Tyler James Austenfeld – A Great Ukulele Teacher

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Tyler James AustenfeldHi my name is Tyler, and I am a teacher. I have been teaching for as long as I can remember. When I was in high school, starting at 14, my summer job was teaching skateboarding at Y camp in the summertime, by the time I was in college I was teaching kids how to seem at the local Y part time. After college, you guessed it, teaching, this time I was in Medellín, Colombia teaching English. Teaching English is something I have been doing for 5 years, between Medellín and Buenos Aires, Argentina, so when I started learning music, naturally my instinct was to teach and share it. Which brings us to the musical side of what I do.


My musical journey started at 14. I got a black telecaster style Alvarez guitar and it was awesome and loud. At the time I was listening to a lot of rock and punk and wanted to play guitar so bad, so I had a lesson. I don’t know if I caught this guy on the wrong day, if he thought he was doing me a favor, but he flat out told me that I wasn’t going to be able to play the music that I wanted to play, “Your hands are just to small, you have ten thumbs.” I was devastated, I mean crushed, so I hung up the guitar after just one lesson.


That didn’t stop my musical passion though. I actually started producing hip-hop music throughout college and selling beats to local performers in Lansing, Michigan. Believe it or not, I even formed my own hip-hop group, the Mud People, and we did a couple of local shows and open mics around East Lansing and Lansing, Michigan, but I never took my mind off that guitar.


Fast forward a little bit, I am 26, I’ve been living in Colombia for a year and a half, and I go home to celebrate the independence day of the United States with my family. While I am home I go to the Y camp where I used to teach skateboarding. Low and behold there is a guitar, with a cracked body and two strings. I asked the people working who’s it was, they said it has been there for years, I asked if I could take it, and they said “If you promise to learn how to play it.” That was it, the deal was made, I searched in Google how to fix it, how to string it, than how to play it. I found a YouTube channel with a guy named Marty Schwartz, and I learned how to play the guitar fast, but really fast. I was obsessed.


Exactly one year later I was on the road a lot, flying every weekend to teach English in the Darien jungle, in a small city named Quibdó, located in northwest of Colombia and then I would fly back in two days and return to work in Medellín. I couldn’t take my guitar in the tiny planes; it was just too big, so someone suggested I buy a Ukulele. Why not? They look fun. I went to the local spot, picked up a chord chart and a couple of ukuleles and played some songs I knew from my time on the guitar. I found a Luna High Tide series, concert Ukulele, and I played for what must have been an hour in there, it just felt right. So, I bought it just before the 4th of July, 2012, one month after my 27th birthday.


After playing Ukulele for a while, I started my own YouTube channel. The idea was just to share what little I knew at that point. I had only been playing Ukulele for a year, so I was by no means an expert, but teaching is something I have been doing my whole life.


Now things have come full circle, this is where the two stories collide, people were watching and learning from my channel, I couldn’t believe it! It made me more motivated than ever to keep playing, pushing and progressing.


In the last five years having lived in Bogotá, Colombia, Medellín, Colombia and Buenos Aires Argentina, having played guitar for 4 and a half years and Ukulele for 3 and a half, with a 2 and a half year old YouTube channel that is days away from passing 25.000 subscribers. Not bad for a guy with ten thumbs, right? The idea is, we can do anything, no matter what people say. I am here to help people learn how to play Ukulele. Maybe for you it is comedy, acting, being an astronaut, what do I know? But I do know that if you work at it, you can make it happen. If that happens to be music for you, or you just want to learn some tunes, come check me out and learn some Ukulele music. I promise you won’t regret it.


“Vivo porque estoy vivo.”


I live because I am alive.


Tyler Austenfeld


You can find Tyler’s website here – Ten Thumbs Pro


YouTube page – Tyler’s YouTube Page


Thanks so much for this great biography and your support Tyler.


Mike Warren

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