We had a nice turnout at the last jam. We played Harvest Moon, although there was some uncertainty about why I would transpose. There are two reasons for transposing a song to another key – 1. To put it into a more comfortable singing range for your voice & 2. To avoid chords that you don’t yet know or that you find problematic. Just change all the chords to the corresponding chord from the scale of your desired key. You can find a detailed explaination of transposing here.
When we get together for club jams we want to make music, share & learn. It’s not about being the best musician or about the music being perfect. It’s about living in the moment, getting in the groove and having fun. I’ve never organized anything like this before nor do I have extensive training in musicology. So we’re still working out the kinks. I’ve learned something at every club jam, not just about playing ukulele or making music, but also about group dynamics and group facilitation. My role as facilitator is to make it easy for the group to make music together and to make it easier for us to be successful in our efforts to make good music together.
At the last jam there were 7 members present (2 newcomers), we played a few songs that sounded pretty good & we also butchered some songs. I’ve reviewed what went wrong, checked a few resources & adjusted the jam night format and come up with some guidelines that I think will make it easier for PUC jam nights to be successful. The measurement of successful, is to have most of you leave thinking – that was fun, I’m looking forward to the next jam! As always, I’m open to tips & suggestions.
New format for PUC. This will be somewhat flexible, as our needs will vary from jam to jam. I think our songbook has plenty of songs for now. If there is one you’d like to add, please let me know. I think 1-3 new songs/jam is plenty depending on the difficulty of the songs. I do not plan to add new songs for Nov 10th as we will be trying to work out the kinks and adding in a warm-up activity.
7:15-730: Tune-up & warm-up as a group (The goal of the warm-up activity is to help us all get on the same page, in the same groove, listening to each other & playing with each other instead of just playing the same song at the same time.)
7:30-8:00: Song Circle (preferably easier, known songs, or with repeating chorus)
8:30-8:45: noodling/question time/tips & tricks (this is the time to show us something that you’ve been working on, whether it’s a whole song, a part of a song, a chord progression, whatever) If you’d like to try a trickier song or perform a song by yourself this is your chance.
8:45: another round of songs (I will give more leeway on song choice here)
9:00 jam is officially over – but we have the room to 9:30 so feel free to chat and ask more questions as we pack up to leave.
The goal of the warm-up activity is to help us all get on the same page, in the same groove, listening to each other & playing with each other instead of just playing the same song at the same time.
Guidelines for Jams
- During song circle time, we will each have a turn to pick & lead a song. If you do not want to lead a song, feel free to pick one for someone else to lead. The facilitator will ensure everyone knows who the leader is.
- If it is not clear on the song sheet, please indicate where you will be singing the chorus & indicate which verses will be sung if you do not want to sing all the verses of a song or any other wording changes you would like to make.
- When leading, please try to count in if possible, or at least demonstrate your preferred strum pattern so that we can determine the count & plan our strums accordingly. (ie. D DU U DU counts as 1 2& 3& 4&)
- No noodling between songs. The person who will be leader may play independently briefly to recall the rhythm and tempo at which they wish to play.
- Listen while you play – you need to be able to hear the players next to you as well as the person leading the song.
- The person leading chooses the style, tempo & rhythm of the song. Other members will join in with a complimentary strum or picking pattern. If you wish to do a solo or the introduction please ask the song leader. If the song leader is agreeable, make sure you are on the same page before starting the song.
- If you get lost in the song, strum quietly or consider muting your strings until you are able to join back in. If you don’t know the chords feel free to use your ukulele or another instrument as a percussive accompaniment to help keep the beat that the leader has chosen.
- The facilitator reserves the right to stop a song if we sound like a train wreck. We can then decide as a group if we want to try again from the beginning or just move on to the next song choice.
PUC Jam Night Update
Thanks to everyone for their input. Majority has spoken, we will now have jam nights on the 2nd Tuesday and last Thursday of the month from 7-9pm at General Panet High School. I have booked the room for October 25th, November 13th & 29th, December 11th, January 8th & 31st. I do suggest a $1 donation to help cover the cost of running the club (ie insurance, Fall Festival booth, etc).
Our last PUC jam was on September 27th, at General Panet. There were 9 people out & we found that it really is the more the merrier! Mark & Sue from Ottawa visited us & brought along some BUG binders, so we had lots of great tunes to choose from. It was great to see a few new faces. We now have 6 songbooks, with page numbers, to share. We just went around the circle choosing songs to play. It was a great way for everyone to have a say in what we played & have a go at leading the song. We will stick with this format for the next meeting. Ryan played Michael Row the Boat for us & a few members joined in, while the rest of us just sang along.
There are a few of us that would like to meet twice monthly instead of just once a month. I have also had some potential members tell me that Thursdays just don’t work for them. Therefore, I’m strongly considering adding a 2nd jam night. I’m thinking that the 2nd Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday of the month would work best.You could come to one or both. I need input though, so please reply to this email with which night would work best for you & indicate whether you would come out once or twice a month. Or you can answer the poll on our FaceBook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/PetawawaUkuleleCircle
I will be holding a workshop for beginners through the Petawawa Library on Thursday, October 11th from 7-9pm. Attendees will learn everything they need to know to get started. If you want to come out you’re more than welcome. You can register at the front desk of the library or at 687-2227 ext 30. If you’ve been playing for a while & want to help out, I’d always appreciate help.
If you have any tips or suggestions for the club, I`d love to hear from you! Maybe you’re interested in doing a group performance sometime or have an alternate venue idea?
Organizer – PUC
Unfortunately I was unable to make it out to the August jam. There were 3 members at the jam though! Let’s spread the word and see if we can get our numbers up now that summer is over.
Sept 8 I will be at the Fall Family Festival at Dundonald Hall on Saturday, September 8th promoting the club. I’d be happy to have you drop in with your uke to visit. The Petawawa Fall Showcase is also that weekend, but I can’t be in two places at once. I will put up some signs this week at the Civic Centre, hopefully that will still get the word out, with the increase in traffic through the building.
Oct 11 I am offering a workshop for beginners through the Petawawa Library October 11th. I will be teaching everything you need to know to get started with the ukulele. Bob`s Music will lend me two instruments & I will bring along a spare. If anyone has a ukulele that they are willing to lend just for one evening it would be greatly appreciated. If you are interested in helping out in any way please let me know. I have a lesson plan & handout ready. I’m actually excited about this. If you know anyone that might be interested, please let them know.
Tip of the month: Having difficulty with the D7 chord? Try the Hawaiian D7 :
If you have any tips or suggestions for the club, I`d love to hear from you!
Marla Lesage Organizer – PUC