Port Townsend Ukulele Festival Class Descriptions


What about Class Levels?

The workshop is open to everyone, and differing levels of ability are expected. However, it’s sometimes helpful to know at what level the instruction will be. We’ve assigned level numbers to class descriptions to help you make decisions about the classes and get the most out of your time here. The teachers will describe their classes on the first evening and you’ll have an opportunity to talk to them before making your class selection. One strategy might be to select one class where you’ll be challenged, because that’s where the learning occurs, and one class where you already have an established level of comfort.

LEVEL 1 beginner: This level of beginner has been playing for 3-6 months and has learned 3-4 chords but hesitates in-between chord changes to move the fingers to the next location.

LEVEL 2 advanced beginner: This player knows a handful of chords and can move from one chord to another without pausing. May have trouble with barre chords, and has developed a strum or two or a finger pattern for picking.

LEVEL 3 intermediate: This player can hold a steady rhythm, and is competent with a variety of basic chords (for example: A, Am, B7, C, C7, D, Dm, E7, Em, G, and G7). Understands simple chord progressions (such as I, IV, V chords), can sing and strum at the same time, and learns chords to simple tunes fairly quickly.

LEVEL 4 advanced: This player can hear I, IV, and V chords, has mastered some chord inversions, knows there is life above the fifth fret, and has been there with barre or 4-fingered movable chords. Plays lead and backup easily with others and keeps steady rhythm.

PACING: Classes usually pace themselves to match the participants’ abilities. Classes designated LEVEL 1 proceed at the pace of the slowest student in the class, i.e., no one gets left behind. Classes designated LEVEL 4 move at the pace of the most capable student in the class, i.e., no one gets bored. LEVEL 2 and 3 classes try to follow the pace of the majority of students in the class.

You’ll notice, in addition to class levels, that we’re offering two kinds of classes.

DROP IN CLASSES: Drop in classes are for anyone at any time.

THREE-DAY CLASSES: The three-day classes are progressive and incremental; that is, the day 2 session will be based upon the day 1 session, etc. We ask that you do not drop in to three-day classes unless you participate in day 1.


2017 CLASSES :

Moving With Chords – Del Rey
Chord practice for blues and jazz tunes.
Just four first position chord shapes can move you all around the fretboard, make your chord accompaniments lively and help find the melodies lurking in the chords. We’ll memorize a set of chord shapes using a blues progression in several keys. We’ll also learn look at some ways to make interesting connections between the chord shapes. 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. For strummers or pickers. Three-day class.

Blue Uke – Del Rey
Blues, rags and old songs for the  ukulele, with a focus on fingerpicking the melody. Tunes include Big Road Blues, and Rabbit Muses’ Rocking Chair Blues. By ear, no TAB. Intermediate (left hand: be familiar with basic chords and be able to keep time; right hand fingerpicking experience, at least the ability to arpeggiate in rhythm). Drop in ok, we’ll do a different tune each day.

Songwriting – Eve Goldberg
There is no one “right” way to write a song, and finding the method that works for you can be a meaningful lifelong journey – or it can be an entertaining pastime. In this class we’ll explore some of the many different ways into the magical world of songwriting and we’ll try our hand at writing a song of our own, or polishing a song we have already started. All levels welcome, three-day class.

Introduction to Chord Melody – Eve Goldberg
“Chord Melody” is a way of combining the melody of a song with the underlying chords that accompany the song to create a dynamic solo arrangement. In this class we will explore the fundamental building blocks of chord melody and try our hand at playing some simple chord melodies. The skills you learn in this class will allow you to go on to create your own chord melodies of the songs you know and love. You should have knowledge of basic chords in order to get the most out of this class. Level 2-4, three-day class.

Old Time Uke Stringband – The Canote Brothers
Appalachian Songs and tunes about rural life, from chickens to drinking, and everything in between. These are mostly 3 and 4 chord songs. We’ll learn the strums to give them the proper feel, and even pick some melody! Possible songs include: Goin’ Down the River, I Took my Gal A Walkin’, and  I’ll Rise When the Rooster Crows.
Level 2-4, drop on in!

Novelty Song Uke Orchestra! – The Canote Brothers
We’ll work on Funny Songs from Tin Pan Alley to Western Swing, Songs from Ukulele Ike, and hits from Milton Brown and his Brownies! We’ll learn some up the neck chords, and some curious chord progressions. Songs will include:  My Dog Loves Your Dog and What did I Do with That Thinga- ma-jig.
Level 2-4, drop on in!

Coal, Cotton and Dust: Songs of American Work – Aaron Keim
Explore American history through work songs, songs about work and labor protest anthems.  This repertoire class will not only provide with some catchy new songs but will also help you understand the important history and culture behind each one.  Expect some harmony singing, a little picking and lots of fun!  All levels, drop-in class.

Waltz Time – Aaron Keim
Join Aaron for three days of instrumental waltzes arranged for the ukulele!   Dorky?  Yes, but lots of fun and musically satisfying.  Aaron has been obsessed with waltzes for years and loves arranging them for the ukulele using finger style and picking techniques.  You must be able to read tab and have some experience with finger style, picking or melodies.  Intermediate/advanced, three-day class.

