Featured Ukulele Artists Fidel and Sarah
Fidel and Sarah
Find out more about your favourite ukulele artists and bands here with Yo! Kulele
Introducing Fidel and Sarah, our featured Yo! Blog artists for this week. They love music, they make a great sound and they are madly, deeply passionate about all things ukulele 🙂
Who are Fidel and Sarah?
Rustic-vintage touring artists and ridiculously passionate ukulele teachers. She plays uke, banjo, banjolele and sings. He sings and plays guitar, trumpet, ukulele, mandolin and harmonica.
When and how did you come together?
We’d both been performing professionally in separate acts. When we started playing together, we just loved it. We both loved the same music, and respected each other as musicians. Things really got serious early last year when we decided to pack our lives into a caravan and tour full-time. Best decision we ever made!
What style of music do you like to play the most?
We love vintage music from old time banjo music to early blues and prohibition era swing jazz. Sometimes we play covers of more modern songs, but even then they end up sounding sort of vintage-rustic. As long as it sounds good on a ukulele, we’re happy.
What or who influences you the most?
This is such an interesting question, because many ukulele enthusiasts glorify the same handful of famous ukulele players. We have both had amazing teachers and mentors throughout our music careers. For us, it’s not about emulating other artists. Our sound is inspired by so many things, from the landscape in front of us when we’re playing, to the personality of the instruments we’re using, and the era that the music comes from. It all blends together with our own moods and personalities, and hopefully what you hear sounds both new and familiar at the same time. That’s what we aim for.
Where are you based/Where have you traveled?
Myrtle (the turtle) our vintage caravan is our home. We’ve travelled from Cairns to Kangaroo Island. There’s so many beautiful places to get inspiration, and wonderful people to meet! Our work takes us to ukulele groups in regional towns, and festivals and events in the bigger cities. We both have family in and near Melbourne, so if we’re not travelling we’ll often head back there.
What type of ukuleles do you play?
Our favourite all-rounder is a longneck soprano ukulele. It’s got to be the most underrated style of ukulele.. It just allows so much, especially for jazz solos. For banjolele, we’re undecided. We’re currently using a vintage 1930s banjolin-turned-banjolele. It’s temperamental, but we haven’t found the perfect banjolele yet. We also have an assortment of soprano & concert ukes with us for teaching purposes - even a few $30 laminate ones. We like to show our students how much can they can do without having to spend a fortune.
What do you teach ukulele groups?
We teach intermediate and advanced ukulele playing through vintage music styles - swing jazz, blues, ragtime, old time clawhammer ukulele. But we also teach performance skills and group development. We encourage students to develop their own natural style, and help them through blockages. It’s a lot of diagnosing too. Often we’ll look at a student and make one tiny change to their hand position and suddenly they’re flying along! It’s awesome to watch.
Best advice for those learning ukulele?
Find a group that plays music you love. Be aware of novices that think they can teach you. We’ve seen some of the most awkward strums and sounds come out of bad teaching. And if there’s one thing we could get every ukulele group in the world to do, we’d have them set fire to their music stands. Too many ukulele students are hiding behind their music sheets, and their natural ability is suffocated. Learn to play by ear gives you so much scope to develop your uke skills.
What are your plans for the future?
Definitely more travel, and over the next year we’ll be offering more uke masterclasses. We’ve had such a great response from them, and more requests than we had planned for, so we’re going to build more time into our schedule for ukulele teaching. Beyond that, who knows? We love the adventure.
If you could let us know of any up and coming events/tours that would be useful too.
Our next tour starts in a couple of weeks, and we’ll be taking bookings along the way. People interested in our ukulele masterclasses can learn more here.
Find Fidel and Sarah on our Find A Tutor Page