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Craig Chee, Sarah Maisel to host Online Mini Uke Fest on April 11; visit craigandsarah.com for more information

Ukulele players take heart — restrictions may have canceled in-person weekly jam sessions, but the online uke community is alive and well.

"I've recently participated in more jams than I usually do, mainly because I can do it from home and not have to drive to different locations in the area," said Claire Ishii, leader of the MC Jammers, a ukulele group based out of the Milwaukie Center.

COURTESY PHOTO - Ed Carter is helping ukelele players stay connected and in good practice during the COVID-19 epidemic."It's not the same, of course, because I don't get to visit with my friends. However, I have been able to see live 'windows' of other participants, so I have a chance to see the people I miss," she said.

The Portland Ukulele Association website at pdxuke.com soon will have an updated list of online jams and the Tigard Ukulele Group has organized weekly online jams using Zoom at 2 p.m. Sundays. Visit tigardukes.com for more information.

The big news for ukulele enthusiasts, however, is that Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel will host a free online ukulele fest April 11, Ishii said.

Chee and Maisel are nationally renowned uke instructors who have come to the Milwaukie Center twice to hold workshops, and Bryan Tolentino and Neal Chin, both of whom have also taught workshops at the center, are among the many instructors.

Visit craigandsarah.com and click on Online Mini Uke Fest for more information.

Music at home

For those who would prefer to play at home and improve their skills, Milwaukie resident Ed Carter has just released "Ukulele Techniques Through Tunes," a new workbook written for the intermediate or advanced student.

In the workbook, Carter has created tunes to help ukulele players incorporate left-hand techniques into their playing.

"In the absence of face-to-face contact, this workbook teaches useful single-note techniques and accompanying chords easily through songs written in a variety of styles, and the student can play along with the recording," Carter said.

"The hammer-on, pull-off, the slide, playing in thirds and sixths, are abundant in these etudes," he said.

The style of music ranges from country and folk, to blues and Latin.

"I have also included 'The Sky Boat Song' (1800s) and 'Angelina the Baker' (traditional fiddle tune) to demonstrate the 'drone' note and examples of playing thirds," Carter said.

The workbook costs $25, which can be paid through PayPal at @edlewiscarter or Venmo at Edward-Carter-1.

Once he receives the money, Carter will send links to the material, which will consist of downloadable MP3 songs and accompanying charts in PDF format.

"Anyone who has attended any of the various 'ukestras' in town should be able to decipher the tab, fingering, and rhythm without too much difficulty. Listening to the music will also help it fall into place. It will take practice, though," Carter said.

For those with less experience, Carter is "currently working on a technical exercises type workbook, which very slowly, repetitively and methodically takes the student through the techniques without the rhythmic complexity of a song."

Stress reliever

Carter is a professional musician who has played with the Beach Boys and toured with many other groups. He settled in Milwaukie five years ago and has been a member of the MC Jammers for three years. He also is a member of Steve Rose's Stumptown Strummers and Marianne Brogan's PUA.

"I saw a fun online jam from Tigard yesterday and recognized many of my Milwaukie uke friends," Carter said.

"All of this is helpful in keeping one active while necessarily staying home."

As for what he likes best about the ukulele, Carter said, "The ukulele is an amazing instrument, useful as an accompaniment to singers, an orchestral voice in a ukulele ensemble or as a solo instrument."

He added, "I hope that the joy of playing music, even alone or with a couple of others, will take some of the stress away from our current, uncertain situation."

For more about Carter's workbook, email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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