S1E6 – The Adventures of James Hill

The most interesting mind in ʻukulele visits the podcast via a long-distance call. James and Brad talk about podcasting, baritone ukes, teaching beginners, video courses, and much more.

Episode resources:
Uketropolis podcast
Uketropolis courses (affiliate link)
BEBE baritone tuning
The Old Silo album
Ready, Steady, Ukulele course (affiliate link)

Transcription

Edited for clarity.

Aloha! Welcome to The Live ʻUkulele Podcast. My name is Brad Bordessa and today featuring an interview with my friend and inspiration and mentor, Mr. James Hill. He’s one of the best ʻukulele players in the world, he’s been revolutionizing teaching and playing the instrument for several decades, and every time I see him and catch up with him he’s on some new project, doing something new, and certainly playing some more interesting music. So it’s always a treat. He’s a super interesting guy along with being a fabulous person and a fantastic musician. Super happy to have him with us. We’ll see what he is up to.

Just a reminder that The Live ʻUkulele Podcast is released every first and third Saturdays of the month. So be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast cultivation app or program and I’ll see you in the next episode.

BB: Well, welcome to the show, James.

JH: Hey, Brad.

BB: Thanks for coming on. What have you been up to? What’s new in the James Hill universe?

JH: Um, podcasting? That’s thing number one. I followed your lead and just dove in and I’m doing a podcast now. It’s great. I really like it. I can record episodes in, like, my pajamas if I want. I did a lot of video over COVID starting with Ready, Steady, Ukulele, which was a course for absolute beginners that I did, like uh, way back in March. And then I had to produce a lot of video for my teacher training program. So I spend a lot of time in front of the camera, but it’s not my happy place. My happy place is sitting right here in the middle of the night when everybody’s asleep, you know, and just working on sound and, like, being in my sound world. I love that. I’ve always loved that. That’s always been my happy place. And the podcast lets me just go there and and be there and then share it with people. It’s pretty fun.

BB: Nice. So what what kind of topics are you covering?

JH: Well, it’s the Uketropolis Podcast, so the idea is to pick, you know, like a handful of questions every week from actual lessons from uketropolis.com and answer them. Because these are questions that students are writing right, like, below the lessons. So they’re asking for clarification or help or whatever and I can go in there and I do, I answer them all, but in the podcast I just get to go into more detail and tell longer stories that, you know, I just don’t want to sit there and type all of those things. But in the podcast I can just go on flight to fancy and um just have a little more fun and also do demonstrations, you know, audio demonstrations with ʻukulele while I’m explaining. So it just gives me a bigger canvas to help students. That’s really what it is.
BB: That’s fabulous. It sounds like a great way to kind of expand upon what’s already provided there in a less clunky way than the comments.

JH: Exactly. Like, the comments are just… they can only do so much. And the other thing is I’ve become a big podcast fan, like, I’m a big podcast listener now. And even before COVID I was a big fan of This American Life and Cereal and some of those shows and I listened while we were on tour and I had to drive a lot. I listened to all of Sherlock Holmes, like, multiple times. The entire catalog. It is better than coffee, better than chocolate as a way of staying awake at the wheel. Just, like, embroil yourself in a mystery, like, and you will never fall asleep. It’s better than caffeine. So I became this podcast fan and then that eventually just pulls you into the idea that “Hey, maybe I could have my own!” It’s a very democratic format. …As you know, I mean, you got a microphone and a computer – or not even. Maybe you just got your phone you can create your own podcast. And nobody really knows how to make money at podcasts either so it’s kind of a… it’s sort of… there’s so many passion projects out there. Even the big names are, they’re trying to get ads and stuff on there, but it doesn’t really work, you know, that little button that you can skip ahead 30 seconds is right under your thumb all the time. It’s still one of those formats where people are just sharing and… sharing what they know with the world and what they love with the world. It’s fun. It’s very open-ended at this point.

BB: So you mentioned Ukeropolis. I remember seeing that first kind of roll out and going, like, “Oh no! The Ukulele Way is gone!” And then I realized that it’s all just an umbrella site to house all of your teaching materials.

