Sunday, November 30, 2008

Marathon Rehearsal Done

Well, we got through the 2PM - 7PM Marathon rehearsal, worked through most of the problems and got the instrumentalist's squared away.

The Chorus did a bang up job, the 49er's memorize their music so this rehearsal can be very trying, but they did a great job, I was really pleased.

This can be a very trying week, I have dress rehearsal tomorrow night then I have Tuesday Night off, then we have Performances on Wednesday through Saturday evening at 7:30PM then at 2PM on Sunday we have a matinee. Then they have to tear down the set, it is a very exhausting week for the entire Chorus. But it is what we have been looking forward to and working toward since rehearsals started the First Sunday after Labor Day.

So dress rehearsal tomorrow night, here we come.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Busy Week Coming Up!

Starting Sunday the chorus which I direct, the 49ers, starts rehearsals, then performances of our Annual Christmas Show. The tickets are free and you can just show up any night, we have plenty of seats still available. Think about spending Christmas with the 49ers, it is a great way to start the Christmas Season.

Here is a little bit about the first half of the show:

I am excited about this year's first half music! When I heard West Chester University’s Concert Choir perform Deck the Halls in 7/8 twenty-nine years ago, I knew I must conduct it one day. It turned out that my wife, Leah, was a member of that year’s WCU Concert Choir. Chalk it all up to fate! Continuing in the tradition of performing from Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, the chorus will present two beautiful songs from his cantata: That Yonge Child and Balulalow, featuring the Forty Niners women. Randall Thompson’s Alleluia is a transcendent a cappella piece, which leaves the listener holding his breath. For fun and frolic, I’ve included two P.D.Q. Bach Christmas tunes, guaranteed to tickle the funny bone: Throw the Yule Log on Uncle John and Good King Kong Looked Down. Rounding out the first half, the chorus will present Variations on Jingle Bells, a rousing piece that will keep the audience humming and tapping a beat all the way home! -Greg Givler, Director

Here is more about the show, itself:

Second Half

Your Friendly 49 Air Flight Crew

Imagine being grounded in an Alaskan commuter airport on Christmas Eve! This is what the passengers of international airline 49 Air face this year as they hope to make it home in time for Christmas. Not to worry though, they find plenty of ways to pass the time. Through song and dance, these weary travelers share their own unique ways of celebrating Christmas Everywhere. But, no one is quite prepared for the exciting surprise that comes their way!

-Martha Kline
2008 Christmas
Show Chair/Director

Here is our latest press release.

Since mid‐September, The Forty Niners Chorus has been rehearsing for its annual
Christmas Show to be held nightly, December 3rd through December 6th at 7:30PM and Sunday, December 7th at 2:00PM at the Henderson High School Auditorium in West Chester. Entitled Christmas Everywhere, this year’s show features a mix of classical, standard and contemporary holiday tunes performed in two parts: A traditional choral performance followed by an original musical theater performance.

The Forty Niners Chorus Christmas Show is a family‐friendly holiday tradition. Tickets are free and may be ordered through the chorus’s website at or by sending a self‐addressed stamped envelope to:

Forty Niners Chorus‐Tickets
PO Box 402
West Chester, PA 19381‐0402

The Forty Niners Chorus is an all‐volunteer community group made up of approximately 50 men and women from Chester County and surrounding areas. In existence since 1952, their performances raise money every year to provide cash awards for three local high school graduates planning to major in music in college. Its mission is to keep community music alive by encouraging young musicians to develop their talents and give back to their communities through groups like The Forty Niners Chorus.

More On the Banjo Uke Front

After working on the Banjo Uke for a while today and yesterday, I think I may need to replace the tuners, they just aren't really holding. Should have the bridge cut down to the right size today. Next is to rebuild the Baritone that I bought. After that I should have a nice variety. Although I think I might be getting one of these maybe two, from ebay, I think I need to wait until pay day though. I spent enough on Ukulele's this pay :-)

I did it!

