Heidi Swedburg at Centrum ukulele workshops

ProgramMusicUkulele

About Ukulele

April 11-15, 2024

Become inspired with others who share the same love of ukulele music as you do! Established in 2013, the Ukulele Festival is three days and four nights of instruction and community building with some of the finest instructors and musicians playing today.

This year, the workshops feature a world-class group of faculty performers who’ll teach a wide variety of styles – jazz, blues, swing, Hawaiian, pop, novelty and jug band ukulele.

Ukulele Facts

  • Established in 2013
  • Styles: folk, jazz, blues, swing, Hawaiian, pop, jug band, ska, reggae, bluegrass

Experience Ukulele

Three days of learning in community is a great way to increase your playing, songwriting, and performance skill set. And so much FUN!

2024 Workshop Descriptions Coming Soon

Ukulele 2024 Faculty

Photo of Marianne Brogan

Marianne Brogan

Faculty

Marianne Brogan grew up in a musical family and played flute, piano, guitar and drums. In middle age she found her instrument – the ukulele – and that was that.

She founded the Portland (Oregon) Ukulele Association in 2001, and has been happily teaching ukulele, and organizing events for well over a decade.

Photo of Neal Chin

Neal Chin

Faculty

Award winning artist and Maui, HI native Neal Chin, has been both an ‘ukulele educator and performer over the course of his musical career. His clear and direct enthusiasm for music has come to life in countless workshops, concerts, and private instruction. While his heart is in jazz, Neal has played with many musicians of different genres including Hawaiian, folk, rock, and hip-hop.…

Photo of Nova Karina Devonie

Nova Karina Devonie

Faculty

Nova Karina Devonie hails originally from Vancouver, B.C. She has been delighting audiences with her sensitive (and sometimes humorous) accordion playing, sonorous singing style, and sideways fashion sense since the 1980’s.

Photo of Stu Fuchs

Stu Fuchs

Stu Fuchs is a heart centered, award winning musician and teaching artist. His passion is helping others learn to play music with greater ease, freedom and joy. Over a 25 year career, Stu has played music across the globe: Django Reinhardt’s gypsy jazz with symphony orchestras, presenting workshops at ukulele festivals on three continents, facilitating drumming & music improvisation at yoga retreat centers for everyone from children to college music students, prison inmates to Fortune 500 CEOs.…

Photo of Aaron Keim

Aaron Keim

Faculty

Aaron Keim is a historian, banjo picker, ukulele ambassador, old time songster, luthier and author. Aaron has been teaching ukulele and banjo techniques and performing at festivals since 2004. As an educator with a bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a master’s degree in Musicology, his true talents lie in his ability to adapt instruction to fit a wide range of learners and learning styles.

Photo of Abe Lagrimas Jr.

Abe Lagrimas, Jr.

Faculty

Abe Lagrimas, Jr. is a musician, composer, educator, and author who plays the drums, vibraphone, ukulele, and studied at Berklee College of Music. He competed in the highly prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums Competition and has worked with many different artists such as Eric Marienthal, Eric Reed, Kamasi Washington, Katisse Buckingham, Lalo Schifrin, Barbara Morrison, Michelle Coltrane, Jake Shimabukuro, Kenny Endo, and continues to be an in-demand session musician.…

Photo of Casey MacGill

Casey MacGill

Faculty

Casey MacGill plays music that swings. Nat “King” Cole Trio meets the Mills Brothers. Fats Waller meets Fats Domino. Slim Galliard meets Fred Astaire. It is American music of many decades and no decade in particular, all happening at the same time, woven into a seamless, beautiful whole. At the core of his sound are his band’s sometimes sweet, sometimes rough-hewn three-part harmony vocals.…

Photo of Bernadette Mata

Bernadette Mata

Faculty

Bernadette is a music teacher with a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in music. She first developed her passion for music at the age of 10 when she joined her elementary school’s band and began playing the saxophone. Bernadette continued to hone her skills on the saxophone throughout her time at Cal Poly Pomona University.…

Photo of Del Rey

Del Rey

Faculty

Del Rey started playing guitar when she was four years old. At thirteen, she was immersed in the world of folk music, via the San Diego Folk Festival. She has tried to get a whole band onto her solo instrument from the beginning. This gives her music an interesting complexity, especially when applied to the ukulele.

