What is your level?
LEVEL 1: Beginner
Welcome. You are in this most exciting phase of the learning curve until you can move between chord changes and keep a beat. Get fluent with (at least) your C, F, and G7and then head to the next level.
LEVEL 2: Advanced beginner/early intermediate
Now you’re a player, but chord diagrams over the words are still a must. Your job here is to master B flat, get some strums under your belt and grow into your instrument. This is when you truly learn how to practice.
LEVEL 3: Experienced intermediate
Look at you, singing and strumming at the same time! You know a bunch of chords and are ready to use them. Time to dig in and learn some exciting techniques, and maybe venture up the next. Be proud of yourself, this is a fine plateau to reach.
LEVEL 4: Advanced
You can hear changes, you know some barre chords and closed and have toured the real estate above the fifth fret. You are unafraid of the tricky stuff, ready to sit with the big kids. When things go over your head, watch and listen closely, then take your new ideas home to practice.
Advanced Beginner Ukulele workshop
For those who know a handful of chords and a basic up/down strum, here’s a chance to take your skills to a new level. Another half dozen or so (dozen if two sessions) well-known songs will be played while learning more chords, new fingerings, new strums, a picking pattern, transposing on the fly and performance tips and techniques along the way.
At the Ritz (Intermediate/advanced)
A challenging but revealing hour of working through the unique beauty of standards arranged by the father of the jazz ukulele, Lyle Ritz.
Everybody gets the blues sometimes (to quote Merle Haggard) and the best way to lose the blues is to play the blues. Besides teaching you some classic blues tunes, Fred will show you how to strum moveable chords to a 12-bar blues in any key, and give you some classic licks and scales for jamming with other people. Bring a slide or bottleneck, because you’ll also learn a slide blues tune. Tab will be handed out so you can practice in the days and weeks to come after the session, and Fred encourages you to use your iphone to record a video of some of the songs and licks he’ll present.
A hands-on workshop (bring your ukulele!). Fred shows you moveable patterns that help you play all over the fretboard, in any key, whether you’re strumming backup chords or playing single-note solos or chord-melody solos. You’ll learn some soloing strategies too. It’s a great introduction to Fred’s practical music theory teaching method. You’re guaranteed a few “light bulb” moments, and you’ll come away with a lot to work on.
Students should bring a slide and be prepared to retune the uke to an open tuning or two. You’ll learn a few tunes and some general instruction on how to adlib, bottleneck-style. Expect to play some blues, but also songs in other genres, like Amazing Grace. (Intermediate or advanced)
Intro to Swing Ukulele (Confident beginner to intermediate)
The 1930s and ’40s were a magical time in the history of popular music. Swing was mainstream. The ukulele was made for swing music! Any uke song can swing and sound jazzy. It’s easy to make your instrumental accompaniment more interesting through chord substitutions and strumming patterns. The material covered in this class is not exclusive to the jazz/swing world it can be used for all styles of music. No music theory needed. no music reading required. No knuckle-busting chord shapes to learn. Just fun! A concert or tenor sized uke tuned GCEA is recommended. We will learn two songs in this workshop. Please contact Gerald with any questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take it! Single-note soloing the easy way (Confident beginner and above)
Have you ever wondered how musicians play just the right notes when it’s time to take a solo? Do they randomly pick notes out of thin air or is there some logic to the musical lines they play? Have you ever been to a jam session and when it’s time to take an instrumental solo everyone looks at you says “take it!” We will learn what to do when that situation arises. It’s not as difficult or scary as you may think. You can do it!
Single note soloing is easy. We’ll learn some tricks and techniques that will have you playing more than just chords. You will be soloing within the first fifteen minutes of the class – guaranteed!
Rockin’ Out with Ukulele Power Chords (Beginner, All Levels) (FRIDAY BONUS WORKSHOP ONLY)
What do great rock songs like “You Really Got Me”, “All Day and All of the Night”, and “Smoke on the Water” all have in common? Power chords, of course! This workshop will teach you the ins and outs of using power chords to expand your chordal pallete, add more color and, of course, generate smokin’ rock and roll riffs. You will not only learn how to play the most common power chord shapes but also how to apply them immediately to well-known songs as well as how to use them to enhance your everyday jamming. Put your best “jam face” on and come join us!
Electronics for Ukulele (All Levels) (FRIDAY BONUS WORKSHOP)
Electronic effects for acoustic instruments have never been so plentiful or inexpensive. This workshop features an overview on digital and analog effects pedals and other electronic items useful to those who plug in. What are the different types of effects and what they do? How are they best used with ukulele? We will cover fuzz pedals, modulation pedals (such as chorus and flange), echo and reverb pedals, as well as the newer digital multi-effects units that are always popular. Signal chaining and power issues will also be discussed. Please join us, whether your goal is simply to make your plugged-in sound the best it can be or to rock the house with screaming electronic uke.