My new Pono Tenor Ukulele is on the way, thanks to the wife giving me the green light to get this instrument. I got it on ebay and it should have shipped today. Here is what the seller says about the instrument:

This is a brand new older PKTE model from Pono made with Koa Laminate body and top quality build. Solid mahogany neck and real ebony bindings. Solid EBONY fingerboard and bridge with factory installed Koolau gold strings. Beautiful high gloss finish. Clear and translucent Dean Markley undersaddle offers the option of playing thru an amp or sound system. The sound is clear and balanced...
So I now have a Tenor in my collection. One with a pickup, which I had wanted to have as well, this should keep me busy, getting used to a slightly larger instrument.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This is so cool

I ready Uke Hunt's RSS Feed, and here is something you definitely don't hear every day, Classical Ukulele

The song is called, Spagnoletta, by Mario Fabritio Caroso (1535-1620)

Uke Hunt's blog posting has a link to a PDF tab version of this song, and others. I have been avoiding Tab's because I thought they were to difficult, but a few of these I can play, badly, but I can play them, so now I am learning the song from the video above. I may never play it that fast, but I think I might be able to play it someday.

Like I said, this is so cool.

Follow the Book Meme

I don't usually do this, but this one is easy and I needed to post. My nearest book was: Python Programming On Win32:

If you select this option when no breakpoints are set, PythonWin warns you that the debugger is unlikely to be invoked.

Pretty boring, but true, that it is close by means that I am at work, and I haven't opened the book in over a year, but there it is. It almost was Python & XML, or Python Phrasebook. Of course if I had been home, the closest book to my computer is: wxPython In Action, so I guess I am pretty boring both at work and home!

The rules for this meme thing are :
  • Grab the nearest book.
  • Open it to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
  • Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.
Your turn!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Collaboration and Family

It is weird, I have not played my Uke in two days, well that is not true, I played it on Sunday Afternoon, now that I think about it.

It was sorta cool, I was copying CD's for my chorus the 49ers, we record the numbers we are working on then they memorize the music using tapes and CD's and just playing around with some Praise Music as the Praise team sings this coming Sunday. My wife came home from church, she had an after church event, she volunteers her time to the Appalachian Service Project, and they were having a luncheon.

She got out her guitar, and we jammed singing Praise Music. I should have recorded it, not that it was earth shattering stuff, just for posterity. We played for about an hour, and talked about different interpretations of the songs and stuff.

I am so fortunate to have a talented wife and daughter, we all love to sing. My daughter wants us to sing at our 9PM service on Christmas Eve, so I brought home the music that she want's to work on. Our 9PM Service on Christmas Eve, I call it the unplugged service, it is a candlelight service, with just candles illuminating the Sanctuary. Our organist plays the piano, and I have several soloists sing. My daughter wants to sing, "Go Light Your World", I think it would be cool if we can get an arrangement together with my wife on the Guitar, me on the Ukelule, and all of us singing harmony. The other nice thing about the song is although it is not thought of as a Christmas Song, its chorus is:

Carry your candle, run to the darkness
Seek out the lonely, the tired and worn
Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world
Take your candle, and go light your world
I can't think of anything more appropriate for the setting of a Church lit by Candles.

Once we work it up I will try and post a audio version here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President Elect Barack Obama

It was good to type that article title, I am happy and amazed that Obama won. Even though polling data showed differently, I was concerned that we in the US just would not vote for a black man, I was proved wrong, which is a good thing.

I am hoping that the change that was talked about during the campaign really shows up in the next 4 years.

I had the distinct honor of taking my 18 year old daughter to our polling place and she was able to vote for the first time. I can still remember her first day of school as she boarded the bus and waved goodbye to me, now to see her vote in her first Presidential Election

I caught the end of McCain's concession speech last night, if I had seen more of the man, in that speech, on the campaign trail, he might have gotten my vote. I had always respected McCain for his no nonsense approach to the issues, but his move to the right along with his pandering to the religious right and his choice for VP moved me out of his arena early. It was clear he had sold his soul to get the nomination and his campaign was run by the more undesirable elements of the Republican party, at least undesirable to me.