Photo of Gerald Ross

Gerald Ross

Faculty

Gerald Ross is a musician specializing in American Roots Music – Swing, Early Jazz, Western Swing, Hawaiian, Ragtime and Blues. Playing the guitar, lap steel guitar and ukulele he has performed throughout the USA and Europe and has recorded seven solo CDs. Ross is one of the finest instrumentalists on the scene today and his music expresses a sense of rhythm and melody that is rare in contemporary music.…

Photo of Grace Van’t Hof

Grace Van’t Hof

Faculty

Michigan native Grace van’t Hof has taken their unique shade of ukulele playing across the United States and overseas with such groups as Bill and the Belles, Aaron Jonah Lewis’ Ragtime Banjo Revival, and Chris Jones & the Night Drivers. Driven by inspiration from 1920s and 30s country and popular music, Grace thoughtfully incorporates their uke stylings into all sorts of genres from Bluegrass to Spanish Baroque music.…

Photo of Victoria Vox

Victoria Vox

Faculty

Victoria Davitt, better known as Victoria Vox, is an award-winning, ukulele-toting, performing songwriter. With a passion for writing songs since she was 10 years old, she went on to graduate with a degree in Songwriting from the Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA).

Photo of Matt Weiner

Matt Weiner

Faculty

Big tone and solid rhythm have made Matt Weiner one of the busiest bass players in the Northwest. Inspired by the “prebop” bass players and their music, he’s slapping out a syncopated jazz feel on one tune, on another bowing a folksy melody.

Complete list of class descriptions

CHORDS CHORDS CHORDS – Neal Chin
Level 3-4, three-day class.
“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 some classic chord progressions to hear them in a new way. We’ll learn about extensions and how to use them to add both color and motion to our playing.  Lastly, we’ll work on breaking down these chords to create melodies and to learn the art of noodling with a jazz leaning perspective. Must be able to make 4 note chords and understand basic theory to get the most out of this class.

JAWAIIAN MUSIC: RIFFS AND TUNES – Neal Chin
Level 2-3, drop-in.
Jawaiian music is a unique blend of reggae that comes from Hawaii. Mixing the culture of life in Hawaii with catchy reggae beats makes for great songs to jam on and even more fun to play with friends. We'll go through some of the basics of the genre by learning some of the classics with their foundational rhythms and licks.

UKULELE FINGERPICKING IMMERSION – Stu Fuchs
Level 2 and up, three-day class.
Fingerpicking on the ukulele is a beautiful technique to accompany songs & play solo repertoire. You’ll learn ergonomic technique and many useful picking patterns to accompany your songs and serve as a foundation for solo arrangement playing. We’ll be making music with these patterns, playing fun and easy-to-learn songs and some simple chord melody arrangements.  You’ll also learn some simple and playful meditative practice processes, exercises and shortcuts Stu’s used over a lifetime of playing classical and other guitar styles. You’ll come away with a clear path to develop effortless finger style technique, you'll improve finger dexterity, and you'll learn how to create a beautiful tone on your ukulele.

UKULELE ZEN – Stu Fuchs
All levels, three-day class.
In this beginner friendly workshop Stu will show you how to apply techniques of yoga and mindfulness meditation to help focus and relax your ukulele playing.  These simple and accessible practices can help to make your music journey lighter and cultivate your connection to the “master musician within." 

We'll play easy and uplifting songs in a supportive and playful atmosphere to nourish our bodies, minds & spirits through music.  Ergonomic techniques for strumming, singing & picking melodies will also be shared. Through playfulness, deep listening, and relaxed attention, we’ll learn about ensemble playing and become “One with the Strum.”

GET IN THE GROOVE – Victoria Vox
All levels, three-day class.

In this very hands-on class, we’ll listen to characteristics of different musical genres and figure out how to carry the groove with just a ukulele! We’ll use some basic chord shapes, but play with hammer-ons, slides, and chunking (a rhythmic strum), loosening up the right hand for fun strums!  Get ready for a genre-bending good time as we’ll play Pop / Jazz / Ska / Swing / Blues / Reggae / Opera / Bluegrass, Funk, and throw in some different time signatures too. This class is groovy, 100% fun, and all play!

MUSIC THEORY APPLIED TO THE UKULELE – Victoria Vox
Level 1-3, three-day class.

Ever wonder about the how’s and why’s of music? Are you curious about how chords are formed and why they sound different, or why certain chords sound good together? Are you confused about how one chord name/shape on a ukulele can be called another chord name completely? In this music theory crash course, we’ll discuss everything from single notes, to intervals, to chords, to the keys in a circle of fifths, to chord extensions. Curious minds, inquire within.

