellent pedagogy for teaching sight reading, music theory, and playing technique, as well as building up a repertoire of interesting songs.

Here are a couple of links for those who are interested:

James Hill on YouTube


Ukulele In The Classroom Website

P.S. None of this is meant to slag the recorder, which also has many advantages as a teaching instrument.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Jul 09 - 09:50 AM

The other thing ukuleles and recorders have both got going for them is that you can combine them - they have similar power levels and complementary ranges. They don't have to be exclusive options.

The last time I played along with a George Formby number on the uke was a few months ago at Kelso. I can't remember if I used the saxophone or the washboard.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 11 Jul 09 - 01:51 PM

Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: WalkaboutsVerse - PM
Date: 11 Jul 09 - 08:41 AM

'Piers - I understand the recorder in Germany has slightly different holes/fingering...what is it usually called there?...it can't be the German-flute as that's another name for a transverse-flute...is it "block flute"?'

The word for recorder in German is "Blockfloete" (or "Blockflöte", if the o-umlaut displays on your terminal correctly). The word for a transverse flute is "Querfloete", which means just that, i.e., transverse flute. The popularity of the recorder in Germany is such that "Floete" alone is often interpreted to mean recorder rather than transverse flute.

There is German fingering on the one hand and Baroque or English fingering on the other. German fingering was based on a misunderstanding of how some historical recorder or recorders were meant to work. It is minimally easily to finger than Baroque fingering so it has established itself in German elementary schools. This minimal simplification (mainly the fingering of the fourth interval from the fundamental tone in the low octave) comes at the cost of serious problems with the intonation.

The consensus is that German fingering was a terrible mistake and both Mollenhauer and Moeck (two German manufacturers of recorders) recommend that children start with Baroque fingering right away. However, once something has gotten established in the German school system, you need a crowbar to pry it loose. Both companies do make recorders in German fingering, though not the fancier models.

I believe that there are various other fingerings found on historical recorders and ones modelled after them, as well as modern recorders with an increased range (up to 3 octaves, I believe, and possibly even more).


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 11 Jul 09 - 03:47 PM

Thanks Piers; also, I saw a busker the other day with a wooden soprano/descant without the extra holes for C# and D# - I wonder how difficult the half-holing required to get them is..?


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Jul 09 - 04:43 PM

You very rarely need those in folk music (or any other sort). And when you do, the double holes are no easier than halfholing and give you less control over the intonation - if you want those at all, chances are you will be playing music where D# and Eb are different.

Most of the recorders I use are either Renaissance types where the single hole is standard. I also use large sizes (tenor and greatbass) where it's more common to have a low C key but not a low C# one.

Getting a low C# on my sax is a pig - you need to push very hard on two of the biggest, clunkiest keys simultaneously with both little fingers. It obviously wasn't designed (back in 1922) with the expectation that you'd be doing it very often. Same goes for old simple-system clarinets; the "patent C sharp" mechanism came along quite late and my oldest clarinet doesn't have it.

I can think of only one commonly-played folk tune which has a sharp seventh at the bottom end of its range. Let's see if everyone else nominates the same one.

There is one truly appalling text used in British primary schools, "Abracadabra Recorder", which completely ignores the acoustic and ergonomic idiosyncrasies of the recorder and treats it as a surrogate keyboard. The authors throw in the low C# very early on, well before they've presented enough music to make the instrument interesting. The result is you're confronted with a physically very difficult manouevre with no discernible reward for it. That one pedagogical mistake must have had thousands of kids giving up on the spot.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 11 Jul 09 - 04:58 PM

"I can think of only one commonly-played folk tune which has a sharp seventh at the bottom end of its range. Let's see if everyone else nominates the same one." (Jack)...don't know - nothing in my E. trad. repertoire; but one hymn "O Jesus, I have promised" does.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: M.Ted
Date: 11 Jul 09 - 05:15 PM

Thanks for those links, Eve--as luck would have it, I have been looking for some material to start kids up, and this stuff looks really good--


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Jul 09 - 03:41 AM

How about this?

Janet Klein


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: GUEST,Vicki Kelsey
Date: 12 Jul 09 - 12:13 PM

I think there's liable to be a renewed interest in the ukelele in the upstate NY area, due to Del Rey appearing at both Cafe Lena and the PSG's Gottagetgon Festival this year. She fingerpicks a resonator uke, blues style-WOW! Not your Mother's ukelele.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 12 Jul 09 - 02:05 PM

All my recorders have double holes. I find the C#/Db and D#/Eb on the C recorders (and the corresponding notes on the F recorders) difficult to finger. Penny-whistles also require half-holing (depending on what you play), and I find it to be possible, but not easy.

