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Hey, there's producer Ben.


Hi, folks, what a treat to be back on the air for ukulele practice time with Danno, it feels funny just saying that because it's been a couple of months since we've done ukulele practice time.

But Suzanne is excited to see Ben. I'm glad Ben has fans. Hi, Suzanne and Jeff and Sharon. And who knows who else is here.

But I am delighted, delighted to be back with you, my ukulele friends sharing tips, tidbits, tricks, stunts, chatter about the ukulele, the little instrument that we all love that makes us happy. So I just want to say hi to everybody who's tuning in. I'm seeing names like Karen and Faye.

I feel like a no on Romper Room. Miss What's-Her-Name, we look through her magic mirror, I see Ken and Gary and Sarah's here, I see her little Jeffy's here and Warde, so welcome one and all. I actually see some new names that I don't remember seeing back in season one. So welcome to the new folks.

Learning from teachers

When you tune in for ukulele practice time, whether you're a beginner, whether you're an experienced pro, what I find as a ukulele didn't is that almost always I can glean some helpful information from a teacher, whether it's exactly at my level or not. Why? Because different teachers are going to approach things in different ways. So if you're an old pro and we're going over something beginner, maybe you'll just hear something in a new way that hadn't struck you before and you might get that one little tidbit and vice versa.

If you think that what we're talking about feels too complex for you as a beginner, well, those things get filed away in your brain. And when you're ready for them, you'll have a sense of familiarity. You have been exposed to an idea and it will ripen for you more easily as a general rule. And I try to keep this as short as possible while going as long as necessary to to cover whatever we're covering. What that means in real minutes is usually about 15 or 20 minutes could be as short as 10 minutes on any given day. Sometimes we've gone over 30, but on average, four minutes per string, I would say. Julie ask, is this going to happen daily, a daily ish again? And the answer is yes.

The goal, Julie, and everyone is to do these Monday through Friday. I reserve the right to cancel a day on short notice as need be.

Song of the Day

Jeff, it's funny that you're here because I know this is a song that you work on. I was looking at this one. Tell me when you recognize it. I know some of you recognize that, Jeff, you're not allowed. Jim, I'm putting that up because it made me laugh It is a it's a yeah.

Suzanne. Got it. There we go. Brian got it to you. Hey, Brian. It's secret agent man. There is a man.

There it is. So I'm practicing right before your very eyes.

So there's a lot going on there that makes it fun. And I'm going to talk you through what those fun elements are. It's a quick, easy song to learn if you just learn the chords. But what are the extra things? That's what I like to focus on.

I'm working on an article for my blog, three things that will radically improve your ukulele playing and believe me, and the big money world of ukulele teaching, that's the sort of click bait that really pulls in the suckers. But there are three things, and I'm not going to expose what they are here, but I'll hint at them here today as part of me being a secret agent. Jeff, I know what you're a lesson as you play it in another key, and I think you probably use minor chords.

The point in this case is to learn some tidbits that you can work into the song or other songs as you see fit.

And the main one is this riff that you've heard me play this way.

Now, that is close to the riff of secret agent man. Somebody named it as James Bond and it's clearly referencing James Bond, isn't it?

So it's got that spy sound to it. And what when I say that there's an overarching or underlying skill or logic that's being used here, What I mean is that I'm going to show you how I'm using it in this song, but the goal is to think to yourself, what can I do to apply this idea to other songs, maybe not even to this chord?

And here's here's what I mean. Here's one example. Do you know e minor chord?

Figuring out songs

I enjoy sharing this particular riff, because when I worked this out, I was a brand new almost a brand new ukulele player, but something put that song in my mind and I wanted to learn it. And there's another one that I like to play called Goofus.

And that was one of the first songs I figured out myself on the ukulele and what delighted me about it was that. I didn't know that I was playing it wrong, that I had figured it out wrong. And by that I don't mean I had the wrong notes.

I was not doing it the way a music teacher would have shown me to do it.

I worked it out myself, and I'm doing weird finger calisthenics on both of those songs, and I'll show you what I mean in secret Agent Man, since that's our focus for today.

Harpo Marx

Do you know the story of Harpo Marx, the famous comedian who played the harp? You know, he tipped the harp back on your shoulder to play it. And same thing. Harpo, as a boy, found his grandmother's harp in their New York apartment and didn't know how to play it, but wanted to play.

So he picked it up and found it, he found a photograph and copied the photograph and he leaned it over his shoulder and taught himself to play the harp. Years later, some professional harp player came and told him that he was playing it backwards and the photo had been reversed, you know, the way that can happen. So he had leaned it up against the wrong shoulder and was playing it backwards. But how many harp players can you name?

