2024 Workshop Descriptions

(More workshop descriptions to follow from Daniel Ho & Rob Sawyer.)

Ben Hassenger

All Levels

NEW! Uke Group 101 Congrats, you have some ukulele friends that want to get together and start a community uke group. But there’s more to it than you may think! Ben Hassenger, Michigan’s Ukulele Ambassador and co-founder of the popular Lansing Area Ukulele Group, will share his experience on running a successful uke group; including member recruitment, choosing songs and posting them online, starting and leading songs, and other topics. A great class for those starting a new group or trying to revitalize an existing one.


EZ Tab
Do you have a good handle on strumming, but would like to learn to play the melodies of songs on your ukulele? Ben will teach you how to read tablature, a way to read music for the ukulele without having to understand actual music notation. You’ll be playing everything from “You Are My Sunshine” to “Ode to Joy” by the end of class.


Become One With the Strum Learning to play a variety of strums makes your playing more interesting to you and your audience. We’ll explore folk, calypso, rock, polka, ska, and reggae strums along with the incredibly versatile “Benstrum” using some of your favorite songs.


Play (Almost) Every Song in the World What do songs like “Last Kiss”, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”, “With or Without You”, and “Say Something” have in common? They all use the same four chords. Learn to play every song ever written (well, most of them, anyway) with these “Fantastic Four” chords and find out how to switch keys easily by using the Nashville Numbering System.


Stop, Look, and Listen: Playing Well with Others This class focuses on playing together as a group, whether it’s a small combo or a large strumming ensemble, using various strums, chords, and single-note parts that will compliment what others in the group are playing. We’ll take a well-known song and put it together as an ‘ukulele ensemble piece with separate parts for players of various levels.

Viggy Kolasinski


1, 2, 3 Chords! (1-2)

How many chords do we really need? Let's play some nice 'n easy simple strumming songs that only require a few chords while going over some healthy practicing habits. Great for warm up songs or for ukie newbies!

Song Playlist: Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant (1 Chord), Dreams by Fleetwood Mac (2 Chords), This Must 

Be The Place (Naive Melody) by Talking Heads (3 Chords)



Fingerpicking Fun!

Want to learn the basics of fingerpicking? Viggy breaks down the left and right hand techniques required for fingerpicking, as well as ways to incorporate fingerpicking patterns into anything you play.

Song Playlist: House of the Rising Sun, Wonderwall by Oasis, Creep by Radiohead



Triplets, Rolls, and Flares, oh my!

Ready to get creative with your strumming? In this workshop,  we'll break down how to create more rhythms with our strumming technique through roll and flare strums, which can be used to play complex rhythms like triplets and sixteenth notes with ease.

Song Playlist: Can't Help Falling in Love by Elvis, Get Back by The Beatles



Percussive Ukulele!

Let's add some drums to our strums! Get ready to add some kick drums and snare drums to our technique to make yourself a one-man-band.

Song Playlist: Dreams by Fleetwood Mac, Careless Whisper by George Michael, What You Wont Do For Love by Bobby Caldwell



Chord Melody 101

Don't feel like singing and strumming? Let's learn how to play melody with our chord harmoniously with the basics of chord melody.

Song Playlist: La Vie en Rose by Edith Piaf, Scooby-Doo Theme Song

Conrad Cayman


Bass 102

CAGED system  - learn alternate positions of chords with this simple system that builds on the basic shapes you already know


Bass 103 – I/V’s and related box patterns  

There’s a joke about a bass player who only knew a I and a V and started to gig.  Let’s take that step!

Neal Chin


Jammin on C Jam Blues

Learn how to play the Duke Ellington classic and jam circle favorite C Jam Blues! We’ll talk about the blues and how to start swinging and having fun with the rhythm. Great place to start taking solos, getting into swing, and jamming with others.



The Magical 2-5-1

Chord progressions are like musical sentences that weave together a story that is often felt rather spoken. The magical 2-5-1 is one of the fundamental building blocks in jazz harmony, painting a way to create motion in music. We’ll talk about what exactly 2-5-1s are and some examples of them in the wild. There’ll be a few voices with some extra material for you to take home and continue your journey.



The Art of the Solo ‘Ukulele - Arranging and Philosophy

While the ‘ukulele has its roots in being a percussive force in string bands, it has been used beyond accompaniment for most of its lifetime. Using chords to play melodies is a fun way to enter this style of playing, as it's a way to add color and motion to an often lonely melody. We’ll look at the basics of how it works and look at some strategies and talk philosophy for playing as a soloist.



Chord Etudes

“The voice of a chord is more important than its function.” We are going to unpack that quote by looking at various ways to voice the same chord progression with the simple premise that we either go up or we go down! Various 4 note chord phrases will be played in different areas of the neck as we talk about economy of movement, voice leading, and application. 3-4



Don't Fret– Unlock your Fretboard in 60 minutes or less

Always wanted to “know your fretboard” but never knew where to begin? Don't fret! This workshop

will cover the fundamentals of scales, notes, and where to find them on your uke. Afterwards you'll be

able to tell your jazz friends you learned a mixolydian scale.



