ukestuff

Ukulele "Stuff": Education, Technology, Play Alongs, Reviews, Accessories, and More!

The Fret Zealot for Ukulele

I have been in touch with Fret Zealot (the company) for some time. The Fret Zealot is a device that you can put on a guitar–and now a ukulele–to learn how to play the instrument. We decided to wait for a review until the product was released for ukulele. Originally I was hoping to simply review a unit installed on a ukulele, but it made sense for the company to send me a unit to install on one of my ukuleles.

The Fret Zealot is a combination of adhesive strips containing wiring and LED Lights, and a control module that connects to the strips and which gets mounted to the ukulele. The strips (3M) are rather permanent (they can be removed), but the control module can be removed at any time–and is charged by a USB mini plug. The control module interacts with an iOS or Android device, allowing you to interact with the Fret Zealot app.

The app has three basic parts…”Play” “Learn” and “Fun.”

“Play” has a library of songs (more about this in a moment), a tuner, and a metronome. The song list is rather long, but not very useful. The notes or chords that show are not connected to a “real” audio file, and there are no lyrics. So to be honest, I wouldn’t spend much time there.

“Learn” is where the power of the Fret Zealot comes into play. You can have the device show you different chords, scales, and notes. Amazingly, there are a few videos–songs and lessons–from Justin Guitar and The Ukulele Teacher that have been “programmed” to work with the Fret Zealot, and this is simply amazing. This is where the future lies with this technology, and Fret Zealot is on the leading edge. I just hope the library of videos continues to grow. There are also partner apps…Guitar 3D, Uberchord (old acquaintances of mine from techinmusiced.com) and Spark. I do not think that any of these partner apps are ukulele friendly.

“Fun” is, for now, a way to have your Fret Zealot show off rather fun display patterns on the LED strips. You can see examples of this at the start of the YouTube review embedded below.

As for the device itself, it works, and I’m excited about the future for Fret Zealot. The whole idea of the Fret Zealot is that you can turn any ukulele into a learning device, rather than having to buy a specialized ukulele.

I do have some criticism about the device, and I’ll share those thoughts, too. My preference is to have action at the 1st Fret to be .5mm. This was too low for the Fret Zealot and caused buzzing on the dual LED strip in the 1st Fret. I had to find a ukulele that had higher action to avoid the buzz–and had to remove an already installed Fret Zealot to do it. This isn’t the Fret Zealot’s fault, but it isn’t a device to be taken on and off at will–you commit to having it on your device until you take it off.

After installing the Fret Zealot on a different ukulele, I found that I really didn’t like the top row of LEDs, a dual strip. The top row represents an “open string,” and the immediate second row represents the 1st Fret. The diagrams for the Fret Zealot all show installation towards the actual (metal) fret, which placed the indicator for the “nut” in the middle of the 1st Fret–and this really threw me off.

As a result, I uninstalled the Fret Zealot AGAIN and moved it as high as I could on each fret, making the first row of LEDs much closer to the nut. Really, I’d love for that first strip to be above the nut, but I don’t know if that is possible.

And the penalty for a movement of the Fret Zealot a third time was that the top corner of the Fret Zealot (the one with the main cable) no longer sticks like it should, and as a result, there was some buzzing where the G string interacted with the top left corner of the Fret Zealot LED strip. I need to say very clearly that this is my fault and no fault of the Fret Zealot. Adhesive materials simply cannot be removed and replaced over and over again with the same results.

As I previously mentioned, the song library doesn’t seem to be very useful to me, and when installed, the Fret Zealot adds significant weight to the headstock.

That said, this is a product I’m really excited about, because it can help people learn how to play ukulele. The ability to sync videos with the Fret Zealot is a game changer, and the only problem is that videos need to be added one at a time, and that takes hours of labor, and thus lots of money. Perhaps Fret Zealot could make a end-user “video sync” app that would allow end users to make videos that could be added to the Fret Zealot library. I also love the idea of connection with other apps, so it would be fun to see what could be done with some other ukulele apps–anything from Kala’s library (and Musopia/Ukeoke) to Monster Chords (which uses or used to use some functionality with Uberchord).