In my opinion, as someone who hasn't been playing these instruments very long, the best solution is recorders, whistles, or flutes in general in different keys. Then one can figure out which is the best for a particular purpose. I think the limitation to C and F in commonly available recorders is a disadvantage; the situation with harmonicas is much better.

There was an accordeon festival here in Germany not too long ago, called "The Accordeonale", I believe, and there was a Rumanian accordeonist who played a diatonic accordeon. She was _great_. One of these days, I'll have to try to find her name.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 12 Jul 09 - 02:07 PM

They broadcast a little of it on the radio here; I wasn't there.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 07:27 AM

In my opinion, as someone who hasn't been playing these instruments very long, the best solution is recorders, whistles, or flutes in general in different keys. Then one can figure out which is the best for a particular purpose. I think the limitation to C and F in commonly available recorders is a disadvantage; the situation with harmonicas is much better.

I use G ones more than any other, C next, F rather rarely. The G is a good fit to the scale of the Highland pipes (transposed to concert A, as pipe tunes are usually played in sessions and by dance bands) - your fingers are often in the same place for the same note as the piper's would be on the chanter.

Unfortunately you don't have many options with G recorders. Susato make altos and sopraninos (actually whistles with the fingerholes drilled in different places) and call them "Renaissance" recorders. They aren't - no recorder ever had a parallel bore. And they don't perform at the extreme top end any better than other parallel-bore whistles, but for pipe tunes they work fine. (I use the sopranino for one tune in particular - "The Hen's March to the Midden", with flutter-tongued chicken noises). They're priced above what schools would want to pay, but at a level where most folkies could afford one.

For wider-range music and a more recorder-like sound you have to spend money. I have a Mollenhauer renaissance G alto modelled after Kynseker which is great for fiddle slow airs, and a very old Hopf renaissance G sopranino made (probably to special order) for Michael Copley of the Cambridge Buskers (he used to blow it with his nose as part of the act). There are several other models of G alto on the market but nothing under 200 quid; G sopraninos have to be hand-made to special order. And nobody makes Baroque G altos except by hand for serious money. There used to be G basses made for German schools - I've never seen one.

Back in the 20s, there was an attempt to use recorders in D and A in Germany. Hindemith's "Plöner Muziktag" trio is written for those. I have an A "sopralto" from that time; it sounds great but I rarely find a use for it. Rather more easily available are descant recorders in B (i.e. C descants made to a low pitch standard). I've got one, made of transparent purple plastic with embedded aluminium glittery bits. If you look round charity shops you might well find one like that. It has exactly the same external dimensions as a normal C descant, the low pitch has been achieved by a different bore profile. It works fine for playing along with singers who capo on the first fret. Surprisingly, it's actually in tune with itself and sounds like a good school plastic descant.

Küng used to make a soprano in B flat (the "Folklora"). It was shit.

But yes, harmonica players have it easier.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: GUEST,Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 07:34 AM

Surely, the advantage of the recorder over the uke comes when you come across someone who really does not like your playing and decides to do something nasty with the instrument!


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 11:55 AM

I've been meaning to take a look through my Mollenhauer and Moeck catalogues. I think they may sell recorders in D, but I'm pretty sure not in the school grades. It's really only the beginners' recorders and the plastic ones that are especially cheap.

The problem I have with diatonic harmonicas is that I really don't like the missing notes. Hohner has one model with a complete low octave, but only in C and I don't know whether the top octave is complete or not; probably not.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 11:58 AM

I purchased a ukelele today and I am going to learn how to play it..Oh dear how dreadfully un-English of me *LOL*


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 12:17 PM

piers .there are diatonic harmoincas that have the missing note,there is one called a [melody maker] lee oskar, youyhave to plat as if in crossharp position, and there are others as well.
contact Steve Shaw


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 12:28 PM

Don't know the details, but I'm sure there are fully chromatic harmonicas, with a slide system, pressed on one end.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 12:30 PM

Oh and Indians are from India, NOT North America...get used to it.

Christopher Columbus discovered nothing, except that he'd gotten himself lost....


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Tootler
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 07:01 PM

The great advantage of recorders is that they are fully chromatic, though as usual some keys are easier to play in than others.

For folk music I usually play Mollenhauer dream recorders. They have standard Baroque fingering with the normal two+ octave range but with a wider bore - a bit more like a renaissance recorder - which gives them a little more power than a standard baroque recorder. They also have good tone - which many folk have commented on.