Bass 101

Bring some low-end into the band with this zero-to-hero U-Bass workshop! Especially geared towards

ukulele players who want to moonlight on the bass, this course “walks” through playing roots, thirds,

and fifths so you can accompany nearly every song in your book. You'll be slappin' da bass in no time!



Soloing a la Mode

Looking for that extra sweetness in your solos? Look no further, let’s add in a few scales, modes, and

riffs to expand your repertoire!



Funk Strum 

Make it funky now! We'll turbo-charge your strumming skills with some quick funk rhythms to lead

your fellow uke friends onto the dance floor. Once you get the hang of the sixteenth note down-up

strum, we'll be running all sorts of combos and patterns to get your groove on. Prior experience with

barre chords and chucking recommended.

Art Hopkins


Beginner Blues Workshop!

“I gots the I-Can’t-Play-the-Blues-Blues!!!” Sound like you? Fret no more, we got you covered in this beginner intro to finger-picking via the blues. Learn basic blues progressions then we will learn how to pick notes and create your own blues solos! NO PICKING EXPERIENCE REQUIRED! Guaranteed to smile those blues away!

You will know how to create your own blues songs and solos by the end of this fun-filled interactive workshop especially for the beginner!




The UPS & DOWNS of Strumming! Brand new player or tired of the ol’ chunka-chunka? This workshop will examine the mechanics of strumming and explore how various strum styles can express many soundscapes. You will know how to apply them to your playing and get that strum hand working magic!

A fun day of basic strum instruction. What fingers to use, different strum patterns, and tips and tricks to give your strum hand a voice! GREAT FOR BEGINNERS!



Open Tuning and Clawhammer technique

There are many ways to tune a stringed instrument, including your ukulele. Hawaiian music uses various open tunings. In this workshop, I’ll show you how, by changing one string, you can put your ukulele into open C tuning (or open G if you have a baritone uke).

Once there, we’ll learn a few simple chords and play a few songs. Then we’ll learn the clawhammer technique, which is a fun strumming technique that sounds a lot fancier than it is. It comes from the old-time banjo, and works great on ukulele.

Why play in open C tuning?

1.      It’s different and can open up new musical possibilities

2.      For some things, it’s easier. (Easy is good.)

3.      Extra good for clawhammer style

Why clawhammer?

1.      It’s fun, and can get an old timey sound

2.      Great way to get a good rhythmic strum to back up singing

3.      You can play as simply or as fancily as you want.

All ukuleles welcome. If you have a high G string, you’ll sound more clawhammery, more like the old-time banjo, but if you have a low G, don’t worry, it’ll still sound good and be fun.



Simple Pentatonic Patterns for Soloing In Any Key, Major or Minor (Baritone & GCEA Low G)

The pentatonic scale is used by millions of musicians because it’s so easy to play and sounds so good. In this workshop, you’ll learn a couple of basic, simple patterns on your uke that you can use to solo over just about anything.

All ukuleles welcome, including baritone, but a low G will give you a slightly wider range of notes to play with.  




Looking for fun? This arrangement includes lyrics, chords, melody, harmony, strum pattern, beginning lick, and instrumental break, all based on the original recording by Simon and Garfunkel. There will be fun for all in this fast-paced workshop.



Intro to Flamenco on Ukulele

Julie has played this passionate Spanish music for 32 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 4 basic right hand techniques--thumb strokes, arpeggios, rest strokes, and rasgueados. Apply these techniques to your AWESOME lick, and learn a Sevillanas. OLE!

Avery Hill 


Songwriting: Writing Lyrics

For both the songwriting-curious, the long-practicing songwriter, and everyone in between! This workshop explores different approaches to generating potential lyrics, and how to identify effective boundaries for editing purposes. All levels.



Songwriting: Writing Music

For both the songwriting-curious, the long-practicing songwriter, and everyone in between! This workshop explores different approaches to generating potential melodies and chord progressions, and how to identify effective boundaries for editing purposes. All levels.



Deer in the Headlights / Beginner Orientation 

Getting the most out of an overwhelming event like this.



Paperless Campfire Songs Jam

This mixed-level jam will feature familiar and/or easily learned songs to sing around the campfire, on the front porch, or anywhere else you gather together. Songs will be on the easy side technically speaking, but there will be no music, so those new to learning by ear will also get a lot out of it. Levels 1, 1/2 + 2 and/or anyone new to learning by ear.



