Friday, June 29, 2007

Places for ukulele books in Tokyo

On a recent run down to Tokyo, I had a peek at the revamped Yamano Music store in Ginza. They have managed to cram more ukulele material in their third-floor music book section than any music store I visited Hawaii--or anywhere else I have visited. Those in their Ginza shop can take the elevator or escalator to the third floor, go through the entrance to the floor room and look the the lower section of the bookshelves just next to ones to your immediate right.

Probably the only place in Japan to see more is to order it online from Gakufu Net.

Akio Instruments perhaps has the biggest seclection of English language Ukulele books in Tokyo that I know of. Click the button on the middle of their web page to get a pop-up map to his shop. If you are visiting Japan from overseas, it might be best to get the English books elsewhere. Some of the books there are a bit more than you would pay outside Japan.

Both Yamano and Akio sell ukulele and Hawiian CDs as well.

New Ukulele Method book

Kiyoshi Kobayashi is coming out with a new ukulele method book and CD soon. The English title is simply "Ukulele Method", but a direct translation of the Japanese title would run something like "Ukulele Method--Effective Training Book for Each Finger".

When this 96-page volume does come out, it will be interesting to see exactly what the contents are. The blurb on the publisher's website claims it is a "practical and effective pratice method for beginners playing for the first time to players that want to bring their performances to a higher level".

In an interview with "Rolling Coconuts", the author discussed the fact that even he has to make the effort of practicing with all his fingers and noted the fact that he does not always use his little finger as effectively as he would like. The implication seems to be "use this book to give all your fingers the workout". Being about US$30--¥2,625 including tax, I would like to get a look at it before plopping down the dough.

Supposedly, the book was due to come out tomorrow, but both the publisher's and Amazon Japan's website are a little vague about the exact date. It leads one to speculate that there may have been some last minute trouble of some sort. I have to run down to Tokyo in a week or two. I hope I can have a good look at it then.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ukulele Magazine volume 1

Rittor Music has released volume one of "Ukulele Magazine" with the cooperation of Rolling Coconuts. The 130 page-magazine comes with a CD which includes some of the learning material covered in the last third of the publication. The songs included as learning material are James Hill's "Down Rideau Canal", Bach's Jesus Bleibet Meine Freude (BWV147), "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", and "S'Wonderful". There are chords and strums for nine other songs, as well. Some of the strumming section is presented by Iwao and demonstrates some ways to bring your playing out of beginner mode and into a more intermediate arena.

There is also some description of the "three chords" idea, why they work, and how to expand on them. It give patterns in the keys of C, G, F, and A.

The first half of the magazine includes information on the various Japanese and other ukuleles available here and introductions to some of the larger shops in Tokyo and Osaka. One interesting side-bit is Iwao's confession of now using T's ukuleles primarily.

It can be order through Amazon Japan. If you are in Japan, quite a few music and bookstores are carrying.

A blurb at the back of the magazine claims that Rittor intends to make Ukulele Magazine an annual publication.

Ukulele Picnic 2007 Pre-event

Ukulele Picnic 2007, a free admission, big-name ukulele bash, is coming up 18 August. I will be be bringing some of the details to this blog in the very near future.

More pressing is the pre-event. On 16 July, there will be a concert given by many of the musicians performing at the main even in August. Those appearing at the pre-event include Sekiguchi Kazuyuki, Iwao, Arizato Tomoka, Kiyoshi Kobayashi, yoheiOKAMOTO, Ukulele Eiji, Ukulele Elvis, Alani Ohana Band, Dan, and Hirai Dai. (Hirai Dai is a 16-year-old protegy that will probably a big name in another 5-6 years. He was one of the opening acts at last year's Ukulele Super Jam.)

Tickets are 3,000 yen and include a drink at the venue, the DUO Music Exchange.

More details are available at the website. This link will lead you to a page covering all the various Ukulele Picnic info. Information on the pre-event is about 1/5 up from the bottom of this long page.

There will also be an "Ukulele Picnic four strings, for life" coming out in July. You can get some previews of some of the songs here.