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Jiminy Kokopo's Ukulele Sing and Strum Fun Book Paperback – June 30, 2002
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... an outstanding musically correct ukulele method book and the first new idea in children's ukulele music since the 1950's. -- Geoffrey R. Rezek, Ukulele Society of Connecticut
An excellent book that every ukulele enthusiast should own. -- Fred Pearson, Ukulele Society of Great Britain
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The cartoonish pages made me think of this book being for kids.
Aside from the content, this book is poorly made. It fell apart the moment we flipped through the pages. All glue came loose. We just pulled all pages apart, punched holes, and put the book in a binder.
This book is much better suited for older kids and adults. My 10 year old would do just fine with it, but she has 3 years of piano playing experience, and she flew through Mel Bay's book in one sitting. However, the younger ones with less coordination and familiarity with note reading etc, would benefit from book that is slower paced.
The Good to Great
* The introductory section is great, once you get past the actual introduction; we've got to stop calling attention to ukulele stereotypes of the past - no one under 40 even knows who Tiny Tim is.
* There is a wonderful 'About the Ukulele' page that revealed a couple of bits of information that I didn't know about the instrument (and I've read a lot these type of things). For instance, the name of the ship on which the braguinha (parent instrument of the ukulele) made its way to Hawaii on was named the Ravenscrag. How cool is that?
* The 'Choosing A Ukulele' page points out that the pineapple soprano instrument is going to be a little louder than its guitar-shaped cousins - something I recognized when testing out Lanikai's LU-21 series of ukuleles, the pineapple had the larger sound (and the nicer tone - we bought one for my wife) than the regular soprano.
* I've never seen anyone take quite so much care in diagramming what goes into good downstrum/upstrum.
* The cartoons and illustrations are top-notch and entertaining. The silly-leaning prose will appeal to the young and young at heart.
* Chord diagrams, staff, sharps & flats, time signatures, note values, C scale & Chromatic scale are all covered adequately.
* There is a nice arrangement of Aloha 'Oe that beginners shouldn't find too terribly difficult with a bit of practice.
* The mystery tune puzzle on page 23 is a clever idea; I wish there were more of these in the book.
* I like that the author encourages students to make up their own words for very good old tunes whose words have lost their excitement or are dated. It is a great creative activity which can lead into personal songwriting later on.
* The author's original words in 'Pet Shop Hoedown' (to the tune of Whoa, Mule! Whoa!) should be entertaining to the young set and illustrates the above point perfectly.
* There is an adequate section on transposing - something everyone needs to learn about.
* There are a number of fun activity-book-style sheets that kids will find fun.
* The 'Introductions, Endings & Flourishes' section is a good idea, but there are a number of metrical (notated in 4 instead of 3) and rhythm errors (extra eighth notes in a measure), etc.
* Encourages you to go out and perform at your local rest homes. Great idea!
* Gives some nice tips on showmanship and getting past your nerves.
The 'Meh' Stuff
* The first song, Little Brown Jug, has you plucking a tune on all four strings using all four fingers and even takes you out of first position. Sorry, way too fast for a true beginner.
* The second tune, an original of the author, includes tricky syncopations that are only going to complicate things for a new uker. Again, too fast.
* Our first chords are C, F and G7. As I've stated in other reviews, this may seem like the logical place to start, but G7 is not an easy chord for beginners. I prefer a more gradual approach.
* An inserted errata sheet corrects the key/chord errors on 'She'll Be Comin',' but the corrected key makes the song much to high for the average singer (or too low if you sing it down an octave.
* After just three songs in the key of C, we're on to F and the introduction of the Bb chord, one of the hardest chords to get to ring out clearly without any extra buzzing noises.
* Covers some very basic strums, but doen't explore the potential of teaching and applying different strumming patterns. The Alfred method I reviewed before does a much better job with this topic.
* Three songs in F and we're on to D and another couple of tricky chords.
* The author's song, 'My Love for You is Gaga Gugu,' makes me want to gag. Sorry Jerry.
* ONE SONG in D and then off to G.
* Another original song, 'The Mongoose Shuffe,' is likely only going to appeal to the very young.
* Again, ONE SONG in G and then off to A.
* I think page 35 is in need of another errata sheet, the chords don't seem to lineup or make sense with the melody, which rhythmically should have a pickup beat instead starting on the first beat of the measure. This seems to be in F, not A.
* O.K. Where are the KEY SIGNATURES!!!
* Introduces B major family of chords with no songs to reinforce this key. Immediately moves on to E. Neither of these keys are really beginner keys.
* I've never like 'My Grandfather's Clock." Just personal preference.
* As several Amazon reviews noted, the book is poorly made and the binding cracked open on first use.
As a Fun Book, an Ukulele Comic Book, a Book to Pick up a Few Good Tips and Chuckles . . . I heartily recommend it. As a stand-alone method for beginning students, I heartily suggest you look into something else.
M Ryan Taylor
The book itself does have many good points, though. Despite the silly-cartoon front of the book and the over-sized illustrations, it is useful for adults from rank beginners to a bit more advanced. I had been playing for a couple of months before I got this book, so most of the chords are familiar to me. This book adds a easy songs to my reprotoir, such as: Ahola 'Oe, Old Folks at Home (Swanee River) and My Grandfather's Clock. (in fact, I would like to take the author up on his suggestion to play for "old folks in homes"!) Another thing I like about the book are the chord changing exercises where you learn to strum chords in "families" (ie, major keys).
This book also touches on basic note reading, but for more practice and mastery of that skill, I recommend "Play Ukulele Today!" by Hal Leonard. Another book that has lots of familiar songs to strum (chords) and sing is Alfred's "Teach Yourself to Play Ukulele".
This book is only 48 pages, giant drawings included, and, while I am happy to have a few new songs, I don't feel like I got my money's worth with the broken book.