Eilee G’s Uke Lessons & Beginner Vids

Here at last is Eilee’s Uke Lessons Page, and to help the Videos page load a little more easily, I’ve moved my early learning/performance videos to this new page instead, since they’re examples of the early learning process. I can point to things in these early performance videos from the lesson videos, and you can see skills develop both as parts and as a whole.

Learning the uke is a fat lot of fun! It’s an easy instrument as instruments go, and with a few chords and strumming/picking patterns under your belt, you’ll be ready to entertain yourself (and even a few forgiving audience members) in short time. 

And if you thought you’d see a bunch of different beginners being humiliated on this site you’re in for disappointment, it’s just me, unless I get one that’s as much a glutton for punishment as myself for a good cause. I’d never just do that to them! I’m a nice, low-key kind of teacher.

PART 1: THE LESSONS

Many of the lessons have been recorded and are just in the final editing process, so expect them very soon!

Expect videos on Uke Anatomy, Basic Chords, Strumming and Picking Techniques, Parlor Tricks, Metronome Facts, Tips on Stage Fright Survival, and more.

 

PART 2: THE EXAMPLES

These were already done; I just moved them over from the Videos page. There’s quite a few, so I moved the outline over too; simply use it as a table of contents to jump down to what you want to hear: say, if a song was referred to in one of the chord, technique, or trick lesson videos above (that would be, in the text portions superimposed upon each video), you can find it quickly to give it a listen. Remember, if you get error messages trying to play videos here, keep trying; often times it’ll work anyway (it makes some sense that my videos are ornery, lol). You may have to wait a couple minutes; I’m trying to figure out where else to host my videos because hosting them on here is really slowing my bandwidth to a glacial pace. Sorry for the delay!

 

OUTLINE: Progress Update Videos
    A.  3 Weeks
          1. La Vie En Rose
          2. The Nearness of You
          3. Tonight You Belong to Me
   B.  18 Months
          1. Malagueña
          2. Szomorú Vasárnap/Gloomy Sunday
          3. Bésame Mucho
    C. 20 Months
          1. (continuous video) Effect & Cause and St. Louis Blues
    D. 3 Years
          1. Dream a Little Dream
          2. I Put a Spell on You
          3. I Want to Be Evil
 

Progress Update Videos

These are informal videos I shot at home whenever I experienced a revelation or milestone I wanted to remember. It might be new songs, new techniques, new discoveries, or whatever. These are raw chronicles of where my skills are at during the phase noted on each update.

For those wondering if I play left-handed (no): the Progress Update videos are mostly shot from my laptop using Photo Booth,  which creates a mirror image from reality. I always fret with my left hand, and most of my ukes are tuned in standard GCEA format, although I’m starting to experiment.

3-Week Ukulele Progress Update

This was my very first progress video, only 3 weeks into learning to play the ukulele (it’s rough). I shot the video with a (primarily) “still” camera, which softly emits an annoying high-pitched tone throughout the video, and which I cannot figure how to edit out without also losing the music. Thankfully I learned not to use it again for this purpose. There are 3 very fuzzy videos for this 3-week update: 

 

 

1. La Vie en Rose – Lyrics: Edith Piaf, Melody: Louiguy & Marguerite Monnot, Paris, 1947 – La Vie en Rose was the song that I really wanted to learn to play first. When I went online looking for tablature, all I found was the chorus and the bridge – no verses, no intro, no coda to wrap it up. So from day one, I was doing my own arrangements by ear:

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2. The Nearness of You – Lyrics: Ned Washington, Music: Hoagy Carmichael; USA, 1938 – The Nearness of You was closer to the tabs I found, but I pared it down from the busier strumming pattern on the tabs – not because I couldn’t do the strumming (did it on La Vie) – but because I thought the song had a lovely simplicity; I wanted to have simple sound on the instrument and let my voice do the work on Nearness of You:

 