As to harmonicas, I use standard 10 hole diatonic harmonicas with the three blow reed tuned up a tone - this is known as "Paddy Richter" tuning and it gives you the missing 6th degree of the scale below the tonic. It also allows you to play the relative minor chord of the key the harmonica is in.

Paddy Richter tuning for a C diatonic harmonica is

Hole: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Blow: C E A C E G C E G C
Draw: D G B D F A B D F A

The retuned 3 blow note makes the normal 10 hole diatonic harmonica much more useful for folk music.

Geoff


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: meself
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 07:13 PM

Unless, of course, you want to play folk music as it has been traditionally played on the Richter-tuned diatonic harmonica. In which case, you will find the Richter-tuned diatonic harmonica much more useful.


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: irishenglish
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 11:00 PM

Oh WAV, WAV, WAV...another useless diatrabe about multiculturism from you. Why don't you set up a BAN ALL INSTRUMENTS NOT ORIGINATING IN BRITAIN campaign. Just think about it...no more West Africans playing the kora, no more Bolivians blowing the kena, no more Irish playing those dratted fiddles, no more melodeons or accordions, no more dumbeks, pipa's, hurdy gurdy's, sitars, balafons, no more guitars, banjo's, mandolins, bodhrans. No more harmonica, cello, clarinets. Just the sweet sounds of recorders, English concertinas and citterns plucked with fucking feathers...being the only acceptable forms of instrument. But wait a minute. England isn't all about that is it? Where did Bhangra become popular? Oh wait, how about all that Caribbean music that is based in ENgland. If I'm not mistaken, didn't England have African colonies WAV? Haven't generations of families from Nigeria and Gambia been living in the UK longer than you have? Sorry, guess you have to leave that m'bira on the dock when you enter the UK for poor WAV. What's that you say WAV...oh thats ok, I heard you the first time....you said you like the world being multicultural, you just think English kids should learn on the recorder or cittern. Such a convenient proposition for all those multicultural English kids (the by product of colonization), whose own English culture has no resemblance whatsoever to a Thomas Hardy novel. Of course, how silly of me...yes, that 2nd generation family from Nigeria's kids should forget about listening to Fela and King SUnny Ade, of course...they should be learning Jerusalem on the recorder. How silly of me to forget that. After all anyone who sees that myspace is still a thriving community and hasn't let all those layoffs and dwindling memberships get in there way must of course be right. Note to viewers other than WAV-expect either no answer to this post or a one line answer with a direct link back to WAV's poetry, on his myspace page where you can learn about keeping the world all nice and multicultural, but with absolutely not cognitive rebuttal of this post. WAV is working diligently on a contraption that will allow him to toot his recorder while simultaneously pluck his cittern with a feather, while pumping away at his trusty concertina...er...keyboard. Pardon me WAV, I'm gonna go practice my GUITAR right now...look out Martin Car..er...Martin SImpso...er....Ralph Mc....um.....Nigel Tufnel!


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Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: GUEST,Neovo
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 04:09 AM

I recall there was a resurgence of interest in the recorder in schools some years ago because it was thought to help children with asthma to play a wind instrument - lung development.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 08:13 AM

Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Captain Birdseye - PM
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 12:17 PM

"piers .there are diatonic harmoincas that have the missing note,there is one called a [melody maker] lee oskar, youyhave to plat as if in crossharp position, and there are others as well.
contact Steve Shaw"

Thank you for the information, Captain Birdseye. I'll have to save it for a later date, because the exchequer doesn't currently permit investing in additional harmonicas, much as I would love to do so.


Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: WalkaboutsVerse - PM
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 12:28 PM

"Don't know the details, but I'm sure there are fully chromatic harmonicas, with a slide system, pressed on one end."

Yup, there are chromatic harmonicas and I've got one in C/C#. The tuning is similar to the lowest full octave in Richter tuning, except that all of the octaves are complete. I play mine a lot. It would be convenient to have more in other keys, because some keys are harder to play than others. It's particularly hard to play lots of draw notes one after the other.

My problem is that I like to play the harmonica and the guitar simultaneously and you can't do that with a chromatic, since it won't fit into the rack and you can't operate the slide.

Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Tootler - PM
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 07:01 PM

"The great advantage of recorders is that they are fully chromatic, though as usual some keys are easier to play in than others."

Yes, indeed!

"For folk music I usually play Mollenhauer dream recorders. [...]"

