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La laine des moutons

Je suis tellement fière de partager cette dernière vidéo de ‘Ukulele Orchestra of Toronto que je viens de réaliser. L’ensemble interprète mon arrangement de cette chanson folklorique française pour ukulélés et voix, sous la direction de Eve Goldberg. Quel plaisir de recevoir son appel pour créer un projet dans ma langue maternelle. N’hésitez pas de me contacter si ça vous intéresse de l’essayer avec vos groupes. Il serait mon plaisir de partager la partition.

Chantons, chantons! la laine des moutons.

I’m so proud to share this latest video I’ve produced for the Ukes of T! The orchestra is presenting my arrangement of this traditional French song for ukuleles and voice under the direction of Eve Goldberg. It was really nice to be asked by Eve to create something in my mother tongue for the group and if this is an arrangement you’d like to try with your groups, please drop me a line and I will be happy to share it.


Recital Time Again

Honestly, I’ve always really liked music recital time, even before I was teaching, when I was working in music school admin or watching my own children play. It was always such fun to organize and then cheer on the performers. I still get excited to hear non-professional musicians put themselves out there and share what’s in their heart and the progress they’ve made in their musical pursuits. I’m always especially proud of my own students of course and now and then I get to leave my cozy shell and play something myself. Here’s what I was up to recording this past week.

Two traditional pieces in 6/8 time from Yorkshire, England to Brittany, France. The first arrangement of Scarborough Fair is a chord-melody solo by James Hill which can be found at here. (There’s a link there to another great article on creating Medley Magic!) The second piece, C’était Anne de Bretagne, is from Book 3 of the original printed edition of the Ukulele in the Classroom method series by James Hill and J. Chalmers Doane.

There was some good advice put forth about trying to record oneself, which was to leave the camera going until you play it through with some satisfaction. What that also does is it makes you watch a bunch of misfires and retakes and maybe even some funny accidental moments before you get to the section you like. I chose to add the outtakes of my flubs and canine interruptions because I thought they were funny and I don’t mind letting you know how hard it is to do. The final cut is certainly not perfect either but it’s what I could live with at this point in my musical journey.

Recitals are not about comparing one player with another or even yourself. (I’m really not a fan of judged musical reality shows, but that’s for another post sometime) Recitals are just for showing a little bit of yourself in one of the most vulnerable ways most of our busy minds can possibly imagine…a public stage. Eek! Remember, “comparison is the thief of joy” and there’s a lot of joy in letting go and just trying something scary. Anyone who’s done this knows what I mean.

Anyway, I was also thrilled to be asked to take part in recording something for this next one with my friends within the JHUI mentorship program. Thanks for watching!

p.s. Ever wonder what does Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme mean in Scarborough Fair? The lyrics are about a man trying to attain his true love. In Medieval times, the herbs mentioned in the song represented virtues that were important to the lyrics. Parsley was comfort, sage was strength, rosemary was love, and thyme was courage. Wishing you all of these, in the season ahead.

En première, demain à midi!

C’est l’aviron

Premiering tomorrow, our little CUTE ensemble will be opening another set of virtual performance videos from the Ukes of T with this arrangement of a classic French voyageur song. You can set a reminder at YouTube ahead of time by clicking below.

The playlist will be followed by this video of the Gossec Gavotte at 12:15pm, edited by Catherine Goykhman, who I am happy to say has taken up the reins from me as the new social media coordinator for the orchestra! Thanks Cat! Check out her teaching website: /

Last but not least will be the premiere of this video at 12:30pm. Janis Ian’s ‘Better Times Will Come’, which I edited from another Zoom recording at one of the rehearsals. I urge you to check out this uplifting pandemic project at to find out more about the song.

It’s still really satisfying to continue to hear all of our voices singing together even though we’re still apart. Put your headphones on at noon tomorrow and enjoy! Eve did a wonderful job of mixing the audio for these, once again. We’re all learning so much from these experiences. I hope it’ll leaving you feeling as hopeful as I was, hearing it. Here’s to better times, ahead!

Mon village du bout du monde

About the same time that we went into lockdown last March, we lost my dad’s big sister to cancer. Yesterday was her funeral, almost 5 months later and this week, her ashes will be brought to her little village, which she left over 50 years ago but where she has chosen to be laid to rest.

When I was born, she had already finished school, gotten married and left our little home town to work in the big city. We always shared a special bond, probably because she and I had a lot in common. We were both the eldest of our families and shared a lot of the same interests. Many people think our friendship started when we travelled to France together with my grandmother, during the summer I turned 20. But in fact, it actually started a lot earlier. When I was 12, it was my family’s turn to move away from our little village to a big city too, very near her family, in fact. So the following Easter, we spent it at her dinner table, where I was invited to sit with the adults for the very first time. She poured me a (very small) glass of white wine (I think it was Black Tower) and declared that I was now “old enough”. From then on she always spoke to me as one woman to another and taught me so much through her experiences, her feminism and her dignified yet casual nature.

She loved music and played the piano at our family gatherings and in her church. She also loved sharing music and my mom recently found this song on one the playlists she had received from her. It’s a song about coming home after a lifetime of adventure. Originally released in August, 1969 by the French singer-songwriter Joe Dassin, the version on that USB stick was a recent cover from Isabelle Boulay. Here’s my own interpretation which is dedicated to my friend, ma chère, ma tante Céline.

Autographed Ukulele for Auction

This ukulele, autographed by Cmdr. Chris Hadfield, is up for grabs at Canterbury’s Spring Music Night Silent Auction next week.

Cmdr. Chris Hadfield autographing my ukulele.

Cmdr. Chris Hadfield autographing my ukulele.

This soprano sized ukulele, Lanikai model LU11 #31204, has Aquila Nylgut strings and is tuned in the re-entrant C6 tuning.  It was autographed by Commander Chris Hadfield on Sunday, September 15, 2013 at the Wings Over Gatineau airshow. 

When my husband and I set out to visit the Wings Over Gatineau air show back in September, I knew I might get a chance to meet the famous Canadian astronaut. Before we left, I quickly stuffed one of my small soprano ukuleles from my summer camp stock into a backpack (just in case I’d get a chance for an autograph) and after about 45 minutes in line, he not only signed it for me but even played it a little too! (Glad I had tuned it while standing in line!)

It was a real pleasure to have just a few moments to meet this great man. During his time on board the ISS, he not only inspired so many children to discover space and the sciences but with his on-board guitar, gave us many gifts of music through social media like SoundCloud, Twitter and YouTube. He’s brought a lot of support and attention to the value of music education and the importance of fostering creativity in our children.  As he says, being a musician has made him a better astronaut.

Chris Hadfield playing ukulele.

Chris Hadfield playing ukulele

Here’s another video by Melanie Doane along with her ukulele students in Toronto during last year’s Music Monday celebrations in May 2013: