12/5 Saturday at Marks place there will be a 4 hour class given. Starting at 10AM going until 200PM. This is a fund raiser for Amma’s Charities. The cost is 75.00 per person includes – Lunch and a finger picking DVD. We have 15 seats available and a
min of 8. The morning will be spent on finger picking, the afternoon will be spent on movable chords, why they work and how to apply them. If you would like to sign up please send me a message.
Here is a Amma’s website if you would like to read up on her. http://amma.org/
Gracie and I were playing on the couch the other day. She is only 11 months old but she is no stranger to music. I sang to her and her mama during the pregnancy and now almost everyday we sit at the piano and play on the keys. We also pull a uke down and she does what ever she wants with it. Sometimes she plucks the strings sometimes she slaps the back or chews on the head stock.
You never know how she is going to express herself on any given day. On this given day she pointed to a ukulele and I pulled it down for her to play with. I started to tell her about how important it is to express ourselves artistically everyday. That it lets us demonstrate how we feel in ways that words may fail us. Immediately I knew that these words were not just meant for her but me as well. I haven’t had time to practice or play nearly as much as I would normally. I started to play whatever came to mind and a wonderful song about a little train on the track that whistles Cho Cho as it goes singing by came out. I little ditty for my little sweetie. It made us both so very happy.
Express yourself through your art. Play, play, play, let it all out! Good and bad, let it out in your art. Maybe a strangers interpretation will put in words, that which you could not describe, releasing your heart to continue on.
Mark “Spanky” Gutierrez
It’s been awhile since I was in Dallas. It was great to return with my wife and new daughter. We were only there for a short two days but were able to reconnect with some ukulele folks from the area. Mark and Kathy Levine, Noel Tardy, and in spirit Gina Volpe.
It was so nice to sit down in a relaxed atmosphere and just share what was going on in our lives. Normally there is some ukulele event that is going on and while that is always fun it usually puts us in a situation where we have to provide service or perform for others. We don’t normally just get to sit down and see how the other is doing. That made this visit special in that it was just us getting together to reconnect. What a great time.
I had brought a little pineapple Kamaka and I think at one time or another we all grabbed it and gave it a strum. At one point a group walked up to the table and asked us to play a song on that thing. So we obliged and the guy was surprised that it sounded so nice and that it was an “American” instrument. Noel and Mark where quick to invite the guy to the Dallas Ukulele Headquarters. It was so interesting how it all came about and this is the part that keeps me so involved with the Ukulele community. We share, what ever knowledge we have, and what ever skills we have accumulated are all out there to share. We love it when a new person joins our ranks.
Heather Hooton, my dear friend once put it this way: “Ukulele players are so excited for the guy that just finished playing a Bach piece, but they are equally excited for the guy that just learned how to play his first chord!”
I love this community of music makers. Last night we had a Ukulele Christmas party in Papillion Nebraska. We have all heard Christmas music on the radio and in the stores but it is so different when your making the music yourself playing and singing your heart out. We had such a great time.
I know I am rambling here but I just wanted you to know that you too are invited. If you are interested in playing the ukulele or you already play and you want to join a group. Just go out to Google and do a search for groups in your area. I am sure you will find one and if you don’t then make one!
Peace and Happy Holidays!
Mark “Spanky” Gutierrez
I had a new experience yesterday, for the first time I led meditation. My instructor had asked that I play some ukulele for the class, which I agreed to do but something in the back of my mind told me it should be more than that. Over the last two years I have been meditating with my ukulele. I have used it as an expression of what ever is on my heart. Something guides me to a short melody then the chords come to harmonize with it and I just keep repeating it until something else comes. I was introduced to Amma last year and one of her Swami’s (lovingly called BIG Swamigi) Conducts a meditation based on MA and OM. I used his meditation to start with and after a five minutes the group had descended into a nice meditation. It was at this point that I started playing the ukulele. The melodies were simple and the first was based on the melodic minor scale the last song that I played was an old meditation that became the song Molokai Morning. Its a great melody that was given to me as the sun rose over the island of Molokai. This seems to have the effect of a sunrise slowly waking us up. It was a great experience and it seems that my friends enjoyed it too.
Do you ever lay down at the end of the day and feel completely exhausted? If so congratulations! The last half a year has been that way for me about every day. Life is so full and I want to do it all so… you just keep going. I have been trying to practice every day, spend quality time with the family, workout, and make great food AT HOME. It’s like getting out a giant shoe horn and getting everything you can into every day. I think if there is one thing thing that can make this all happen is love. Love that is shared, respects and supports each others desires.
I have often thought that if there were only more hours in the day, that it would all be better. Guess What? I found more hours in the day! NO TV!! Yeah, no TV, we stopped cable years ago and then moved to HULU and slowly I just moved away from TV all together. I am not saying that TV is bad I am just saying that it represents a choice that many of us don’t realize is there. Drop the TV go work out, practice, cook great food, love, or go do that thing that you would do if you had more time.
It feels so good to lie down at the end of the day and thank God for a fully lived day. Don’t spend another day waiting, go do that thing that you always wanted to do, go reconnect with people in your life tha
t may have drifted away, spend the time to keep your family connections clear and pure.
This is opening my mind to all the possibilities that God has to offer. Make room for your dreams to be exercised and more dreams will come. Bigger and greater dreams.
Like the song says
“So dream when the day is through
Dream, and they might come true
Things never are as bad as they seem
So dream, dream, dream”.
So, to you and your’s sweet dreams
Mark Spanky Gutierrez
Another great festival! Noel Tardy put on a great festival once again. It’s always so nice to re-connect with old friends and connect with new friends. So, many cool things happened this weekend! Meeting the Barn Kickers was definitely one of them. Steve and Amanda are wonderful musicians and they are wonderful people! My only regret is that we did not have more time to jam together! The other magical moment was a dinner after the performance on Saturday night. Mark and Kathy Lavine hosted a little gathering that ended up being a little jam and great after party!
I taught an advanced finger picking class, a class on dressing up your songs, and a masters class. The masters class was definitely was my favorite. JD and Heather assisted with the class. This class gives people a chance to perform a song and then be given constructive criticism. The festival did not have an open mic this year so this gave those that wanted to perform a stage.
It’s always amazing how much talent is in the ukulele community. We heard songs in Hebrew, originals and a cover from Hall and Oats! They all were amazing and everyone brought great ideas on how to improve each others performance. The ukulele community is awesome about sharing. They will do anything to help a fellow ukester out.
If you were there, thanks so much for coming! and if you were not, please consider attending a ukulele festival soon. It’s a great way to meet other uke players, it’s always good time and it provides great instruction that you may not be able to find anywhere else.
I hope to see you soon!!
Mark Spanky Gutierrez