What a great line-up of instructors and workshops. Ideally there’s a little something here for everyone. And if you don’t see what you need, we’ve got enough talent and creativity here to make just about anything happen for you.
‘Ukulele Blues Party
Calling all intrepid beginners, intermediate players, and even those who are more advanced. Here’s a chance to get your head wrapped around a couple of blues and jug band tunes orchestrated for the ukulele–with playing and singing parts for multiple levels of player. You’ll work on getting that old-timey sound on your uke, with the ideal rhythm and chord positions. And you’ll learn where to find the melody. There will be a little something for everyone with parts for basic chords, strumming, picking and singing.
While this workshop is geared for players at a basic level, you do need to be comfortable and confident with first position chords and be able to keep time while changing between them. Reentrant (high G) tuning preferred. We’ll be learning the old fashioned way, by ear. Just like they did in the old timey days.
Moving With Chords
With just four first-position chord shapes, you will be able to move all around can move you all around the fretboard, make your chord accompaniments lively, and help find the melodies lurking within the chords. In this workshop we’ll memorize a set of chord shapes using a blues progression and learn a little “hillbilly” theory–theory that’s in your fingers and ears, not on a piece of paper. We’ll also learn to look at some ways to make interesting connections between the different chord shapes.
To get the most out of this workshop you should be comfortable with first position chords, be able to hold a bar chord, and be able to change the fingerings of chords you already know without freaking out.
Blue Uke: Fingerpicking the Blues on the ‘Ukulele
If you’re comfortable picking and can keep a 4/4 beat with your thumb while picking the melody with your fingers, this workshop is for you.
Many of the great guitar and banjo blues tunes from the 1920s sit beautifully on the ‘ukulele. In this workshop we’ll be exploring some of them, along with the distinctive styles of African American ukesters such as Lemon Nash of Louisiana and Rabbit Muse of Virginia. Using characteristic chord inversions and melody picking, we’ll learn solo finger style arrangements for the uke. Re-entrant (high G) tuning preferred. And again, you’ll be learning to play by ear. There is no TAB.
Introduction to Fingerpicking
If you’re not quite ready for finger-picking prime time, but are comfortable with first level chords and can keep time while changing them, this class will show you how to position your hand for picking rather than strumming. Learn how to make your thumb the time keeper, while each finger has its own string to play melody. After some exercises to get started, we’ll play a C scale finger style, then move on to answer the age-old question, “What makes the blues blue”? A uke with a high G tuning is preferred.
Listen In: Early Blues & Jazz on the ‘Ukulele
This is Del Rey in her element: sharing her love for early 20th century African-American blues and jazz, particularly as performed on the ukulele. In this music appreciation workshop you will discover and deeply listen to the music of Lemon Nash, Rabbit Muse, The Pebbles, Little Laura Dukes. Del Rey will spin the original scratchy, catchy tunes and talk about their history. She’ll also be offering some tips on how to figure out what they are doing. Suitable for everyone!
Five Songs, Three Ways to Sunday
Are you ready to have a little fun with some classic tunes from the Roaring 20s? Then step right up. On Day 1 you’ll be learning 5 (and possibly more) major hits from the era–old favorites like “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Whispering,” “Ain’t Misbehaving,” “Blue Skies,” and “It Had to be You. On Days 2 and 3 you’ll be exploring more advanced arranging options, including chord melodies, chord inversions, and rhythmic options.
By the end of this workshop, you should be able to take any of the techniques you learned here and apply them to any other song in your repertoire. (Intermediate & Up.)
Practice and Play
Learning new songs is fun. Playing your favorites is fun too. But playing a song with conviction and emotion is an art. So, let’s learn how to practice. Let’s turn a train wreck into an exercise.
This workshop examines the difference between practice and play and will help you get some of the kinks out with a practical study of mechanics, fingering options and rhythmic exercises.
“As someone who consistently learns songs that push my skills to the limit,” says Dave, “I can teach you a thing or two about how to identify and overcome obstacles.”
