Reunion Workshops – 2022

A Little Something for Everyone

ALL LEVELS (Anyone and Everyone)

Turning a Strum Circle into an Ensemble

Getting a little tired of everyone playing in unison at your uke club or strum circle? We’ll explore ways to divide things up so that everyone—from newbies to veterans—has a unique part to play in creating a song. We’ll use “Stand by Me” as our demonstration tune. No note reading is required! Gary

Song Leader Bootcamp

Leading a ukulele group in song looks easy, but it actually requires some thoughtful preparation and practice. Come learn how to confidently and effectively lead a song with hands-on practice. A good song leader really adds to everyone’s enjoyment of playing. Be that song leader! Gary

How to Practice

Playing your favorite song over and over may be enjoyable and fun, but the best way to get better at playing is to work on individual elements of playing. In this workshop Rhan will offer suggestions on how to work on just the left hand, the right hand, and how to combine the two. Having an instrument in your hand isn’t always necessary; you can learn how to practice music while walking, driving, or even watching television! You will be amazed at how much better your playing will be after “ironing out” the musical wrinkles that have been causing you trouble! Bring your ukes, pencil and paper! Rhan

How Can I Keep From Singing? 

We sing for many reasons – but mostly for the pure joy it brings us. What we sing depends on our personal experiences, tastes, and desires. Come and explore ways to enjoy singing; alone and/or with a group. No experience is necessary and all voices are welcome. Yes, we will be singing, because that’s what we do. Rick

Creating a Song Melody  (two sessions) 

Using provided lyrics, each student will write his or her own melody, experimenting with the many variations possible when writing a song. During the first session, we will review:

•  Basic chord progressions (l, IV, V etc.)

•  Choosing the appropriate key

•  Tempo and phrasing, working with the lyrics and, as time allows,

•  Begin creating your melody

In the second session we will listen to each other’s versions and discuss the differences. Rick will be available at any time to answer questions, help get you started, and help you finish a memorable tune. Rick

Learning to Play (and Lead) Together

Sing-alongs, whether they are for a one-time, casual get-together, or as part of a regular gathering, are one of the most enjoyable activities to be had! Why else are we learning to play music, if not to play together? But, playing music together successfully is made possible by understanding the importance of the leader being clear with their cues and direction, and the players dividing their attention between playing and listening to the direction the leader is providing. In this workshop, Rhan Wilson will teach basic cues and hand signals (go to the top, bridge, vamp…) and, using those cues, lead the workshop group through some songs, demonstrating the various options available. (Audible gasps have been heard in previous workshops, as participants experience the joy and satisfaction of sounding awesome!) Rhan

Everything for Your Right Hand

Many workshops try to teach you about strumming or fingerpicking but this workshop will connect all the dots. The optimal position and technique for fingerpicking and strumming are actually the same. The relaxed fluid motion for both scrumming and picking are so similar that learning both together is the the best way to get great rhythm and tone on the ukulele. The great advantage to this approach is that you will be able to move from strumming to picking seamlessly within any song or musical phrase. Dave

Get Your Left Hand Moving Smoothly

I enjoy playing jazz standards and the many wonderful selections from the American Songbook. Some people find the many chord changes a big challenge. This workshop explores some simple corrections to hand positioning. Minor tweaks lead to time-proven methods for making smooth transitions between difficult chord shapes. Don’t let your left hand keep you from moving forward. Barre chords and complex shapes do not have to be obstacles. Dave

I’ve Got Rhythm

I have been teaching music and giving lessons for stringed instruments for forty plus years. I can tell you truly that good time keeping is the single most prevalent weakness in most of my students. People get focused on so many issues with their playing and seldom circle back to this most basic of all fundamentals. Hey, guess what? Good time is great fun! Let’s get together and learn how to get those feet tapping. Simple rhythm warmups and exercises pay big dividends and improve every aspect of your playing. Dave

The Taco Bell Canon

We’ll laugh with this one, a song that can be an instrumental, too: “The Taco Bell Canon,” based on the well-known Pachelbel canon. We layer all six ingredients into a tasty musical taco. Nancy

Matthew, Mark, UKE, and John (Aka Gospel Ukes)

There’s nothing better on a Sunday Morning than to sing some good ol’ gospel music. Inspired by the gospel sets performed at major jazz and bluegrass festivals, Rhan and Rick have led Sunday morning MMUJ sessions for years, leaving everyone refreshed and inspired. One needn’t be “religious” to appreciate the simplicity and symbolism of these classic songs – just be ready to play, sing, and listen! Bring your ukes, stands, and your MMUJ books if you have them.  Rhan and Rick

BEGINNERS

Learning to Play by Ear – Two chords at a time

There’s no better way to learn to transition quickly and smoothly from one chord to the next than to practice, practice, practice. But constant drilling can get old pretty fast. So we’re going to practice moving from chord to chord while learning a few simple two-chord songs. And as an added bonus, we’ll  learn to play by ear at the same time!  Elaine

How Do You Doo Wop?