I hope that future versions will be able to reduce the size of the controller, the height of the LEDs, and the cost of the device. But if you are looking for a device that can help you learn how to play the ukulele–making your existing ukulele an “intelligent ukulele,” Fret Zealot is worth checking out. And while there are other “intelligent ukuleles” on the market, if you buy one of those ukuleles, you have to choose from those ukuleles. With the Fret Zealot, you can connect any concert or tenor ukulele that you might have.

You can find the Fret Zealot at fretzealot.com and Amazon.com (look up “Fret Zealot Ukulele” and choose “concert” or “tenor”).

Many thanks to Fret Zealot for sending me a unit to review!


My video review appears below. Honestly, it’s a little scattered as I was trying to record what I was doing with the Fret Zealot app on my iPad while using the Fret Zealot and making a video at the same time. My iPad wasn’t recording all of the interactions with the app, and the part I wanted to demonstrate most–the syncing with The Ukulele Teacher’s video would not record (perhaps this is an iOS copyright limitation). Therefore, I wrote this more concise blog post, which says everything I say in the video.

This post will also appear on techinmusiced.com

What’s Your Goal?

Every now and then, I see a video of Taimane, a virtuoso ukulele player, posted on social media. Here’s an example:

People comment something to the effect of:

“Wow. I wish I was that good,” or “Goals.”

I also see posts saying, “Girl plays amazing ukulele.” Well, she’s a “girl,” but more accurately, she is a woman in her 30s (with a naturally youthful appearance) and a master player of the ukulele. She has worked incredibly hard to be successful–she didn’t just pick up a ukulele and play the way she’s playing two months later.

Taimane has been playing since she was a little girl, and the ukulele isn’t a hobby for her–it is her life. Her life revolves around playing the ukulele, performing live concerts and recording. And while she makes a living doing so–I’m willing to bet that she doesn’t earn “rock star money.” Drake (the current top album seller) hasn’t done any ukulele work, to my knowledge! Incidentally, Taimane has a very nice singing voice, and I always say that I wish that she would sing more. She is also known for being an entertaining artist…she performs barefoot and quite literally dances all over the stage while she is playing. I doubt you or I will be doing that, either.

Most of us are picking up the ukulele at an older age, as a hobby. I encourage you to go as far with the ukulele as you can. Have fun with it. And learn to play the music you want to play.

At the same time, is it realistic to want to be the next Taimane? Or Jake Shimabukuro?

Again–Taimane and Jake are players who have been playing since their childhood–just like Feng E and Evan Silva today.

I fear for the people that expect to be able to play like Taimane or Jake. Are you willing–or able–to put in the thousands of hours of practice they have put into their playing? Are you growing up in a community that fosters and encourages the playing of the ukulele (Taimane and Jake both grew up in Hawaii before this most recent ukulele “boom,” which Jake was a part of creating)?

If not, keep getting better at your own playing at your own pace, have fun, and support others. Take lessons and attend festivals. Read, learn, and watch. Become the best player you can be. But don’t worry about becoming like Taimane or Jake–enjoy their virtuosity and make yourself the best player you can realistically be.

A Ukulele Shopping List for Schools, 2019

I follow a number of ukulele forums or groups, and every few weeks there is a question from someone that says something to this effect:

“I am writing a grant for ukuleles and I need to know what to ask for.”

Or, “I have been given permission to buy ukuleles. What do I do?”

Then what happens is that people post answers based on their personal experience, whether as a solo player, or whatever their school bought.

And I find myself opposed to the answers that are being given, and I’m not going to say so in the thread, and plus any feedback I offer is going to get lost in the mix of other responses.

I see a lot of suggestions that people buy Makala, Kala, Luna, Lanikai, Ohana, Flight, or Diamond Head ukuleles for schools. This is a course of action I cannot fully endorse–let me explain why.

Issue #1: Set up

The ukuleles from these companies, which are generally going to be laminate ukuleles, are Chinese import ukuleles. I have nothing against the fact that they are laminate or Chinese–I own quite a few of them. I need the potential buyer to be aware of two things. First, the action, or the string height, of these ukuleles is almost always high. They are set up that way at the factory, and shipped to the US, where they are then shipped to dealers.

When the action on a ukulele is high, it makes it harder to press down on the strings to play a chord, and can cause the ukulele to play out of tune (you end up stretching the string further than necessary to play the note). There are a couple of dealers who DO include ukulele set-up, where action is adjusted, as part of the purchase (Mim’s Ukes and The Uke Republic for entry level Kala and Ohana models). But most dealers DO NOT set up the ukuleles.

So as a public service announcement, if you’re going to buy ukuleles, there’s a pretty good chance they are coming with high action. For the sake of your students and their experience with the instrument, you will either need to learn how to adjust the action on each ukulele yourself, or take them to a luthier…and a luthier will likely charge between $25 to $50 to set up each ukulele (and some luthiers don’t know how to properly set up ukuleles).

I have NOTHING against Kala (Makala), Ohana, Flight, or Luna (I won’t buy a Diamond Head…sorry) and I own at least one of each of them, but I have either bought them from a dealer who set them up, or I have set them up myself. I also bought a classroom set of Caramel Ukuleles for my school several years ago, and I had to set them up myself. And that adds a lot of time to the process.

There are a couple of brands which I have found that ship from China with the instruments actually set up correctly, which makes me wonder why the “big boys” can’t do it. And I wish the big companies would offer education “packages” of ukuleles that also included setup. I will list those companies at the end of this post, without a referral link.

Issue #2 Humidity

Solid wood ukuleles are usually not recommended for schools–they cost more and our schools tend to be very dry places–resulting in cracked instruments.

Most schools are buying laminate instruments…basically plywood with a veneer on the top. I have NOTHING AGAINST laminates, and I own a bunch of them. Laminates aren’t going to crack with low humidity, and they’ll handle drops better (but will still potentially break with misuse and poor care).

That said, laminates still have a solid wood neck, and a fretboard made of solid wood. As humidity increased and decreases with interior heating and air conditioning, the fretboard in particular expands and contracts, resulting in the metal frets–which do not expand or contract–sticking out at the ends. Playing on ukuleles with exposed fret ends hurts and can cause bleeding.

As a teacher, you either need to learn how to repair “fret creep” or you have to take the instruments to a luthier to have it done (another expensive repair). And it isn’t an issue of “will it happen,” but more an issue of “when will it happen.” Unless you teach in a school with a controlled humidity between 40%-60%, if you have ukuleles, you have to plan for this. That includes Makala, Luna, Kala, Ohana, Diamond Head, and any other ukulele with a wooden fretboard.

There are ukuleles that are made out of plastic (ABS or Polycarbonate), and there are a couple brands I can recommend. I do have to offer a warning on the Kala Waterman brand, as many ukulele players have mentioned that the string action can be very, very high, and that action is not adjustable on the Waterman ukuleles. If you buy Waterman ukuleles, check them with a string action ruler when you receive them. Action at the 1st fret should be at (or under) .5mm, and action at the 12th fret should be at (or under) 2.75mm. If you get Waterman with action above those levels, send them back, for the sake of your students.

Ukulele Size

When it comes to school, what size ukulele can depend on the age of the students you are teaching. I still suggest concert ukuleles to most players (schools, too) as they aren’t much larger than a soprano or that much smaller than a tenor.

A Shopping List

So, what do I recommend for low cost ukuleles for schools? Here’s a list, with a few reasons attached.

Ukuleles

  • Enya KUC-20 (~$50). Amazon. Laminate ukuleles that come with a great set-up, and a package including a gig bag, tuner, strap, and more. Concert size. Risk: fret creep with wood (rosewood) fretboard.
  • Enya X1M (~$50). Amazon. An HPL laminate (different material) ukulele with a great set-up and full package. Concert size. Fretboard is made of richlite and should not experience fret creep.
  • Aklot AKC-23 (~$60). Solid top mahogany ukulele package. You will need to plan for humidification for the solid top. Concert size. Risk: fret creep, humidity issues with sound board.
  • Flight TUS-35 (~$50). ABS body, neck, and fretboard with a solid wood (linden wood) sound board. Very thin gig bag included. Soprano size. Risk: None.
  • Enya Nova (~$90). Polycarbonate (30% carbon fiber) ukulele in a package (strings, case, strap). Concert size. Risk: accidental drops could chip paint.
  • Outdoor Ukulele Soprano ($115), Tenor ($155). A polycarbonate ukulele (versions with carbon fiber available for more) with a great neck design and low action. Roughly a 40% discount available to schools if buying in sets of 15 or more, contact Outdoor Ukulele for more information. Risk: no concert size available.
  • Any ukulele purchased from Mim’s Ukes or The Uke Republic. Set-up is included in their price. Be aware, fret creep will still occur with a wooden fretboard.

Accessories

  • Jowoom Smart Tuner ($80) or Roadie 2 Tuner ($130). You’re going to be tuning these ukuleles a lot. This makes it easier, and you can do other things while you’re tuning. Highly recommended. My preference is for the Jowoom, but both items are good products.
  • KIDS ukulele strings by Aquilla. The strings are colored (Green, Red, Yellow, and Blue) which makes teaching MUCH easier. It takes away a grid mentality, and you can say, “First fret/box, blue string, third finger.” Removing that one number changes everything. You can buy these in bulk in sets of 20 right from the Aquila website. After shipping, it ends up being less than $3.00 per set of strings–a better deal than you’ll find anywhere else.
  • Manual string winder/string clipper combo. If you have a Jowoom Smart Tuner, you won’t be using it for winding strings, but it still comes in handy–and it helps to have the clipper function.
  • Felt Picks. I believe in removing obstacles for students when it comes to ukulele…so I had both custom leather picks custom made with our school logo (see Stones Music) and felt picks made of a stiff synthetic felt (Contact Aetna Felt and inquire about it…they made a mold which should be available for others to use). Some students are going to complain about strumming with their fingers…so give them an option.
  • Ukulele storage. There are lots of options. My room uses 2’x4’s with “U Tool Hangers” from Menard’s (a super sized hardware store like the Home Depot and Lowe’s). If you don’t have wall space, do some research.
  • Ukefarm Fonts. You’ll want to create resources. Go to Ukefarm.com and buy the fonts for ukulele!
  • A ukulele curriculum. I personally believe in teaching ukulele the way that people want to play it–to accompany themselves playing the songs they love, rather than as a “traditional” classical instrument. I know some people will disagree with me, but I think we teach enough on a “classical” approach that it’s okay to pursue a more casual approach to learning music. I create ukulele play alongs, and I’ve created a method introducing chords in the order they are most used in play along videos…along with tutorials for each chord AND skill drills. I’m currently working on the “next” set of videos entitled, “The Final Five Chords” (they aren’t really, but after these chords, students will have the ability to play anything). I also strongly believe in introducing the barre chord from the first day of playing…something I will post about later.

    I’ve put all the videos in order as embedded YouTube videos on a Google Slides presentation. Many of the videos have been made by me, some have been made by others, and the actual content belongs to copyright holders. I’m simply arranging existing materials into an organized method. But that takes time and effort, too–and is something I don’t want to simply give away for free when I’m already giving all the other resources away for free.

    I’m still trying to figure out how to package all of this. I’d love for users to send in an amount each year ($5 to $10) to get access to the materials. When I figure it out, I’ll be sure to post about it.
  • Learn more. Subscribe to some of the Ukulele Groups (Facebook, Ukulele Underground), and some great channels on YouTube, such as my own (youtube.com/ukeplayalongs and youtube.com/ukestuff) as well as the other channels linked on my channel. You can also find a lot of great links here on this blog.