This is what I chose for my recorder students. I had their parents buy the plastic ones because they're still quite young. They do sound good; better than my Aulos recorders, though I probably wouldn't buy one for myself. I would prefer a more penetrating sound, since I play solo (with or without accompaniment) rather than in an ensemble.

"As to harmonicas, I use standard 10 hole diatonic harmonicas with the three blow reed tuned up a tone - [...]"

How do you tune it up? I've seen that Hohner sells a set for repairing (and possibly modifying) harmonicas, but I haven't bought one.

Hohner sells an "Extreme Bending" Harmonica with standard Richter tuning, but with auxiliary reeds that are supposed to make it possible to play chromatically. I'd quite like to try one next time I have 99 Euros lying around. Has anyone here tried one? I wonder whether it's possible to play the "accidentals" without too much "bendiness".

Playing folk music isn't really that big a problem. Some songs can't be played or require some adjustment, but what I mostly play is popular music from the 1920's - 1940's and that's mostly not possible on Richter harmonicas.

Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: GUEST,Neovo - PM
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 04:09 AM

"I recall there was a resurgence of interest in the recorder in schools some years ago because it was thought to help children with asthma to play a wind instrument - lung development."

I think this is a good idea. I have had respiratory problems in the past and I've noticed an improvement from playing wind instruments, especially the trumpet.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 09:04 AM

I've been wondering how you've been doing with that trumpet, Piers Plowman--have the neighbors called the police yet?;-)


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: meself
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 09:05 AM

'Hohner sells an "Extreme Bending" Harmonica with standard Richter tuning, but with auxiliary reeds that are supposed to make it possible to play chromatically. I'd quite like to try one next time I have 99 Euros lying around. Has anyone here tried one? I wonder whether it's possible to play the "accidentals" without too much "bendiness".'

Depends on two factors: your skill level, and your tolerance for "bendiness". If you are a "mid-level" player, and you have to play some fairly quick bends, they will sound "bendy" - but they will be going by quickly. The more accomplished a player you are, the less "bendy" the bent notes will sound (assuming you want them straight), but they're unlikely ever to sound as straight as they would on a chromatic.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 02:37 PM

Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: M.Ted - PM
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 09:04 AM

"I've been wondering how you've been doing with that trumpet, Piers Plowman--have the neighbors called the police yet?;-)"

No, but I got a nasty letter from a company that my landlord employs to send nasty letters. One of my downstairs neighbours called to ask what the exact rules were about practicing and they turned that into "complaints about my constant trumpet-playing". This company bothers me about other things, too, and I've asked the lawyer from the renters' organization I belong to to send them a cease-and-desist letter.

I also got an anonymous letter from someone in the building complaining about my "artistry on the flute" (!) I don't pay attention to anonymous letters. Someone else asked me to play my "flute" more quietly, because she'd been injured in an accident and was trying to sleep. She said, otherwise she didn't find it so bad.

The neighbour who lives on the other side of the wall of the room where I practice is the nicest neighbour in the world. He told me it doesn't bother him and I could play from morning 'til night as far as he's concerned.

An elderly couple in my part of the building has bothered me a couple of times, but I've made it clear to them that I stick to the rules and I will continue playing. Considering the man has made a lot of noise with their various renovation and hobby projects, I think they have a lot of nerve complaining about my playing.

As far as the actual playing is concerned, I think I'm doing pretty well. I sometimes have "bad lip" days and I recently seemed to have slipped backwards a bit with respect to my intonation. However, yesterday was pretty good. I can get up to concert e''' or f''' most days when specifically practicing high notes and sometimes get concert f'' -- g'' accurately when playing songs. Jumps, of course, are difficult, and I run out of steam after about 1 - 2 hours. By and large, it's been one of the most fun things I've done in years and it's been good for my playing on my other instruments. Thanks for asking.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 02:43 PM

Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: meself - PM
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 09:05 AM

'Depends on two factors: your skill level, and your tolerance for "bendiness". If you are a "mid-level" player, and you have to play some fairly quick bends, they will sound "bendy" - but they will be going by quickly. The more accomplished a player you are, the less "bendy" the bent notes will sound (assuming you want them straight), but they're unlikely ever to sound as straight as they would on a chromatic.'

Thank you, meself, that sounds logical. Have you got one? What's your opinion of them?

I think I play the harmonica pretty well but I'm no virtuoso (on any instrument). I certainly don't play as well as I could if I only played the harmonica. I have a very low tolerance for bendiness. It can be great in music where it's appropriate, but otherwise I want to hit the notes very cleanly and precisely.