In the process you’ll learn some short cut chord progressions and how to turn an obstacle into an advantage. Don’t get
stuck… get even! (Offered twice. Beginner & up)
How I Learned to Stop Worrying, and Love Eb
Oh! How those eyes they roll when Dave calls out a tune in Eb. But, here is the thing. The much maligned Eb is actually a perfect key for ‘ukuleles (and clarinets and trumpets and saxophones). . . . .and singing. Indeed, most songs of the 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s were originally written in flat keys which favor woodwinds, brass, and. . . . .wait for it. . . . .vocalist. But Rock ‘n Roll and the more vogue guitar changed all that. With its open E and A strings, most songs written for the guitar favor the sharp keys: G, D, A, and E. AS a result, we lost a lot of great keys, the flat keys: F, Bb, Eb and, dare I say, Ab.
In this workshop we’re going to get over all that, because a key is just key and. . . . .News Flash: Flat keys work extremely well on the ‘ukulele. So, let’s have fun with some classics tunes in Eb and a few other flat keys. Easy as pie. (Two sessions. Intermediate & Up.)
Ergonomics: Right & Left
Do you have difficulty making smooth chord changes? Are those bar chords slowing you down or making your hand hurt?
Most of these difficulties can be traced to bad hand positioning which creates tension and inefficient playing technique. But, after a few short lessons with our ergonomic guru you will be able to transform your playing technique and increase your coordination, and do it rather quickly. It all boils down to the correct positioning of each hand and a few easy exorcises to reinforce a couple of simple tweaks that will greatly improve your playing.
This popular 2-day workshop will be
even more effective with the smaller class sizes at this event. But for maximum efficacy, you should have a strap for your ukulele.
Basic ‘Ukulele for Beginners
If you’re new to the ‘ukulele, this is a great place to begin. In this workshop Catfish Jack will guide unsure participants and companions into the wonderful world of the ‘ukulele. Just bring an ‘ukulele and a desire to learn and you’ll soon be on your way. for harmonica students. Jugs welcome!). 1 session.
Walk Right In: Ukulele Harmonica Jug Band Jam
Catfish Jack and Gary Peare are teaming up to teach the jug band classic “Walk Right In,” written three decades before The Rooftop Singers made it a pop hit in 1962! This is the perfect workshop for beginning harmonica and uke players. Harmonica players will huddle with Catfish, who will cover basic technique and will have you grooving along in 2nd position before you know it. Gary will teach ukers a super-easy arrangement in G, with options for more advanced players and adventurous beginners.
Open Mic! Here you come.
Think you’re just about ready for the Open Mic? Or have you been there before and afterward thought, that could have been a little better? Then you might want to spend a little time with Catfish Jack who will help you out with some of the nuances of performing before a live audience and how to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone. Bring your uke, or other instrument of choice, and a tune you’ve been working on. Players of all abilities encouraged to attend.
Here is an opportunity to up your musical game by getting down and dirty with the “Mississippi Saxophone.” Over the course of three days Catfish Jack will teach you how to chug your harp (not your beer), play single notes, make the ubiquitous train sound, and of course, create the magical Wah-Wah. Playing the harmonica is fun and good for you! All you need is a ten hole diatonic harmonica in the key of C, a few tips from Jack, a bit of practice, more practice, and you’ll soon be on your way. We fully expect Camp Ocean Pines to sound like a rusty old train yard by the end of the retreat.
On the Rack
Neil Young, Jack Bruce, Jimmy Reed, Bruce Springsteen, Slim Harpo, Billy Joel, Jimmie Fadden? What do they all have in common? They all play guitar, bass, piano, or drums and the harmonica. . . . .at the same time! Now you can too! In this workshop you’ll explore playing the harmonica “on the rack” in first and second positions. And with the skills learned, you should be on your way to playing simple folk songs, wailing the blues, and accompanying yourself while singing your favorite songs. So come discover your inner Dylan–or not. Get yourself a rack, grab your harmonica and your uke (or guitar, or bass, or whatever!) and let’s get rocking!
