Curtis Kamiya Music

Strum The Ukulele Like Jack Johnson

Today's lesson will focus on a strum that I hear Jack Johnson do all the time, only adapted to the ukulele.

There are three things you need to be able to do to accomplish this strum:
1. You need to get the stroking right, in other words your right hand needs to go up or down at the right time.
2. You need to be able to execute a muted strum, at first with the free fingers on the left hand muting the strings.
3. You need to be able to make one up stroke a short note.

1. To get the right stroking, I'd recommend saying the down/up pattern first. If you get it in your head by saying it, it becomes much easier to strum. When you've got that down, execute the strum while muting the strings, just to get the rhythm. That way you're just working on the rhythm with the right hand, not worrying about chords or anything else.

2. Try making a muted strum. Strum one down regularly, then with your free fingers, cover all the strings an strum down again. When you mute, you want to touch the strings, don't press down too hard. Just enough to inhibit the strings from vibrating, but not enough to fret a note. You're looking for just a "chuck" sound, no notes. Once you've got that, try it with a Bb chord. Get the mute by lifting up on the strings, just enough to get a "chuck" sound. I think of it as "unsqueezing". Just loosen your hand, but don't take your fingers off the strings.

3. To get the short note just mute the strings immediately after the upstroke. You want that note to be shorter than the rest of the notes.

Here's the strum broken down into beats:

| 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + | 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + |
| D
__ D U D U D U_____U___U D U D___|
__________x x x_*___________X X X

The numbers stand for beats, the "+" symbols are the "and" beats. "D" stands for down stroke, "U" stands for up stroke. "X" is a muted strum, and the "*" symbols is to make that up stroke short.

Takes a little getting used to, but if you want to play some Jack Johnson on the 'ukulele, this is the way you do it. Good luck!

Beginner Slack-Key Guitar Lesson #2

Hello folks,

It's been a few years, like maybe 4 or 5, since I put up the Beginner Slack Key Guitar Lesson #1. I put this up because it is the first lesson that I teach anyone who is interested in playing slack-key guitar. It covers the three main skills that you have to learn in order to move forward: alternating bass line played by the thumb, four finger picking assignment, and the different slack key positions up and down the neck.

There have been people asking for a follow up lesson for years, so here it is.

The second thing to learn is playing a Hawaiian vamp, or turnaround. This is a melody and chord movement that is so particular to Hawaiian music that when you hear it you immediately think of palm trees and Diamond Head.

We're going to be in Taro Patch Tuning (Open G). Here's a quick reminder:

6 - E down to D
5 - A down to G
4 - D same D
3 - G same G
2 - B same B
1 - E down to D

Here's some tablature of the melody only. Be able to play this melody first, without any bass notes. This will give your ear and fingers a taste of where you're going. Be sure to start on the "and" of 1.

| 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

Next up we have that same melody with bass notes coming on 1 and 3. Pay particular attention to the fact that you hammer-on with the melody on beat 3 at the same time as a bass note. That can be a little tricky. Be able to play this and keep repeating through the two measures at a steady tempo to get the hang of it.

| 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

Lastly we have the melody with bass notes on all 4 beats of the measure. This is what we're trying to master. Everything before is just baby steps. Again, pay attention to notes that line up vertically. There are notes happening on a pinch on beats three and four. These can be landmarks for you to make sure you're on the right track.

| 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

Here's a link to some sheet music for this lesson if you'd like to print it out. Enjoy your slack key playing! Lesson number three coming soon!

Video | Spring Student Concert 2015

Hello Everyone!

It's taken a few weeks, but I've been able to round up some video, get it edited, and upload it to youtube.

Hope you enjoy some of the performances from April 19th. We've got a wide range of styles from local Hawaiian singer/songwriters (Kimie), to Hip Hop (Alicia Keys), to fantasy-metalcore (Avenged Sevenfold). We also had help from some guest musicians; Iliahi Robbs and Dairen Haigenoff from the band The Bitten. We also had Brea Lee guest drummer extraordinaire.

Here's a link to all the videos from our show.

Some standout performances: