Ukulele Workshops

Schedule | 2018
Motown or Bust Tour
Sponsored by

Dallas Ukulele HQ
Dallas, Texas March 25
more info

Tulsa Ukulele Club
Tulsa, Oklahoma March 31
more info

Nashville Ukulele Group
Nashville, Tennessee April 7
more info

Willis Music
Lexington, Kentucky April 9
more info

Arthur’s Music Store
Indianapolis, Indiana April 14
more info


Allegheny Uke Soriee
Altoona, PA April 20-22
more info

Ukulele Festival of Scotland
Drumfries, Scotland April 27-29
more info

West Coast Uke Retreat
Pacific Grove, CA May 2-6
more info

Kamloops Uke Fest
Sorrento, BC, Canada June 15-17
more info

Midwest Uke & Harmonica Camp
Olivet, Michigan June 22-24
more info

Elderly Instruments
Lansing, Michigan October 6
more info


Ukulele Music Info Logo
Visit Ukulele Music


3 Questions Interview: James Hill (Playing By Ear)

Posted on: August 31st, 2009 by dville

Unknown-3Today we debut a semi-regular Monday feature entitled 3 Questions in which we interview ukulele luminaries with the goal of gaining insights into their approach to learning. Today our guest is Canadian ukulele virtuoso James Hill. Not only is James a great player, he is also a fabulous teacher. Together with Chalmers Doane, James created an entire ukulele curriculum entitled Ukulele In The Classroom.

1. What does the phrase “playing by ear” mean to you?

JH: I’ve learned a lot from Chalmers Doane about playing by ear. I learned that “playing by ear” really means “playing by intelligence” (that’s Chalmers’ terminology) . In other words, “playing by ear” means using everything at one’s disposal (e.g. ears, eyes, experience, intuition, attitude, preferences, etc.) to make musical choices. The phrase “playing it by ear” usually implies that there’s a certain amount of guesswork involved (e.g. “when should we meet for lunch?” “Oh, let’s just play it by ear.”). That’s not what “playing by ear” is in music. “Playing by ear” is a skill that can be developed and refined over time.

2. Where do your ideas for new music come from, experimenting with chord progressions or melody lines?

JH: I get a lot of ideas while I’m out walking. I think it’s the increased blood flow to the brain and the steady rhythm. I’ve decided that whenever I go for walks from now on I’m going to take a soprano uke with me and write music as I walk. For me it’s usually melodic and rhythmic ideas that come first and I experiment with harmony later. If melody and rhythm are the gift then harmony is the wrapping paper… so many colours and patterns to choose from!.

3. Do you have any shortcuts to quickly memorizing new songs?

JH: Look for patterns and group as many things together as you can. For example, don’t think of the opening phrase of “Joy to the World” as eight separate “events” (“Joy to the world, the Lord is come”). Just think of it as one event: a descending major scale. Also, with practise you’ll come to recognize common melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic patterns in the music you play. Once you know the archetypes, you only have to memorize the parts of a song that break from those archetypes.

James Hill Website
Ukulele In The Classroom

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Ukulele Tutorials

Playing By Ear

Play Ukulele By Ear 1
Vol. 1 DVD or Download
more info

Play Ukulele By Ear 1.5
Playing By The Numbers
NEW! DVD or Download more info

Play Ukulele By Ear 2
Vol. 2 DVD or Download
more info

Play Ukulele By Ear 3 NEW! Soloing DVD or Download more info


see all products
& descriptions

read reviews

© 2012-2018 Jim d'Ville play ukulele by ear  |  graphics and layout by lindesign  |  built and maintained by Gray's Web Design                   Top