The UkeBuddy (Ukulele Buddy) by ChordBuddy

About a month ago, Daniel Hulbert at Circuits and Strings (website and YouTube channel) posted about the UkeBuddy, a new product by Chord Buddy. ChordBuddy is a guitar learning product that helps you play chords through a device that you connect to the neck of the guitar, but over time, you remove parts of the device and learn to play on your own.

I am interested in devices that can be used for students with various disabilities to open up the world of ukulele playing to them, and I contacted the company and asked for a review unit, and they were happy to send it. At the time of writing this blog, the UkeBuddy is temporarily sold out and sells for $30.

The UkeBuddy is a step in that same direction for the ukulele. It is a device that you connect to the neck of a ukulele, but it only has buttons for two chords (F and G; three chords if you count the C chord), but it does not disassemble to help you learn those chords on your own.

The device is well made, with good sized buttons, and can be used on soprano, concert, or tenor ukuleles. It is easy to attach, and works as suggested. You are also given a book of songs to play (more about this in a moment) and there is a very basic but functional app for iOS and Android that gives you access to videos for all of the songs (as well as some other material). The song book is color coded to the UkeBuddy colors, as are the videos, and the song book is made up of various folk songs. I like that the traditional chord shapes are shown in addition to color, so that when you remove the UkeBuddy, you can still play the right chords based on a chord diagram.

I like the UkeBuddy, and I’d recommend it over another competitor’s product because of the quality of the device, the way it is flexible for three ukulele sizes, the size of the buttons, and the included materials (book and app). That said, there are things I’d love to see on the UkeBuddy 2.0 if it ever happens:

  • I wish the chord colors aligned with one of the other existing color chord methods…whether Rainbow Ukulele, Kala Color Chord, of Judy Fjell’s system. We don’t need four ukulele color systems…and there are probably yet more systems (Bernadette Teaches Music? Ukulaliens?)
  • The book (and video) include Am, in yellow. There is no longer a yellow sticker included, and there really isn’t room for your finger to play an Am Chord anyway.
  • I’d love to see 4 buttons on the device so the tactile experience is the same on all four chords (C, F, G, Am), and so that 4 chord songs are opened to the player. Then, in theory, you could also capo the ukulele and move the UkeBuddy and play in different keys, too (until fret spacing became too tight to make the “G chord” up the neck).
  • Finally, I’d love to make Ukulele Play Alongs for each of the tunes, if we could find high quality audio versions (or make versions) of the songs in the Key of C that went along with the method.

Again, I like devices that can open the ukulele as an instrument to more players. The UkeBuddy “fits the bill,” is fairly priced, and is a quality device that is going to last. Yes, I’d love to see some changes…but if you have small children, or know of people that need help to play basic chords, this is a great solution. My video review appears below.

Least Favorite Ukulele Question

I just spent some time on Facebook and the web-based Ukulele Underground Forums. I have decided that my least favorite question comes from someone new that asks, “What kind of ukulele should I buy?”

As a teacher, I know that we’re supposed to say that every question is a good and valid question. In this case, “What kind of ukulele should I buy?” is a terrible question.

I appreciate that someone new to the ukulele wants advice, but there are so many possibilities with ukuleles that more information is needed from the person who asks the question, and there is great danger in the answers that are provided by “knowledgeable” ukulele players.

I have seen “expert” ukulele players (people on forums) suggest to people that a first time player should buy the most expensive instrument they can afford, even if it is a $1200 Kamaka. I don’t agree. And, in fact, I strongly discourage this

This question is asked by teachers wanting to buy ukuleles for their schools, too.

For the buyer, here are some things to consider in your question:

  • Location. Where are you located? Not all brands can be purchased in all places. Where you live in the world also influences the accessories you need to buy (e.g. humidifiers, etc.)
  • Budget. How much can you spend?
  • Material. Plastic? Laminate? Solid top? Solid? If wood, what kind of wood?
  • Size. Soprano, concert, tenor, baritone, or something inbetween?
  • Style. Double bout? Cut out? Paddle? Pineapple? Round? Solid body? Arch top? Electric? Slotted headstock? Decoration (Rosettes, Purfling, etc.). Type of bridge (Slotted? Tie bar? Pull-through?)
  • Tuners. Friction tuners? Geared tuners? UPT?
  • Vendor. Are you looking to buy from a local store, a trusted internet ukulele dealer, or Amazon?
  • Accessories. What accessories do you want/need? Strap buttons? Straps? Picks? Cases? Strings? Tuner?
  • Playability. What is the action going to be like on the instrument when you buy it, from wherever you buy it from? Having a good set up matters.

