It’s that time of year. Long summer days are winding down. Everyone is planning last minute getaways and get togethers. As people return to the city after a summer spent in the mountains or on the coast, we return to our routines. Preparations are made to made to return to work and school.
Temperatures are lowering and the leaves are starting to change colour, signalling the beginning of Autumn. We all know that the change in weather brings with it colds and flu and right now that is a bit of a stressful scenario!
This particular September may cause anxiety for some with questions raised about how schools and offices will handle the return amidst the pandemic. At Shine Music School we are fortunate to offer our students classes both from our studios in Barcelona and online lessons.
Teaching students online offers a learning experience that is anxiety free, not only can you stay safe at home, but online lessons can be convenient, economical and intensive, students can accomplish more in a shorter space of time and have the flexibility to learn on the go from anywhere in the world.
How is Catalunya tackling Covid-19?
The Spanish Government has announced measures to minimise the transmission of Covid-19 as everyone returns to work and school. These regulations are applicable throughout Spain with the rules implemented by each autonomous region’s education authorities. Here in Catalunya, the minister of Education, Josep Bargalló has made opening schools a priority. Despite the inherent difficulties caused by the novel corona virus, the government understands the importance that schools play not only in education but also as essential services.
So how does it work?
Face masks will of course be obligatory for all over the age of 6. And smaller children will also be encouraged to wear them. A physical distance of 1.5 m should be observed with everyone outside of your household. Regular hand washing and sanitising of hands and surfaces should be observed. Temperatures will be taken in certain institutions to monitor fever rates. Where possible, outdoor activities will be encouraged.
Schools where group learning takes place will follow “Bubble” guidelines, where interactions with other groups are minimised. Covid 19 will be monitored through the use of apps and a co- ordinated effort between CAPs. Both staff and students will be responsible for maintaining these regulations and their health. If a student or teacher finds themselves unwell they will stay at home and if they show Corona symptoms, they will be subject to a PCR test.
If any tests come back positive all persons in the group or bubble will need to quarantine for 14 days at home. If more than one case is reported at a school, it will close temporarily.
Purchase a pack of masks, and small refillable hand sanitiser gel that you can keep with you at all times. Practice healthy and safe social distancing, and remember that you are protecting not only yourself but also your loved ones and colleagues.
At Estudio Shine
Our music lessons are one-on-one and each lesson takes place in separate classrooms. Each room has hand sanitizer gel and students and teachers are expected to wear masks where applicable. We expect all our staff and students to be responsible when entering the school and respectful of each other. During this time we are encouraging online learning in order to protect our teachers and students. We are also implementing measures to reduce foot traffic in our Barcelona studios.
Our teachers are fully equipped to deliver superb one-on-one online music lessons as well as group lessons. We will also start offering online master classes and courses. Shine also offers rental instruments to students who wish to study at home and can help to facilitate buying instruments as well.
Our online school concert was exceptionally successful and we will continue to maximise our online learning experience for the time being.
If you are feeling at all anxious about your music lessons at either of our studios, we encourage you to start learning online with us. Not only is music a proven method to reduce stress, but studying music exercises your brain, helping us to become adaptable, stable and smarter humans.
Don’t let worry or the Corona virus disrupt your life, but make the right changes to improve your situation so we can enjoy music together! Contact the school with any questions you may have!
Shine School of Music is now offering group classes for the Ukulele.
One of the most popular instruments today, and easy to master, we are hosting group ukulele lessons with a professional ukulele teacher, right here in Barcelona. Group lessons are a wonderful way to make friends through music and learn something new! They are also affordable! Lessons are for all ages!
Has the ukulele just caught your attention? Are you considering taking lessons to learn the basic chords of the trending instrument? Do you want to be the fun friend who starts the happy-go-lucky sing-alongs at parties? First you’ll need to know which one to buy.
There are four main ukulele sizes, but the smallest, the soprano, is the most iconic. The soprano is the size that most people associate with the ukulele. A few practice strums will immediately produce that classic ukulele sound and bring a smile to your face.
Sopranos can feel very small to many adults, however, with their traditional tininess making them a bit trickier to play than concerts or tenors. A concert or tenor size uke are good middle-of-the-road sizes that work well for beginners and give off a warmer, more resonant sound than the sopranos.
Try not to obsess about choosing the right size. Chances are you’ll find yourself starting a collection and owning ukes of every size before long.
There are a ton of different woods used to craft ukuleles. The most common is koa, a type of wood from Hawaii. Thus, most ukuleles that come from their birthplace are made from koa. It has a beautiful grain and generates a very warm sound, but note that koa is used on more expensive ukuleles. If you’re not looking to break the bank, but still want a uke that will stay tuned, you’re probably going to get one made of mahogany. A mahogany ukulele sounds a little bit softer than one made of koa, but it’s still a good wood choice.