THREE FINGERSTYLE DUETS – Aaron Keim
Level 3-4, three-day class.
Join Aaron to learn three duets he has previously composed.  We will learn both parts, add some other accompaniments and maybe even a bass.  Knowledge of tablature and some finger picking will be helpful.  

BARITONE UKULELE JAM SESSION – Aaron Keim
All levels, drop in.
Let’s hang out and just play baritone! Join Aaron while we pick and strum through some fun songs. You can even bring your favorites to share!

CHORD MELODY – Abe Lagrimas
Level 3-4, three-day class.
This workshop is designed and will be taught for high-G ukuleles. Abe will teach you his approach on how to play the chord and melody simultaneously and 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 arrangement. Participants must have some knowledge of diatonic harmony (Roman numerals) and use all four fingers comfortably.

Day 1: Amazing Grace
Day 2: E Ku'u Morning Dew
Day 3: Fields of Gold

TONE, SUSTAIN, & ARTICULATION – Abe Lagrimas
“Mahana,” by Abe Lagrimas, Jr.
Level 1-4, drop-in class.
This workshop focuses on various right hand fingerpicking techniques that will bring your ukulele to its fullest potential. Applying these skills will improve your tone and allow your instrument to sing with Mahana (warmth) and maximum sustain, which will help you become a more musical and dynamic musician. Participants will learn excerpts from one of Abe's original compositions entitled "Mahana" (fingerpicking on the thumb, index, and middle).

BRINGING BOSSA NOVA TO THE UKULELE – Abe Lagrimas
"The Girl From Ipanema," by Antonio Carlos Jobim
Level 2-4, drop-in class.
This workshop will transport you and your ukulele to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro where you will learn how to play the bossa nova. Here, you will learn about the unique rhythms and syncopation of the bossa nova using both strumming and fingerpicking patterns, transforming yourself into a master Brazilian musician like Antonio Carlos Jobim.

LA VIE EN ROSE - CHORD MELODY - Bernadette Mata
Level 3, three-day class.
If you don't like to sing and play at the same time, or if you would like your ukulele to do the singing for you, this class is just what you need. We will be learning how to play the iconic song, La Vie En Rose by Edith Piaf. The goal is for us to be able to play the song from beginning to end. Prerequisites for the class: be able to read tab (tablature notation), be able to play a Bb chord. If this sounds like something you'd like to do, join us! It will be light-hearted and fun. We will have breaks for our hands to rest and we will hear performances from the group.

PLAY 12 SONGS WITH 4 CHORDS - Bernadette Mata
All levels, drop-in.
Have you ever wondered how some people seem to know how to play tons of songs by memory? Well, come to their class to learn their secret! You only need 4 chords and 2 strumming patterns to play hundreds of songs! In this workshop we will play 12 songs that have easy lyrics so that you can play at campfires, use as warm-up exercises, or play for your own enjoyment.

STOP STRUMMING AND START FINGERPICKING! - Bernadette Mata
All levels, drop-in.

Would you like to explore the fingerpicking possibilities of your ukulele? Come to this class to learn how to play fingerpicking patterns on your ukulele. This class will show you 5 different fingerpicking patterns you can use on all the songs you already know and love. We will apply our fingerpicking patterns to classic songs like Can't Help Falling in Love and House of The Rising Sun.

SWING AND JAZZ FOR UKULELE – Larry Wyatt
Level 2-4, three-day class.
In this class we’ll take some swing and jazz standards, break them down and jam them up.  Learn common chord progressions, turnarounds, and chord shapes in several keys. Then apply these concepts to your own playing.   Handouts provided for all tunes and concepts covered. 

BARITONES UKE FINGERPICKING TIPS AND TRICKS – Larry Wyatt
Level 2-4, three-day class.
Learn the fundamentals of thumb picking and arranging for Baritone Ukulele. Take chords that you already know and take them in a new direction by getting your thumb and fingers rolling. We'll learn the steady thumb method and how to use the right hand fingers to play melodies. We'll also learn common (and not-so-common) chord progressions and explore the use of thumbpicks, flat picks, capos, even slide ukulele.

MY THREE STRUMS - Casey MacGill
Level 2, drop-in.

This workshop surveys the three basic strums I use regularly. They are the Swing Strum, the Shuffle Strum, and the Rumba Strum. In addition to learning and practicing the strum by itself we’ll use a song for each strum. This class repeated each day.