And then what happens, a huge percent of the time, is that any advice they are given is ignored and they buy the cheapest instrument they can find online–and many times, it is a ukulele shaped object.

I have a whole list of recommended instruments that I have found to be inexpensive and well crafted–giving a player a chance to start off right. Let’s be honest…it is far too easy to start playing and just stick a ukulele in the closet after a while (I think part of the reason some players suggest Kamakas is so they have access to a heavily discounted Kamaka down the road). But let’s be honest…your first ukulele, if you learn to play it, is not going to be your last…so it makes sense to buy a more affordable model so that you can buy that second and third ukulele later–when you are also more informed. When we love something, we learn more about it…and we have hopefully avoided making mistakes in our previous state of being unaware of things.

I will be making some suggestions in a couple weeks for my “annual” ukulele gift guide…so watch for that.

At The 2019 Wisconsin Music Education Conference

Hello! I will have two sessions at the Wisconsin Music Conference this week!

The first session is “A Ukulele Methodology for the 21st Century” at 8:45am on Thursday Morning, in Rooms M/N/Q/R/L/P Monona Terrace

The second session is “Going Beyond the First Five Chords” at 10am on Friday Morning, also in Rooms M/N/Q/R/L/P Monona Terrace

A very special “Thank You” to Peripole, which is my sponsor for this event.

New Version of the Jowoom Smart Tuner

A few weeks ago, I brought my personal Jowoom Smart Tuner with me to my new school, and it had a REALLY hard fall on the terrazzo floor (VERY hard surface). It wasn’t a typical fall…it went down hard and hit a few times. That unit stopped working. About the same time (I had not mentioned it), Jowoom contacted me about reviewing their updated product, and I was more than happy to take them up on the offer.

Keep this in mind: I received a unit for review purposes, and had also received two prior models. I had also purchased two others for my previous school. What I’m trying to say is that while I have received product for review, I have bought more of it–and that should mean something.

To be honest, the new version of the Smart Tuner isn’t too much different on the outside. It still has the nice “weighty” body, the big battery, and the same general features. It can replace a tuner and a string winder. The improvements for this model are a much improved LCD screen and customized tunings for guitar. As I don’t play guitar very much, the biggest improvement for me is the LCD screen.

The biggest online complaints about this product are when people don’t know how to use it. The manual is well written in English, but to make it simpler, you turn it on (and off, although there is auto-shut off) with the button farthest to the left. A single press of this button while the unit is on changes the choice of instrument (mine is always on “uke”). I do use the chromatic setting for my eight string ukuleles. The middle button toggles Semi-Auto or Auto mode. I use Auto mode all the time; the Semi-Auto mode requires a press of the “S” button (select) every time you want to change the string you are tuning (you are selecting which string you want to tune). There’s also a hole to do a reset (use a paper clip) and Up and Down (DW) buttons that are great for restringing, or when a string is so far off that you need to get it closer to its needed pitch.

The things I really love about this tuner are the price (about $80 from Amazon or Jowoom.com), the weight of the unit (it feels solid), the long life of the battery (lots and lots of tunings), and the Auto mode. I love that I can go to ukulele to ukulele without pressing any buttons (unless a string is so far out of tune that I have to use the Up and Down buttons). And I love that I can tune like crazy and be able to do more than one thing at a time, which I am finding to be a massively important skill at the elementary level!

If you have a custom tuned ukulele, this will not work for you, and anyone in D6 or other tunings will have to find another solution (although, to be honest, if you are a school in D6 tuning, such as in Canada, reach out to Jowoom…they might be able to program a batch of tuners specifically for your needs). This will also not work for friction tuners or UPT tuners. You CAN turn on ukulele Low G tuning in Semi Auto mode.

