Book review of Daniel Ward's 'Melodic Meditations' and 'Melodic Arpeggio's for Ukulele'.
Every so often as a ukulele player/teacher you find a resource that is really useful and seems to fit in with just what you needed to help your students become better players. This recently happened when I started using Daniel Wards two excellent books 'Melodic Meditations for Ukulele' and 'Melodic Arpeggio's for Ukulele'.
If you haven't heard of Daniel then check him out. He is an amazing ukulele player with a background based in Flamenco, Latin and Classical guitar. Believe me, he plays things on the ukulele that will blow your mind. I was on a zoom call the tther day with a load of classical ukulele players, and Daniel played for just a few seconds, and everyones eyes lit up - both with amazement and jealousy !
Both of the books are filled with compositions, all by Daniel. Melodic Meditations deals with teaching a student how to bring out a melody on the ukulele - and to really make it sing. My favourite piece is Melodic Meditation in C. I like it as a beautiful piece of music but it is so much more. As a teaching tool it helps students to learn the importance of bringing out a melody and playing notes in a legato fashion. It is very clever how it is written, that it forces students to learn to hold chords down to really let them ring out - and not just strum them and let go instantly. This is often a skill that really seperates early players from those at the top of their game.
Both books are filled with fantastic pieces that are a plasure to play - but so much more - they all have a specific aim. Like any good Etudes, they help to focus a student on one specific task. 'Roll and pull' for example where the whole idea is to learn to produce perfect sounding pull off's. In 'Floatng Loop', another gorgeous piece, the student learns to move through chords by moving whilst playing open strings. It is also about learning to do chord placement - ie place the fingers of a chord down as you need them rather than all at once (a skill often required in pieces by classical composer Tarrega).
As a teacher I have found these pieces extremely useful. usually I am greeted with 'well that piece doesnt look too hard', follwed at the next week by - "ah now I get it, ithis is tricky when you do it CORRECTLY'. If you are looking to further your ukulele skills, or teach people some very valuable skills, these are the books for you. Daniel can be contacted at www.danielward.net
You can hear me play a couple of pieces from the books below :