Free Backing Tracks for Bluegrass, Celtic, Gypsy-Jazz, etc.

Free Bluegrass Backing Tracks
Free Bluegrass Backing Tracks

If you play a string instrument and like any of these styles of music (Bluegrass, Old-Timey, Celtic, Gypsy-Jazz, etc.) you may like this Website – it offers free backing recordings for playing along with. You can slow down or speed them up.
There is also a section of common Chord Progressions to practice.

http://www.fbbts.com/Home.html

This is similar but a little less daunting. It includes the words, but you can’t slow down, etc. https://toneway.com/songs

Technology Tip:

I use Chrome browser on my laptop and my audio volumes were too soft and so I searched for a solution and found this.
It works great!
https://chrome.google.com/…/nfdfiepdkbnoanddpianalelglmfooik

Library in British Columbia adds 21 new ukuleles for checkout!

“Visitors welcome to take out and try one of the little stringed instruments”

“Fraser Valley Regional Library adds 21 new ukuleles to its playground”

“FVRL will celebrate the donation and collection expansion with a Ukulele Jamboree Celebration at the Terry Fox Library, 2470 Mary Hill Rd, Port Coquitlam, on Tuesday, May 22, at 6 p.m. The event, open to everyone, will include family friendly activities, prizes, and, of course some ukulele jammin.’

The ukulele is small, portable, easy to learn, and fun to play. FVRL cardholders can borrow the ukuleles, free of charge, for a two-week period. Each comes in a kit that includes a ukulele, a soft ukulele case, a digital tuner and a beginner’s ukulele book.”

Isn’t that cool!!!

Read more about them!

““Playing the ukulele is so relaxing and beautiful. It’s lifesaving.”

Jan Fox  and the Uke-adillos
Jan Fox and The Uke-adillos (source: NextAvenue.org)

NextAvenue.org posted an interesting article about Senior Citizens and the value of music in their lives. The article was entitled, “Music Matters for Older Adults: Just ask these six people who are in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s

The title of this post came from Jan Fox’s words. Ms. Fox, 83,  in retirement “took up line dancing, which she now teaches, and then a friend suggested learning to play the ukulele. Fox, who lives in Austin, Texas, did just that….”

She even started a performance group.

Read all about Ms. Fox and the other five musicians who just happen to be seniors. 

Create a ‘Lei’ decoration for the head of your ukulele

DIY Lei decoration for uke or guitar from One Music School
Tutorial Video – DIY Lei decoration for uke or guitar from One Music School

Ever seen ukuleles with beautiful flowers adorning the head? Where do people get those!?!

You are in luck! One Music School shares how to make them from inexpensive fake flowers.

Give it a try!    https://youtu.be/US-g1dJq8_Q


Here are some other sources:

The Record-Eagle.com: “The Lively Arts: Small and mighty, the ukulele”

Joe M. Coffman wrote: 

“On my car radio recently a different sound for Bach: a solo string instrument somehow voiced in a way that conveyed a subtly informal but effective interpretation of the great German master. It was a ukulele. Really?

I checked further and found this has been going on a while: The English string virtuoso Richard Durant and some of his contemporaries have been playing classical masters on ukulele with brio. This goes against the image of the ukulele as a novelty instrument fine for beach parties or an afternoon sing-along reminiscent of funny old scenes in old movie musicals.”

Read more of this excellent article on the history and popularity of the uke!

After School Ukulele Program for Kindergarten

Makala Shark Ukuleles - Kala.com (Dolphin models are also available)
Makala Shark Ukuleles – Kala.com (Dolphin models are also available)

From Spokane, Washington comes a great kindergarten after school program idea!

Spokesman.com shared an article: “Right-sized ukuleles fill tiny hands“. An excerpt says:

“231 kindergarten students. Two to three times a week, each of its classes has 30-minute music instruction. Westlund teaches them basics for singing, counting in rhythm and playing simple instruments like hand drums.

By May, Westlund and teacher volunteers plan to start an after-school ukulele club at the Millwood center for those kindergarteners who want to learn more about playing the instrument.”

Read more about the kindergarten center and the ukulele club!

What Size Ukulele Should I Get?

Sizes of Ukuleles compared to a Guitar - Baritone | Tenor | Concert | Soprano | Guitar
Sizes of Ukuleles compared to a Guitar – Baritone | Tenor | Concert | Soprano | Guitar (source: Wikipedia.org)

There are 4 basic sizes of Ukuleles and a number of variations. 

Of the four, three are tuned alike (G | C | E | A). If three people each play a different size they will all sound good together (IF each is in tune). The pitch (or note) sounded for each is the same. The only difference is the tone of each (from treble to bass like turning the ‘Tone’ button on a stereo)

The Baritone is tuned like the top strings of a guitar (D | G | B | E). The chord shapes are the same as on a guitar (minus two strings).  The chord shapes are also the same as on the other ukuleles BUT the names/letters are not the same – examples:

  • a G chord on a Baritone is the same shape as a C chord on the other 3 ukes.
  • A C chord on a Baritone is the same shape a F chord on the other 3 ukes.
  • A D chord on a Baritone is the same shape as a G chord on the other 3 ukes.

Confused? If so, it is okay. I suggest that you start with one of the other 3 and when you have that down pretty good, you can consider branching out to a Baritone.

The following ukes are easier to master because the strings are based on Middle C (the middle C of a piano) and the Key of C. In fact, the range is similar to that of a ‘Recorder’ that is often taught in elementary schools. More and more schools are switching to Ukuleles instead of Recorders in music classes.

  • Sopranos – the smallest and the traditional one that most people think of when they hear of the word, ‘ukulele’.  Sopranos are usually the best choice for small children. Makala Sharks and Dolphins are great choices for children because they come in bright colors, are very durable and sound very good.
  • Concert – a little larger offers a few more inches of wood at the bottom to tuck under your arm and has a few more frets to expand the range of notes that you can play up the neck.  From my current observation the Concert is the most popular size.  Concerts are great for anyone from growing kids to adults.
  • Tenor – a little larger than the concert the Tenor is about half the size of a guitar. I sense that it is becoming more and more popular.  It is particularly popular with Guitar players because it is not such a reduction in size from the Guitar.  Many Ukulele professionals play Tenors.