JH: Yeah… Well, you know better than anybody how unwieldy it is – specifically The Ukulele Way because… I don’t know if your listeners know your whole bio, but you were our admin for, like, a good long time dealing with all sorts of nuts and bolts in the background. You know what a headache that can be just for one site, let alone having, you know, The Ukulele Way was one, Ukulele in the Classroom – that’s another project, then there was JHUI, which is the the teacher certification program, that had its own, you know, online ecosystem, its own logins, its own database. And all of these things have to be maintained and they all go out of date and you just kind of… It was just an uphill battle after a while. So I needed one place to put everything where people could log in once and they could they could, you know, access their courses no matter where they are on that spectrum of, you know, are they players? Are they teachers? Are they first timers? They can all log into one place and it brings the community into one place. That’s what I love about it; the community is much more active now. Because you’ve got teachers in there helping players, you’ve got players asking questions of each other, you know, the the community that I was creating was so fragmented before and now we’re all together in in Uketropolis.

BB: That’s great because I remember that being one kind of disappointing part of the singular The Ukulele Way environment and so now you’ve got… it’s just one community on Uketropolis as opposed to breaking them out?

JH: Yeah. You know, we’ve got one community for everyone that’s just… anyone who’s bought a course gets access to that community, whether that’s The Ukulele Way or whether that’s Booster Uke, they can access that community, but we also have a separate community, which is a smaller, more intimate thing called the JHUI Cafe. And that’s where it’s only teachers in the teacher training program. They do have their own separate – almost like a staff room – where they can just hang out talk to each other, not have to feel like their students might be watching them or their students might be listening in. They just have an area for teachers only and we call that the Cafe. But, you know, we have the flexibility to do that now all under one roof, which is super fun. It’s just way more time that I can spend on the good stuff like helping students and way less time pulling my hair out about logistical things.

BB: Great. Are there any new projects coming down the line for your teaching materials?

JH: Yeah.. I’m… I don’t even know if I want to commit to this publicly, but I’m going to do it anyway because I really work well with a deadline. But I’ve always had in mind to do an interactive video based course around my book ʻukulele jazz – or Jazz Ukulele – I should say. Get the title right at least. And Jazz Ukulele is a really fun book and it already has, you know, you can buy it as an ebook now and it has interactive elements where you can, like in the old days, you can pan the audio one way or the other to silence either the rhythm track or the lead track. So you can sort of play with the band. Because I really think there’s no other way to learn jazz but to play with the band. You can’t just sit alone in your room and learn jazz. It just doesn’t work. So already that book had some interactive elements, but I’d love to go deeper on that with video courses and I’d love to do a version for baritone as well. Because I think we get a lot of requests for baritone. We don’t really have a course for baritone and jazz sounds so good on the baritone. So that’s something I’m hoping to do in the next few months now that I’ve got a bit of breathing room and, you know, looking for another project.

Very good. Well, certainly the baritone thing is one of my top requests too as far as like, “We definitely need something! We don’t have anything to work with!”

JH: Do you get a sense that there’s, like, a ton of baritone players out there or are they just kind of vocal about it?

BB: I don’t know! I haven’t been able to tell because that’s the thing, right? Is you put all the time in and then there’s, like, five people who buy the book or buy the course…

JH: And they really love it!

BB: Yes, that’s great, but…

JH: It’s true. I don’t have a sense of that because there’s no ʻukulele census. That’s the thing. Maybe there should be. We should mail them out, everybody hands them in, and we get, like… That would be great! We should do that at least in Uketropolis. You know, pretend it’s a real city.

BB: Yeah. Well, I think the baritone thing is sort of a side passion project for a lot of people, is my impression. It’s like, “Oh yeah, of course I play GCEA, but, you know, I also got this baritone and it’s really great and there’s nothing to help me along the path.”

JH: Yeah, totally.

BB: Kind of side question for you: I’m sort of on the fence because there are no materials for baritone of almost thinking that baritone is something that you would, kind of, graduate to when you’re more comfortable converting learning materials for yourself. Do you feel… I mean. of course. in a perfect world you could play whatever you wanted at any time. but currently is that any kind of a thought process for you? Of, like, well, maybe baritone’s a more advanced version of ʻukulele?

JH: Well, yes and no. I mean I think it’s more advanced in the way that you’re framing it right now. As in, when you’re ready you can make those transpositions and those arrangements, sure. But also a lot of people come to it because it’s the easier bridge from guitar so you get a lot of beginner guitar players moving over to baritone and they want that introductory level. So I think you know, yes and no, but I mean, I just put out that… a few weeks ago put out this Youtube tutorial that I’ve been messing around with for a while on alternate tuning for baritone – the alternate tuning that I use all the time – both in the studio and live – I use this tuning all the time. It’s called it’s BEBE tuning or “bebe” tuning. And I thought it was going to be super niche and nobody would, you know… Those five baritone players that you were just talking about, you know, they were going to tune in, they might love it, but you know that’s as far as it would go. And it’s got like 80 000 views so I’m like “Where are these baritone aficionados?!” Who are not only baritone players, but they are so into it they’re into alternate baritone tunings. Like where are these people, you know, it’s great to see tiny niches within the ʻukulele community find their thing and really go for it. It’s cool.

BB: Sweet. So that’s the tuning you played on Old Silo, right?

JH: Yeah, I played it all over that album and I still play it. Like, I’ve got one baritone sitting behind me right now that’s in that tuning. You know, I always have that within reach.

BB: And what does that do better than standard baritone tuning?

JH: It just messes me up. That’s what it does, that’s what I love about it. I have no idea how to play in that tuning.

BB: Still?

JH: Yeah, I mean I know a few tricks at this point. Like, “Oh, when I put my fingers sort of in that weird funny, you know, shape then I get these sounds,” but I still don’t really… Like I don’t know how to play scales on it. I don’t really know how to play chords or… Like, I certainly don’t know inversions in that tuning which is…

BB: God forbid.

JH: Right! Because inversions are, you know, it’s like the first time you heard somebody do like… You were like, “Oh no you did not! That is… Whoa, that’s so cool!” And, you know, and then finally somebody tells you, “Oh, that’s just the diminished chord inverting on itself and doing absolutely nothing.” Inversions often, you know, you got to learn them – I’m not going to say you don’t have to learn them – you totally got to learn them and they’ll open your ears and your mind and your fingers – you have to learn them. But at the same time, we sometimes kind of lean on them a little too much. It’s like, “Oh hey, I have nothing to do right now I’ll just flip to the other inversion…” You know, sometimes they get… we get a little lazy with them when you know so much you can get I think you can get a little blasé, a little lazy. So when you don’t know those things, you know, you gotta make it count and that tuning is one of the ways that I get back to that place.

BB: So will you be playing it on a new album? Are you working on a new album? You said you’ve got the creative juices are popping in this pandemic.

JH: They’re totally popping. I’m working on maybe three new albums simultaneously. Right now I feel like a song farmer. And not just, like, a hobby farmer. I’m like a step up from that. I’m like almost an industrial level farmer. Even just before we started this call I was working on two new tunes that I’d written in the past 10 minutes. I’ve got this new process that I’m loving where… It’s super hard to explain. But it’s actually really simple and it’s just a very generous process where I can sit down and kind of noodle away and it turns into something really quickly. I spent a lot of years writing and recording where everything was, sort of, like, hewn out of the side of a mountain. Like every little bit was my heart and soul and… and it was hard work to even get those those two measures and the next four measures and well those 16 measures I worked really hard for, you know. And now I’m more interested in ways of writing that are just more… they just flow better. And where not everything is so precious and once you get the thing spinning it just sort of goes and goes and goes. It’s a little more minimalist, more inspired by 20th century classical music, but bringing songwriting in into that mix and… it’s hard to describe, but you’ll know it when you hear it.

BB: That signature James Hill sound.

JH: Well, maybe. Maybe it’s the future signature James Hill sound. It’s funny, Anne and I were playing for Tunes in the Dunes 9.5. It was supposed to be their 10th anniversary edition in person. So they brought it online like everybody else and they did a great job and they called it Tunes 9.5. This is an event that happens over on the West Coast. The Oregon Coast. Have you been there? Have you?

BB: No.

JH: Okay. And anyway, they asked us all to play three songs and one of the songs we played was a new tune of Anne’s called “The Day the Birds Returned” and it was written in this way with these minimalist, like, repeating motifs over and over and over again with slight changes and slight variations as the whole thing kind of gradually crawls its way forward. But I’m basically repeating, I’m basically like a human looper. I’m just playing the same thing over and over again and then when I decide, say one of those notes will change and then it’s a slight variation on the pattern that I’m playing. And then she sings this beautiful melody over top of that. It kind of sounds like I’m like the babbling brook in the background, you know, it’s just working away, it’s just working away it’s tumbling, tumbling, tumbling and then she sings this long line melody over the top of it and it is very different from anything we’ve done before, but it was neat to see the reactions. Because people don’t really care how it’s made. Like, they don’t even really want to know how it’s built or what the ingredients are. The reactions were just like, “Wow, I love this new song!” “Wow that song is beautiful. I love that melody!” People were just reacting instinctively and they were loving it. Which was really encouraging to us that we don’t have to explain how we’re doing it or why we’re doing it’s just if it lands with people then it lands with people and that’s all that counts.

BB: Well you have a mic set up, would you care to play something for us? Hear what you’ve been up to?

JH: Yeah, well, thanks for the invitation, but here’s the thing: it takes two for this style of playing. So like I might… One thing that I was just working on right now is… Okay, okay. I’m gonna go back one sec. This is super fun. A few years ago Tony Coleman, who directed The Mighty Uke – the documentary that many of your listeners have probably seen at some point – he said to me… We were having lunch and I said to him, “What do you think I should do?” You know, like, I was between albums… Based on your journeys all around the world filming this movie and visiting ʻukulele groups and interviewing ʻukulele performers all over the world. You’ve now got more of a bird’s eye view of this entire scene than anybody I know and I was like, “What do you think I should do with myself?” And he said… He like didn’t even hesitate, he was like, “You know what you should do? You should write and record an album where other people in the audience have something to play while the concert is going on.” And that was the first I’d ever really considered the idea of the audience orchestra. And I was like… I’m still digesting that idea. It was such a big moment. I was like, “Oh, you’re actually right!” But it’s gonna take me years to build up to that where I feel comfortable and I feel confident enough to actually pull that off. Kind of like Rocky Horror Picture Show, but ʻukulele album. And so in that spirit I’ve been working on stuff that’s super simple that an audience could actually play. Where it doesn’t actually matter if they’re sort of doing it perfectly, but it just all kind of bubbles away and creates this amazing backdrop. So I mean, I can’t do all the parts at this at the same time, but one that I was just working on – literally – was just C6 over and over again. Like just a heartbeat of C6. Like that’s their whole part! That’s what they do the whole time. Except whenever they feel like it, they can add a finger on the second fret. So they might, at any time – doesn’t matter if their neighbor is doing it or not – they might go to like… And they just stay on that. And then later on they might add another finger on the second fret or another finger. And you can imagine if there was like you know X number of people, you can imagine how kaleidoscopic that would be, right? Like, it’s almost psychedelic how the thing would just… It would just morph as people made these choices and then over top of this you would have the melody and underneath that you would have a bass. I’ve been using a mono synth just to give me these super cool bassy tones. Kind of like a sturge, just like swimming underneath this kind of little bubbling motif thing that the ukes are playing. So for me it combines, after all these years, it combines my my interests in education and community building and my interest in just writing songs for my own enjoyment. Because when you write songs for your own enjoyment, you’re just hoping maybe that they’ll strike somebody at it… when they’re at a similar time in their life or when they have a similar need for that song. And the chances of that happening are not very good. But if you create an environment where somebody becomes part of a musical happening, that’s halfway… to me that’s halfway between like a workshop, which I’ve done a lot of over the years, and a performance, which I’ve also done a lot of over the years, and I guess now more than ever I’m just interested in trying to kind of split the atom and find a way that that really authentically combines both those things. I mean, I could talk about this all day, you can tell. But you asked the question.

BB: Yeah, I’m still still trying to catch up on that one. I’m picturing it from the crowd and just like being surrounded by so much sound. Like how would you even hear you on stage?

JH: I don’t know. I don’t know how. Maybe this is how you do it: before the concert, like, I don’t teach any workshops anymore. Like, I don’t teach workshops on, like, here’s how to play the triple strum or you know here’s how to play inversions of the C chord. I wouldn’t give a workshop like that anymore. My workshops would be, essentially, rehearsals for the performance. And people would come and it wouldn’t be the whole audience, maybe there’d be 20, 30 people, maybe there’d be 100 people, I don’t know. And that time that we have to quote-unquote “workshop” would actually be them learning the parts, getting to understand how the whole thing fit together. I think it’d be super fun and then maybe at the performance – who knows, maybe they’re on stage with me. Maybe they are actually facing the audience that’s not playing and we we just create this giant mob of ʻukulele players who have had one rehearsal who are playing music where they can hardly make a mistake where the mistakes are actually part of the composition and, you know, who knows, it could be super cool. If we were ever allowed to you know be in the same place again, but we’ll see about that.

BB: So I think that’s the long answer to “no, I’m not going to play something for you?”

JH: Oh yeah, I forgot about that question. No, but what happens is that, like, when you have two parts that are pitted against each other – not against each other, that’s the wrong way to say it – but like if… I’m just making this up, but if I was playing like… and that little sequence of three notes has a few little variations, maybe the next one is like… maybe the next one is… and maybe there’s three or four variations like that and you repeat each one as many times as you like. But then the person next to you might be playing… You know, and their variation… It’s the counterpoint between these two things that ends up sounding super cool and unexpected and as people move through their variations it’s what Anne calls serendipitous harmony. The composer, the writer is not in control of what chord is coming next, it’s just that you create the environment where some harmony, that you’re not even – that you can’t even predict, some kind of harmony is going to come out and it’s going to be awesome. And every time you play it it’s gonna be different.

BB: It’s profound.

JH: Sort of. It’s sort of profound and it’s sort of obvious and sort of super simple at the same time.

BB: Well, that’s one of those things that is obvious once you know it.

JH: Yeah, I guess so…

BB: It’s like anything Tesla does …Well, duh!

JH: It’s like, of course the the handles retract into the body! Oh why didn’t I think of that?

And then just to like really take it to the next level, I’ve started developing this way of recording that can capture songs in, I guess, liquid form so that they actually play back differently every time you listen to them. So that this style of writing can be recorded. Because right now, if I recorded that – what I just made up, those two little motifs – if I recorded those and then I sent you the file, like, it’s going to play back the same way every time. Those same decisions are going to get set in stone. But I’m working on this an actual recording program, like a piece of software, that allows you to to to keep it malleable even in recorded form. It’s crazy.

BB: It is crazy. Yeah, you were showing showing that off last year at Uncle George’s workshop.

JH: Well it’s come a long way and it’s got a long way to go, but it’s really exciting.

BB: Nice. Yeah, it was one of those things; just kind of hold on hold on to your socks because we’re not sure what exactly this is, but it’s cool.

JH: But it’s cool. That’s what counts.

BB: What is the future looking like for you and Anne as far as… Do you have any gigs lined up coming out of COVID? Or is it just like we’re here until further notice.

JH: We had our first gig on Saturday.

BB: Oh, cool.

