Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Was Good!

So we had a good Christmas, spent time at the 'rents place in the morning with my brothers and nieces and nephew. My dad who is 73, is becoming a causality of the economy, has been working for the last 8 years since he retired as contractor is being laid off on December 31st. So he is going to have some free time on his hand, so I got him the boxed set of Band Of Brothers, the excellent HBO mini-series about the 101st airborne during WWII. My brother is also a victim of the economy being laid off from EDS as a result of working as a Computer Operator at a GM plant which is cutting back. I worry from time to time about my job as well, since a lot of Navteq's business comes from the Auto Industry, so I keep my fingers crossed.

I got my daughter the Boxed Set of the Twilight Vampire Series of Books, She is finishing up the 2nd book in paperback and now has numbers 3 and 4 to read.

I also got my wife a Mountain Dulcimer, I had never really seen a Mountain Dulcimer before, I had seen hammer dulcimers but never the mountain dulcimer.

It is an interesting and somewhat primitive instrument.

Basically there is a pair of Melody Strings which fret with a wooden stick called a noter. Also you tune your Dulcimer in different modes. The basic one is DAA, so the First two strings are tuned to A, then the third string is tuned to A and finally the fourth string is tuned to D.

You can learn more about the Dulcimer here

You can here a Dulcimer here

So last night my wife was working on playing a song on the Dulcimer and I had finally set up the amp to check out the pickup on my Pono Tenor, and I was playing the traditional mandolin back beat and it sounded pretty good. So I think we will have to put together some songs in the future. It should be fun.

It definitely has been a musical Christmas, now by next decision is to use the money my folks gave me toward a new Ukulele or a new amp for the Pono. Not sure what I want to do, I would like a Fluke Concert, and would like to get one with a rosewood fingerboard, but not sure what is next on the Ukulele front.

I also had to by this:

I should get it next week or so. I don't expect it to sound good, just to be a conversation piece in my collection. Besides I needed a soprano to play as well.

So all in all a good Christmas, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas as well and have a Happy New Year too.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

O Little Town Of Bethlehem

This is nothing more than me singing and attempting to play O Little Town Of Bethlehem.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone.

O Little Town Of Bethlehem

Saturday, December 20, 2008

He Is Born

I seem to be on a creative streak. I wrote a song for my Praise Team on Thursday night and recorded it for YouTube and here tonight, it took me 21 takes to get it right, which is pretty bad, considering I should be able to sing and play it since I wrote it.

I originally wrote it in the key of F which is not the easiest key for the Guitar, or in my case the Ukulele, to play in certain chords. I have a Bb2 chord in the piece and to play that on a C tuned Ukulele you would do it would be 3123. Anyway, my hands just did not want to go there, so I transposed it up to G but it was a little hard for me to sing, so I moved it down to D. Which is what I recorded it in. Anyway, I am putting all three pdfs on line, F, G and D. Just click the links above.

Let me know what you think.

Also if you want the song in another key let me know. I will be writing a piano accompaniment so if you are interested in that let me know as well.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Song for Christmas

I wrote a song the other day called One Star, I have posted a video of me performing it, and I have a pdf of the file which you can download from here.

I am playing my new Pono Tenor, I had to replace the strings that came with it, the A string broke, so I put a set of Aquilla's with a High G String, I think this uke sounds better with the Low G, and I have a Low G Set, but I am going to keep it this way for now.

Anyway, let me know what you think about the song, it is a simple thing, not supposed to be difficult I have a pretty bad 4 part arrangement of it if anyone is interested. I have to work on it some more, I really don't like the arrangement yet, hopefully I can improve it in the near future.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

ScribeFire and other things

Getting started with ScribeFire - ScribeFire: Fire up your blogging

So I just added ScribeFire to my Firefox browser, and I am trying it out for the first time. This is pretty cool. Maybe it will encourage me to do more blogging during the day and the evening as I sit in front of the computer, practicing my Ukulele.

