Note by Note – Inspiration at the Library

Taking an occasional stroll down the public library aisles can be a fruitful (and free) way to discover fresh inspiration.

Here’s one for anyone involved in the music learning process: Note by Note – A Celebration of the Piano Lesson, written by Tricia Tunstall, ©2008.

GraphicNoteByNote

Source: Hamilton County Public Library. CLICK IMAGE for YouTube interview of Tricia Tunstall.

The context is PIANO. But readers need not be piano students, teachers or classical music enthusiasts to savor the author’s musical passion, insights and intellect. Her observations transcend to learning and loving any instrument.

Tricia Tunstall shares many stories on the ritual of lessons and the teacher/student relationship; diverse student personalities and learning styles; the discipline required to master skills and classical works; interesting examples on deciphering and respecting the complexities (and simplicities) in today’s pop culture music; persevering through recital performance; creating original works and improvisation.

She describes her advanced students (pp 126) as those making a discovery about themselves: “They are in this because of an attraction to the act of playing that is compelling, deep and inarguable. They have experienced the sheer physical pleasure of technical facility and soul-stirring elation of expressive power, and they have discovered that these satisfactions are somehow essential to their lives … it comes entirely from within.” Universal for any form of musicianship.

The book goes beyond reflections on music pedagogy. Tricia wraps it up with a very personal and tragic aspect within her own family life. But don’t jump ahead! The book’s 214 pages are an easy, engaging and rewarding read.

Wanna’ PLAY or PLEDGE a FLEA® ukulele? Visit www.truejoyacoustics.com to learn more plus connect to Amazon and eBay listings. Purchases are convenient, secure, delivered FREE (continental USA) and backed by Buyer Protection Programs on these two well established e-commerce stores.

Email me at info@truejoyacoustics.com if you would like to sponsor a donation of one or more FLEA ukuleles to the music therapy program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. It’s easy and will certainly bring joy to your heart as well as many kids spending their holidays in a hospital.

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Bloggers, visit us on: WordPress (True Joy Acoustics – Community), WordPress (Ukulele Shops), Tumblr (Ukulele Shops) and Blogger (Ukulele Shops). Comments and connections welcome! Greg, TRUE JOY ACOUSTICS

Heart Strings for Valentine’s Day

FREE shipping on instrument purchases through Valentine’s Day … whether buying our ukuleles and kits on Amazon, eBay or directly from True Joy Acoustics.

Now is the perfect time to get a FLEA ukulele. Learn the basics, get ready for warmer months ahead. Spring is just around the corner according to today’s prediction from Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney!

Musician Maker Kits make it easy to develop skills on a high quality instrument. And with tutorials like the one below, you’ll be strumming to your sweetheart in no time. “Ukulele Mike” is regarded by many to be the absolute best online teacher for learning ukulele. Passion for teaching the instrument and a skill at keeping the process simple and engaging. In addition to producing all these free videos on YouTube, he teaches music to preschoolers through 8th graders in the Seattle area.

Greg H., True Joy Acoustics founder

The Gift of Music

Click to see 2 minute feature video

  • Oh what FUN it is to STRUM … ready to play, plenty to explore
  • Make music FAST … without formal lessons or prior musical instrument experience
  • Easy to SHARE … one kit can please a crowd
  • Play ANYWHERE … tuner and tough cases make it easy to travel
  • Strum GREEN … no power cords or outlets
  • Skills for LIFE … learn ukulele, expand easily to other instruments
  • Simple for SANTA … doorstep delivery, all packed neat in kit case
  • Spreads the JOY … kit sales support worthy community connections

Greg H., True Joy Acoustics founder

Free Online Ukulele Tuner

Here’s a convenient tool when playing ukulele (+ other instruments) by the computer.

Click the following banner link, scroll down, select the “play” icon underneath each open string note. It will repeat the tone until you move to another string (or click “Stop Sound”) … makes it easy for you to adjust the tension on your corresponding ukulele string until you have a precise match. Set up for standard G-C-E-A tuning, but can be modified to any tuning. Hats off to Scott at http://www.get-tuned.com for creating this!

And here’s an easy way to remember the standard tuning notes for ukulele. The following letters are the open string notes (i.e., playing each string open without fretting) as you progress from the top (4th) string closest to your face while holding the ukulele … to the bottom (1st) string which is farthest from your face:

G-C-E-A stands for Good Children Eat Apples.

You’re all set. Just bookmark this page, stop back and always strum your tunes true.

Greg H., True Joy Acoustics founder

Ideas for Funding Musical Arts Programs in School

What toll is the recession taking on state economies?

$ 538,000,000,000

This is the combined total of state budget gaps experienced and projected over four fiscal years (2009-2012) per the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Federal stimulus funds, budget cuts, tax increases and reserves used as gap fillers create a short term illusion of security. We can still drive on roads, expect a response to a 911 call, and our kids go to school. But the underlying cash flow imbalance will continue to squeeze, including key elements within our education system.

