Harrogate Ukulele Group plays Harrogate Royal Hall

IMG_1132So, that was the gig that was. As part of playing in the Harrogate Music Centre Gala Concert, Ukuleles played a 10 minute set. The Gala Concert is a biennial concert showcasing each ensemble in Music Centre, and generally runs for about 2 hours (including breaks). It pays testimony to the quality of music teaching in Harrogate that we could sell and seat best part of 700 people in an 800 person venue. The Royal Hall is a fantastic venue, and we had brilliant tech support on the night from the venue events team. We need to also pay thanks to the tireless parents association who organised, sold tickets, fund-raised, managed the door, supported the staff, generally were everywhere at once being extremely capable and were in themselves supported by their crew from the senior ensembles.

So, to our set-list. We struck a delicate balance between what are foot-tappers that people like to hear, and what are interesting pieces that are challenging and fun for the group to play, but which are not necessarily main-stream pieces that the audience would be familiar with. In the end we went with:

  1. Purple Haze (Hendricks) with the Meade/Kazoo variation
  2. Tico Tico (Zequinha de Abreu)
  3. Blame it on me (George Ezra)

Applause was genuinely loud, which was an amazing surprise and got the group buzzing. Then as part of the concert finale, we played as part of the larger orchestral arrangement of One Day Like This (Elbow, Arr. Garvey, Cond. Price) which started out gentle, then through multiple verses layered in parts of the orchestra, and was joined for the repeating anthemic chorus with a 150 strong choir. At the end, we had the ENTIRE ROYAL HALL on their feet, singing, supporting, dancing and applauding, including an encore.

That was the night that was.

Beginners Group – next steps

So

The beginners group is now 11 strong, which is great. We’ve done our inductions, know which way up to hold the thing, and have all grasped tuning.

We’ve started playing Tennessee Waltz, and it surprised me how quickly the group has moved forward – I sometimes wonder if I’m leading the group, or being pushed forward by it 🙂

As hoped, some people are wanting to explore their styles, and which part of playing the ukulele most appeals to them – as such some pluckers are emerging. This means we need to focus on strengthening ourselves as a group.

In all things when playing in a group, timing is everything; even the most simple song sounds great when timing is sharp, and not so good otherwise. One great compliment a musician can hear is “that was tight”.

This week we’re going to stay a little with Tennessee Waltz, as a warm up if nothing else, then start with “Ode to Joy”, It’s a nice simple song in 4/4 time, with simple plucking patterns on only 3 strings, all in the same region on the fret board. The plan is to play it really slowly and focus on getting our timing right with plucking. This will help us get the plucking parts right on some more advanced songs. I think a little groundwork here will pay dividends later.

Beginners Group gets off to a flying start

So, the beginners group started, and we have 10 participants with a great age range. It’s a tremendous start, and looks like it will work really well as a group, as well as a feeder to the advanced group for those who progress that way.

we broke the session down into:

  • How the group works and hopefully how group learning works well for us
  • which way up your uke is, and how to tune it
  • C, the mother and father of all chords on the uke
  • strumming technique
  • making a start on Tennessee waltz, and we got as far as the G7, which really surprised me as to how well the group moved along. I think quite a few people have been practicing before they came 🙂

So, I’m really happy.

Ukulele Beginners Group Starts January 2015

We are Launching a Beginners Group! It starts in January 2015 at 9:30 at our usual venue (Harrogate High), and is open to all beginners. If you want to find out more, please see our FAQ page for all the details, but suffice to say, if you have a ukulele, and you’re keen to learn in a friendly, tutored group then we have the setting for you.

It promises to be fun, and you will progress faster in a group where you get the support and satisfaction of all playing together. The ukulele is a great instrument for  making quick initial progress, and after that, it’s down to you.

We will be starting gently, and zero experience is required, neither is reading music. If you’ve been playing for a while and want to explore, develop your technique in a safe environment and have fun playing, then get in touch.