Tag Archives: ukulele

Just in! Ukuleles for Kids Classes

Learning Guitar Concepts on Ukulele in our Group Kids Classes

Good news! Our ukuleles just came in so we can start prepping for music class. Our Big Kid’s class starts April 4th. As of now, we’ve just got an 11 AM Saturday time. However, these small classes work much like private group lessons in that they can be scheduled based on group interest. We’d love to hold more times, especially an after-school weekday time with one of our guitar teachers. So, if you’ve been looking for something along these lines (perhaps as an alternative to private lessons or something to do after school), look no further and contact us with your availability! We’ll do our best to arrange a group. For group lessons, we don’t just do our kids music classes – we also arrange groups for teens and adults and offer classes as well (BYOB singing classes, Beginner Guitar, Folk Ensemble, Vocal Technique, and more).

Description of Our Big Kid’s Class:

This class is a step between our baby and toddler music classes and private lessons. Small group instruction for kids ages 4-6 uses ukuleles and xylophones to playfully teach music. Classes are made up of between 5-6 children. Through guided exploration, children learn notes, listen with their ears, and practice basic technique. Songs are used as learning tools and interludes between activities. Curiosity and experimentation are encouraged.

*People often ask us, what age is good to start children with private lessons? Every child is different! Some kids might be interested at an earlier age than others. Typically, we suggest waiting until your child is at least 4 years old. We do, however, teach children younger if there is a strong interest. Instruments like piano and drums are easier to start with than guitar, and ukuleles are a good way to work up some of the strength required for guitar technique.

Meet Frank Velardo, our Guitar Teacher

guitar lessons

Guitar Teachers at Philly Music Lessons

Introducing Frank Velardo to our pool of talented guitar experts. Looking to take lessons for blues, jazz, or rock? He’s your guy.

Frank is a fellow former jazz performance mate from Joey’s days at the Boyer College of Music and Dance. Thus, we’ve been rubbing guitar elbows with Frank in the music scene for years! From jazz sets at Book Space, Chris’s, and Caribou Cafe (to name just a few), to sharing a bass player on more than one occasion, we’ve gotten groovy to the guitar licks of Frank plenty of times. In addition to being a master of his craft, Frank’s also an awesome teacher. And he looks like George Harrison.

Frank’s Bio:

I teach Guitar, Bass, Piano and Ukulele.  I am an accomplished musician, composer and educator versed in many contemporary styles. I have been studying blues  and jazz based music for many years now and have developed an authentic sound that stands prominently among my idols. I play in  several Philly based groups as a sideman, and I also lead my own  project. In 2010 I graduated from Temple University with a degree  in jazz performance, and in 2012 I released my first collection of original music, The Ardvark Felon.

Here’s our interview with Frank:

When did you begin playing [instrument], and why?:

I took my first piano lesson when I was 9, but my mother had shown me a few things before that. I got serious about music when I started paying the guitar. I was 12 years old. I started playing guitar because I wanted to be able to play “Good Riddance (TIme of Your Life)” by Greenday.

What are your personal goals as a musician?:
Like with anything else, there are short-term and long-term goals. A short-term goal could be something like learning a new song or copying a solo. A long term goal is something like being able to identify the chord changes of a song without having to struggle over it, or learning how to play jazz. My long term goals with the guitar is to be able to play every “idea” that comes to me while improvising… oh yea, and to have fun! 

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?:
I was working on being able to hear a continuous stream of 8th notes in my head. I thought it would help my jazz playing. It’s a concept call “Forward Motion”. Hal Galper, jazz pianist and educator coined the term and wrote a book on it. I spent years doing exercises and practicing. It finally clicked one day while I was watching TV. I was just sitting there, not trying, but then I could suddenly hear the notes in my head, and feel where my fingers had to be to play them. It was exciting!

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?:
Be stubborn. It sounds cliche but “sticking with it” is really the key ingredient to success in music, because if I would have quit back then, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?:
Working on time/rhythm. It’s still a challenge, and I’ve improved in that department a lot over the last 5 years.

What is your biggest musical achievement?:
I’ve practiced to the point where the guitar is no longer an obstacle in conveying my emotions or “saying what I need to say” through music.

