If you know me, you know I like to incorporate French music into my classes as often as I can. One of my current obsessions has been collecting and recording songs from my grandmother, that she always sang to us. I hope to have a songbook and accompanying recordings ready for her 100th birthday coming up in June. Unfortunately, I’m not certain the party will actually be happening now with her residence being on lockdown at this time. Bless everyone who is looking after our elders right now and guarding them from this pandemic. I recorded this on Easter Sunday with she and Elaine and Claire on my mind as well as everyone else who is currently isolated from their loved ones in nursing and assisted living homes.
“Il y a longtemps que je t’aime, jamais je ne t’oublierai.” means: I have loved you for so long, never will I forget you.
Play along with this traditional French folk melody that uses notes only from the C major Pentatonic scale. As an added challenge, try accompanying with C & G7 chords at the 3rd fret instead of the first position chords in the video. Download sheet music options here and sing along, en français. Nana Mouskouri recorded a version with a different set of lyrics in 1973.
I had just gotten into a great groove. I had a few private students coming for lessons regularly and I even got to use a perfect meeting space in our condo for my small group. I was also travelling once a week to a private home to teach a wonderful group of women. I had been really busy and inspired after starting to teach ukulele again this past winter. Until the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in North America, that is. Like all teachers, our in-person lessons and music making came to an abrupt end about a month ago.
I can’t believe almost a month has gone by. At first it was so stressful and living with 2 people who travel for a living means I will have to self-isolate indefinitely. We’re still taking extra care not to leave except for food every couple of weeks. But like everyone else, despite job insecurity and the huge changes in our daily lives, life in general keeps coming at us, and even death in our own family and others. This has awakened a heightened sense of the fragility of everything around us. But also the importance of making time for the things you love to do, every day, like an Instagram workout or a remote yoga session. But the saving grace has really been music, for me. For others around me, it’s online video games with family or diving into crafts and hobbies and that’s also great. I’m really thankful for a few people who I can continue to connect with creatively to play, arrange and share music.
By now I’ve gotten all of my students (and family!) using conference platforms like Zoom and Skype and FaceTime and even Snapchat! We’ve managed to connect somewhat and I’ve enjoyed seeing their faces and playing for them and with them, taking questions and teaching them a little. One thing that is really helping is I’ve also started creating some play-along videos for them to practice with.
Also seemed like a good time to revive the teaching blog, so here we go…
Originally intended as a play-along for my Book 3 students, this solo arrangement of Streets of Laredo is from James Hill’s The Ukulele Way, Book 3, Lesson 5, which is also the lesson of the month over at Uketropolis for April 2020.
Creating and curating pre-recorded lesson material is actually James’ advice for dealing with the new reality that we’ve been thrust into and avoiding teacher burnout so that’s exactly what I’ll try and keep doing then.
Here are two more play along videos with accompanying arrangements I created for students during the March madness of 2020. I guess this is the new teaching format for now. I’ll try and keep updating the blog too, if that helps spread the joy of music a little.
Can you Handel it? (I can’t resist any good classical music pun)
I’ve just finished putting this arrangement together for the holidays, to share with my fellow learners over at The Ukulele Way Lesson of the Month. We’re focusing on “Playing in Thirds” this month. #tuwlotm Find it in C6, D6 or Baritone G6 tuning, via Ukulele Arrangements. Includes tabs and french lyrics too! You can have a listen to my recording at SoundCloud.
It’s a Johannes Brahms tune that was covered by Céline Dion and her family members on her Christmas album, These Are Special Times, released 20 years ago already! One of my all-time favourite Christmas songs.
Joyeux Noël à tous!
Happy Holidays to all!
© Lise Gray
I’ve been meaning to share this for awhile now. A student of mine from last term, Lise Gray, came to class one day with this nifty, crocheted ukulele strap. I had been trying for awhile to find a strap solution that doesn’t let the uke flip forward, scratch it or require drilling any holes into the instrument. This one does it all and is super comfortable to wear! She offered to make me a few for re-sale at Strings and Things and kindly shared the pattern with me.
I recently started to crochet again after my dog passed away last year. It’s such a great way to de-stress and relax and I do find so much peace while I’m working on a project. (It’s also a great way to keep your hands out the chip bowl in the evenings!)
I made a bunch in lots of fun colours before the holidays to give as little gifts for my younger students and they seemed to really like them too. A strap really frees up your focus when you’re trying to learn tricky finger positions without having to hold on to the instrument. If you’d like to make your own, the pattern is available for download from Ravelry here. If you’d like a ready-made one, let me know!
Registration for the next 8-week session of my Adult Ukulele classes at Brookfield HS is already started. If you’re a new beginner, the level 1 class can fill up quickly. If you’ve already taken 1&2 or if you’re an advanced player, please consider joining the level 3 choir. We’ll need at least 5 members to run this course. Find courses at https://e-connect.ocdsb.ca or call 613-239-2751.
Ukulele Level 1: Wednesdays at 7pm
Ukulele Level 2: Tuesdays at 7:30pm
Ukulele Level 3: Choir format on Tuesdays at 6:00pm
My OCDSB Continuing Ed Ukulele classes at Brookfield HS resume on September 22nd. Start at Level 1 on Wednesday nights at 7. If you’re coming back for more, try Level 2 or Level 3 (Uke Choir) on Tuesday evenings. More info and links on How to Register here.
This was a fun piece to prepare. A ukulele big band arrangement of This Little Light of Mine, performed by our Adult Suzukulele Ensemble as a short interlude during Viva Suzuki 2015.
Good times at the Bytown Ukulele Group‘s latest jam night. It was a great opportunity for some of my adult students to show what they’ve learned in a couple of months. I was very happy that so many were willing to go up there and perform. They even gave us the name “Brookfield Ukers”. It might just stick…
Congratulations to all!
Looking forward to seeing some of you next Wednesday for the spring term. Both classes at OCDSB have been confirmed to go ahead and it’s still not too late to join.
Register now for the next 8-week term of my Ukulele group classes at Brookfield HS. They start on April 21-22: Tuesday evenings, 7pm to 8:30pm for Beginner level and any returning students go to Intermediate level on Wednesday evenings, same time.
Beginner level: Come and learn the basics of the Ukulele and music literacy, all in one course.
Intermediate level: We’ll focus on playing more ensemble/choir pieces together, which will incorporate all levels of playing and acquired skill.
Register at https://e-connect.ocdsb.ca or see info here.