Intro to Fingerpicking (Beginner)
Strumming is not the only way to play the ukulele. Fingerpicking is another very popular technique for getting a little more music out of your uke. When fingerpicking, the player uses fingers of the right hand, individually and in groups, to pluck at the strings. This creates a lighter, more airy sound than strumming and can be very effective. In this workshop, we will introduce some basic building blocks that can be used to learn common fingerpicking to use with any chord progression or songs you already know. These include basic arpeggio patterns, waltz patterns, alternating thumb patterns, and basic Travis picking, among others. Join us and add another dimension to your ukulele sound “palette.”
Those Problem Chords: Strategies for D, Bb and even (GASP!) E (Beginner +)
A beginning ukulele player faces many challenges. You find yourself asking how do I tune my uke? Do I really look good in a bowtie? And just how do I pronounce ukulele anyway? Playing chords is just another of these challenges and just as you are getting a pretty good handle on how to play such common chords as G Major, C Major, F Major and A Major and are getting pretty good at switching between them, along come two chords that strike fear in the heart of every beginning ukester– D Major and of course, the dreaded E Major. In this workshop Craig McClelland will help you find ways to approach these most feared of chords – fingering variations, different voicings, and even out and out “cheats” that you can use at your next uke jam until you do master the preferred forms – all while learning a couple of easy songs and having a fun time. If all goes well, we may even examine a few more common problem chords (although the decision to wear a bowtie is left completely to you).
Tasty Strum Patterns for Uke (FRIDAY BONUS WORKSHOP ONLY)
Do you find, in practicing or playing at uke jams, that you normally turn to the same strumming pattern even for songs that are wildly different? Diversify your strumming portfolio and make your uke life tastier. Learn how simple is it to make your renditions of songs come more alive. Add a bit of rhythmic variety, get your right and left hands on the same page, and watch your musical life improve.
Songwriting (FRIDAY BONUS WORKSHOP ONLY)
How can lyric writing and music theory elements be unified to create a well-written song? We’ll take the classic A/B (verse, chorus) form as a starting point and build from there, exploring the interplay between lyrics, melody, and chords. Come with curiosity and a willingness to play as we explore this song structure together. We’ll leave the workshop with a brand-new, completed song, lots of inspiration, and new tools to go home and write even more.
12 Bar Blues
How can lyric writing and music theory elements be unified to create a well-written song? We’ll take the traditional blues structure—the backbone of American music—as a starting point and build from there, exploring the interplay between lyrics, melody, and chords. Come with curiosity and a willingness to play as we explore this song structure together. We’ll leave the workshop with a brand-new, completed song, lots of inspiration, and new tools to go home and write even more.
Music Theory, Demystified for Uke Players
Does the term “Music Theory” strike—if not fear—at least a bit of confusion in your heart? Learn the basics here, presented in a simple, comprehensive way that can help improve your uke playing and songwriting. Learn what it means for a song to be in a “key”. Learn why some chord progressions are popular, and sound amazing. Learn why some chord progressions are rule-breakers, and sound amazing. Learn an easy method Sage uses all the time to change the key of a song to more easily fit your singing voice. Bring your uke!
Intro to Arpeggio Meditations
“Arpeggio Mediations for The Ukulele”, by Daniel Ward, is a new book of 16 short, pleasing, carefully crafted studies for the ukulele player. Still in its first year of publication, Daniel’s genius book is rapidly becoming a modern classic in the ukulele cannon. John Bartlit, long time musical colleague of Daniel’s, will introduce Daniel’s book and get you started on a musical journey designed to increase your technical facility, broaden your musicality and, perhaps, lower your heart rate as well.
Arpeggio Meditations: Extra Pages
This workshop is a continuation of Intro to Arpeggio Meditations. For those inspired by Daniel Ward’s “Arpeggio Meditations for The Ukulele” who want more challenge, Daniel’s good friend and colleague, John Bartlit, will share with you some of his additional, more advanced pages he wrote to compliment Dan’s book. With Daniel’s blessing, John’s additional pages expand the musical scope of Dan’s studies from short meditations to larger, performable pieces for one or more players.
Jam in Any Key: A New Method for Learning Moveable Chord Shapes on the Ukulele
Amazingly enough, the uke has just three major chord shapes. By establishing one of those shapes as “home base,” you can intuitively find the other chords in the song. I’ve developed a way of these chord relationships not in terms of their lettered names but in terms of their function in the scale: as Roman numerals (I, ii, IV, V, etc.). This workshop is essential for the uke player who is familiar with music theory and wants to deepen their relationship their ukulele.
What Do I Do When the Key Is Not Right For Me? (All levels)
The workshop on finding your singing key will focus on:
• Determining the best key for your voice
• Changing the key from what is on the printed page
• Basic tips for easily transposing music
• Using computer tools to make transposing instantaneous
Tales and Tunes from Tin Pan Alley – Jam
We’ll all be playing and singing songs from the Tin Pan Alley era, America’s popular music from the first half of the 20th Century. Every song has a little tale, a back story that will be told. You will find the music and the stories most informative and enjoyable.