Ukulele Festivals in New Zealand

Painted UkuleleFrustration at some of the Ukulele Festivals has got to boiling point with me a little. Having been playing for a couple years now, I have been to a few of them. Unfortunately i have found them to be deathly boring, and they have pretty much turned my kids away from ever touching a ukulele. To them it seems that it’s boring, with old songs, and something only old people do.

I would assume that people want to pass on a great hobby too younger generations, and encourage growth and moving forward. To try new things, and push our limits to do better instead of stagnating doing the same old thing.

Unfortunately it appears that the festivals that I have attended seem to play the same old songs at every event, with the same boring beginner lessons, The same people on stage playing a 4/4 dreary old song with no feeling for the most part, with only the odd decent act.

STOP REPEATING SONGS

I’m at the point where i hear songs like ‘Oh haere mai’ and i just want to walk out. If you sang that song at a previous festival, it seems logical to change the song to a different one, not to play the same 4-5 songs year in, year out. At least revamp it and make it a little more complex or harder for some people ?

If you have ever seen what the Big Muffin Serious do with a song, you will understand what i mean.

GET WEBSITES

Another thing that bothers me is the lack of cohesion between all the groups and festivals. It seems that you have to be on a facebook page, email list or similar to hear about it. Whilst some are listed on eventfinder, a vast majority are some obscure pdf or webpage forwarded around via email.

I think it would be neat if people had some communal place to list their ukulele festival, and also to show the full program of events for the whole day BEFORE we got there, so we could see who was doing what classes were on. Information on places to go, addresses, maps, and similar would also be excellent.

Information on what we need if we need things (eg food, sunscreen, a theme etc) is all ideally needed prior to the event. I recall once turning up to Auckland Ukulele Festival the first time, and found out the hard way its outdoors … i ended up leaving early to avoid sunburn. Having that information prior to turning up would have been nice. I would have also liked to have known there was no open mic (my favourite part!), and nothing interactive with only pacific Island music for he most part also.

Best place to easily get a free website is at http://wordpress.com or http://blogspot.com – It’s as easy as using a word document (No, really it is!). Avoid using PDFs or anything people need to download. Make sure you hand it out once its made, post it to your facebook, in your emails, or even set it as your email sig!  Make sure its updated  often, even if its a teaser post about what new prizes or events you are adding, or potential sponsors.

FEEDBACK

I have tried to talk to a couple of people, in a nice helpful manner to request perhaps more information or suggest things, however the most that happened was the New Zealand/Auckland Ukulele festival blocked me from their facebook page. Apparently its not acceptable to give suggestions or feedback regarding it.

On the other hand, the Ukulele conference in Orewa were excellent and had not realized something was not clear from media, in fact, they thanked me for feedback, adapted and changed things and requested i give more feedback please if i had any. They went out of their way to liven things up, including a ton of celebrities, nice venue, excellent food, and a great variety of stores selling excellent goods.

NEW BLOOD

I know a lot of younger people play ukulele now, and some are actually really brilliant at playing. A lot of young girls are inspired by Taylor Swift, or other popstars who are taking up the ukulele, and others even play rock or heavy metal on the uke. We need to ask ourselves why these people are not turning up? Is it because its old music and old people doing old things? can we somehow merge the generations and learn from each other?
A lot of the High schools have ukulele bands in fact, Is there some way to contact these schools and perhaps organize some sort of mini competition to get these kids in? If you get 3 or 4 schools in they will interact with each other, thus wanting to come back to see friends they may have made, or similar.

THINK OF THE CROWD

Lastly, whilst i have generalized a lot, one incident really annoyed a few people at the Katikati festival.  A women who was organising decided that her 2yo grandson needed to be on stage, and invited other little kids on stage. I’m all for kids on stage, and doing stuff, however in this case none of the kids played or sang, it was just this one women singing baby songs (Old McDonald etc).
At the time, the program was already running late, and people were getting frustrated, and to have to sit through 3 or 4 songs being sung to kids on stage was just painful
I get it that people are proud of their grand kids, kids, other, but ideally surely we want to be thinking about the vast majority vs one or two people?

WHAT TO DO

So, if you are going to do a Ukulele Festival for any reason here are a few suggestions (summing most of the above up, plus a couple more.).

  • Stop singing the same old crap in dreary voices, try something new and fun for teaching!
  • Ban “haere mai” song or similarly over done songs
  • I love Kevin Foggerty, but some songs are well over done, and others not well liked (from what i have overheard others saying)
  • Kiwiana is great, but stop flogging a dead horse, can we get some modern songs? or revamp old with newer styles? Even modern Kiwi songs would be great!
  • Make prizes ukulele/music related or usable to most people if you have them. if you can’t get sponsors to give things like this, probably better to go without the prizes (personally i’m happy without one)
  • Information on what classes are on BEFORE you get there, on a website is good!
  • Proper websites with a program on them!
  • Look into getting get people from overseas or bigger names (Amanda Palmer? WIUO? )
  • Involve schools and school orchestras (maybe a comp?), but not at the exclusion of adult entertainment like the Auckland/New Zealand ukulele festival
  • Try and get a good variety of acts on stage, not just one genre or ethnicity
  • More Songs, up beat or modern, or even revamp older ones to make them work.

