I'm Heidi and I travel all over the place teaching ukulele and performing in schools, festivals, homes, libraries.
For years I've made my own songbooks--photocopying hand-written lyrics and charts, making line drawings, and passing out funky copies from my home printer or Kinkos. Personal and homespun, sure. But not always legible. And my drawings, well ... they leave a lot to be desired. Fortunately, I have friends--talented ones. Friends who are helping me take my idea of an illustrated ukulele method book for all ages and turn it into a reality.
We are wrapping up classroom sets (30) or individual copies of Color-Along Ukulele and would love to send a parcel to you! Each book comes with the download code to access the great companion recordings that make this combination perfect for learning at home or for use in the classroom.
Pre-ordering copies will give us the money we need to finish our work and print our first edition.
Backers who want to be extra awesome can buy copies for kids who'd love to learn but don't have the resources. We know groups near and far who would love a classroom set, from India to Indiana!
Learning happens differently for everyone--some are visual learners, some learn by listening, and others are kinesthetic and need to learn through their bodies. Most important for all learners, regardless of age, is explaining complicated concepts simply and enjoyably. Every day that I teach, I learn something new from my students, and that 15 years of experience has been distilled into this book.
When teaching kids (or adults), I like to start by plunging directly into songs. Simple songs they can immediately succeed at playing, which teach them skills and allow them to reenforce their learning through repetition without realizing that they are "practicing"--captivating them in fun so they learn joyously, effortlessly.
Kids sometimes need to switch up their learning channels. That's why I began creating illustrations to go with the songs. After an initial lesson, we will have a break where the kids color, and I sing and play the day's lesson. The kids kick into a relaxed, social frame of mind. They often sing along or comment on the song. When they are done, we return to the instruments, often playing games or dancing while playing. Their bodies and minds fully engage and they learn much more in an hour of active, integrated learning then they would have if they had been forced to sit still.
Meet the Team
The somewhat peculiar illustrations throughout are the work of one El Rey, rumored to reside somewhere in the desert hills near Phoenix, Arizona. He's a fantastic artist, illustrator, and photographer. I have worked with him on a bunch of projects already and LOVE his sensibilities: irreverent, funny and smart. His witty full-page line drawings are fit to be colored or enjoyed on their own.
Graphic designer Mark Lerner lives in New York, and I have known him for upwards of 25 years. He has done the packaging for my CDs and always makes me look good. Mark is doing the dirty work of layout and turning my scrawl into easy to read, well-diagrammed lessons. Unlike me, he can spell.
My partner Daniel Ward and I have already started recording the play-along tracks with engineer extraordinaire David McRae at Third Eye Studio in Tijeras, NM.
Here is the raw "scratch track" for "All Around the Kitchen," a lesson featuring the C7 and G7 chords in a dominant blues.
These funny renditions are perfect for listening and playing along, so you can learn a song by ear and get it under your fingers. They are long-playing (about four minutes for each song), which makes them great for use in a classroom. I have field-tested a few already. Believe me--it's much easier to tune 38 ukuleles when there's a tuning song playing. And, when it's coloring time, you can free up your hands and play the recording while you are taking care of other classroom tasks.
It's great to work with such talented friends! And it's great to have friends like you who are supporting the project through this Kickstarter campaign by pre-ordering a copy or a classroom set for yourself or others.
Share with Others in Need
So that we can pass on the love, we are offering you the chance to buy copies for some of the schools and organizations we work with. You can choose a reward which will make available a classroom set of books to a very worthy recipient. For instance:
- In 2010 Daniel and I went to Haiti with Global Family Philanthrophy and started a ukulele program with the kids there. Global Family also works with a school in Phoenix, AZ. The kids there come from families who are all living below the poverty line. They would like to start a uke program.
- The Killian Mansfield Ukulele Collection at the Phoenicia Public Library lends instruments to individuals and schools in the area. (How cool is that?!)
- Survivor Girl Ukulele Band. Laurie Kallevig travels to India and teaches ukulele to girls (and boys!) who are survivors of human trafficking. She'd love some books!
There are lots of other underfunded schools and organizations we support, or you can buy a set to personally give to the program or teacher of your choice!
Risks and challenges
Our needs are simple, and the groundwork is in place. The songs have been chosen, lessons written, and a good half of the tunes are already recorded, at least in the rough stages.
It is always difficult for artists to make space in their schedules for non-paying or underpaying gigs. That is why we have asked for your support. We would like to have enough money--really just a token sum--so that our artist, recording engineer, graphic designer, and music director can move this project forward to their to-do lists.
... and then we need to pay the printer for the actual copies we are sending you!
We have editing to do, more recordings to make, and a dozen drawings to complete-- plus layout. I think we can get it done by fall, and am confident that these will be in your hands by holiday shopping time. With your support I am confident that we can make it!
- (33 days)