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3. Tonight You Belong to Me – Lyrics: Billy Rose, Music: Lee David; USA, 1926 – Strumming returned on Tonight You Belong to Me, which stayed pretty true to the original tabs I had located. Final thought notes for this 3-week update are at the end of this third video. My technique obviously needs lots of work here, as a totally green beginner:

 

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18-Month Ukulele Progress Update  

At 18 months my love of language study is showing a little more in my music choices. I recorded several songs in this session, but to avoid redundancy & to conserve time, I cut several numbers out. Listening to it later, I realized I needed to tune the use a wee bit better before the recording, but it’s okay. Beginners are given a pass if they’re lucky…but don’t let it happen again! Again, there are 3 videos for the 18-month update:

 

1. Malagueña – Words & Music: Ernesto Lecuona; Cuba, 1928 – one of my late father’s all-time favorites, Malagueña is best known in popular culture as a Spanish flamenco guitar song…but it’s actually a Cuban classical piano song! This is another of my original arrangements:

 

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2. Szomorú Vasárnap/Gloomy Sunday – Hungarian/English Lyrics: Lásló Jávor/Sam Lewis; Music: Rezsö Seress; Hungary/Paris, 1932-36 – possibly the saddest song ever written, this song was given, by something of an urban legend, the nickname “the Hungarian Suicide Song”. It is pure in its agony, and in my original interpretation I employ my very “emotional” sense of tempo:

 

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3. Bésame Mucho – Words & Music: Consuelo Velázquez; Mexico, 1940 – a perennial favorite, Bésame Mucho was written by Ms. Velázquez when she was relatively young and inexperienced in love. This was expressed in her original lyrics, and in later recordings, she altered them to reflect her more worldly knowledge she had gained; I toy with both versions:

 

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20-Month Ukulele Progress Update: Eilee Discovers Blues Chords, & “Mandolin is hard!”

By this point I had thought, “I’d like to try another instrument and see how that goes.” I got my hands on a mandolin for a good price, and having seen some brilliant man on YouTube who figured out you could tune the four pairs of strings on that in the same sequence as a ukulele, I did it and didn’t have to waste time learning a whole library of new chord shapes. I’d say I could play it immediately because of that, but as you’ll see, that was a bit of wishful thinking. Having a humble sense of humor about oneself as one stumbles through uncharted territory is a must, so I inserted a bunch of cheeky, self-effacing commentary throughout, like I was watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 or something. I sacrifice myself on the altar of (in)dignity, in order to present the painful and sometimes embarrassing process of learning, and present it honestly. In the spirit of this, I didn’t even do hair or makeup for this; it’s raw and rambling. This is for all the goofballs out there. It includes an educational attempt at playing mandolin along with iTunes – Effect & Cause (White Stripes), as well as a ukulele version of St. Louis BluesW. C. Handy, USA, 1914…and a whole lotta yackin’ after that, about what I’m learning about music (and much more that I don’t know about):

 

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3-Year Ukulele Update       

Well, O.M.G. I’ve played uke for 3…years. By this time, I’d started performing at informal functions and open mics and such.

You can tell on these videos I’m getting more confident in my growing skills, and at the open mic performances during this time I was even a bit sassy at times. It’s starting to get fun! Here I explain why I’m giving up mandolin and committing to ukulele, and this is when I had just acquired my first electric uke (an Ibanez) and a nice Fishman monitor/amp hybrid. I also reveal I’ve started going to open mics on a much more regular basis and describe what it’s like for a newbie at an open mic, and how I deal with stage fright.

 

Dream a Little Dream – Lyrics: Gus Kahn, Music: Fabian Andre & Wilbur Schwandt, USA, 1931 – I’m really stoked about my instrumental on this one; I worked hard at it and it’s a perfect example of finding on the frets what I hear in my head; I orchestrate things mentally first.

 

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I Put a Spell On You – Words and Music: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, USA, 1956 – This was practice done just before I performed it live for folks at Swallow Hill Music in Denver.

 

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I Want to Be Evil – Words & Music: Raymond Taylor & Lester Judson, USA, 1954 – another practice video before performing live. I am SO having a good time doing this!

 

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