Me and My Uke

Sexism, TechWebCast and Brad Chasenore

Anyone who knows me, knows that i’m most definitely not a hugely vocal feminist , i’m usually the first person to say some feminists go over the top. However, when i see it blatantly, i usually will call it, and not tolerate it.

One thing that does make my blood boil, is people who cross over female pornography or near naked pictures, with Tech. These things are NOT related. Females in Tech do not generally just rip off their clothes and pose with half a can of paint on their face.

Sure, some females in technology do this, but most do not. I also play ukulele, im not seeing anyone posting ukuleles on their I.T. blogs or feeds? Just because somebody may model or do other things as well as I.T., does not make it related to I.T.

The worst part about this crappy idealism in I.T., is that men somehow start expecting that females in I.T. ARE these sorts of people. It’s embarrassing and awkward when a guy hears you work in I.T. and asks for a picture.

So yesterday, i was a bit ‘WTF’ when i saw a picture of a near naked women go past in my google+ stream. Now, I have nothing against pornography, nor near naked females, models, or anything of the sort at all. I just have a problem when its posted by what is supposedly a Technology related page. In this case, it was  TechWebCast

I took a breath and carefully worded a question and my objection to the image in question, only to be laughed at and have it trivialized by the guy that runs it Brad Chasenore . After i commented a second time, to explain that it was seriously objectionable, he removed the post.

Original Post:  

I was rather annoyed at the treatment, but did not want to make a huge deal of it at the time, so i private messaged him asking why it was posted in the first place. I am always a believer in educating people rather than screaming at them, i figured perhaps he just did not realize how important this is to people?

In that conversation i felt that, again, he did not seem to really care, and seemed to try and imply somebody else posted it, but did not reply when i asked who. I went to his profile and found he had posted several other similar images of the same and another women at the same time from his own profile.

At this point i was still a little peeved off, but i can live with that, i was going to let things lie, i had mentioned something in passing to a friend Randi who also is female in Tech that i was a bit miffed . At this point in time, i was happy to let things lie, block him and forget about it all, accepting that he’s just a another idiot who does not get it. I had hoped for an apology, but had accepted that was not going to happen.

Private Conversation:

Randi made a small post about it which said

“So after all the controversy about geekli.st, they got a ton of signups. I guess +Brad Chasenore is trying to do the same thing with +Techwebcast … but in a far less interesting way. Learn some unique marketing techniques, buddy.”

At this point , he +1’d that, reshared it, and asked what that meant and what it was about, Several people commented asking about it. Randi mentioned to me this had happened, so i checked it out. I posted a link to a screenshot i had taken, because people were asking what it was about.

This was when Brad pitched in and must have decided to go all out and say ‘If you dont like what i post dont look’.

Brads Post  

For me, that was the tipping point. It’s one thing to make a mistake, its another to be deliberately offensive and sexist, especially when you represent a Tech Podcast and have a larger Technical audience than average.

So i post this, in the hope that others will see the stupidity that most women in technology area have to deal with , and would prefer not too.

Another related post by Brad  

And he shared my post (and deleted it)

This is what a failed live chat looks like – #pmchat Prime Minister John Key

Stuff.co.nz had a live chat with PM John Key today – I initially just watched but then thought of a few Questions I wanted to ask. Nothing particularly volatile, more opinion and just asking if he had plans for stuff (ie i was not trolling or being a dick).
I was somewhat disappointed my question did not get moderated, in fact the ones that did get moderated included a LOT of this

Moderator: First question from Rebecca: How much time a week do you get as ‘downtime’? Ie: to sit and read a book, see your family etc?
John Key: Monday to Friday is very limited downtime if any – primarily because my family is in Auckland and my commitments are all around NZ. I try to make some time in the weekend to spend with Bronagh and the kids.

Last time I read a book was over Christmas.


Moderator: Alex asks: Do you perfer normal chips or kumara chips?
John Key: Normal chips! Kumara chips are too sweet, and they over-engineer a simple concept.


Moderator: Betsy asks: What is your golf handicap?

John Key: 25.


Moderator: Blair asks: If you were stuck on a deserted island, which other NZ Member of Parliament would you want to be stuck with, and why?

John Key: It’d have to be someone from our side, because I wouldn’t want to spend time with the other lot!
We’ll go with Paula Bennett, because I can be totally confident she would do the talking, and I’d just have to do the listening.


Moderator: Kells asks: what’s your favourite colour?

John Key: Yellow.


Moderator: Richard asks: Vegemite or Marmite?Ford or Holden?

John Key: Vegemite. And Holden.


Moderator: Phil asks: What are you having for lunch today?

John Key: Toasted cheese sandwich.

Now, whilst not ALL the questions were stupid things like this, out of 40 or so Questions I found 15 totally stupid ones like the above, and 6 semi stupid questions. This makes about 50% the questions answered pretty much useless.
Now, totally stupid questions mean ones which have no relation on politics or really anything at all. Semi stupid ones are related but not overly interesting to anyone else (ie How can i become a PM?).

I thought it was just me, then i checked the feedback on twitter …

Turns out other people felt just as ripped off as I was.
Stuff.co.nz response was “Remember: the public asked these Qs” and “Appreciate what you’re saying, however not every question was going to make it through. Cheers”
It seems they entirely missed the point that they were doing the moderating, and public clearly also asked questions they viewed as more important which did not get answered.

Update: Turns out Facebook got a blasting also