Workshop Descriptions


Exploring the Tonal Qualities of the Ukulele

Daniel Ho
Daniel Ho

[ LEVEL 1 ]  — This workshop will cover how aspects of an ukulele contributes to its sound and includes wood types, size, shape, finishes (gloss, open pore, French polish), strings (nylon, fluorocarbon, low G, high G). Daniel will also cover how to hold the instrument to allow it to resonate most freely, and how to pluck the strings (angle, fingernails, rest strokes, free strokes) to produce the richest tone. This class is is a Q & A so bring your questions!


Melody and Improvisation in the Key of C

Daniel Ho
Daniel Ho

[ LEVEL 4 ]  — Ever wonder how to go about transferring that favorite song of yours from simply listening to actually playing note per note on your ʻukulele?  Connecting your ear to your instrument is a basic music concept broken down into scale degrees and tones of a scale known as solfeggio. As soon as you begin to put these pieces together, improvisation is within accessible range. This class will utilize the pentatonic scale and allow you to go from tasteful one note improvisation all the way to five note mini-compositions!  From there, Daniel will explain "compositional improvisation," which is not stringing familiar licks (or phrases) together, but spontaneous composition. Using classic melodies as examples (Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Beethoven's 5th) Daniel explains how a simple motif can be developed into a thematic piece of music.


Chord Melody 1 - "And I Love Her"

Abe Lagrimas Jr
Abe Lagrimas Jr

[ LEVEL 3 ]  — This workshop is designed for high-G tuned ukuleles but low-Gs are also welcome. Abe will teach you his approach on how to play chord and melody simultaneously and finally incorporate that high G-string into playing melodies. Learn how to take a song with a simple melody and transform it into a beautiful and lush solo ukulele arrangement. Participants must be able to play barre chords and use all four fingers comfortably.


Expressive Ukulele

Abe Lagrimas Jr
Abe Lagrimas Jr

[ LEVEL 2 ]  — In this workshop, you will learn some of the subtleties that will expand your sound and bring new life to your ukulele playing. A variety of strumming techniques, improvising tricks, and the use of dynamics will be discussed. You must be willing to emotionally connect to the ukulele in order to genuinely emote through the instrument. Learning these skills will bring you one step closer to playing at a higher level.


Finger Picking, Hawai'ian Style

Steve Quan
Steve Quan

[ LEVEL 3 ]  — Tired of doing the same strum at group ukulele sessions?  Steve Quan will break you out of the doldrums of “same old, same old” with finger picking that you may not have considered using before.  Introducing a rather unique way of remembering picking patterns, Steve will teach two finger picking patterns to play three different Hawaiian songs – Tiny Bubbles, Hanalei Moon and A Hawaiian Like Me.  He will also musically explain the Hawaiian vamp, and demonstrate how it can be included in your ukulele playing repertoire.



Understanding Rhythm and Strumming

Rhan Wilson
Rhan Wilson

[ LEVEL 1 ]  — In this workshop, we will learn about the most basic rhythmic principals: downbeats, upbeats and measures, and how they relate to our strumming patterns. We will learn about accents and "chunking/chucking" and how, by combining these elements, we can create and re-create unlimited rhythmic strumming patterns, often called "strums."



Helpful Tips for Enhancing Right Hand Techniques

Carla Fontanilla

[ LEVEL 2 ]  — Three sentence description: In this workshop we’ll explore tips for improving right hand rhythmic techniques. Give your playing greater personal expression, dynamics, texture and color. Knowledge of barre chords helpful but not necessary.



Learn to strum Rock 'n' Roll and Rockabilly!

Leonard Kauffer
Leonard Kauffer

[ LEVEL 1 ] In this workshop we will play and sing songs using three basic chords. We will explore how, using the Down-Up-Down-Up strum you already know, to play Rock 'n' Roll using a back beat. We will also look at an easy modification to the chords you already know to create a classic Rock-a-Billy sound.


Flamenco Style on Ukulele

Julie Holloman
Julie Holloman

[ LEVEL 2 ] Julie has played this passionate Spanish music for 30 years on the classical/flamenco guitar.  In time she began to develop tunes that work for ukulele.  Learn the AWESOME lick from the Malaguena Regional style. You only need 2 chords! Learn 5 basic right hand techniques--thumb strokes, arpeggios, rest strokes, rasgueados.and tremolos.  Apply these techniques to your AWESOME lick.


Level 1 Baritone Basics

Perry Stauffer

[ LEVEL 1 ]  — Learn how this beautiful low-toned instrument can add color to any ukulele club with some tasteful chord fragments and finger style accompaniment.



Intro to Beginning Theory

Rhan Wilson
Rhan Wilson

[ LEVEL 1 ]  — Music theory can be confusing and intimidating, but in this class, Rhan will help you learn the difference between notes and chords, the difference between majors and minors, and what those Roman numerals (l-lV-V) refer to. Learn what half steps are and how they relate to the frets on your ukulele. (Even the circle of fifths may become a bit clearer after taking this class.)


Exploring Musical Prosody
and the Songwriting Circle

Mariann Smith

[ LEVEL 1 ] Musical prosody is the marriage between lyric and music. We will experiment with this, along with creating with the “Songwriting Circle.” This writing technique helps us to realize that the creative process is not just linear, but a continuous and forgiving process. Come join in on this songwriting adventure!


Unlocking Chords

Carla Fontanilla

[ LEVEL 3 ]  — In this workshop we’ll explore different ways to
play chord progressions across the fret board, applying melody and harmony pairings, and mixed chord voicings. Knowledge of barre chords helpful.



Once you purchase a Festival pass, then attend whichever workshops you like.
No pre-registration required.


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 G7 and then head to the next level.

LEVEL 2: 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 further up the neck. Be proud of yourself, this is a fine plateau to reach.

LEVEL 4: Advanced

You can hear changes, you know some barre and closed chords, 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.

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These ukulele workshop levels have been taken from a magazine article by Heidi Swedberg. In the article Heidi also helpfully outlines a list of things to bring, along with advise from many excellent ukulele teachers on what to expect at an Ukulele Festival. For the full article click here.