Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Ukefest Time!

One of our family's favorite hobbies is playing the ukulele. Each of us has one and all of us can play at least the basic 3 chords (even hubby!). It is a lot of fun to sit around strumming our favorite tunes. I learned to play in the 4th grade (it was required) and I enjoyed it so much that I kept all of my music sheets!

A few years ago we spent our Christmas money from Grandma on upgrading our ukes. We bought 5 different ukes (1 soprano, 1 pineapple, 2 concerts and 1 tenor) from www.ukuleleworld.com. We were very pleased. Last year we bought two Fleas online (I don't remember where, but shop around because we found ours for very cheap ~ $99 ea). Fleas are ukes with a plastic back that gives a wonderful sound. They were the "had to have" at the annual Ukefest. So now we have a total of eleven.

Last year we went to the Fourth Annual Mid-Atlantic Ukulele Invitational and had a fun time. Lizzie and I even got our picture in the Washington Post! We went to one of the workshops where we learned different strumming patterns (by Nick Smiley) and then went to another workshop where we learned the history of the ukulele which was taught by a very passionate teacher (Fred Fallon).

We wished we could have gone to the workshop that demonstrated how to build a ukulele. When we got home, I looked up the website for Dave Means, one of the charter members of the MUA (Metropolitan Ukulele Assoc), and he has a superb website that shows pictures step by step. Dave's website is www.glyphukulele.com.

I keep the MUA page listed under My Favorites because that is where they announce their bimonthly get-togethers in homes in and around Annapolis. We have yet to attend one but we sure hope to.

Anyhow, this year is the Fifth Annual Mid Atlantic Ukulele Invitational. Our family won't be able to attend which is really disappointing. This year's special guest is Jim Beloff, the infamous "Jumpin' Jim" who has authored many ukulele books. We have 6 of them ourselves. So if you are interested, go to your local Walmart and buy the $16 ukulele and tune your uke to GCEA (my dog has fleas). Teach yourself the three basic chords (F,C and G7). With these three chords you can play almost any song. Please do not go to the Ukefest without a uke!

There are so many wonderful websites that teach the basics of uke playing. Just google it and have fun!

Just one word about the Ukefest in Annapolis. Last year we had a great time and were impressed with how family-friendly it was...except for one performer. Thankfully, she isn't listed anywhere on the agenda for this year. The other performers that are scheduled to play were well worth their salt.

One of the highlights of the day was listening to the science class from George Fox Middle School. They built their own ukes and then performed a few songs. It was fun!

My son, Allen, is a lefty, and it is hard for him to play the uke. But this year he spent a lot of time learning a dozen or more chords and now he is pretty good! Lizzie and I probably know 2-3 dozen chords. Maggie, Lizzie, Allen, Anna and I know all the Fleabag songs (the basic songs that most uke players know). This link takes you to these downloadable music sheets.

Once you know the three major chords, the ministry opportunities are endless ~ youth groups, campfires, nursing homes, Sunday School class, etc.

So start a new, cheap, family-friendly hobby and look forward to hours of enjoyment! If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

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