Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Lessons at Ukulele Kingdom

There is a site run by "gambaole" called "Ukulele Kingdom" that offers free online ukulele lessons in Japanese. It has about 40 hints or lessons presently. These are arranged from introductory to pro-level. Most deal with a particular technique or trick eg., hammering or sweep picking. Some offer more general information, such as the "right way to buy music scores". It offers also different fingering exercises to limber up those stiff joints. There is a heavy emphasis on classical music, with Bach, Mozart, and Chopin putting in appearances, with other styles like swing popping up at various intervals.

All of the examples are accompanied by tabs rather than normal musical notations, easing access for those without notational knowledge or the right software to read notations.

"Right, well, that is nice, but, why should I bother if it is in Japanese?" peeps the cynical voice of the solitary reader of this blog.....

As an experiment, I ran the contents through an online translation software. As can be expected, the translation was horrid indeed. But, the point is learning how to do something. The main ideas of the lessons I mashed through the software were visible in the murk of garbled verbage. Accordingly, the logic is that if one wants to save a little dough, rather than buying a techniques book, one could presumably work one’s way through these lessons mangled by some translation software and still come out ahead. Taking the lesson on one at a time will probably be worthwhile, assuming the learner is not more advanced than the lessons.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Ukulele Picnic 2006

As far as I know Ukulele Picnic is about the biggest ukulele bash in or around Tokyo--and it cost nothing to get in. I would be going myself if I did not have previous events scheduled.

This year, the event will feature Sekiguchi Kazuyuki, Iwao, Ukulele Ultraman, Arizato Tomoka, Okamoto Yohey, Inoue Maki, Laula, the Kuricorder Quartet, Paniolo Yamauchi, Taupou, and Yanawaraba. It starts 10AM on 20 August. The day before, there will be some run-up events with others putting in performances. In past years, generally the lesser-knowns lead up to the big names....the usual state of affairs.

The Ukulele Picnic is an annual event held somewhere near/south of Yokohama (Yokosuka, if you are into naval history), having started in 2000. Overseas musicians in the past have included Daniel Ho, Herb Ohta Jr., Janet Klein, the Bruce Shimabukuro Band, and Troy Fernandez.

It seems a direct bus will be running this year between Misakiguchi Station and the enterance (for 300 yen apparently). It is an outdoor event, therefore the weather can be a factor.

Those in Japan who are interested but unable to attend might be able to order up a T-shirt or an original sticker.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Summer ukulele festivals

Summer is the time for ukulele/Hawaiian music in Japan. Accordingly, we will be seeing some ukulele music popping up over the next few weeks. I will try to research those in the unlikely case there is someone in Japan that would like to see them.

Also in the unlikely case there is a regular reader of this blog, I need to note that there will not be any postings over the next week. I will be spending the week researching something else. However, after 11 August, you can expect to see something of an upsurge in postings. Until then.