THE SPELL OF THE BLUES - Casey MacGill
Level 3-4, drop-in.
This workshop teaches a great pop tune from the late 1920s that includes the Swing Strum and the Rumba Strum. There is also a vocal arrangement. The class can learn as we put all the elements together of the strumming, the chords, and the singing. This class is repeated each day.

PALM SPRINGS JUMP - Casey MacGill
Level 3-4, drop-in.
Palm Springs is a fun tune, written by the great Court Jester of Jump, Slim Gailliard. We’ll learn To play this with the Shuffle Strum, And also learn to sing the vocal arrangement. This class is repeated each day.

TIME CHANGES EVERYTHING - Del Rey
Level 3-4, three-day class.

The topic is how I listen to vintage recordings and figure out where to play a song on the ukulele. We’ll listen to several recordings of Tommy Duncan’s Time Changes Everything, from Bob Wills, Johnny Cash and Bill Monroe. We’ll find the melody in several keys, and play the song with three chords like Johnny Cash or eight like Bob Wills. I’ll be fingerpicking melody and chords together, but I’ll address playing melody and chords separately as well. By ear, no written notation provided.

OTHER SHADES OF BLUES – Del Rey
Level 3-4, three-day or drop-in class.
Three pre-war blues songs with interesting non-12 bar progressions, arranged for fingerstyle uke. The first day is Bo Carter’s Law’s Gonna Step On You in G, 2nd day will be Memphis Minnie’s I Don’t Want No Junk Out of You in D and lastly the Mississippi Sheiks original version of Sitting On Top of the World in F. By ear, no written notation provided.

THREE NOTE CHORDS – Gerald Ross
Confident beginner to intermediate, two-day class.
All you need to get that bluesy/jazzy sound. Just because the ukulele has four strings doesn’t mean you have to play them all! Many times, you can say more musically with two or three notes than you can with four. We will learn how easy it is to finger three-note chords that sound much more bluesy and jazzy than their four-note counterparts.  Simple blues songs will be used to demonstrate this very effective, very hip-sounding style.  No music theory needed, no music reading required, no knuckle-busting chord shapes to learn… just fun! Any sized uke tuned GCEA will work.

SINGLE NOTE IMPROVISING – Gerald Ross
Confident beginner to intermediate, two-day class.
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? Improvising is easier when you have a framework or blueprint to work from. We will explore single note and chordal ukulele improvisation in this class. We’ll learn tricks and techniques that will have you playing more than just chords.

HOW I ARRANGE A SONG – Gerald Ross
Confident beginner to intermediate, drop in.
A Master Class lecture/demo featuring an in-depth look into timeless standard All of Me. Gerald breaks the song down to its basics before ramping things up to jazzier chords and improvisations. Audience comments and questions are welcome during this entertaining demonstration.

INTRO TO CHORDS UP THE NECK – Gerald Ross
Confident beginner to intermediate, drop in.
We will use the classic song Blue Moon as an introduction to closed-position chords up-the-neck.  This song is a wonderful basis for learning the fingerboard map in all positions and all keys. The chord shapes taught can be used in any style 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.  

4 STRINGS AND THE TRUTH - Grace Van't Hof
Level 3, three-day class.
This progressive class will dive into the history and impact of Uke and Hawaiian guitar music in early 20th century String Band Music and track the evolution of that music into the genre of American Country music. We’ll talk about the impact of Jimmie Rodgers and his peers’ recording catalogs and how the music they made with Ukes blew open the doors to new sounds and ideas in early 20th century popular music. We’ll touch on old-time fiddle backup, the Nashville numbers system, and learn some finger-style soloing and rhythm techniques in the styles of country greats - all while learning a little bit about early American popular music from field recordings and early records in addition to fun facts from the dawn of the recording era.

PLAYING WELL WITH OTHERS - Grace Van't Hof
Level 2, drop-in, one day class.
This jamming boot camp will discuss how to join a group of brand new friends ready to collaborate and jam.

RAGGING THE UKE - Grace Van't Hof
Level 3, drop-in, one day class.
Techniques for developing an interesting and effective backup for ragtime tunes from the turn of the last century. (Banjo ukulele friendly!)

DADDY PLAYED BARI - Grace Van't Hof
Level 1, drop in, one day class.
Introduction to the baritone from a country lens. No experience necessary. We’ll learn three chords and a whole lotta truth.