JH: Yeah, first Canadian performance of the year. Possibly the only Canadian show of the year. Our first show of the year was in Mexico in January and our second show here in Nova Scotia in September. That’s like the shortest, you know, website calendar ever. And it was fun! I know Anne, especially, really missed being out there on stage and connecting with people and singing the songs. And I found myself playing differently. Amazing when you take that much time away from performing how it changes you. I think we’re going to get back to it. I think… I don’t think… You know, the music business and our own artistry is like everything else in the world right now. Like, it’ll never be the same. It will never go back to the way it was. That is the only thing we know for sure. And other than that, the future’s wide open. And that’s why I get excited about this time that we’ve all had. I get excited about what will come out of this. Like, what will supernova out of this time… this strange time that we’ve all kind of shared. I think there’s going to be everything before 2020 and there’s going to be everything after 2020. And it’s amazing when I go on Youtube and I listen to songs – even my own songs that are even, like, nine months or 10 months old, even just a little before the pandemic hit – I’m like, those songs don’t really speak to me anymore. Like, they’re not talking about now. “Oh, they seem so old.” They’re, like, not even a year old and they seem so old! And so I think that’s something that’s going to define us moving forward: how can artists bring, you know, the way they feel now to the fore in their art. A similar thing happened during World War II when you had the development of bebop that kind of went underground during the war and then after the war just exploded onto the scene because it had that time to incubate. And it needed that time. Something as complex and out there as bebop needed that time to become what it what it became. I think there’s so much to look forward to there’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

BB: Great, yeah. Hopefully, if anything, we’ve collected a few ʻukulele players along the way. I was kind of cracking up when all this very first hit as all the web traffic everywhere just went skyward for a handful of months.

JH: I know… Kind of crazy, but I think a handful of that handful has stuck with it and that’s… You know, you see that in the stats. I’m sure my stats probably look exactly like yours. It’s a big spike and then it comes down, but it doesn’t come down to the way to to where it was pre-COVID. You know, it’s still… We’ve retained some people who are now, you know, ʻukulele players for life.

BB: Yeah, watch out. That happens.

JH: I think the first course that I put out… I mean it really changed the way that I approached my own teaching and my own thinking about what role my teaching was playing in, I guess in the world. The first thing I did was create an absolute beginner course. That was the first thing I did. I thought, there are going to be so many people right now looking for just which end do I blow into and I’d like to have something for those people. And I had intended to do that for months, for years, but finally COVID was that impetus to say, “Okay, throw in on what you think is the best way for a beginner to begin.” And, I don’t know about you, but I find teaching beginners and creating beginner books and methods is the hardest thing. I think it’s the hardest thing. You get… oftentimes at festivals and stuff you have the most advanced teachers, or the most experienced teachers, working with the most advanced or experienced students. And I kind of think it should be the opposite. Advanced students, like, they know where they’re going. They’ve got a head of steam. They’ve got momentum. They just need a little bit of guidance to keep them on the rails. But those people who are just taking their first steps, I mean, they need the most experienced teachers to to help them get on the right track, I think. So it took me, you know, maybe almost 20 years to feel comfortable writing a beginner method – absolute beginner method. But I finally did it. I got over it and I did it.

BB: So what have you collected in those 20 years that you feel have made you confident in presenting the material?

JH: Well, the number one thing is don’t start with C.

BB: That’s awesome.

JH: So, I mean… I’ve been saying this for years and I really believe in it, the first chord should be C7. And then then the sec… And this is if you start with chords. And what I like to do is just kind of start with chords and picking simultaneously, basically. But if you if you really want to say what is the very first thing after, you know, here’s how to tune it, here’s how to hold it, c7 for sure. And then, you know, because you can just sit around and play that chord all day and it’s pretty fun. Like that’s one chord that you can just Lime in the Coconut all day, you know… And besides, you can also play like you put your finger anywhere on that string… I mean, you do kind of feel like a bit of a rock star right away with that chord. And then it’s a matter of just hopping it to the next string and you get that beautiful, you know, F-ish chord… And this is what I’ve been showing people for years. That I really think is the way to start and if I had a five minute lesson with somebody who I’d met in the airport lounge or something and they were like, “Hey I’ve always wanted to learn ʻukulele, what can you show me?” and, like, the flight is just about to board, I’m not going to show them C. Because if I show them C and then we want to play a song, it’s, like, well, then I got to do G or G7. I just… I don’t think I’m gonna get that done in five minutes. I’m not gonna get that nice tonic, dominant thing going, but with one finger… You know, all of that with one finger? You just can’t beat that. Besides, it’s like first finger on the first fret of the first string. That’s a big hint. Like, that should be the first chord. So it’s all built around that and just goes from there. It’s really fun. It’s like 60 minutes – over 60 minutes of instruction. The class is called Ready, Steady, Ukulele and it’s one dollar.

