Aaron Keim’s playing covers the tonal spectrum, from string bass to ukulele. He is a member of the popular indie folk band Boulder Acoustic Society and also plays in the old timey duo Flatfoot with his wife Nicole. Aaron is also a skilled luthier having recently started The Beansprout Banjo Company. In his spare time Aaron works on his Master’s of Music at CU-Boulder and teaches lessons on ukulele, banjo, bass and guitar.
1. Does your knowledge of playing bass translate into your ukulele playing?
Absolutely. Bass playing is all about structure and support. I therefore think of a piece of music as it relates to the overall chord changes, phrasing, symmetry and long term shape of the tune. I am sure this effects my ukulele playing by keeping things focused, distinct and structured. Also, many of the fills and melodic bits I play between chords or strums are often just bass lines transposed to the uke! For this example of My Buckets Got A Hole In It I mixed a “note-strum-note-strum” approach with some simple bass runs. These are little melodic fragments that link the chords together. It is something that bass players do all the time but ukers often don’t think about! Bass Runs for My Buckets Got A Hole In It
2. Any suggestions on how to practice more efficiently?
SLOW DOWN AND INSIST ON QUALITY! I am weary of hearing people playing fast and sloppy. Cut the piece up into chunks and learn it bit by bit. When all the chunks are ready, practice linking them together and then build up the speed. Use a metronome and electronic tuner. Lastly, split your practice time into focused mindful practicing and playful improvisation. These two approaches make for a well balanced uke player!
3. Do you approach learning new material in a “by ear” approach?
Yes, all the time. Unlike many of your readers though, I had college level ear training, music theory, arranging, singing, composition, etc. Since then I have combined this knowledge with techniques and traditions from folk, blues and jazz which used to be always taught by ear. I can read music and tab on uke, but I would rather learn a piece by ear from a friend or a CD.
I highly recommend all of your readers try to learn music from recordings instead of doing the Google search for the chords and lyrics first. It will be very hard at first, but it will make you a better musician if you stick with it!
Tags: 3 Questions Interview, Aaron Keim