CLAWHAMMER UKE – Jere Canote
Clawhammer is a rhythmic and melodic Appalachian banjo technique that works great on the Uke because of the high G! It uses a fingernail and the pad of your thumb on the right hand to create a “Hot Coffee” rhythm (AKA “Bum Diddy”).  Tab provided.

Day 1: Beginning! The all-important fundamentals, and getting the right timing. Level 1.
Day 2: For folks who have the basics.  Simple tunes, hammer-ons, and pull-offs. Level 2-3.
Day 3: More advanced techniques, and arrangements, up the neck melodies, and chords. Level 4.

AMERICANA FAVORITES! – Jere Canote
All levels, drop-in.
Favorite Songs from the Old Time, Country, and Novelty Songbook! From Deep River Blues to It’s My Lazy Day, to The Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me! Song sheets provided.

JOIN THE UKULELE REVOLUTION! - Marianne Brogan
Level 1, three-day class.
Looking for fun to last the rest of your life? Start playing the ukulele! This class is designed for the beginner. Class will be paced appropriately and will introduce you to a whole world of bliss! Topics include: How to hold and tune your ukulele, how to produce clear tones and how to practice efficiently. But wait - that's not all: how to build your chord library and studies in rhythm. Rhythm is perhaps the most important component of playing. Learning how to be the best rhythm backup player for your band of one, or band of many will enrich your musical experience. learn the fundamentals of strumming and finger style. Loaner instruments available.

 

Cost:

Tuition: $520

Private Dorm Room: $225

All Meals: $250

Lunches Only (3): $65

Scholarships
If you need financial assistance, Centrum has a robust scholarship program. Apply online as you register. Please note that except in rare cases, scholarships are available for tuition only. Centrum requires a deposit of scholarship applicants, which is fully refundable before March 23 if you are unable to attend. 

Cancellation/Refund Policy
Full tuition is due upon registration, $50 of which is non-refundable. No refunds of any kind are available after March 16, 2024.

Room & Board
Most participants stay in private dormitory rooms at Fort Worden. There are a limited number of double rooms, that is, rooms with two twin beds. If you’d like a double, please request one, and list another registered participant who has signed up for room and board in order to share that room. It is first come, first served.

Meals are served at Fort Worden Commons. 

Room and board final payment is due by March 16, 2024. We tend to run out of rooms as the workshop approaches, so if you’d like room and board we recommend signing up for it when you register.

If we haven’t answered all of the questions you may have, please contact Peter McCracken at 360-385-3102, x127, or peter@centrum (dot) org.

Are the Ukulele Festival workshops appropriate for my skill level?
The Port Townsend Ukulele Festival is a gathering appropriate for advanced-beginner, intermediate, and advanced players. The word “beginner” covers a lot of ground. Most offerings at the workshop are geared towards people who know more than a few chords, and are capable of changing chords smoothly and in rhythm. In 2024, for the first time, we are offering beginner level classes led by Marianne Brogan.

You’ll get the most out of your experience if you can do the following exercise in three different keys. Use a metronome!

At 60 beats per minute, play each chord four times (four beats per chord). Play the chords without diagrams, that is, by heart.

C – Am – F – G7 – C
It should take 20 seconds. Try it in these keys as well:
F – Dm – Bb – C7 – F
G – Em – C – D7 – G

If you can do this, then this workshop is for you! If you need to look up any of these chords, then you know what you have to work on (and master) before the festival starts.

If we haven’t answered all of the questions you may have, please contact Peter McCracken at 360-385-3102, x127, or peter@centrum (dot) org.

Find more answers - Centrum FAQs

Most of our workshops are family events, and we welcome musicians of all ages and abilities to participate. Our programming has annually evolved to meet the needs of very young musicians, and we devote considerable resources to this end.

If you are under 18, you must be accompanied by a registered adult. Please register the adult first, as you will need a confirmation number.

General Schedule

Thursday April 11, 2024
2pm: Shuttle departs from SeaTac Airport
4pm: Check-in starts at Fort Worden.
6pm: dinner
7:45: Late check-in at Wheeler Theater
8pm: Orientation

Friday, Saturday, Sunday
9 - 10:15am: Choice of classes
10:45 – noon: Choice of classes
1:30 – 2:45: Choice of classes
3:15 – 4:15: Serendipity Hour
4:30 – 5:30: Open Mic

Evenings
7:30: Friday and Saturday - public shows in Wheeler Theater
Sunday - Party in the USO

Monday, April 15
8am: Breakfast
9am: Shuttle leaves Fort Worden for SeaTac Airport
11am: Must be out of housing

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