Oh! What fun we’re going to have!
Wednesday Night: Right out of the gate, Rhan Wilson will take command of our first Get Acquainted Campfire Jam and show us How We Play Together, because from here on out, even when you’re not at camp, playing music in large (or small) groups shouldn’t be a “hit or miss” situation. Everyone, group leaders and followers, will benefit from some simple tips on how to start and stop together, determine good tempos, and improvise arrangements “on the fly.” And then. . . . .we jam.
Thursday, Friday, & Saturday Mornings: We’ll start each day with a little Morning Vocal Wake-up with Rick Zeek, while those (beginners & advanced players) who are feeling in need of a little help with their hand positioning for pain-free playing can visit with Dave Egan for a little session on ‘Ukulele Ergonomics. (A good strap is essential for proper technique.) Beginners and advanced players can get a great benefit from this workshop.
And then, Jim D’Ville will teach us all some Songs the Fun Way – by Ear! in a hands on, ears on, play-along song session featuring some of the most popular tunes in Western pop music (and the chord progressions common to most of them.) You’ll never go back to “the book” again.
The afternoon all-camp session with Jim will offer another opportunity to play by ear but this time you’ll work on a number of tunes by those masters of the three-chord form, Hank Williams and Buck Owens. . . . .by Ear! Take away a number of country classics—Jambalaya, Your Cheatin’ Heart, Hey, Good Lookin’, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail, Cryin’ Time, Together Again, and Foolin’ —and learn the hooks that made these songs famous, basic song structure, and the Nashville Number System.
And through-out the day, you’ll have an opportunity to visit with The Uke Guru, and ask him. . . . .anything! The Guru is all yours for 15 minutes of personal attention and focus on whatever you need work on: tricky chords, theory, “strumming,” or ways to improve your confidence or open mic presentations. Make the journey . . . . .the Uke Guru is happy to help you.
But that’s not all! There will be two additional and focused workshop sessions each day with three workshops offered in each one. So, get ready to have some difficult decisions to make:
Session 1 – Thursday
Rhan – Rhythm Basics for Beginners: If you’re new to the ukulele, or just can’t get the hang of strumming, this is the best place to start. Once you get your rhythm in the groove, and learn a few of the fundamentals. Listen, learn, and play. (Beginner/Advanced Beginner)
Gary – Yes, Sir, That’s My Solo: If you feel ready to jump right in, here’s a chance to learn an historic 1920s solo version of the Walter Donaldson/Gus Kahn classic, “Yes Sir, That’s my Baby.” This surprisingly simple tuneoffers an opportunity to master a cleverly-simple-but-challenging technique that’s a great introduction to flashy Roy Smeck-style solos. (Advanced Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced)
Dave – Ukulele Arrangements, Step-by-Step: If you get frustrated trying to find really interesting ways to play your favorite songs on the uke, this 3-day course will get you past all the usual stumbling blocks, starting with four or five lead sheets of popular songs with blank chord grids, you’ll fill in together With your uke in one hand and a pencil in the other, you are going to learn by doing. And since the song selection will cover basic to moderate material, this class is not just for advanced players. The idea is to tailor your arrangements to your skill level while pushing the envelope to bring your playing and arranging skills forward. (Intermediate/Advanced)
Session 1 – Friday
Gary – Something Good (For a Change): If you find yourself asking, “What’s the right strum for this song?” this workshop will point you in the right direction. Using the Herman’s Hermits classic “I’m Into Something Good” we’ll learn how the right strum—at the right time—can unlock a new way of thinking about rhythm and strumming and lead to a much more enjoyable experience for your listeners. . . . .and you! (Advanced Beginner/Intermediate)
Rhan – Beginning Finger-Picking: This is such a great way to enhance your music, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. In this workshop geared toward beginning finger-pickers, Rhan will introduce you to some simple finger-picking patterns to learn and practice and let you know when and where to use them.
Dave – Ukulele Arrangements, Step-by-Step: This is a continuation of Thursday’s class, and a preamble to Saturday’s class with Dave.
Session 1 – Saturday
Gary – Great Things Come in Threes: If you’re stuck in the down-up world of the ukulele and are ready to explore a new range of rhythms and strumming, it might be time for you to explore the triple strum and how to use it for different styles, rhythms, and effects. Regardless of whether you are just proficient with basic one-finger strumming or if you have mastered the basic finger-and-thumb stroke and are ready for a challenge, there will be plenty to learn and master, here. (Advanced Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced)
Rhan – TBA: It’s always a good idea to leave a little window open for something we may need to add…….and this is that window.