There’s a bewildering range of ukulele brands available today. The brand you choose really depends on what your local music store has to offer, and your personal preferences and budget. Some brands that come to mind are:
Ashbury—good quality, entry-level ukes from a UK company
Kala—hugely popular in the islands and elsewhere, but generally with a big price tag
Kamaka—the oldest surviving ukulele maker, family-owned and Hawaii-based
When it opened in 2008, the Barcelona branch of the Shine School of Music was the first specialised guitar school in the city, offering classes in all styles of guitar—from classic to flamenco to electric—with qualified and experienced teachers in English, Spanish and Catalan. Today, they continue to provide guitar lessons to all ages and levels, but have also begun training students on a variety of other instruments including piano, ukulele, cavaquinho, accordion, clarinet, saxophone and more. Understanding that most people study music for enjoyment, as a hobby, the school delivers a simultaneously structured, creative and fun approach to learning an instrument. At Shine, people feel comfortable socialising, collaborating with other musicians and showcasing their progress.
Shine is also one of two music schools in Barcelona that offer intensive flamenco/guitar/piano courses to tourists looking for an educational holiday, along with being one of the few music schools worldwide to give private online music classes in a coherent and organised fashion for you tech-savvy musicians out there.
When it comes to the ukulele, Shine is keeping up with that trend, too. Not only can their teachers melt your heart with a few joyous chords and teach you how to delight friends and family with some melodies of your own, but the school in Gràcia sells ukes, as well. They sell mostly sopranos because “it’s the most popular,” said Shine’s owner Miloš. “The soprano is what everyone plays, what’s all over YouTube these days.” You can also rent a dynamic ukulele from Shine for 30 euros a month.
Once you’ve bought your first (or maybe your tenth!) ukulele, go to our list of top 12 ukulele songs to play, some time-honoured classics but others you may not have previously associated with the uke.
Not long ago, the ukulele, no more than a comic prop to accompany your lei and grass skirt, was an endangered species. Now in its third heyday, the ukulele’s powerfully cheerful sound is permeating the pop charts, serenading us during TV commercial breaks and showing up in YouTube videos by the thousands. The uke can even be heard in jam sessions on Barcelona beaches and has infiltrated some of the city’s Meetup groups.
A Brief History
Based on several small members of the guitar family, the ukulele was first developed in Hawaii during the 1880s by Portuguese immigrants. Roughly translated as “jumping flea”, the ukulele’s popularity spread to the United States in the 1920s. Thanks to the production of millions of inexpensive plastic ukuleles, their presence in popular music surged from the 1940s to the 1960s, but interest began to decline after that.
Don’t worry. There’s a comeback in our story. The ukulele reclaimed centre stage due to the enthusiasm for Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of “Over the Rainbow”. Since its release on the album Facing Future in 1993, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” has been heard so often on TV and in movies, young generations may not realise Israel actually redefined the beloved classic originally sung by Judy Garland.
According to the New York Times article “Ukulele Crazy” from 2011, “The trend, building for a decade and now reaching a saturation point, is being fueled by a mix of Hollywood directors, corporate advertisers, professional musicians looking for a new sound and amateurs who have discovered how easy the uke is to use”. Each group’s interest may be driven by different motivations, but they are all united in their belief that the ukulele, with its folksy sound, invokes joy and sincerity in an electronic guitar and auto-tune-obsessed age.
And why shouldn’t the ukulele be this year’s trending topic? Its dainty size makes it a great instrument to travel with. It’s easy for kids and adults alike to play. It provides players with instant satisfaction—being defined in some music circles as “idiot-proof”, anyone can learn to play in a short period of time. No matter how off tune you go, it never sounds awful because of the uke’s sweet-natured sound. Playing the uke will enlarge your circle of friends. And it makes you and those listening around you happy.
Even George Harrison was a ukulele lover, quoted as saying, “I love them—the more the merrier…So get yourself a few and enjoy yourselves”.
More recently, stars like Eddie Vedder and Jack Johnson have taken up the ukulele, and its featured prominently on the TV show Glee. It’s become a habit for Zooey Deschanel to strum one while crooning sweetly with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Tony Blair disrupts Labour Party conventions with one. The ukulele creates intimacy to scenes in Her and How I Met Your Mother. There’s even an eight-member Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain—originally formed as a bit of fun—that has given thousands of sold-out concerts across the world. We’ve come a long way from mocking the uke after Tiny Tim used it in his 1968 novelty song “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”.
Despite its higher profile, the ukulele still plays its role as an everyman instrument quite convincingly. “The ukulele has always fascinated me because it doesn’t intimidate other people,” said Hawaiian artist Jake Shimabukuro, whose career skyrocketed when his elaborate, introspective variation of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on a ukulele went viral on YouTube with more than 13 million views.
There’s no right or wrong way to play the ukulele, only your way. So get out there and start strumming!