Category Archives: Teaching Ukulele

A Year of Pandemic Life

The entire month of March has been a time for marking many anniversaries, some pandemic related, some not. A couple of weeks ago the Ukulele Orchestra of Toronto premiered two more virtual performance videos I helped create as well as an opener by our CUTE ensemble, which was a video we had put together in February. I created a playlist below, of the collection:

YouTube Playlist of my Pandemic Virtual Videos

It’s all been a really great learning opportunity for me to have a hand in making these and I’m really happy that I was able to help my ukulele community stay connected and keep making music. Being one of the lucky who has so far been spared of the disease in my family and close circles, I am thankful and try to remember that many others have not been as fortunate. It’s hard not to feel like this will never end but I know that it will, hopefully in the next few months as more and more of us are receiving vaccines. Although, as we head into what is looking like a 3rd wave of cases here in Toronto, I don’t really see us getting together again soon to play and sing in person here. I was secretly hoping for maybe an outdoor event later this spring but I’m not sure that’s going to happen now. And now that I’ll be moving into a new living situation soon, I’m probably going to take a little break from video production for a few months.

J’ai deux amours

Here’s a little snippet of music I’ve been working on today. As I move through the Ukulele Jazz course over at Uketropolis, I’ve tried using some of the jazzy chords I’ve picked up in the course to accompany my Memère here. My Dad sent me a little clip of her singing this from her bed just after the new year and I couldn’t resist doing a little duet with her again. Maybe we’ll be able to get together for her 101st birthday this year. I’m happy to report that she is fully vaccinated against COVID-19! In memory of her daughter, who passed one year ago today, and our trip to Paris together in 1988, here it is. Excusez-la!

Two more Virtual Performances from the Ukes of T

The Ukulele Orchestra of Toronto premiered TWO virtual performance videos this afternoon. The group worked very hard to learn their parts, record them and let us put them together virtually.

In both of these, our director, Eve Goldberg, mixed the audio submissions from each member and I put the final music tracks to a couple of video montages.

The first is the hymn from Finlandia by Jean Sibelius, we had members send in photos of their favourite places in the world and we put them to the music along with the beautiful lyrics of this melody.

In the second video, we just recorded ourselves during one of our Tuesday night Zoom rehearsals and sent Eve our recorded audio parts separately. Voila! An MTV style snapshot of this incredible time we are living through, and it’s set to Bird of Paradise, a beautiful song by Tony Bird with such a great message about what’s important in this life.

As we get closer to the anniversary of our last rehearsal together, I’m also feeling really thankful that the members of the orchestra are persevering through the pandemic and continuing to create with together, these moments of musical joy, despite the chaos of the time.

Cyberlele Orchestra Weekend – It’s a wrap!

It’s been 6 weeks since the Cyberlele Orchestra Weekend already. Over the course of that weekend we worked on three pieces that we have put together in virtual performances. Our video launch and final wrap party starts on Sunday, October 4th at 7:30pm

All 3 performances will be rolled out in a sequence of YouTube premieres as follows:

Down By The Salley Gardens at 7:30 pm https://youtu.be/AfsYoAhL-BY

A traditional Irish melody, with text by W. B. Yeats, arranged for ukulele ensemble by Brenna MacCrimmon. Music recorded by participants of the 2020 Cyberlele Orchestra Weekend. Audio mixing by Brenna MacCrimmon

Runaway at 7:45 pm https://youtu.be/uXjC1iwVqo8

This Del Shannon piece was arranged for ukulele by Eve Goldberg and filmed during the final Zoom session on the last day of our Cyberlele Orchestra Weekend, August 23, 2020. Participants sent me their audio recordings which I mixed and added to the edited video from our “one-take spotlight sequence” during the weekend.

Harmony Club Waltz at 8:00 pm https://youtu.be/_PimYhRuHRA

The 2020 Cyberlele Orchestra performs an excerpt from Harmony Club Waltz by the famous ragtime composer Scott Joplin. This piece was arranged for four-part ukulele ensemble by one of our fellow JHUI teachers, Nancy Piver

Be sure and “Set a Reminder” for all 3 YouTube premieres. You’ll be notified when the videos are about to begin and you can also join the conversation in the video chat areas. All of this will be followed by an online after-party on Zoom. (link details will be provided by request) We hope to share with as many of you as possible.

See the whole playlist from Cyberlele Orchestra Weekend

It’s been a real pleasure working on this project, meeting so many players from around the world and sharing our music virtually. My thanks and congratulations to everyone who participated! Here’s a memory from that weekend’s staff concert when our virtual trio played Bach’s Minuet in G to start it all off

Cyberlele Orchestra Weekend starts tomorrow!

