We all need to stay connected in this time of contagion so we are offering online Ukestras (and soon, Choirs) using Zoom.
We start our Zookestras this Monday (23 March 2020), and you have to register (below) to be a part of it.
What is it?
Zoom is an online teaching platform. We are already using it with a four week online theory course and it is working quite well. The picture at the top shows what it looks like, sorta like The Brady Bunch.
You’ll need a computer, a smart phone and an internet connection to be able to participate. Most computers/laptops and phones have microphones and cameras built in, so the assumption is that you have that too. We’ll send you a link to join the group, if you register your interest!
We can teach you in the safety of your own home, you can hear our instructions, play along with us, ask questions, and talk to each other. We will send you the Zookestra material that you will need each week, but you have most of it already. We’ll have old songs you know and love, and new songs (which we hope you’ll eventually love!). This may be, or may not be, a Wagon Wheel Free Zone.
What is a Zookestra?
A Zookestra is a ukestra, using Zoom and other online video computer programs. Perhaps it is a bit like a zoo, where you can look out or into another world, but you have to stay where you are. No touching!
People enjoy normal ukestras for their social connections, to catch up with friends, and to learn and play ukulele in a relaxed environment. Whilst a Zookestra will never replace being and playing with others in the same room, we’ll do our best in this online world to bring you a fun, safe, and hopefully satisfying, educational, musical and social experience.
The Zookestra timetable aims to keep together the cultures and friendship that were made within Ukestras – being connected is vital to our good mental health.
Each Zookestra will feature:
- Mark and Jane playing the music and singing from their lounge room
- You joining in from home as we play. You will not be heard (simultaneous just doesn’t work, the internet just isn’t fast enough)
- We will give some instruction prior to playing each song.
- If you are positioned right in relation to your camera, we can watch your fingers and see if we can help.
- If we get a lot of people, John will join us in our lounge room (at an appropriate social distance).
- We plan to have additional people (Kathy Wilson and Tom Dowding) at their own homes, helping you out on the side, either with the finer techniques of playing, or potentially with small technological problems.
- We will occasionally break the group into smaller groups so that together we can work on more detailed problems with playing.
- We’ll have a half time break to allow you to socialise. You can do this in the Zoom Breakout groups, on the telephone or in another medium (Skype, Facetime, Facebook Messenger, others). You can also socialise before and after.
Timetable and Zookestra Descriptions
Zookestras offer three skill levels for current local ukestrans.
- Easy Newkestra for new players who have either done a beginners session, been a part of a group elsewhere, or have been learning on their own.
- Easy/Mixed for those who know (and can play!) at least 10 chords and the C scale. More challenging material may be introduced.
- Intermediate – generally for those who have been playing for over 2-3 years and know their notes, numerous chords and want to learn more.
We’ll also be offering specialist sessions that will have different commitment and pricing structures. Thanks to our trial buddies who have pioneered the Zookestra format on Wednesday evenings doing The theory, practice and feel for improvising on the ukulele.
Each session will be more predictable and pre-planned than some ukestras, with song and content lists sent out beforehand.
Monday Mornings – Easy/Mixed
We expect that the Tomaree morning mob and some Shoal Bay evening people might dominate this timeslot. But anyone is welcome. Mark and Jane will host this, with John assisting from his home. We have shifted the time to slightly later so as to better accommodate the tardy. Register below on the form.
Monday Evenings – Intermediate
Our plan is for Jane’s Monday nighters at the Merewether Bowlo to form the core of this group. We also would hope that some more experienced ukestrans from other groups (Tuesday arvos at Teralba or Tuesday nights at Wil&Sons for instance) might also come along. But anyone with the relevant skills (aspirations and self-forgiveness) is welcome. Jane will be leading this session with Mark accompanying on bass. Night time Shoal Bay people who are working may like to keep this option handy too. Kathy will assist from her house. Register below!
Wednesday Mornings – Easy/Mixed
10am – 12pm
This is Kathy’s normal Kotara timeslot. Mark and Jane will be leading, with Kathy assisting from her house. We would hope that the normal Kotara mob would be a part of this, hopefully with some Tuesday afternoon Teralba mob. But anyone is welcome. Register below!
Thursday Nights – Easy/Mixed
We are trying an uber-staffed model for this one, if demand warrants it. Mark will be leading it with Jane and John in attendance in the Ukestra Lounge Room/HQ and Tom assisting from his house. We hope the regular Thursday night mob will attend this and others who care to join.
Saturday Afternoons – Easy Newkestra
This session will be really easy and will be open to new and inexperienced players. Jane, Mark and John will lead this one from the Ukestra Lounge Room/HQ. We have moved the timeslot to the afternoon so you can make the early morning toilet paper rush hour. Jack will be assisting from his home.
Register here for a Zookestra
You can join any of these groups or you might prefer your usual (ish) timeslot and group. You can put down more than one option and you are not committed to attend every week. When you do attend we will deduct the cost a class would normally cost ($13.50) from your prepays or arrange a $17 payment online.
The online choir model will come along just as soon as we see how well the Zookestras work.
What about outdoor ukestras?
We have certainly been thinking about this a lot, and looking at outdoor locations that might be suitable. But at this time whilst we are still trying to bring the spread of the virus under control, we are not comfortable with organising outdoor ukestras. There is just too much change happening, and too much risk.