It would really only be a compromise for me to allow me to play chromatically while playing the guitar. A much, much better solution would be to find other people to play with, but there is something very addictive about playing the harmonica and the guitar at the same time.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Tootler
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 02:55 PM

I get my harmonicas from Anthony Dannecker. He offers Hohner Harmonicas in a variety of tunings. A bit more expensive than a "straight out the box" Hohner, but well worth it as he also fettles them as well so they play better. I have also found his service excellent. I can recommend him. I get special 20's as they are available in a wide variety of keys. For keys less common in folk music, I have stuck with standard Richter Tuning.

You could modify a standard Harmonica yourself. Steve Shaw does, I believe.

The availability of Paddy Richter tuned is what encouraged me to pick up the Harmonica seriously again after 30 years. I have had a Hohner Chromonica in G for some years and I found it very good, though the reeds are going now. However, I really prefer the simplicity of the 10 hole diatonic. Although I can bend notes, I never felt I was able to control them sufficiently to provide those missing notes so the Paddy Richter tuning meets my needs.

Also I have found the Paddy Richter tuning opens up more options when playing modal tunes, particularly for chords.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 03:12 PM

Thank you for the link, Tootler. I've had a quick look.

I'm a fairly skilled woodworker (not meaning to boast) and for a while there, it looked like I would be able to rent a place to work and finally unpack my tools, which have been packed up for over a decade. I've had a bit of a set-back, now, but I still hope to do it sometime soon. If I can, I'd quite like to fiddle about with instruments.

Most of my harmonicas are about 20 years old. One or two of them might be 10 years older; I'm not sure. They've held up extremely well. All of them are Hohners. I didn't actually ever play them very much until a couple of years ago. I don't play blues very often and rarely bend notes. The Hohner broschure I have says that bending notes causes the reeds to wear out, which makes sense to me. That's not why I don't do it, though; it just doesn't suit my style.

I like the chromatic, but I find it easier to play the diatonic, if a song allows it. Sometimes its surprising what can be played on a Richter harmonica: for example, the chorus of "La Vie en Rose" and most of "La Mer" (Charles Trenet's, not Debussy's) can be played on a diatonic harmonica. Sometimes a bend or two is necessary. I don't find it very easy to bend when using a rack, though.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 03:20 PM

I've just taken a closer look at the Paddy Richter tuning above. Now I see the sense of it. I've got a Hohner Pro Harp supposedly in A natural minor (this model is no longer available). Actually, it would be more correct to call it D dorian since the low note is D and the blow notes form a Dm chord. It's not actually very useful for playing songs in A minor and, in fact, I hardly ever use it. I think it can be used for playing "Henry Morgan", but I'm not sure.

It is interesting figuring out what can be played on a harmonica, and I'm sure fiddling with tunings can be fun and interesting, just as I'm sure it is for a pedal-steel guitar. However, I think it would just be simpler to have complete diatonic scales with 12 holes, like half of a chromatic harmonica. Than one wouldn't need all the rigamarole.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 03:49 PM

so Tootler, do you reckon it is beeter than the lee oskar melody maker,which enables you to play the missin g note as well.
I have two anthony dannecker harmonicas which are really good,but I wish he would make a 10 hole dannecker in richter tuning.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 07:15 PM

Piers Plowman--I am sorry to hear about your problems with the neighbors. With all of the ambient noises these days, from traffic to lawnmower and leaf blowers, to the sound systems in cars, to air conditioning systems to guitar hero video games and home entertainment systems, it is amazing that anyone can hear your trumpet at all--

Anyway, I am glad that you're sticking with it--the first months are the hardest, and it really is physically demanding work, so it takes time to build stamina. We need more people to do what you've done.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Tootler
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 07:36 PM

I think it is a matter of personal choice. I have never tried the melody maker tuning, though I can see its advantages. I did consider the melody maker scale but decided that the Paddy Richter tuning would suit me better and I feel I made the right choice.

Anthony Dannecker does make harmonicas in Richter Tuning. He refers to them as "Major" which is really the standard tuning. I have a low D from Anthony Dannecker in standard (ie Richter) tuning.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Tootler
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 07:44 PM

My last post was a reply to Capt Birdseye.

Piers Plowman it is possible to get tremolo harmonicas in the tuning you describe. Take a look at the Hohner Celeste

I have tried tremolo harmonicas, but I couldn't really get on with them.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Stringsinger
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 09:23 PM

Getting back to ukes, anyone know where there is info on uke strums? Books, CD's etc.

Formby manages to get some interesting right hand patterns going ala tenor banjo rhythms.