I should also mention that there are times that the unit may not hear a specific tuner well; or that it might keep spinning. If the spinning situation happens to you, you have to be aware of it, and simply remove the tuner from the tuning peg. It is also good to look to make sure that you’re not in the wrong mode (e.g. tuning C while still on reentrant G).

I loved using these in the classroom last year (I could have students tune), and I’d recommend them for any school, music vendor, or even a group leader. They might also be nice for individuals who wish to just not worry about tuning with a clip on tuner.

There is a competitor to this product with different features, and I prefer the Jowoom Smart Tuner T2 for schools and multi-ukulele scenarios based on the things I discussed above.

October (2019) Update

Happy October, everyone!

As I write this post, the main YouTube channel (YouTube.com/ukeplayalongs) is approaching 35,000 subscribers! Thank you very much for your support and thank you for watching videos on my YouTube channels.

I continue to have two goals with this work channel–beyond providing resources for ukulele players and music educators. The first is to have this channel, which cannot be monetized, reach 100,000 subscribers. I’d love to have a Play Button that can be displayed on my classroom wall…my students would love that!

The other goal is to have my second channel, which CAN be monetized, reach 1,000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours so I can earn some income from this work. If you haven’t subscribed to that channel, I would appreciate it…it is at youtube.com/ukestuff, and I do all kinds of ukulele stuff there, including tutorials for every ukulele play along that I make, as well as unboxing, reviews, and more.

A couple of other things…I’m currently in a pattern of being able to create one tutorial video a week while I’m teaching. My teaching job is at a whole new level for me (elementary) so I am having to spend a lot of my time preparing content for my classes (seven different grade levels at two different schools). I’m really enjoying the new job, but it does have to be my focus right now. I still have videos ready that I created this summer, but they also need tutorial videos.

You might ask why I don’t just post those videos–but I’m trying to make a tutorial video for each new video to avoid the comments such as, “Strum pattern?” And also, I am trying to develop some kind of income from this work, which could easily be a full time job.

I continue to try to respond to every comment, but I do delete the rare comments that are mean. For example, I have a video from Ariana Grande where I misspelled her name on the first slide. It has one extra “n.” You can’t simply replace a video on YouTube…you have to delete the original and then re-upload…so to do all that work for one extra “n” just doesn’t seem worth it. It was a mistake…mistakes happen…and while I try to produce the best content I can create, if I keep going back and republishing old content (as I did for “I’m still standing”), I’ll never get any new content out there.

But back to this situation, I have had three or four comments from Ariana Grande fans who act as if I have attacked Ariana Grande by adding an extra “n” to her name, or that I am attacking them for putting an extra “n” in her name. I’d simply say this: I don’t think Ariana Grande has any idea that this channel exists. That said, if she ever contacts me about the issue…then I’d immediately drop what I was doing and go back and edit and recreate the videos. Now that I know, I’ll never make the mistake again, but I’d really rather not go back and change an old video.

That all said, thank you to all of you that leave positive comments, and to those of you who ask questions about things (critical questions are okay, too). I’d like these channels to have a positive vibe and to be a place where people enjoy sifting through the comments…and I will continue to do my best to respond to each comment!

Thanks, everyone! Watch for some new Halloween content in the coming weeks, and remember that I do have a Halloween playlist on the channel! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiD05Ao-vh8&list=PL6m5m3jQoANAEfyQoM7Ntb9RQWAwjfFq5

See you in LA!

Hello everyone! Tomorrow morning I’m flying to (and from) LA to attend the Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival. I’ll be wearing a dark blue UkeStuff shirt, and I will have some UkeStuff buttons and stickers with me! If you see me, please say hello!

I’m also excited to travel with my friend Ukester Brown, who lives in nearby Minnesota. You can see his content at ukesterbrown.com

I will try to make a short travel vlog of the day! Watch for that on the UkeStuff YouTube channel!