Update: If you’re registered for this workshop, the sheet music and listening tracks are now posted. We’re ready for a full weekend of virtual music making! There are still a few spots left if you’re thinking about joining us: tinyurl.com/cyberlele

Friday Evening Concert

If you want to tune in to our free concert on Friday night, click here for the invite link!
I’ll be performing for the first time in a virtual live event so I’ll admit I’m excited and a little nervous. Along with solo performances of some original songs and classic pieces, we’ll be playing as a trio in a pre-recorded performance as well. (I’ll post the video link here later)

Saturday Night Campfire

Show up, strum along to popular songs (chords provided) and if you feel up it, maybe do an open mic spot.

After a weekend of workshops…

Our main goal is to have fun but we’ll also learn to fine tune our playing so we can create a video like this one. Mozart’s ‘Andante Grazioso’, performed by Eve Goldberg’s Ukulele Orchestra of Toronto. We will do the recording of the parts AFTER the weekend workshop. Hope to see you there!

Virtual Orchestra Fun

Last month I tried my hand at creating this first video montage for The Ukulele Orchestra of Toronto with Eve Goldberg using a trial version of Final Cut Pro X. I had a great time learning how to use this software which I also used for a couple of family projects as well as my SoundSlice video of La chanson des blès d’or.

I enjoyed it so much that I purchased the app at the end of the trial and I offered to put together another one for the orchestra which will premiere on YouTube this Sunday afternoon at 2pm EDT.  It’ll be an arrangement of Mozart’s ‘Andante Grazioso’ created by Eve which we’ve worked on for 2 sessions of the Ukes of T now. We just had never had a chance to perform it live yet. (Plus, I’m a huge Mozart fan, so I really wanted to do this one, but that’s a long story for another post in the future…)

Cyberelele Orchestra Weekend Aug 21-23CYBERLELE ORCHESTRA WEEKEND

Next up for this summer’s virtual orchestra fun, I’ll be joining Eve Goldberg, Brenna MacCrimmon and Cynthia Kinnunen to teach a whole weekend of online orchestra classes, which will be followed by video montages of the pieces afterward. 

I’m really excited to be a part of this event. Since it’s all going to be done online, I would really love to see some of my former students from Ottawa join in on the fun too! Below are the details and links for that event:


Cyberlele Orchestra Weekend
Friday, Aug 21 – Sun Aug 23 – ONLINE

Join us for a fun and exciting weekend of ukulele ensemble! In this intensive workshop we will learn material arranged in parts for several levels of ukulele, including baritone. We will be working from sheet music and tablature. Material will suit players at skill levels from confident beginners to those with advanced skills (you should know and be comfortable with basic chords in order to participate). Group and sectional classes will help us explore repertoire, expand skills and work towards creating a virtual performance. Hosted by Eve Goldberg and Brenna MacCrimmon with guest instructors Chantal LeBlanc and Cynthia Kinnunen.

Registration fee of $160 CAD includes

  • 2 days of instructional programming
  • 3 levels of ukulele plus baritone section
  • 4 teachers
  • a Friday concert
  • a Saturday campfire
  • technical support and trouble shooting throughout the workshop
  • digital access to class materials
  • opportunity to participate in a virtual performance.

More information and registration available here.

Here’s a nifty Ukulele Strap

© Lise Gray

© 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 aIMG_0151nd 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!

 

Winter Session for Adult Ukulele starts Feb 2-3

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
Course #79543

Ukulele Level 2: Tuesdays at 7:30pm
Course #79545

Ukulele Level 3: Choir format on Tuesdays at 6:00pm
Course #81036

The “Brookfield Ukers”

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.

Kicking off 2015! Registration info for Winter – Spring adult programs

Now that was a fun way to kick off the new year! Here’s a great shot my husband took of our Ukulele Choir playing ‘O Canada’ at yesterday’s Ottawa 67s game at TD Place. Many thanks to the Ottawa Folklore Centre for organizing this event! I was very happy to participate and help to lead this beautiful group and also very proud that 2 of my young Suzukulele students and 2 of my adult students came too! There’s talk of another opportunity to play again, coming up in March.

There’s also an audio clip of a story on CBC Ottawa Morning here, and some Facebook videos of our pre-game rehearsal and of the actual performance on the ice!

Photo by Steve LeBlanc.

Photo by Steve LeBlanc.

Registration is now available for the following Adult Ukulele Programs from Winter to Spring 2015:

Play Ukulele Level 1– Tuesday nights from 7-8:30pm at Brookfield HS starts Feb 3rd. Course #75051

Play Ukulele Level 2– Wednesday nights from 7-8:30pm at Brookfield HS start Feb 4th. Course #75053

To register for the OCDSB’s Continuing Education programs go to https://e-connect.ocdsb.ca or call 613-239-2751

Ottawa Folklore Centre Ukulele Choir– Thursday nights from 7-9pm

To register contact the Ottawa Folklore Centre

If you have any questions about repertoire, how much practice required, level of knowledge required, etc… please feel free to contact me directly.