Ukulele Ike also.

Frank


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Leadfingers
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 09:39 PM

What made George Formby the great player he was , WAS his Right hand ! I understand he only knew one set of chords , and played a different instrument if he was changing key , rather than play a variant chord Pattern !


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 09:52 PM

George Formby played open position chords because he liked the open sound, not because he didn't know any other chord patterns. There are only a couple additional chord fingerings that you need to know to play in all the keys, anyway-that "I only know one set of chords" business was a joke.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 10:41 PM

100


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 17 Jul 09 - 06:11 AM

Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: M.Ted - PM
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 07:15 PM

"Piers Plowman--I am sorry to hear about your problems with the neighbors. With all of the ambient noises these days, from traffic to lawnmower and leaf blowers, to the sound systems in cars, to air conditioning systems to guitar hero video games and home entertainment systems, it is amazing that anyone can hear your trumpet at all--"

Thank you, M. Ted. The problems with my neighbours are manageable. I've come to an arrangement with all of my neighbours who have adjacent apartments. The elderly couple has been friendly lately. In some ways, I prefer it when they're not speaking to me, but I suppose it's better to be on good terms.

I don't take people who write anonymous letters seriously. I think it's underhanded and cowardly. I know it's not any of the people I know in the building. It's a building with three entrances and I don't own either a dog or a car, so I don't often run into the people in the other parts of the building. Besides, they didn't demand that I stop completely.

I've got problems with the landlord because of illegal charges on the yearly bills for building maintenance. I don't pay the excessive charges, periodically they sue me (twice, so far) and lose. Then they send me dunning letters, the renters' organization says I don't have to pay, and the merry dance continues. When my ship comes in, I'll move somewhere where I can do woodworking and play my trumpet as loud as I want.

Most of my neighbours play music themselves and are willing to put up with the trumpet. My other direct neighbour says he's never heard it! And he plays the violin, though he keeps it at work, where he's in a chamber music group.

"Anyway, I am glad that you're sticking with it--the first months are the hardest, and it really is physically demanding work, so it takes time to build stamina. We need more people to do what you've done."

Thank you. I wouldn't be without it. The stamina is coming gradually. I've started to be able to make it through whole songs.

Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Stringsinger - PM
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 09:23 PM

"Getting back to ukes, anyone know where there is info on uke strums? Books, CD's etc."

Any book on rhythms. It wouldn't have to be for ukelele specifically. However, my suggestion would just be to figure them out oneself. Start with simple 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 or 1 - 2 - 3 and vary it. It's a mathematical thing; there are x number of possible combinations of beats, if you allow only quarter notes and eighth notes, or if you allow quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes, etc. I think intuition is the best teacher for this, once you feel comfortable strumming.

I think what was great about George Formby was that he played with subtlety and taste. It's not that what he was playing was technically so difficult.

For what it's worth, I hardly ever strum (guitar, not ukelele). Runs of single notes in the bass or the treble registers can break up the monotony of strumming.


Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Tootler - PM
Date: 16 Jul 09 - 07:44 PM

"Piers Plowman it is possible to get tremolo harmonicas in the tuning you describe. Take a look at the Hohner Celeste

I have tried tremolo harmonicas, but I couldn't really get on with them."

I'll have to check my Hohner broschure. I don't remember the Celeste. I have my eye on the Echos or the rack with six tremolo harmonicas in different keys. I can't remember what it's called off-hand, but it looks expensive.

Tremolo harmonicas are used in German Volksmusik and I think the tremolo is often kind of a corny effect, but I'd still like to try one out. My recorder students have a somewhat battered Big River harmonica which seems to have a few reeds that don't respond. I didn't like the sound very much.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: GUEST,Jack Campin (in Budapest)
Date: 17 Jul 09 - 02:26 PM

George Current, who I play with most Sundays in Sandy Bells, uses a tremolo in D and A for a lot of Scottish pipe tunes. Produces a big sound which in a vague sort of way achieves the effect you'd get with a drone. Iain Grant (who used to lead the same session) often used the same sort of beast.

I sometimes play along with that using a Hungarian double whistle in A with an A drone. For tunes where the range fits, the combo with the tremolo moothie sounds like a minature ceilidh band.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 18 Jul 09 - 12:18 PM

Subject: RE: ukelele to replace recorder
From: Captain Birdseye - PM
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 12:17 PM

"piers .there are diatonic harmoincas that have the missing note,there is one called a [melody maker] lee oskar, [...]"