I can only name one Harpo Marx. How many ukulele players of Secret Agent Man can you name? I can only name to Jeff and me, and we both play it differently.

The riff

So here's what I mean about a couple of things, playing it weird when I started trying to figure out that riff, all that's happening is I'm playing the E minor and I'm playing a melody note that goes up the first string.

First string closest to the floor. Right.

So if you were going to whistle that little riff, that's the part you would whistle. So little beginner ukulele player Danno was trying to figure out, well, how do I add that movement on top of the full E minor chord?

Because I knew I wanted that sound. I didn't want to just play the single string. That wasn't enough.

So the answer is and for those of you who have been with me through, you know, chord melody playing lessons, this is not a new idea. But the way I got to it might be a new idea. The idea is that you strum the chord while you add melody notes. So here's E Minor. Let's say I wanted this melody note way up here.

It's pretty simple to hold the chord and reach up with my spear finger, my little finger. So I can play the chord and a melody note, well, what happens when the melody note is down under the chord here and here?

The first note of the riff is built into the chord. That note is part of E Minor. So that one's given her a little gift from heaven for the next one.

I could squeeze up like this, but you see how that's already starting to get awkward.

Two fingers squeezed into one space with this one anchored, not impossible, but not ideal, but then how do you get to the next one?

You see what I mean, possible, but not good. All right, so then what I'm giving you here is my thought process so you can apply this in other situations.

So I try another one. What if I squeeze my little finger in underneath?

Ok, first node is built in again, doable, but wow, it's starting to get tight in there. It's better when I move up to the next one, but it just doesn't feel comfortable or reliable.

You know what I mean when you're playing.

When you're playing your instrument, especially in front of people you want, the way that you get to things to be reliable, and by that I simply mean that you need to know that you can get there. Now, sometimes that's just a question of practice, right? You haven't got the skill to do it yet. But sometimes, like in this case, it's worth recognizing that the way you're attempting it is foolish and that it's not going to be a reliable, speedy, efficient way to get there and do what you're trying to do.

Chime in if you have questions or comments.

So I started thinking, well, maybe I'm gonna have to use multiple fingers like I do when I play it on a single note, I use multiple fingers, first finger, second finger, third finger.

Can I do that while holding the cord? I could flop that finger over and then add my little finger.

Now, out of the ways I've tried that to me seems the best so far, and I still don't like it.

Do you see why?

It's just. It's unreliable. Like I said.

So I tried one more thing and. Remember I said we have beginner stuff, we have advanced stuff.

If you've worked out something like this before, this will not be a shocking revelation to you, but picture me as a new player working this out on my own and realizing a concept, realizing that I had worked it out and that I had understood a concept in the process, so here's my E minor.

If I want these fingers to be flexible so I can play the melody, that means I have to take this finger off string to write it's home normally is there on string, too, if I take it off.

This was just experimentation. This was no deep musical knowledge on my part. Oh, listen to that.

It still sounds like an E minor enough, like any minor, I should say, to satisfy the musicians here, and I actually like the sound of that open second string droning as I play and it just gets to ring out on its own. So now this finger is free.

Abbreviated chords

You see how I made it work and then I took it one step further, so the concept was I didn't have to be playing all the strings.

I didn't need to cover all the strings of the cord. I still got a sound that I wanted, and I now only two of my fingers on the neck. So this way is built on the original E minor chord, I think, Steffy. I get rid of that one. These are the two spots that I need covered, so this is the way I wound up preferring it instead of let me just show you.

I switch my fingers around, I cover the same two spots, and now I can go watch the first finger.

Do you see how I tried I didn't try to what I wound up doing was economizing my finger movement as much as possible to make it reliable now.

That's my that's my point. I want to encourage you to get your brain working that way when you run into a problem that you're trying to solve. Don't be locked into what the books are telling you or if you're Harpo Marx, what that photo is telling you.

It's going to be different for different people in different situations, so you have to ask yourself, what is my situation? What is my current skill level and what am I trying to accomplish? So some people will work it out different ways.

I came up with two ways that worked for me and settled on the one that I liked the best.

Wrapping up

So there we go.

That's what I wanted to talk about today. I wanted to try to open your mind to your own possibilities. Oh, I'm so close to writing a self-help book right now, aren't I?

So rather than teach you this specific song, I wanted to try to give you that big overview.

And we're going to leave it at that today. I see. Twenty six past the hour. And since we started at 12 to one, that's twenty five minutes. And I like to try to keep these right around there in that time zone.

Thanks again for the nice comments. And we're going to wrap it up there. But we'll be back again tomorrow at twelve oh one. Take care of everybody.

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