Favorite thing about teaching?:
It forces me to be patient and understanding. I enjoy playing the support role and, I like watching students connect the dots. I’ve had a lot of great teachers over the years so I feel it’s important to keep that tradition going.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?:
If you have a guitar, don’t wait for the first lesson to take it out of its case! Don’t be afraid to mess around with it. There’s nothing that you can do that will jeopardize your ability to improve if you start playing before the first lesson. Teachers like to see that you have take some initiative with your learning.

Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc. (if any):
I play every last Tuesday of the month at Jose Pistolas at 15th and Spruce with my trio. I also play in a blues band called the Downtown Shimmy. I have a calendar of show dates on my website www.frankvelardomusic.com I also have some original tunes and photos posted.

Vintage Songs for Ukulele | Philly Music Lessons

New Lesson Material - Ukulele Music from the 1920s's | Philly Music Lessons

New Lesson Material – Ukulele Music from the 1920’s | Philly Music Lessons

Vintage Ukulele Sheet Music Finds: “Japansy Waltz Song” and “Barbara” – Every now and then, when I’m off collecting vintage music paraphernalia for our space, I come across boxes of old sheet music. Often times the songs I find are actually quite useful for our teachers. We’ve gathered some old dixieland tunes, classical scores, and piano exercises published from the turn of the 20th century. Of course most anything can be found online now, but there’s nothing like a chance run-in when you’re browsing through a physical library (in this case, our very own Philly Music Lessons library).  Plus, when rummaging through troves of sheet music in second hand warehouses, one might uncover a truly obscure piece and encounter a unique and remarkable glimpse into the past.

If it’s not the anachronistic titles found in our collection that will pique your interest, it’ll be the art that catches your eye. Many of these newly acquired music editions are silk-screened prints. With Art Deco lettering and ornate scrolling to embellish the covers and edges of the faded sheets, these antiques will satisfy history buffs with their visual and linguistic displays of cross-cultural exchange. One such piece we’ve added to our library is a 1920’s Ukulele piece, its lyrics reading: “My tears will sprinkle your petals each day, my pansy of Japan. Thoughts of my love will keep winter away, Japansy of Japan.”

“Japansy Waltz Song”, with words by Alfred Bryan and music by John Klenner, was published after World War I and before World War II. Though it would take a music historian to infer exactly how this piece of music might have reflected the sentiments of the U.S. population in the 1920’s, there’s no doubt that relations with Japan were on the public’s mind at the time: When this song was published in 1927, our relationship with Japan had been becoming increasingly poor. Though once our allies during World War I, Japanese U.S. tensions were on the rise due to Japan’s economic distress and worsening U.S. attitudes towards Japan. The Exclusion Act was, only three years prior to the publication of “Japansy”, passed by Congress and prohibited further immigration from Japan. While our feelings toward Japan remained complicated, ranging from anti-war to discriminatory, Ukulele music from Hawaii was increasingly appearing in U.S. pop-culture. Its sounds had been trickling into the songs of Tin Pan Alley writers since the initial popularizing of the ukulele during the Panama Pacific International Exposition in 1915.  Also to note during this period of Hawaiian musical influence, a large percentage of Japanese constituted the population of Hawaii at the time (43%). With the encounters (both positive and negative) that were taking place between the U.S. and the Pacific since the turn of the 19th century, it is apparent that culture was being traded between populations in the form of music. This little love song is a representation of that.

Our Ukulele lessons in Philly– Until more history is uncovered, we’ll be excited enough to have this ukulele piece in our archives. As we offer lessons to both kids and adults, our teachers will be able to reference and play ukulele pieces dating from a time when ukulele was first making its impressions on American culture. Short and sweet enough to be played by kids, this is a great beginner piece. We hope all of our ukulele students will enjoy deciphering this bit with our teachers.

ukulele sheet music - lesson materials

Barbara – Vintage Sheet Music for Ukulele | Philly Music Lessons

Included in the edition was another Ukulele piece called “Barbara”.  We’re posting a snippet of both songs here for you. Love the history of music?  Check out more about the history of the ukulele here. The ukulele is a Hawaiian instrument derived from a Portuguese instrument called the machete. With a smaller neck and soft strings compared to the guitar, the ukulele is a great and manageable way to introduce fret fundamentals to very young children interested in learning guitar.





1920's ukulele sheet music

Vintage Sheet Music – Japansy Waltz Song for Ukulele | Philly Music Lessons