I just took a look at this. Very clever. G major and C Lydian. However, it doesn't really solve my problem, since the lower and upper octaves are still incomplete.

I don't know why someone just can't make a twelve-hole harmonica with three complete octaves. Hohner does make one, the Marine Band soloist, but it's only available in C.

Is there nobody else who wants a harmonica like this? Is the rest of the world really satisfied with incomplete octaves?!

What I really want is a chromatic harmonica that will fit in a rack and that either doesn't require a slide or with a slide that can be operated by a foot pedal or flaring one's nostrils or otherwise without using one's hands.

Hohner is really missing a trick; I'm sure they'd sell like hotcakes.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Jul 09 - 12:32 PM

hohner, have lost the plot,they have been oveertaken by Saltarelle and Castagnari as regards diatonic accordions as well.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: GUEST,DPF
Date: 18 Jul 09 - 02:44 PM

Just to repeat Eve's plaudits of James Hill and Chalmers Doane's work in the Canadian provinces. They're doing incredible work up there and Chalmers' original program for the Canadian school system created a number of phenomenal musicians, including James himself.   

One of the things that I like about ukuleles in general is their flexibility in terms of style. They adapt themselves well to open tunings and a broad variety of styles. They're one of my favorite instruments to play Jazz because of the ease of creating different and complicated voicings without becoming an instant subscriber to the carpal tunnel journal of premature physical therapy. That and the ability to sing and harmonize on a broad variety of musics, ease of play and accessibility make it very attractive for educators and anyone who is making the attempt to have more people play together rather than treat music as a spectator sport. There are also lots of groups, resources, books, videos and cultural interest that exist around the instrument, which doesn't seem to be the case so much with the recorder in the communities I frequent.

Not that I don't like recorders. I'm interested to know if anyone out there is doing anything with them and harmony in schools. I think their tone is just about ideal. I'd also be curious to know if anyone is doing anything with the mountain dulcimer in education. Again, there are a number of decent inexpensive ones, relatively easy to play and great to sing with.

Anyone?


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: M.Ted
Date: 18 Jul 09 - 05:58 PM

The problem with teaching kids recorder is that it doesn't connect them with the music that they know. You can play most of the pop stuff on a uke if you are so inclined, and it has become the signature instrument on children's television, so the sounds that they make are sounds that they are very familiar with --and it is great for keeping a beat, which comprises about 90% of what kids hear nowadays--

This thread has inspired me--and I'm putting together materials with the idea that I'll start working with kids again--I've already ordered the Chalmers stuff--any else that anyone finds useful?


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 18 Jul 09 - 11:32 PM

Hey Stringsinger,

Check out Ukulele Underground

James Hill has a comprehensive list of
ukulele links on his site including educational sites, discussion forums etc.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 12:45 AM

Eve, thanks for the links. My grandson is determined he will play his uke like a rock star.:-)

Another reason harmonicas are a good thing: Click Here.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: meself
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 09:27 AM

Somewhere up above, Piers Plowman asked about the XB-40 ("Extreme Bender", that is). I have a few of them; however, I do not use them to their full potential, in the sense that I don't bend much to get the "missing notes". I don't play a lot of blues/jazz/pop these days, and I don't like the sound of bent notes, no matter how cleanly hit, in straight-ahead fiddle tunes on the harmonica, which is what I mainly do play. As for those missing notes, I follow the thoroughly traditional and thoroughly unfashionable practice of finding ways around them. The XB-40s I use mainly for sessions or other situations where I need greater volume than usual - and since I don't play much in public these days, I don't use them often. But those in the know say that you can play them quite loud on a regular basis without damaging the reeds. Perhaps because of the price, they don't seem to have caught on in a huge way. And some players just don't like the tone, but that's a matter of taste.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Stringsinger
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 11:11 AM

Thanks Eve but I don't need songs. Got plenty of them being a guitar player. What I need
is right hand strum rhythm patterns. I learned a basic one from Mel Bay but I hear Cliff Edwards and Formby doing right hand stuff kinda' like what they do in Mexican guitar patterns. Nothing on this with the two sites you sent me. Any suggestions?

Frank


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: M.Ted
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 05:26 PM

Frank--here's a link to the 1921 Kamiki Ukulele Method online http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/ukulele-kamiki/
--there is info about the basic ukukele roles--Basic Rolls and Strokes


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Shoyu
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 06:12 PM

I am preparing to start a recorder consort in the LEA where I teach. The group will consist of secondary pupils who have been given recorders ranging from descant to bass. We will be joined by any primary aged players who would like to come.

