Updated Video Play Along Lists

I have been working hard on various play along files this summer–and I have just updated all of the lists.  Instead of inserting lists into posts, I will be updating the page dedicated to Video Play Alongs.  When I update that page, I will post about it..but the latest lists will always be found on this page:

https://ukestuff.wordpress.com/video-play-alongs/

Incidentally, I have compiled my own songs, the “collection” of similar play alongs on YouTube, and my latest project, which is to record the songs from the Daily 365 as a ukulele play along with me.  Four down.  361 to go.  And then there is a second book…and other fake books…

 

Chordette for Education Ukulele Fonts Now Available!

For the past couple of months, I have been corresponding with John Baxter, who created the Chordette Ukulele Font.

I was looking for a ukulele font that would do two things:

  1. Show finger position
  2. Perhaps use the KIDS Ukulele String colors

John was open to making such a product for education, and we have been interacting about the font ever since.  He also added an excellent 3D Font, which should help some beginning players who struggle visualizing a standard chord diagram.

There are two font sets available: colored fonts and black and white.  For now, Chordette for Education is only for Mac, with Windows coming soon.   Windows is only in Black and White, as it does not yet allow for color fonts.

For some reason, Keynote and iMovie do not like the color fonts, and while they appear in layout, they disappear in presentation.  This is NOT Chordette’s problem…it is an Apple issue.  That said, the colored chords DO work with Pages, and export to a PDF in color as you would expect.    I do not know if the “disappearing” font is an issue with the current version of Mac OS and Keynote or iMovie, as I have an outdated 2008 MacBook that can no longer run the latest version of these programs.

I am using these fonts on my iPad, particularly with my new movie creation app called Luma Fusion.  While the colored chords disappear in iMovie, they appear in Luma Fusion.  However, to use the fonts, you will need to use an app like Any Font to install the font set on your iPad or iPhone.

Also, the fonts do not necessarily appear by name on Mac or iOS…they can show up as chord symbols or even be blank!  As another hint, to better see font options, go to the font menu in the tool bar, instead of using the attributes box of Pages.

As a reminder, if you want to use Chordette and home and at school, you should purchase copies for home and school (if they are owned by different people or organizations), just like any app.

Regular Chordette is also available, and sells separately.

I bought copies of Chordette AND Chordette for Education…I am not receiving any “kickback” for my recommendation of these fonts.

To see what I have been doing with Chordette for Education and Luma Fusion, check out my ukulele YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6jZYLoYuV1CxY4Stzm6mgg

Want (regular) Chordette?  http://www.ukefarm.com/chordette/index.html

Want Chordette for Education?  http://www.ukefarm.com/chordetteEd/index.html

 

 

 

The Mega List of On-Screen Ukulele Play Along Videos

Notice: This list is now outdated.  The latest list will always be on the Video Play Along Page of this website.

I have been working with a new program, LumaFusion (wonderful!), a $20 video editor that is letting me do nearly everything I need to do to make a ukulele play along video on my iPad, without accessing my MacBook.  I blogged about this on techinmusiced.com earlier today.

My goals are to keep working on the songs that are in the Tampa Bay Ukulele Society Beginner Handbook, as well as to start putting more holiday music into ukulele play along files.

Last week, I went through all of the songs that have been converted to Ukulele Play Along files by various educators, specifically Dr. Jill Reese, Dr. A, Kevin Way, Kris Gilbert and myself.

We can talk about the benefits and drawbacks to this methodology at another time…but as for now, here are over 170 songs that are out there on YouTube ready for your use in educational settings.  They can be used privately, in classrooms, or in ukulele jam sessions.

YouTube has strong Copyright algorhythms, therefore, when a song is under copyright, monetization goes to the rights holder.  Furthermore, I do not believe that any of the educators listed above receive any ad revenue from their contributions to music education.  Most of these songs already have existing “lyric” videos; the addition of chords and “follow the bouncing ball” icons is an additional labor of love (as well as trying to put things into keys that are better for ukulele players).

If you have suggestions for the collection, please let me know.  If you know of others songs by other educators that should be added, let me know.  Additionally, I am not counting play along files that are not based on original performances (e.g. Ukulele Underground).  One of the goals is for students to play with the original instrumentation and sounds.

The list posted here will be static; I will attempt to occasionally update the list of songs on the “Play Along” page of this blog.  The text is VERY small.  It is a PDF, so magnify it to see more detail…and ALL of the songs have an active hyperlink to the appropriate video.

Ukulele Play Along List

 

30 Ukulele Play Along Videos in 30 Days

As with most music educators, the end of the school year, following the last concert, is an easier time of the year.  Not with classroom management, perhaps, but that was particularly true for me this year.  Instead of trying to find worthwhile activities for the last days, we went back to ukuleles and played through various songs.   This worked tremendously well.

Brian Ellison, a middle school Band and general music teacher, recently posted this tweet about using ukuleles…

Ultimately, this is what it is all about.  I have up to 60 students at a time on ukulele…but the involvement is the same.  And the bonus is that KIDS SING ALONG.  Watch the video again if you need to…you will see it.  Robin Giebelhausen (https://soundeducators.org) talks about the power of fooling middle school students into singing.

Some people are even using these songs with adult ukulele jam sessions!

If you are going to use these…I suggest planning ahead, downloading the videos you want (www.keepvid.com, but don’t get fooled by the misleading download options) rather than relying on Wi-Fi in a presentation!

About copyright…YouTube notifies us that songs are under copyright, they cannot be monetized (not the goal anyway), and any advertisements you see generate income for the copyright holder.  Only one song that I created (Faith! From “Sing”) was banned…and another educator created a version which is being allowed.  Who knows.

I have made a few of these videos in the past…and have been trying different approaches in doing so.

Early on, I was trying to make scrolling “sheet music” with accompaniments made with iReal Pro and Notion.  Later, I was using lyric videos from YouTube (see Dr. Reese’s “How To” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2n1Lb9TL9Q).

After our concert, I started making a few new songs and then just kept going.  I made videos of songs that my choirs had sung.  I made videos of songs that came to my attention that were fun (and sometimes challenging).  Eventually, I stopped using lyric videos and made my own Keynotes of lyrics and chords.

I have been working with John Baxter from ukefarm.com to develop some ukulele chord resources for music education.  Coming soon: Chordette for Education which is a program that allows you to use ukulele fonts in documents, keynotes, etc.  You can even do this on an iPad!  One of the fonts features colored strings to match the Aquila KIDS strings.

One of the challenges with ukulele is that many songs were written for ease of playing on a guitar.  E is a great key for Guitar.  It is a crummy key for ukulele.  Therefore, a lot of songs need to be “tweaked” up or down a half step or a whole step to be more accessible on ukulele (more than that, and the original audio really starts to suffer).  Sometimes the original key was OKAY, but a transposed key was more accessible.  In those cases, I started making two versions of a play along.

Pretty soon, I had a bunch of songs going with my format, and if the song was easy, I could make a video in an hour.  I had a new goal…make 30 unique videos (not counting multiple keys) in the month of June…one a day.

The songs have different purposes.  Some are standard ukulele jam songs.  One of the benefits of this approach to teaching ukulele is that you can teach kids with THEIR music.  However, they should also learn some of the standard songs used in ukulele jams so they can play along with players in other places (and in other age groups).  And as I said, some are songs that I like.

I wrapped that project up this evening with my 30th unique song of the month (June 22nd…ahead of schedule).   There are some special things in the last 30 days, such as a GREAT song by the Jive Aces called “Bring Me Sunshine,” jeremy messersmith’s “Everybody Gets a Kitten,” “Another Day of Sun,” me singing on a version of “The More We Get Together,” and tonight a very special video using the Bacon Brother’s recent video of a ukulele song they sang on their tour bus (had to figure out all the chords for the song…and included the original video).  The only dud, in my opinion, is Heart and Soul, but even that is okay…and it is interesting to hear the whole song…not just what kids play on the school piano all the time.  As always, if something isn’t of interest to you, don’t spend much time with it.