School programs viewed as non-essential such as band/orchestra remain cost saving targets. Urgent levies and political changes are unlikely to shield further cuts given the nature of this recession. Such cuts deny our children (i.e., our future society and leaders) the benefits of a well-rounded education. Those benefits are nicely articulated in an April 9, 2010 speech by Education Secretary, Arne Duncan.

This post offers a few “high leverage” ideas to raise net-extra funds to help preserve music making in our schools. They’re about monetizing or tapping into existing material and cash-flow streams. Offered without warranty, but in a spirit of ideation. Something to share with your school/PTA/PTO and booster leaders to assess interest and viability within local rules. Easy links are built into the subtitles.

1. Amazon Associates program – create an Amazon “aStore” on your school’s website or affiliated music program site. Simple and free. Load it with Amazon sku’s that students are going to need or want as part of regular school year purchases … books, supplies, gear for school teams/clubs, school related clothing, any other common items congruent with school spirit. Ask parents to originate their Amazon purchases via the site’s aStore. Amazon will then reward your directed marketing efforts with commissions in the 4-15% range. No added cost to the shoppers!

Enlist a student/faculty team to create the aStore page, keep it fresh. Integrate fun incentives to encourage frequent visit, e.g., create a related YouTube channel on the site featuring clips from marching band performances, concerts, talent shows.

2. Kroger Neighborhood Reward program – similar to preceding concept, this allows your school to earn commissions on purchases made at your local Kroger and affiliated stores (e.g., Ralphs, Dillons, King Soopers). Easy setup. Fill in the application with proper 501(c)3 verification, then purchase loaded gift cards that are re-sold to participating families. Cards can be continuously recharged. When aggregated purchases exceed the $5k per 4-week threshold, your school receives a 4% commission check. Everyone needs to eat, Krogers is a great place to shop.

3. eBay Instrument Resale Program – where do all those instruments go that were played by graduating seniors? Some to college, some to younger siblings, most likely hibernate in a closet. Find a seasoned eBay’er in your parent population, or better yet, a local music shop that would host an “eBay drop off store” capability. They can efficiently refurbish instruments as necessary, and with more shops building online presence (to survive), they have optimized listing and shipping techniques.

The music shop earns a consignment fee and gets to boost their eBay transaction volume and feedback ratings, whereas the school collects net proceeds. There may be some tax benefit for the family donating the instrument … need to check with a tax expert. Think broader than the band/orchestra instruments … all those guitars, amps, music books. eBay is a huge market (90 million traders globally) to monetize value from those closet-destined instruments.

4. Ukulele After-School Club – yes, a plug for my program, but it offers relevant help. Not as much a fundraiser as it is a program to create more incentive to join and support music making. The more students involved, the more parents that see value and give it weight. The enrollment of 8th grade students in band/orchestra across US schools is only 1-in-5. Not every student desires to play or can afford such instruments.

Simple model. Bulk orders from True Joy Acoustics are discounted. The discount is channeled to the school (kits are resold to families at face value), or passed on to maximize enrollment. The music teacher, student or community leader implements a fun and engaging program (ukuleles are easy to learn) … students learn and perform together. This creates a value-added extension to traditional school music programs, reaches more students and stimulates cross-over synergy (e.g., I kind of like playing music together with my friends … maybe I’ll look into joining band).


If you like any or all of these ideas, please share them with the appropriate contacts and forums in your school district. Point a link to this post out there in your social media networks. Perhaps they will invite testimonials and learning from those who already implement them (e.g., my children’s district uses the Kroger Reward Program) or spur on discussion and additional ideas. Let’s keep the music playing!

Greg H., True Joy Acoustics founder

An Easier Way to Learn Music


FLEA ukuleles are fun yet serious instruments.

They also provide an easier, economical stepping-stone to playing guitar and other instruments later.


Learning larger instruments can be a handful, usually requiring help.

Many kids want to jump right into playing guitar. Not a toy, but a real guitar. Popular, versatile and cool to play.

But not so easy once you actually have one. Standard guitar sizes can be a handful. Higher tension strings (made of metal on standard guitars) can irritate the fingers until you build up calluses. Learning chords across six strings and even playing simple notes often requires professional lessons. Lots of practice to play basic tunes.

Guitars are great, no doubt about it. But there is an easier way to get started.

FLEA ukuleles are SIZED RIGHT for any beginner. Four strings made of finger-friendly nylon are easy to play. Many chords (and hence songs) can be played by pressing just one or two fingers down on non-metal frets.

The world of making music opens up quickly after players start and excel with our kits. Just strumming the open strings of a FLEA ukulele makes a pleasant rich sound!

Ukuleles can become a lifelong passion and facilitate learning other musical instruments later. They help you learn musical rhythm, simple and complex strumming techniques, fretting individual notes and chord riffs, how to tune up your instrument, and how to play along with others … even if just accompanying YouTube performances!

Greg H., True Joy Acoustics founder

Now Featured on YouTube

Click here to see 2 minute feature video

What’s special about our ukulele program? See our new 2 minute video on YouTube!

Please share with anybody you know that’s interested in getting a superb ukulele AND the skills to play it.

Playing ukulele is also an easy alternative, addition or smart stepping-stone to playing guitar and many other musical instruments!

Greg H., True Joy Acoustics founder

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