We will certainly be playing in harmony and as a versatile musician myself I will ensure a varied diet!

Having neglected the recorder since primary school I have recently acquired a couple of beautiful instruments and on Saturday I performed in public on the treble recorder for the first time in 25 years.

In my experience kids love playing the recorder (I'm sure they will love the Uke too!), it's the perception of adults that is the problem (a bit like beginner fiddle!)


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: DPF
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 10:15 PM

Frank, Another great resource for strums is Ralph Shaw's essential strums for the ukulele" DVD. He not only is an excellent teacher, covers everything from the Formby Split Stroke to Bo Diddley, but he is also a refugee from the study of applied physics who found that juggling was certainly an apt way of application. Anyone who combines these attributes with clear, coherent teaching style without descending into pedagogical idiocy is my friend and we likes him. Anything in particular you're looking for?


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Leadfingers
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 10:47 PM

I have an excellent Ovation Uke , but if I am going to a session where I MAY be able to collect some good tunes , my Zoom 4 Recorder
will be a lot more use !


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 20 Jul 09 - 06:11 AM

Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: meself - PM
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 09:27 AM

"Somewhere up above, Piers Plowman asked about the XB-40 ("Extreme Bender", that is). I have a few of them; however, I do not use them to their full potential, in the sense that I don't bend much to get the "missing notes". [...]"

Thank you, meself. It sounds like the XB-40 wouldn't really be a solution to my specific problem, though I wouldn't mind buying one to experiment with.

"As for those missing notes, I follow the thoroughly traditional and thoroughly unfashionable practice of finding ways around them."

Yes, that seems to be the only possibility. It's even kind of fun, in a way. With sufficient funds and a place where I could use my tools without disturbing my neighbours I could make any kind of harmonica I wanted. Maybe when my ship comes in.

I must admit that I play the guitar better when I don't play the harmonica at the same time and vice versa. It's just so much fun --- and I've been noticing an improvement.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: katlaughing
Date: 20 Jul 09 - 11:15 AM

Just by chance I found the following and thought it might be of interest:

Heartstrings - Kamaka ukes on PBS.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: Tootler
Date: 20 Jul 09 - 06:31 PM

hohner, have lost the plot

I don't think that's true as far as harmonicas are concerned. As well as the Anthony Dannecker modified Special 20's, I have a Big River in F and a Pro Harp in G both in standard tuning and they are perfectly good harmonicas. I also have Lee Oskars in several keys and there is little to choose between them and the Hohners in terms of tone and playability. It is a matter of personal preference.

Geoff


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: meself
Date: 20 Jul 09 - 06:43 PM

If you do get tinkering with your harmonicas, you can get no end of good advice from members of harp-l. There are professional harmonica customizers on the list, including some of the big names, as well as experienced and knowledgeable amateurs. They love - and I use the word advisedly - to expound on such compelling matters as the finer points of re-tuning, re-gapping, and re-jigging generally.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jul 09 - 07:01 AM

Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: meself
Date: 20 Jul 09 - 06:43 PM

"If you do get tinkering with your harmonicas, you can get no end of good advice from members of harp-l. There are professional harmonica customizers on the list, including some of the big names, as well as experienced and knowledgeable amateurs. They love - and I use the word advisedly - to expound on such compelling matters as the finer points of re-tuning, re-gapping, and re-jigging generally."

Thank you, meself. If I could only find a place to work again, I have pretty much all the tools I would need, though I might have to buy some more metal-working tools. Not that I'd mind; I love buying tools, when I've got the wherewithal.

I take it you're a professional harmonica player and a session musician in that capacity? I'm very impressed. I would think there would be a lot fewer harmonica players than, say, keyboard or guitar players among session musicians.

Have you (or anyone else here) ever tried the orchestral harmonicas made by Hohner or others? They look very interesting but _way_ out of my price range.

At present, I'd most like to fill in the gaps in the keys in my harmonica collection. I thought I'd like to try a Marine Band in A, because it has pearwood comb and I like the sound of my chromatic which also has one. Any opinions on plastic vs. metal vs. wood combs?


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: GUEST,Piers Plowman at different place
Date: 21 Jul 09 - 07:02 AM

Sorry, that last posting was me. Forgot that I'm not logged in here.


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Subject: RE: ukulele to replace recorder
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 04:04 PM

the lee oskar melody maker in g is like this.
c[d]e[g]a [b[]c[d]e[f#]g[a]c[b]e[d]g[f#]c[a]notes in brackets are suck,you have to bend blow c to get very high b


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