How To Sing And Play At the Same Time

How many times have you mastered a strum pattern, lined it up with your chord progression, only for it to all fall apart when you start to sing?! This workshop will break down the layers of both playing and singing, and guide you through exercises for building them back up to successful singing and playing simultaneously. Level 1-2

Jim D’Ville



The Emotional Value of Chords

There is a chord associated with each of the seven notes of a major scale. When played in context, each chord evokes a certain emotional response from the listener.

Learning these chordal relationships will open your ears to the chord progressions to millions of songs. This is the first step to learning to play by ear and could change the way you listen to and play music. Knowledge of finger positions for C, dm, em, F, G, am, helpful. This is Jim’s signature workshop.

Bob Tigert-Nashville, TN:

“I have recommended this workshop to both new and seasoned players, because of the way Jim D’Ville explains how and why, instead of just what to do, when learning, playing and understanding music. This is time well spent learning about the heart of music... and enjoying the process!”



Strumming Ukulele By Ear

Free yourself from memorizing Down-Up patterns! Starting with the basic index finger strum, Jim will quickly have your muscle memory absorbing fun strums like The Gallop Triplett, The Chunky Chop and many more strumming techniques that will spice up your playing.



Fab Beatles Songs 1962-’64

Why were The Beatles the greatest band ever? The chord progressions! The Beatles' songs written in the breakout years of 1962 through '64 showcase Lennon and McCartney's exciting use of cadence and colorful extended chords. We'll learn immortal pop classics including Love Me Do, Twist & Shout, I Saw Her Standing There, Please Please Me, and more all by ear!



Cycle The Circle! Chord Progressions & The Circle of 5ths

The chord progressions heard in popular music follow well-worn paths around the Circle of 5ths. It is the roadmap to the musical universe.

In this exciting workshop you’ll learn to read the map, and discover the logical nature of popular music. Knowledge of chords C F G7 A7 D7 E7 Am Dm Em is helpful.


Bob Jenkins


Open Mic Tips

Bob Jenkins, a veteran of hundreds of open mic performances, will share his tips on Working with a Coach, the Use and Abuse of the Microphone (a quick review), Song Selection, To Patter or Not To Patter, Engagement with the Audience, and (take a deep breath) the Worst Mistake Open Mikers make.

Perry Stauffer

Level 2 

Ten Classic Swing Endings

Song endings are absolutely critical to a great presentation of a song. In this workshop, we'll learn ten of them.  We’ll also learn a trick to turn any ending into a great turnaround.

These endings are great for both blues and jazz, as well as vintage country and western swing.


Level 2-3

Jazz Up Your Blues

Join Perry’s "Jazz Up Your Blues" workshop and explore five levels of jazz-blues progressions. Learn about passing chords, borrowed chords, and secondary dominants to add depth and variety to your blues playing. Perfect for those wanting to bring a jazz influence to their blues.


Level 2

Blues Jam Lab

The "Blues Jam Lab" is the place to reinforce everything you’ve learned in all the festival blues classes thus far. Multiple instructors will take the lead as we play through a number of tunes. Take a solo or two if you’re feeling adventurous, or just kick back and strum along with the group. This session is a great way to deepen your newly found blues knowledge, or to just have fun.


Level 2

Jazz Jam Lab

The "Jazz Jam Lab" is the place to reinforce everything you’ve learned in all the festival jazz classes thus far. Multiple instructors will take the lead as we play through a number of tunes. Take a solo or two if you’re feeling adventurous, or just kick back and strum along with the group. This session is a great way to deepen your newly found jazz knowledge, or to just have fun.

Dani Joy

All Levels


Dani Joy will guide you through some breathing exercises and gentle stretches in your chair, giving you some simple things to keep in mind to stay relaxed as you navigate through the weekend’s festivities. 

Moses Kamai 

Level 1-2

Improving Tonality and Tempo (T2)
Ever wonder how some people can pick or strum and they have nice clean notes while moving up and down the neck using ‘closed’ chords?  No buzzing, No dead strings, regardless of speed?  Let me show you how with a practice regimen that I have used with my students that follow two key tenets:  “Tonality and Tempo” & “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” Students in this class will be introduced to some key closed chords like the barre and diminished chords. (Prerequisite:  can play basic chords, have nimble fingers and minimal sense of time/rhythm)

Ukulele Rob Sawyer

Level 2

Add Spice to Those Chords!

Are you ready to take things to the next level by learning about how note intervals are used to make interesting chords? With the classic “As Time Goes By” from “Casablanca” as our study song (yep, we’re gonna’ sing, too), we’ll learn about the the mysteries of the diminished chord (that chord with the little ° next to it) and the augmented chord (the one with the little + sign), as well as what that 7 means when you see thingslike Dm7, A7, etc. Along with a few other cool chord things. 

If you can play chords like F, Am, Dm, D7, G7, Em, etc., in the key of C, you’ll be all set to take your strumming to the next step.

Bring any GCEA uke (high-G and low-G both welcome.