This has been a busy week and I have a concert tomorrow during the day at the West Chester Rotary Club, which will be at the West Chester Country Club. It will be short program that the 49ers are doing.

It has been a week and a half since we last performed these songs, so hopefully it will go smoothly.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Home Life Update

My home life sorta interfered with my Ukulele Life this last week. My wife had to have surgery and they ended up removing an ovary. She is home now, and starting to recuperate, but it is scary to see a loved one sick and in pain. I only hope that this was the source of her pain and she doesn't have to go through this again.

Anyway, I will be back posting about Ukulele's soon.

I was practicing with my new Pono last week, and the A string broke, so I never got to record the Uke, I have put some High G Aquilla's on the Pono, and it is just about settled in, so soon there will be a sound sample, I promise.

Keep my wife in your thoughts and prayers, thanks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My New Pono Came Today

I am now the proud owner of a Pono PKTE. It came with a case built for the Ukulele by the Manufacturer. It has a low G tuning, this is my first ukulele with a Low G tuning, and it is taking some getting used to. First because of the wound strings it is harder to play than my Concert. Also it is larger, so the neck is wider, and the frets are farther apart. All this means I have to adjust to playing it.

It is more mellow than my concert OU-2, but it is loud and has a beautiful tone, it comes with Koolau Gold Strings, Pono is made by Koolau. I will record it tomorrow night and post the sound file.

It is already settling in nicely, and staying relatively in tune. I have noticed that the intrument is pretty much in tune all up and down the neck. With my OU-2, playing a G chord on 0232 is not always in tune, or is very sensitive to going out of tune, the Pono is much more forgiving, this may be also because of the Tenor scale.

Luckily I have some time before the next time I have to play in Church, so I can take some time to get used to playing this Ukulele. I think I am going to like playing this Ukulele, you can definitely tell that it is a more expensive instrument. It is beautifully made with a beautiful finish. I will post pictures tomorrow.

So I will be spending the next few nights creating new callouses and learning new chording techniques that seem to work better with this instrument.

I sort of know I will never be as good as some of the folks I listen to on YouTube, or on some of the Ukulele blogs I read, but I do know how much fun and enjoyment I am getting out of the journey.

I just spent the last two hours working from home doing load testing on one of our new apps and I am a bit tired.

But I wanted to post this, now I am going to bed now.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Well we closed our show tonight, 5 shows in 5 days. Of course we had some snow on Saturday, which may have hurt the attendance, but we had a good crowd today, so hopefully revenues will be up from last year.

I think this year's show went very well. The chorus did a great job and we did some difficult numbers. They should be proud of what they accomplished. I am a bit tired, but it was worth it.

I was especially proud of the Chorus' Singing in Deck The Halls in 7/8, which is a tricky a cappella number that I think they did very well, if I do say so myself.

We have one more Christmas Performance, we are singing for the West Chester Rotary on the 18th, then we have a break until our first Spring Show Rehearsal, on January 25th. So my Sunday nights are free for a few weeks.

Next up, my Church Choir sings with the Lukens Band next Sunday Evening, looking forward to that, just hope we can get a good turnout for an evening performance.

More on that in a separate post.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Public Speaking

I was working on my remarks for the 49er's Shows which are every night the rest of this week.

It is interesting, I can sing in front of a thousand people no problem, but I have problems speaking in front of more than 20 people, without turning into mush. I get nervous and everything that I have planned goes out the window. I have tried writing an outline, then I forget things on the outline. So hopefully I will be able to get through it without completely messing it up.

To combat all this nervousness, I wrote director's notes on the music we will be performing, then I wrote out all the points that I plan to speak about. Now the trick will be to cover the points and read what is on the paper without actually making sound like I am reading what is on the paper.

I also want to keep it moving, because the chorus has to stand there while I welcome everyone, and every year, they want me to keep it short. So hopefully I can.

Wish me luck.