We have put our faith in Obama, I pray that he is up to the task and that Congress looks past the special interest groups and more toward the interests of the American People.

The problems in front of Obama are large and complex, he has my support on a lot of the issues, I hope he has the support of congress as well.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My OU2 In Action!

Ok, here is where the pedal hits the metal, I have put an audio file to together which shows off my complete inadequacies as a Ukulele Player. When I bought my Oscar Schmidt OU2 Concert, it came with Black GHS Strings, I really like these strings, but I am looking to try Aquila Low G Concert Set which I recently got, so I have created a mp3 to preserve the sound as my Uke Sounds today. I am not sure when I am going to bite the bullet and restring my Uke, something I have not done yet. When I do I plan on Video Taping so that my struggles will be preserved. Anyway, I am putting up this horrible sample of my playing for all posterity to hear, hopefully this playing will get better in the future. You can hear my OU2 here

Monday, November 3, 2008

Maxitone Bruno Banjo Ukulele

This is the instrument that I am looking forward to playing, it is just about there, has a resonator, tail piece, all it needs is strings and a bridge. I am ordering them tonight, when I get them in I will post some audio. I can't wait, I have been eye Banjo Ukes on ebay, since I found out they existed. Can't wait to play this one. I hope it ends up sounding decent.

No Name Banjo Mandolin

This next instrument is a Banjo Mandolin, I am getting strings and a bridge for this one, my wife is interested in learning to play the Mandolin, so hopefully this will be a nice starter instrument. She is a violinist and plays Electric Bass as well as Guitar, and she has my Mahalo Ukulele as well. Here are some pictures on of this instrument.

No Name Banjo Uke

Here are some pictures of the no-name Banjo Uke that my wife found in our attic, she is pretty sure that they belonged to her Grandfather. It looks like someone wrote on the Vellum. But the vellum is in good shape and very tight. If anyone out there has advice on care of these older instruments, please leave a comment. This instrument does not have a resonator, and from what I have read that is not unusual, as a lot of these Banjo Ukes were not built with resonators. It is also missing a tail piece which may be the biggest obstacle in getting this one in playable condition again.

What's In Store For Me

Here are the pictures of the Baritone that needs repair. Sorry about the color, my white balance was off when I took the pictures: The bridge is separating, and you can see the gap from the fretboard to the strings is huge. It is hard to see in the picture but the neck is separated from the Body. So I am going to remove the neck and reset it and the same with the bridge. I plan to video tape it so that others can learn from my trials. Also I figure that if it ends up ruined, I couldn't have hurt it much more than it is now.

Buried Treasure! Or Found, 2 Banjo Ukes and a Banjo Mandolin!

Well not exactly buried, my wife casually mentioned that her grandfather had told her that he had built a Banjo Ukulele! 

So Saturday night she went up in to the attic, and the next thing I know there are boxes flying down the steps. Turns out they were empty boxes that I had been stored in the attic, but a little later she came down with a box of 3 Banjo like instruments, one is a Bruno Banjo Ukulele, with a resonator, the only thing missing is a bridge and strings. 

I am ordering them online today. 

I will post pictures this evening. 

She also has another no name Banjo Ukuele, and a Banjo Manolin, so I am ordering bridges and strings for them all. 

As I said, I will post both pictures and audio, perhaps video as well. This should be cool, I had been looking for a banjo uke to play in church as a change of pace. 

I can't wait to see what they are like to play.

Got my Uke in the Mail

I guess for $25 bucks plus shipping and handling, I was asking too much.

Looks like I am going to get a crash course in Ukulele Repair.

I will post some pictures this evening, but I think I am going to have to remove and reset the neck and remove and reset the bridge, so it will be interesting to see if I can actually do it.

Anyway, as I do the repair I will try and keep a photo essay of the work so others can see all the goofs and gaffs, or if I am luck, the success as well!