Dave – Ukulele Arrangements, Step-by-Step: This is a continuation of Thursday and Friday’s classes and will culminate, not only in a unique arrangement suitable for you, but with the skill and know-how to create more.
Session 2 – Thursday
Gary – Intro to Strumming: Do you still need some basic help with strumming, then this is the workshop for you. In it, Gary will demonstrate proper mechanics for the index finger or “common” strumming style, then show you how to master a variety of useful and fun rhythms and throw in a few tricks along the way! (Beginner/Advanced Beginner)
Jim – The Emotional Value of Chords: What? That’s right. Each of the chords associated with the seven notes of a major scale evokes a certain emotional response from the listener. Learning these chordal relationships will open your ears to the chord progressions of millions of songs and is one of the first steps to learning to play by ear. (The real first step is trusting your self and doing away with the “paper.” Knowledge of finger positions for C, dm, em, F, G, am, bdim will be helpful. (Advanced Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced)
Dave – Intro to Jazz Standards: Let’s get into some music, specifically the jazz standards and timeless treasures of the 20s 30s and 40s. In this workshop you will learn a few classics adapted to the uke with all the original beautiful chords, starting with some easy open chords and gradually moving to some more difficult arrangements. In the process we’ll learn how wonderful these songs can sound and be played when they are not over-simplified to the point of losing their original richness. (Intermediate/Advanced)
Session 2 – Friday
Jim – Strumming & Picking Ukulele by Ear: Starting with the basic index finger strum, your muscle memory will absorb fun strums like The Gallop Triplett, The Chunky Chop and many, many more to spice up your playing. And, you’ll learn to pick the melodies to your favorite songs without tab! This ground-breaking workshop is the first of its kind to use the solfege syllables to organically train your ears to hear and play the scale patterns where all the melodies live. Topics will include playing scales, arpeggios, rolls and fills, and of course songs! This workshop is the first step to being able to play anything that comes into your head! (All Levels)
Gary – Welcome to 12th Street Rag: The “12th Street Rag” is a true banjo and ‘ukulele chestnut, and in this two-part workshop, you’ll learn its basic form and the fundamental techniques you need to make this song your own. In Session One, Gary will introduce the left- and right-hand techniques that form the basic building blocks of the arrangement. Then you’ll put it all together in Session Two. (Intermediate/Advanced)
Dave – Chord Inversions and Variations: Even before you may have mastered everything else, it’s never too soon to explore the inversions of chords as they move up the neck, in patterns that repeat and reveal overlapping relationships among chord families. It’s no where near as complicated as it might sound, and learning these simple patterns will give you confidence to move your chords up the neck and find more interesting choices, benefiting both chord and single-note playing. (Advanced Beginner/ Intermediate/Advanced)
Session 2 – Saturday
Gary – Welcome to 12th Street Rag (Session 2): Now that you’ve learned the basic building blocks in Session 1, and had time to practice and absorb them, you are ready to put it all together and create a magical tune for all to enjoy.
Dave – Right Hand Revisited: We can’t let you leave camp without one more look at your right hand and what the heck it’s doing. In this workshop Dave will teach you the best ways to get great tone and play with assertive rhythm while integrating picking and strumming into a single right hand technique. Smooth chord transitions with the left hand aren’t much without a good right hand. ( Advanced Beginner/Intermediate)
And don’t forget the lessons to be learned and the fun to be had at our campfire jams.
On Wednesday night, Rhan will lead us through a number of fabulous tunes while teaching the fundamentals of Playing Together. (And you might also have an opportunity to lead the rest of us in a tune or two, as well.
And at the Friday Campfire Jam, Jim D’Ville will be bringing us the The Crickets & The Beatles. In case you don’t know, the Beatles got the idea for their name from Buddy Holly and the Crickets and recorded no less seven Buddy Holly songs, and played as many as thirteen in their early years. In this fun and engaging workshop we’ll play and learn the exciting chord progressions and musical hooks The Beatles borrowed from Buddy Holly to create the most exciting rock and roll music of the early 1960’s. Come dressed for the part and win raffle tickets!
But it’s not over until we sing and play a little Gospel Music with Rick and Rhan on Sunday morning, a camp tradition that has also become a camp favorite.