So, Ukestuff Play Along Songs (some have been around longer than this month).  The titles are clickable links to each of the songs I have created.  In the future, this PDF will be in the “Videos” page and regularly updated.  This version will remain static to 6/22/2017.

I also started another side project, which was to make an index of ALL the ukulele play along songs in this style…168 of them so far.  I am going to share that index as soon as I share it with the creators first.

What other songs are needed?  Religious and non-religious holiday music play alongs.  And then any other songs that you might want created.  Have a suggestion?  E-mail me.  If there is a YouTube video with the music, please reference that video–and of course, chord charts are useful, too.

I am not setting a goal of another 30 songs in July…but I will make some new videos…and there are some other projects that I want to get to.

Some might ask: aren’t you worn out from the year?  The answer is YES, and I will blog about that later.  That said, doing things like this renew my spirit and cause me to think deeper musically than I generally get a chance to do all year.  I have also had a chance to spend time with my kids, play ukulele at a Veteran’s Home, and participate in some local ukulele jam sessions.

This video will be cross-posted on ukestuff.info

 

 

The Ukulele App on Sale (IAP)

 

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If you play popular music on the ukulele, and you have any exposure to ukulele on YouTube, you know The Ukulele Teacher.  The Ukulele Teacher creates weekly (or more) instruction tutorials on how to play songs of all kinds.  Chances are that students in your music ensembles are watching his videos to learn how to play music they want to learn on the ukulele.  He was recently named a Kala artist.

I adore his work for a number of reasons–but above all others, he is not a fantastic singer-but he sings all the time.  I love that, and I love the message that it sends to kids.  You don’t have to be a high school choir dramatic soprano to enjoy singing and to enjoy making music.

The Ukulele Teacher earns a living a number of ways–some advertising in YouTube, a Patreon account, some limited “gear”, some product placement, and his relatively new iPhone App, which is called The Ukulele App.  It runs on iPad, but has not been made a universal binary to run on all the sides.

The app has a number of functions, including links to all of the Ukulele Teacher’s videos on YouTube, a tuner (more of a pitch generator), and a chord library.  They are going to be adding a number of features to the app this year, and for the month of June, the in-app purchase is only $0.99.  The app itself is free, but this is a cost savings.

I bought the IAP at full price–I want to support what John Atkins (the real name of the Ukulele Teacher) is doing, and I see the app becoming even more useful in time.  If you play ukulele (or want to play ukulele), I recommend the purchase–particularly at the reduce price for June 2017.

This post will be cross-posted on ukestuff.info and techinmusiced.com, and is NOT a paid ad.

Video Play Alongs

I have been creating a number of video play alongs for ukulele that are all listed on the page for video play alongs.  I want to give credit to Dr. Jill Reese (State University of New York at Fredonia) who created the genre of YouTube ukulele play alongs based on “real” recordings, Dr. Louise Anderson (Salisbury University, Maryland), and Kevin Way (Fredonia Middle School) who also have a growing number of resources out there.

The idea is to make play alongs based on “real” recordings embedded with lyrics and “follow the bouncing ball” for ukulele chords.   I have been experimenting with a number of techniques and am settling on some best practices.  I will blog about these later–and Dr. Reese has made a YouTube video about her process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2n1Lb9TL9Q

These videos can be used in an educational setting, or used with community play alongs. As Dr. Robin Giebelhausen stated in a ukulele session at ILMEA, “Often times you are tricking them into singing along.”

I have been combining all the videos into a Keynote Presentation that now holds over 100 songs (and is more than 1GB in size!).  I do occasionally cut out some of the introductory material to get right into the songs.

Ever need to save a video to a presentation (so as not to be at the mercy of internet?) Try keepvid.com, but make sure to click on the right choices (otherwise you will experience pop-up ads).