Learn the easy and fun secret to dozens of songs from the 50s and beyond. We’ll learn several characteristic songs, including the Halloween “Boo Wop” classic, “Monster Mash.” We’ll look at playing in different keys, and try out some easy, fancy variations, too.  Gary

Meet the Family: an Easy Introduction to the World of Chords

Are you comfortable playing C, F and G7—maybe a few more chords, but feel a little lost when you encounter new chords? Or are you intimidated by those big pages with hundreds of chord diagrams? Then this workshop is for you! Gary will introduce you to the most-often encountered chords used in most songs you’ll encounter. Plus, he’ll show you easy ways to play each chord—some using only one or two fingers! This confidence-building workshop is perfect for beginners, players with fretting hand limitations, or leaders who work with beginners and seniors. Gary

Musical Hieroglyphics Revealed

Do you learn tunes mostly by ear? Do you wonder what all those squiggly marks are on printed music with standard notation? Do you want to learn to read sheet music more quickly? We’ll look at the clues that tell us how to play rhythms, how to follow a musical “road map,” and why music without words—instrumental ensembles—can add pleasure to making music with others. Nancy

“CONFIDENT” BEGINNERS/INTERMEDIATE

“Sweet Someone” 1 & 2

“Sweet Someone” is a lovely, romantic tune that folks often learn in Hawaii. In these two workshops, we’ll learn the song with words and an easy instrumental version in four parts. The music has tab numbers, as well as standard notation. We’ll be adding chords—Dm, G7, A7, Gm6, Fm, C, & D7—to the instrumental version, in case you’re not quite ready to play single notes. Nancy

You Can Duet!

Think singing a duet requires years of ear training? Think again! Discover the world of “Double Songs”—tunes where the composer wrote not one, but two melodies to the same set of chords. What a great way to step up at open mic with a partner for moral support! Gary

Music as a Second Language

As with any language, becoming fluent in the language of music takes time and commitment. But one doesn’t need to be fluent to enjoy the many riches Musicland has to offer. Knowing what all those symbols, dots, and letters mean can be intimidating, but in this workshop, Rhan Wilson hopes to introduce the casual music traveler to the basics: how to read/say common chords and symbols, understand the difference between notes and chords, sharps and flats, and how to navigate through Musicland without getting lost. You will leave this workshop with your own list of common words and “sentences” to accompany you on your musical journey.  Please bring a pencil and some paper!  Rhan

INTERMEDIATE

Crazy G” 

Armed with a few basic chords and some clever left hand technique, you’ll amaze your family and friends with this fun and flashy piece. You’ll be surprised how some simple sleight of hand work will create a complex rhythmic melody. Gary

Shimmy Like My Sister Kate

You won’t be late—and you’ll be up to date when you master this 110-year-old jazz standard. We’ll add a few rhythmic twists and colorful chords to make it really shimmy! Gary

Moveable Chord Shapes and Progressions

Chord shapes that you can move up the neck of the uke are helpful. Mostly they are based on open position chords that are slightly modified to be moveable. In this workshop, we will revisit all the basic and more colorful jazzy moveable shapes but we will also explore some moveable chord progressions. I, IV, V’s.  I, VI, II, V’s. And some elegant II, V, I’s.  Have no fear. Let your fingers do the walking. Learning chord progressions makes the positions easy to remember and simple to use. Dave

INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED

12th Street Rag

Here’s your chance to learn a classic solo featured by many well-known ukulele players including Roy Smeck and Johnny Marvin. We’ll learn the basic form of the tune and the fundamental techniques you need to begin making this song your own. Gary

Standards and the Great American Song Book

There are so many great songs that are considered “standards” for the well-rounded musician. The lush melodies, clever lyrics and elegant chord progressions seem almost magical. Would it surprise you to know that the ukulele was there for this golden age of songwriting? These songs can be played on the uke with all the original chords and turn arounds. I have spent years arranging many of the classics to be played without over simplifying or dumbing them down for ukulele. Come learn some great tunes and get some insights into how you can arrange your favorites too. Dave

Western Swing

The Great Bob Wills ( and his Texas Playboys) are perhaps the greatest expression of western swing music. Where swing and big band music meets the fiddles and country music of the southwest something rally cool happened. I have arranged some fun songs form this epic genre like San Antonio Rose, Miss Molly, Tumbling Tumble Weeds and others. It’s a fun little side trip to learn these swinging tunes. It is also a lesson in really effective chord voicing movements. Like the jazz standards of more traditional jazz, the chords move with an infectious beat. No cowboy hats required! Dave

Beyond the Sea” 

There’s so much to discover and learn about the Bobby Darin classic “Beyond the Sea.” It begins simply with a familiar “doo wop” chord progression, but watch out for the bridge! We’ll crack the code on the song’s complex yet surprising logical structure and learn how to easily transpose it to the key that works best for your voice. And we’ll explore alternative jazz chord voicings that will add color and pizazz to really make it swing. “I know…beyond a doubt…” that you’ll dig this workshop! Gary

Manuela Boy”–Finger Style!

Learn an authentic and early Hawaiian fingerstyle solo version of this hapa-haole song. A great introduction to fingerpicking if this is new territory for you! Gary

Chopin’s “Chord Prelude

This one is just in time for the minor mood of Halloween and all its spookiness. In this workshop we’ll learn this song as a group, in four parts, with both tab and standard notation. Not for the faint of heart. Nancy

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