Somatics – Heidi Swedberg
A three session intensive seminar to free your voice and playing.
Loosen up and be free!  This is a great opportunity to de-program habitual tension and discover the sound of your own voice– a full college semester’s worth of information in just 3 days!  See how much easier it is to sing, play your uke and live your life when you train your body the way professional actors and musicians do. Somatics delve into mind-body awareness and include both familiar and esoteric techniques as Pilates, yoga, Alexander, Feldenkrais, Laban, and Linklater.  This class is suitable for all levels of physical and musical abilities. Comfortable attire and a desire to open your instrument to the flow of the creative energy inside of you are the only requirements.  All levels, three-day class, no ukulele!

On The Fly, Get Fresh: Lyrical Improvisation – Heidi Swedberg
Get fresh! Making up words on the fly is a fantastic skill to cultivate.  Learning to trust yourself and take chances will help you face off stage fright and free you from the fear of failing. Plus, it’s a heck of a lot of fun! This class is like no other: Every day we will learn improvisational techniques and exercises, plus new songs to play and sing, including blues and hoe-down formats (as seen on TV’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway”) that will help you take a giant leap in your development as a performer and could make you the life of the party! If you are a non-uke playing companion you are welcome to join this class, (ukulele optional). All levels, drop-in class.

Arpeggio Meditations for Ukulele – Daniel Ward
Back by popular demand! If you missed it last year here’s your chance, or if you would like to re-visit the meditations there will be some familiar loops, and lots of brand new ones too dive into. In this workshop, Daniel Ward will share a number of easy-to-learn, fun-to-play, short songs and warm-ups that you can “loop” over and over. It’s a great way to build even rhythm, tone, and chord changing chops while you float in a warm tub of beautiful, repeating patterns that make you a better player as you soak them in. You’ll come away with productive tools to practice with whenever you pick up your uke and become a much more expressive player in the process. If you’re a beginner, these are great tools to start out with.  If you’re more advanced, it’s a great way to break out of whatever rut you may have fallen in to.  Level 2–4, drop in (or stay all 3 days to see all of the material).

Advanced Strumming Techniques – Daniel Ward
Unleash your abilities for speed, expression and rhythm. In this 3 day workshop, we will look in depth at 6-8 super fancy techniques from different styles including Flamenco, Cuban Rhumba, fast jazz swing, and even Funk and Disco. The class is designed to enhance the abilities you already have. The material can be translated and used right away in just about any style you choose. Level 4 advanced, three-day class. Each day builds on the previous material and will pace towards the more challenging techniques by day 3.

Set your Voice Free – Nicole Keim
Come sing in a non-threatening, nurturing environment!  Nicole will guide you through melody and harmony singing, performing with body percussion and practical vocal warm ups while integrating folk music, history and vocal technique. All are welcome- no experience necessary. Drop-in class.

Melodic accompaniment- Adam Franklin
In this class we will look at how to compliment a song with melodic picking. Over the three days students will look at which notes can be added to chords and learn easy to remember licks to make the tune come alive. These techniques can be used solo or in a group setting.

Although this workshop will use blues and jazz chord sequences, these techniques can be used in all styles of music.  Chord charts and tabs will be available. Level 2-4, three-day class.

Rhythm Picking & Hot Jazz Comping- Adam Franklin
This drop in class will look at finger picking the uke to provide a solid rhythmic foundation to any song in any style. Beginners to more advanced players will find this technique a useful tool to adding that extra “something” to sing-alongs and jams. The class will also look at mastering the essential strums needed to achieve the “hot” rhythms associated with the jazz style. Level 1-3, drop in class.

Beatles: I Feel Fine – Casey MacGill
This is a song class with chord charts and lyric sheets of personal favorites from the early days up through Revolver. We will explore strumming strategies including rumba and reggae strums for such classics as: And I Love Her; Can’t Buy Me Love; A Hard Day’s Night; I Call Your Name; I Feel Fine; If I Needed Someone; I’ll Be Back; I’ll Follow the Sun; I Should Have Known Better; Michelle; and Wait. We’ll also try some vocal harmonies with the possibility of performing at an afternoon showcase. Students interested in learning the harmonies must attend the series.

Level 3, three-day class.  Although you can drop in on this class, the material is not repeated, so to get all of it, you must attend all classes. Handouts are only for students in the class, and only the day attended.

Singin’ the Blues – Casey MacGill
It’s nice to have a few solid blues songs of different tempos to give substance to your repertoire. We will examine the blues of Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Robert Johnson, Leroy Carr, and Memphis Minnie, Blind Willie McTell, and Bessie Smith, their singing styles, and a strumming approach to their songs.

Level 3, three-day class.  Although you can drop in on this class, the material is not repeated, so to get all of it, you must attend all classes. Handouts are only for students in the class, and only the day attended.

You Don’t Need To Learn All Those Chords! – Gerald Ross
One look at the number of chords typically found in a ukulele chord dictionary is enough to make anyone want to throw in the towel and quit. It looks like thousands! Do you really need to learn all those chords? The answer is a definite no! But if you don’t learn all the chords how will you play in all the keys? How will you quickly play an A flat chord, a C sharp minor or a B minor? And what if the singer decides to sing in the key of E flat?

Closed position chords to the rescue. These easily fingered “chord shapes” are the chameleon chords of the ukulele. One movable “chord shape” is twelve different chords. We will use simple songs to explore this concept. After the workshop you’ll ask yourself “why didn’t somebody show me this years ago? It’s so easy.” Level: Confident beginner to intermediate. Three-day class, but it’s okay to drop in – but don’t expect a review.

Swing Sampler – Gerald Ross
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. Please contact Gerald with any questions at: gerald@geraldross.com. Class level: Confident beginner to Intermediate. Three-day class, but it’s okay to drop in – but don’t expect a review.