Ensemble – “Magnetic Rag”
If you’re ready to move beyond strumming and singing, you might want to try a more disciplined approach to playing with others as part of an ukulele ensemble. . . . .where the sum of the parts creates music like you never thought possible. A case in point:
As in all of Nancy’s ensembles, there will be parts for players of all abilities. “Magnetic Rag” is a 3-part workshop in that you will meet for three sessions in order for your ensemble to have a piece ready for performance on Saturday night.
Ensemble – “Whispering”
The importance of this catchy little tune can not be over-stated. It charted at #1 in 1920 and was one of the key pieces of music to usher in the Jazz Age. It was also Paul Whiteman’s first hit and led him to be dubbed “The King of Jazz”. This version of “Whispering” sold over 2 million copies. Now you, too can be part its history as a member of the ukulele ensemble to perform this iconic tune.
Ensemble – “When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob Bobbing Along”
Could there be a happier tune than this one? Certainly the folks back in 1926 thoughts so, making Al Jolson’s version a #1 hit in September and the Ipana Troubodours’ version #16 in October! If you’ve never played in an ensemble before, this would be a great place to start.
Beyond the Sea: A Deep Dive Into a Jazzy Standard
In this 2-session workshop, Gary will take you above and “Beyond the Sea,” with this iconic Bobby Darin tune. You’ll begin with a simple arrangement, well within the grasp of advanced beginners, then explore the nuances that make this a fun and rewarding tune to master. You’ll learn how to create a “chart” (not a chord chart, but a music chart you’d hand to a back-up band), how key changes work (right within the song), and how to embellish the song with the Doo Wop chord progression and easy jazz chord substitutions. We’ll finish up with finding a “comfortable” key for your voice as well as writing our own intros and outros.
Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby: Vaudeville Solo Style Uke
Here is a super-easy tune from the Roaring Twenties that anyone can master. In this workshop you’ll learn the verse (which hardly anyone knows) as well as the well-known chorus. And with a little help from Gary, you’ll be the star of the show with a flashy vaudeville-style solo arrangement that’ll get your pinkies in on the action. The first session will be open to players of all ability and is ideal for beginners. The second session offers a great introduction to solo style ‘ukulele for more adventurous beginners and intermediate players.
I’m Into Something Good: Exploring Rhythm
Beginners take note! If you find yourself asking “What’s the strum for…?” this is the workshop for you! Here we’ll learn the classic Herman’s Hermits hit, “I’m Into Something Good,” and explore how to “find” a perfect rhythm. Plus we’ll learn a few new strumming tricks that will really bring the song to life. Two sessions.
You Can Duet: Classic Songs Built for Two
Did you think singing a duet requires years of ear training? Think again! Here you will discover the world of “Double Songs”—tunes where the composer wrote not one, but two melodies to the same set of chords. Over three days we’ll learn three different songs built around these “counterpoint” melodies from Tin Pan Alley to Broadway. Classic selections by Irving Berlin, Meredith Wilson, and more. There’ll even be an early Xmas tune (and it’s not “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”) to get you in a holiday mood. What a great way to step up at open mic–with a partner for moral support! Advanced beginners and up.
Triple your Pleasure Mastering the Triple Strum
If you have your basic Down Up strum down or are looking to go beyond the old “Island Strum”, then you are ready for the Triple Strum, a must-have for any ukulele player. In this workshop Gary will teach you the basic mechanics for the most common Triple Strum forms and show you how you can use them to enhance—and simplify!—your rhythms in a variety of musical styles. (Beginner & Up)
Good Things Come in Threes: ¡Viva La Triplet!
Though not required, this is a great follow-up to Gary’s Mastering the Triple Strum workshop. So, if you are feeling pretty solid with your triple strum, here you will learn how you can use it to enhance—and simplify!—more exotic rhythms in a variety of musical styles. We’ll finish up with a fun ensemble approach to “Stand By Me,” spotlighting it’s quintessential son clave beat. A perfect tune for Low-G players, too! (Advanced beginners and beyond.)
It’s All About that Bass. . . . . Bass String, that is.