I am interested in making play-alongs for songs that sound GREAT with ukulele, and to also make sure that we are introducing songs that students may not know (or like) but are commonly played at ukulele jams.  We should have some common repertoire that interacts with each other.  Examples?  My new videos of Waltzing Matilda or This Land is Your Land, Dr. A’s or Kevin Way’s (they are different) Three Little Birds, or Dr. A’s “You Are My Sunshine.”

Have some suggestions for me to turn into a video?  Please send me an e-mail!

App Experience: Any Font

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Note: This post will be posted on both techinmusiced and ukestuff.

One of the best aspects of this “non-job” has been the people I have had the opportunity to meet.  I can’t think of a single person in the area of music education technology that I have not immediately liked.   Simply put, the music education technologists that I know are also some of the finest, most intelligent, collegial people I have met.  I learn from them, as I am sure they learn from me–and I enjoy hearing about their lives and getting to know more about them.

This winter, I had the chance to present sessions at the Maryland Music Education Association, mostly thanks to Robby Burns, who has served as the MMEA’s technology chair.  Robby is an incredible teacher and technology user, and has a blog, podcast, and even a book on digital organization (Buy it!  Paper.  Kindle. See his awesome promo video at the bottom of this post).  If we have “specialties,” I would say that Robby is a specialist in secondary band and technology automation.  He looks for ways for technology to simplify his life and to make automatic processes that solve problems, keep things organized (for himself, his program, and his students), and to ultimately create more free time for himself and his family.  When you see Robby’s presentations, hear his podcasts, or read his book or blog, you need to know that like all the music technology experts I have met, he lives what he is teaching.  The knowledge comes from real life experience, and is personally tested.

One of the highlights of my trip to Maryland was spending 30 minutes with Robby (until we were kicked out of the exhibit hall as it closed) simply talking about apps that either of us did not know.  One of those apps was Any Font.

Robby discussed how he loved Any Font, as he was able to use any font on his iOS devices for anything–documents, presentations, whatever.  While I should have been writing down every app he suggested (I only typed out a few–and thus, I am not the expert on digital organization), that conversation is locked in my brain.

I blogged about the new version of Chordette the other day, an app that provides a way to use a font to make ukulele chords–something of great use if you teach ukulele.  However, if you use the fonts embedded with Chordette–they are not going to show up correctly on an iPad (ever get the Keynote message that a font is not available?  Even if the font is no longer used in the presentation?  Any Font is one solution, and there is another that I will add at the end of this post).  I have also been working with the developer of Chordette to make a font set that uses the colors of the Aquila KIDS strings–and would love to use those fonts in my presentations.  Fonts are always better for a smaller document size than an image–which is why a PDF of music created by a software program (e.g. Finale, Sibelius, Notion, Dorico, MuseScore) is always smaller than scanned music (embedding a picture in the PDF).

I haven’t had need of fonts other than the standard fonts embedded in iOS, but Any Font allows me to put the Chordette CGCA ukulele fonts into iOS.  You send a True Type Font (TTF–most are in this format) to Any Font (you can even “Open In” from iCloud Drive or Dropbox, but easiest is Air Drop from a newer Mac to an iOS device), and then select the fonts you want to install on your device.  Any Font sends those fonts as a profile to your device, enabling those fonts for the iOS device to use.  If you delete the profile, the fonts go away.  You can always add a font and take it away later.  Any Font also offers 1,000 additional fonts for $2 as an In-App Purchase–a pretty good deal.  Of course, you can find a great number of fonts on the web for free, including musicological fonts that might be helpful in documents and presentations.

So…if you have ever wanted to use other fonts on your iOS device, or have had issues with Keynote telling you a font wasn’t available, Any Font is a great way to solve both of those issues.

It does make you wonder why Apple hasn’t made it possible to simply add fonts to iOS as you can on a Mac–perhaps this will be resolved in the future.  Until then, I recommend Any Font to you, and want to offer thanks to Robby Burns for bringing this app to my attention.

Final note: Are you getting the “font not available” warning in Keynote, even after making sure all fonts were in the system?  If you don’t want to install the not-used but still considered “missing” font, do this:  Export the Keynote as PowerPoint, import that exported file into Keynote.  Save the file.  Problem solved.