I teach ukulele in person (from my home in Derbyshire) and via Skype.
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I regularly run ukulele workshops at festivals and for uke clubs. The workshops I offer are listed below.
Here’s a quick guide to the levels of each workshop.
Beginner: Someone who has never played before, through to someone who has played for less than a year, and who can manage a few simple songs but might struggle sometimes to make quick chord changes, or keep a rhythm going whilst strumming.
Intermediate: Someone who can handle strumming along with an average ukulele club songbook, keeping steady tempo using a wide range of chords, including a few barre chords. They will also be getting a grip on some simple theory ideas, such as which chords work together and why.
Advanced: Someone who can play multiple inversions of chords, using barre chords and four-finger chords, is happy with the idea of playing chords further up the neck. They will also understand how the I, IV and V7 chords relate in several keys and be able to play with a rhythm pattern appropriate to the style of music.
Solid Strumming- a right hand workout: Developing a solid right hand, making it swing, the triple stroke, syncopation. We’ll start from first principles, giving you a good foundation on which we can then build more interesting and complex rhythms, and more ukulele-specific patterns like the triple and the split stroke. Newer players can get a lot from this one, as it will set you off armed with the good practice to develop your rhythm playing further.
Unlocking The Fingerboard: Using the whole fingerboard with just 4 shapes. Taking 4 familiar chord shapes and developing a system that can give you hundreds of chord options in all keys, and open the door to chord/melody playing. This workshop can be extended to ‘part 2’ for those who have either done the first part already, or who would like two sessions (ideally with a break in between!)
Jazzing It Up: Simple ways to take familiar chords and add more tonal ‘colour’. We’ll take a simple ‘uke songbook’ version of ‘I Got Rhythm’ and develop it into something that really sounds like jazz!
Arranging for Ukulele Groups: Bored with your group or club all strumming the same thing at the same time? Want to add more interest, colour, rhythm and polish to your playing? This is the workshop for you!
All levels (a mixed group is best!)
Fingerpicking: Everyone likes to strum their uke, but if you’re not fingerpicking it then you’re missing out! This workshop with give your right hand a workout, and covers ‘Travis picking’, banjo rolls, blues turnarounds, swing rhythms, ragtime runs, syncopation, chord/melody playing and campanella technique.
Intros and Outros:
It’s often said that if you can start and finish a song well, the bit in the middle will always seem better! Certainly if you start well an audience is more likely to pay attention, and if you finish well they’ll know exactly when to applaud. There are so many ways you can start off a songs and bring it to a close, but there are some tricks that will always work well. Some are bluesy, some are jazzy, some are simple, some are hard, but they all tap into the listeners expectations and use them to our advantage.
Old Time Ukulele Jam: We’ll learn three great old tunes, “Nine Pound Hammer”, “Trouble In Mind”, and “Deep River Blues”, each one in a different key, play them together, and develop them into songs you can perform. We’ll also take “Deep River Blues” a little further by adding a chord/ melody instrumental break.
Jug Band Jam: A great fun workshop! We’ll learn some standard jug band chord patterns and riffs that will have us playing great old songs by Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers, The Memphis Jug Band, The Hokum Boys, and lots of other songs that work in the same way, and then you’ll be able to write your own jug band song! Whilst these songs are not technically difficult, this workshop is all about injecting energy and fun into our playing and performances (whilst I sneakily teach you about the music theory behind them)
Intermediate. These songs are not difficult, and whilst we will try them in different keys, the chords used should be familiar to anyone who has ever strummed along with a ukulele club, so confident beginners will also enjoy this workshop.
The Circle of 5ths: A Musical Rosetta Stone! Discover why this simple diagram holds the secrets of transposing, working out chord progressions, playing by ear, songwriting, understanding key signatures, and how it can help you know what the next chord is going to be! You’ll learn how to listen to songs and second guess what’s coming next, work out songs from recordings in no time, and jam along like a pro.
Blues and Beyond: In this workshop we’ll look at the evolution of the blues from early riff-based forms to the 3 chord 12 bar pattern familiar to so many, but then we’ll go beyond into the beginnings of jazz. We’ll learn some classic blues songs, fat jazz chords, riffs and runs that really sound the business, whining string bends and double stops, and some killer endings and turnarounds (all without the tedious business of going down to the crossroads and selling your soul).
The Ukulele Player’s Bag of Tricks: Learn the tricks that the pros use to make their performances slick, original, exciting and interesting. We’ll cover passing chords, clever voicings, chord substitutions, rhythmic tricks, and ways of making people think you’re doing a lot more than you are! Shhh, don’t tell!”
Jamming Essentials: Discover the secrets of jamming and ditch the song sheets! Learn common progressions, what to do if everyone is playing in a different key, and loads of tips, tricks, and shortcuts that’ll have you playing loads of great songs without having to go searching for the chords on the internet!
The Novelty Swing of Slim Gaillard: Slim Gaillard was not only a great swing guitar and piano player and writer of some of the fun-est songs around, he invented his own cool jazz language! You’ll learn to swing hard on his classic songs, “Potato Chips,” “Dunkin’ Bagels,” and “Flat Foot Floogie”, plus learn a cool intro (and while you’re at it you’ll be learning a whole lot about how hundreds of other swing jazz tunes work). Bring your beret, it’ll be vout o’reenee!
Making the Most of Three Chords: Many thousands of songs have just three chords. The SAME three chords! In this workshop, you’ll look at how you can make those three chords sound more interesting and exciting by using chord inversions, new voicings, extensions, riffs, runs and a few other tricks.
Get Into The Groove! Make your playing stomp, swing, and groove, and get everyone’s feet tapping. We’ll cover; getting a solid strum, ‘chunking’, swing, muting, 3-string voicings, stabs and stops, and even funk. Guaranteed to make your playing 100% more danceable!
Clawhammer Uke: Clawhammer is an old-time 5-string banjo technique that, thanks to the high 4th string, also works great on the ukulele. We’ll learn the basic stroke, then add some hammer-ons and pull-offs allowing us to build up to playing a simple tune.
High G tuning required.
Clawhammer is a very different way of playing, so all players new to clawhammer can get something from this one, though it isn’t recommended for complete beginners unless they are very determined to master this style!
Complete Beginners: What it says on the tin! No experience necessary, and we’ll have you strumming a simple song or two by then end with no scary music theory.
If you would like a workshop for your uke club, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Thank you Phil for a great workshop, so enlightening, so inspiring”
“Great strumming workshop… thanks! Lots of homework now!”
“Terrific uke workshop… Helped a great deal with techniques I’m practising.”
“Phil’s workshop was brilliant. He has that rare ability as a teacher to explain complex things in such a way as to make things that had long been a mystery to me just ‘click’. He also provided a very thoughtfully put together handout so you can practice what you learnt in the workshop. Thoroughly recommended.”
“Phil’s workshops are some of the best in the business. He engages participants, inspired them and always manages to surprise them and helps them learn new and novel things during workshops. He is able to provide workshops across a wide range of levels and settings. His preparation is clear and of an exceptionally high standard and the materials he provides are top notch.”
“Our group hired Phil for two workshops and both exceeded our expectations. His relaxed and entertaining style had everyone at ease right from the start. Furthermore his experienced teaching methods catered well for our mixed ability group and as a result everyone gained immensely from both sessions. A great day was had by all. The scope of workshops offered covers nearly all aspects of ukulele playing and we would have liked to have participated in more than the two we chose. We therefore have no hesitation in recommending Phil to any other ukulele groups.”
Tony Lucas (tutor of Dam Ukes, South Shields)