So. You got yourself an ‘ukulele with a low G. Now what? If all you’re doing is strumming with that thing, you’re missing out on some exciting ways to enhance your music with the rich bass tones now possible. In this workshop we will explore moving bass lines, chordal accompaniments, descending bass lines, bass drones, and more. We’ll even throw in a little Boogie Woogie for fun. The class repertoire will use easy-to-play swing, blues, and folk tunes. . . . . .There will be something different everyday. So, you can come for one day. Or you can come for all three. Just don’t forget to bring your uke strung with a low G. This class is geared towards very confident beginners to advanced players.
The Improv – ‘Ukulele Style
Have you ever wondered how musicians play just the right notes when they improvise? Do they randomly pick notes out of thin air? Or is there some logic to the musical lines they play? The truth is, they actually have a framework, a blueprint, if you will, to work from. In this workshop we will reveal the some of their secrets and explore single note and chordal ukulele improvisation. The tricks and techniques you’ll learn over three days with Gerald will have you playing more than just chords in no time. (Advanced)
Master Class: All of Me
This class will take an in depth look into that timeless standard, “All Of Me.” Here Gerald will break the song down to the basics before ramping things up with jazzier chords and improvisations. Audience comments and questions are welcome during this entertaining demonstration which will be of most benefit to advanced players looking to go the extra mile.
Reading & Writing “The Chart”
Have you ever wondered how professional musicians perform a piece of music they’ve never heard before? Typically they are handed a piece of paper and take a few quick glances at it. The band leader counts off the song and off they go. Can an amateur musician do this?
Yes they can.
In this workshop we will learn the universally agreed-upon standard for “charting” a tune — a skill that will allow you to share your music and play with any musician world wide. And remember, if you want to play with the house band at the retreat, this type of chart is mandatory.
If you own a pencil and can count to four, you are more than ready for this class. No music theory needed. No music reading required. Open to all levels. (Beginners, learn this simple skill and you’ll have a jump on just about everyone else.)
Elaine de Man
Fun Tunes for Beginners
Practicing is more fun when you have a couple of songs you really like to play. So, let’s go a little bit beyond the typical 3-chord song and strum fest and take a look at a couple of super-easy tunes that have a lot of pizzazz. While this class is geared class toward beginners, advanced beginners are also welcome.
Del Rey: Listen In – Early Blues and Jazz on the ‘Ukulele
Catfish Jack: Basic Ukulele for Beginners; Walk Right In; Basic Harmonica
Dave Egan: Practice & Play; Ergonomics Left & Right
Gary Peare: “Yes Sir, That’s my Baby” #1; I’m Into Something Good; Walk Right In; Mastering the Triple Strum
Gerald Ross: Reading & Writing a Chart
Elaine de Man: Fun Tunes for Beginners
For Advanced Beginners & Up
Del Rey: Ukulele Blues Party; Introduction to Finger-Picking; Listen In – Early Blues and Jazz on the ‘Ukulele
Dave Egan: Practice & Play; Ergonomics Left & Right
Catfish Jack: Walk Right In; Basic Harmonica; Harmonica on the Rack
Nancy Piver: Red, Red Robin; Whispering; Magnetic Rag
Gary Peare: Yes Sir, That’s my Baby; I’m Into Something Good; Walk Right In; You Can Duet; Mastering the Triple Strum
Gerald Ross: It’s all about that Bass
For Intermediate Players & Up
Del Rey: Moving with Chords; Listen In – Early Blues and Jazz on the ‘Ukulele
Dave Egan: Five Songs, 3 Ways; How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Eb
Catfish Jack: Basic Harmonica; Open Mic, Here you Come
Nancy Piver: Red, Red Robin; Whispering; Magnetic Rag
Gary Peare: “Beyond the Sea”; Good Things Happen in Threes
For Advanced Players
Del Rey: Blue Uke; Listen In – Early Blues and Jazz on the ‘Ukulele
Nancy Piver: Red, Red Robin; Whispering; Magnetic Rag
Gerald Ross: The Improv – Ukulele Style; Master Class, “All of Me”
Catfish Jack: Basic Harmonica