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 (“Progress Updates“) to this new page instead, since they’re examples of the early learning process; they are located after the Lessons. 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 are posted now but a couple stragglers have been recorded and are either in the final editing process or waiting on my hosting service’s video upload limits, so expect them very soon!
I’ve done videos on Uke Anatomy, Basic Chords, Strumming and Picking Techniques, Parlor Tricks, Metronome Facts, Tips on Stage Fright Survival, Early Paying Gigs, and more. If you see it in BOLD in this paragraph, then there’s a video on that below already! From the top down, the lessons are presented in the successive order intended, and they do build on each other to some degree.
Intro to the Lessons: please watch this first; I need your feedback to make these videos better!
Lesson 1: Care and Feeding of Your Pet Uke, LOL. Well, the vid’s really just telling you what everything’s called (everything major anyway) and what’s where and what it’s for.
For the next couple of videos, you may want to refer to this chord chart below, and remember that these videos are shot in what is a mirror image to reality, so you can imagine yourself in a mirror instead of me, and where you would put your fingers on the fretboard in relation to that. Occasionally I flip the image so you’d see what it looks like “live”, but the mirror image is the default in Photo Booth. I’ve seen other folks’ videos flipped as well, so perhaps you’re used to it. However, if you don’t find mirroring useful, please email me and tell me so, or comment on my Vimeo page. If enough people find it counterproductive, I may reproduce the videos. Much thanks!
Chords Part 1; easy ones here. Lots of songs are in C, A, and other chords I feature in this video. Below ALL of the Lesson Videos, you can find some example videos with songs that feature different keys. If you want to see something in C, check out “Dream a Little Dream” below. Or in G minor; see “I Put a Spell on You”. “Tonight You Belong to Me” is played in F below. A good exercise is to try to find the key you hear in a song being played, and familiarize yourself with what chords are common in each key. Before long it’ll take less time to find! But first, let’s learn some chords.
Chords Part 2…more chords just like it sounds….
And now the fun stuff: Techniques! Flavor, baby! In the SONG videos below the lessons, you can find strumming in La Vie En Rose, The Nearness of You, Tonight You Belong to Me, and in Besame Mucho, including a little flamenco styling. if you are looking instead for some picking techniques, take a peek at Gloomy Sunday. Percussive techniques are used (or attempted) in Effect & Cause and a whole lot of goodies are in I Put a Spell on You and Dream a Little Dream!
And now for some Parlor Tricks…again, see I Put a Spell on You and Dream a Little Dream. Malagueña is also full of just about every bell and whistle….
And some more talk about getting onstage…this time, what it’s like doing paid gigs: my experience with those who hired me and with my audience. (Live performing and stage fright are also discussed in some of my Progress videos further just a bit below in Section Two–particularly the vids for Dream a Little Dream and I Put a Spell on You.)
Look for more videos in the future! 🙂
PART 2: THE EXAMPLES
These were already done, mostly for my own reference at first; however, I thought they might help illustrate to you some of the chords and techniques I discuss in the videos above. There are quite a few, so I provided an outline; 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, or in the notes beneath), you can find it quickly to give it a listen. Remember, if you get error messages trying to play videos (ones that are not hosted by vimeo but instead are self hosted 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 minute; I’m waiting to host some of the ones below there too, but I have to limit what I put on my account there. Until then I’ll host the following videos here, but hosting them on here is really slowing my bandwidth to a glacial pace. Sorry for the delay; we’re working out the kinks bit by bit.
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
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
E. 5 Years…NEW! Just posted these 4 from my Vimeo page:
1. I Have to Have You
2. I Wanna Be Bad
3. Button Up Your Overcoat
3. Dark Eyes
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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 in a logical order:
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 (if shrill) at playing mandolin along with iTunes – Effect & Cause (White Stripes), as well as a ukulele version of St. Louis Blues – W. 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):
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.
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. Some notes on self evaluation here.
I Want to Be Evil – Words & Music: Raymond Taylor & Lester Judson, USA, 1954 – another practice video before performing live. More notes on analyzing one’s progress. I am SO having a good time doing this!
5-Year Ukulele Update
Well, at 5 years I was getting paid gigs at assisted living and memory care facilities, which I feel is a perfect audience for my repertoire and my affection for my elders and what they gave us. Although I have performed at such venues quite a lot now, I refrain from taping them in order to protect the privacy of the residents. Not all are aware enough to give legal permission, and I will protect all of them for even one. They present audiences that are among the most challenging – and the downright sweetest and appreciative – folks you’ll ever play for.
I bring tunes to these folks ranging from the 1910’s through the 1960’s, but my favorites are always the 1920’s and 1930’s. I usually plan my sets to represent a specific decade, and come dressed in costume that completes the illusion…the amp being the most obvious anachronism – but whatcha gonna do.
I Have to Have You – Lyrics & Music: Leo Robin, USA, 1929 – One of a series of three tunes I do acknowledging the charm of Helen Kane (the uncredited inspiration for Betty Boop) and other singers who worked the popular “baby voice” song stylings like she did.
I Wanna Be Bad – Lyrics & Music: Ray Henderson and Lew Brown/Buddy DeSilva, USA, 1929 – Another of a series of three tunes I do acknowledging the charm of Helen Kane (the uncredited inspiration for Betty Boop) and other singers who worked the popular “baby voice” song stylings like she did.
Button Up Your Overcoat – Lyrics & Music: Ray Henderson & Lew Brown/B. G. DeSilva, USA, 1929 – And yet another of a series of three tunes I do acknowledging the charm of Helen Kane (the uncredited inspiration for Betty Boop) and other singers who worked the popular “baby voice” song stylings like she did.
Dark Eyes – Lyrics & Music: Yevhen Hrebinka & Florian Hermann, Ukraine/Russian Traditional, 1843-ish – A beautiful “gypsy” song (said most lovingly; what passionate music) from Slavic roots, sung in English and Russian.
All content on this site © 2013-2020/present L. Eilee S. George; all rights reserved.