JIM D’Ville may be a leader in the world of ukulele music, but it didn’t always seem that way. The renowned instructor of ear-based learning first took up the 5-string banjo as an instrument, laboring over banjo tab for ten years in attempt to master it. It wasn’t until his wife’s grandmother gifted him a 70-year-old Columbia Hawaiian soprano ukulele that D’Ville developed a personal, emotional connection with music, realizing that, by focusing on the sounds he was making instead of feverishly studying book notation, he could successfully, and joyfully, play.
Though his workshops and website, Play Ukulele By Ear, D’Ville has developed an incredibly down-to-earth, understandable, and fun style of teaching.
For instance, on learning the Solfège syllables (a method of attributing a syllable to each tone in a scale), D’Ville asks his pupils: “Can you recognize the familiar voice of a friend or loved one when they call on the phone? Of course you can. And with a little Solfège training, when the C tone rings (or any other note in the scale), you will immediately recognize it like the voice of an old friend.”
It’s a distinctly human and accessible way of teaching, and Savannahians can give the uke a shot at D’Ville’s Thursday workshop. The 6:45 p.m. 60-minute lesson will focus on learning how to listen, the first step in learning to play by ear. After, “Uke Jam By Ear” will teach pupils how to play without paper.
It’s a BYOU (bring your own ukulele) affair. Who knows—maybe you’ll walk away ready to throw some uke action down on your caroling rounds?