BB: Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

JH: That’s the idea. You know, there’s a big difference between a free course and a one dollar course, I think. A free course is… You know, I do have free courses, but I think a one dollar course is… it’s symbolic. It symbolizes somebody’s commitment to learn. It’s like when somebody sells their son or daughter you know the old farm for one dollar. They don’t just give it to them. They make them pay a dollar. It’s symbolic. It means that you have bought this from me. There’s a big psychological emotional difference when you pay the dollar. And I wanted people to feel that. I wanted them to, literally, buy into it, but still show them that, “look I want you in here,” but you need to make that commitment.

But my second course of COVID… The second one that I did was one that’s really close to my heart and it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for years and that was kind of inspired by Daniel Ward’s Arpeggio Meditations. I really love that book. I really love the idea of that book. And I wanted to do something like that and so I wrote this course called Peace Like an Ukulele. And it’s just meditative, you know, arpeggios… And you can repeat each one as many times as you like… You know, it goes on and on but it’s open-ended so you choose how long you want to stay on each one. And this is a course that I put out there for free because I’m like, if there was ever a public service that I could do for people in the time of COVID to, like, just calm them down and… We take it for granted because, you know, you’re a creative person, you’re in the studio, you’re getting in your flow, you’re losing yourself in music, but a lot of people don’t have that place to go. They don’t have that bubble to retreat into when they’re freaking out. But a lot of people have ʻukuleles and I really think that ʻukulele can be that thing for people. They just sort of gotta have a little bit of guidance about where to put your fingers so you get those beautiful meditative sounds and then off they go. And I think that course, which is free, is the one that’s, you know, in a way it’s like the most important course to me as a teacher and artist because it sort of brought all those things together and it felt like a service.

BB: That’s great, man. I don’t even know what else there is to say. You’ve provided so much interesting content for us here.

Well thanks for joining me, James. It’s always a pleasure.

JH: You’re welcome, Brad. Thank you and good luck with the podcast and keep on rocking.

BB: Yeah, good luck with your podcast!

JH: Thank you

BB: You can find all of James’s teaching materials on uketropolis.com it’s the home to all of his ʻukulele teaching courses, including The Ukulele Way, Booster Uke, Ready, Steady, Ukulele, and even Ukulele X, which I’ve been hearing about for years and is finally available for advanced players who want to learn some of James’s extreme ʻukulele pyrotechnics. And of course the new Peace Like an ‘Ukulele that James was talking about. So check those out on uketropolis.com.

I’m back here every first and third Saturday of the month with a new Live ʻUkulele Podcast. My name’s Brad Bourdessa. Thank you for joining me once again. Thanks to James. Don’t forget to check out my website liveukulele.com for my free teaching resources along with my premium ebooks about ʻukulele chord shapes and inversions along with ʻukulele playing technique books for the left hand and the right hand – the picking hand and the fretting hand. So I’ll see you in the next episode. Until then take care of one another, stay safe, and keep playing your ʻukulele. Aloha.

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Brad Bordessa
brad bordessa smiling holding ukulele

I’m an ‘ukulele artist from Honokaʻa, Hawaiʻi, where I run this site from a little plantation house in the jungle. I’ve taught workshops internationally, made Herb Ohta Jr. laugh until he cried, and once jammed with HAPA onstage in my boardshorts. More about me