Ukulele Fundamentals | A Workshop for Beginners

Hello, Everyone,

I’m excited to share with you that on Saturday, March 12, I will be offering a workshop for beginners I’m calling Ukulele Fundamentals. It will be a 90-minute class from 5 – 6:30 at the Hilltop Music Shop in Ashland (the mall where Ashland Cinema is). All the details are in the flyer below and if you want to reserve a space, please contact me. I’ll collect the $15 fee at the event.

My focus as a music teacher has always been to help players learn fundamentally sound playing-hand and chording-hand techniques, and my private lessons and group classes are focused especially on exercises and techniques for beginners. Each participant will receive handouts, my chord chart and song charts as part of the workshop to help you keep building your ukulele skills after my class.


Kumu ‘Ukulele Irma Kahikina DiCenzo Coming to Ashland!

Hello, Ukulele Nation,

I’m posting this today so that all my friends, former students, folks who contacted me with interest in ukulele, and local strummers will know about an exciting and unique opportunity to expand your ukulele skills and horizons. For the last four years, I have had the privilege of studying Hawaiian music (via Skype) with a kumu (expert/teacher) ukulele who lives on Hawaii Island. And now I have the honor to announce that Kumu ‘Ukulele Irma Kahikina DiCenzo is coming to Ashland to teach an ‘ukulele workshop and to lead a Hawaiian-style kanikapila (jam session).

All the details are below. But please let me add that this rare event, when we will have a chance to talk-story and play ukulele with my wonderful teacher, will allow everyone to participate in the traditional, direct teaching of Hawaiian culture and music, that is, we learn from watching the kumu and trying to imitate her. Plus . . . Irma is fun and likes to laugh!

To reserve your space in the workshop and/or kanikapila session, or if you have any questions, please click on the Contact tab and send me an email. Also, note that Kumu has asked for a ‘sliding scale’ for tickets, and finally — all tickets will be sold at the door.


Ukulollo Is Coming To Ashland!

From out of the blue, more specifically Lucca, Italy, comes Ukulollo, Lorenzo Vignando with his percussionist partner Gennaro Scarpato to Ashland, Oregon for workshops and a concert! Thanks to The Haven, a new community and cultural center, local music lovers, and especially you ukulele players and you drummers, should mark May 5, 2015 on your calendar and come join in the fun. You can learn more about the Ashland events below, and more about Ukulollo at YouTube, where I found his version of Ravel’s Bolero (here) an amazing musical accomplishment and more proof, if any were needed, that in our hands we can use our ukulele to create almost every form of music.


Where Have All The Colors Gone

Over the last three years, we long-time Ashlanders witnessed a public project at our historic Plaza. What I call the Plaza Destruction project — the worst example of poor judgment and reckless use of public money by city councilors, a dismissive city administrator, a compliant mayor, and an incompetent city staff in the last quarter century — resulted in the removal of beautiful healthy mature trees and all the mature bushes. Then that natural beauty was “replaced” with colorless grey pavers that bring to mind the quad of a modern prison, concrete benches (yes, concrete), and “public art” in the form of tiny abstract mosaics that could be in an airport terminal and are best viewed by tiny people about 18 inches tall. A brave minority of local citizens tried to stop the madness of this Plaza Destruction, to no avail. I was proud to stand with a brave few who stood witness to the healthy trees being cut down, especially a young local woman named Lisa Alexander who had been leading the citizen effort trying to talk sense to business-compliant city councilors and who went to public meetings to beg them to slow everything down.

With so many unanswered questions about this ill-advised, heavy-handed “remodel” of our public Plaza, I urge you to learn more about what happened and why by coming to watch one of the first screenings of a new, local documentary film  ‘Where Have All The Colors Gone’. It was filmed and produced by Cici and Mark Brown whose two previous local films, ‘Two in a Million’ (about Dave Marston and Robin Lawson) and ‘Bowmer in the Park’ were accepted by the Ashland Independent Film Festival and shown in 2012 and 2013. Although entered, this film was not accepted this year by AIFF and a subsequent attempt to ask the Friends of the Ashland Public Library to sponsor the film was also declined. Happily, Havurah Shir Hadash will be hosting one of the first local screenings on Wednesday April 1 from 7 – 8:30 pm. A $5 donation is requested, refreshments will be served, and I will present live ukulele music to open the evening. I am also very proud to tell you that you will hear me making my music in the “soundtrack” to this excellent film.

In the photos below (courtesy Preserve Ashland’s Historic Plaza), you see Lisa communing with the Japanese maple on the Plaza before it was moved; Lisa on the cold December morning when we stood to witness the trees being cut down; yours truly standing by her; the two liquidambars standing alive on their last morning; and the stump and rounds a bit later — with photographic proof of healthy wood from the center to the bark (in direct opposition to the ‘spin explanation’ about the ‘poor health’ of these trees in legal testimony by senior city staff). As William Blake said, “The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing in the way.”


I decided to add a Subscribe feature to my site. It’s easy — just click on Subscribe on the right side of most pages, and when I post something new, you’ll get an email notification. I urge you to subscribe, especially if you are an ukulele player or one of my students, because that means you’ll automatically get an email when I post a new song tutorial.

Here’s an intriguing thought from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate.”

Tunes in the Dunes 5!

I’m thrilled to announce that I am honored to have once again been asked to join the amazing teaching faculty at Tunes in the Dunes 5 from September 18 – 20, 2015. Located on the northern coast of Oregon near Otis and Lincoln City, this unique ukulele camp is held at Westwind, a former YWCA camp of almost 500 protected acres at the edge of wild America. Trust me, a weekend at Tunes can transform you and your ukulele playing — that’s just what happened to me!

Check out this year’s great faculty and learn more at the Tunes in the Dunes site.

Tunes 4 group pic on the beach at Westwind

Tunes 4 group pic on the beach at Westwind September 2014 | Photo by Duncan Berry

Beginning Ukulele Lessons at The Haven in Ashland, Oregon

Come on down to my ukulele classes!

Join me for my beginners’ classes at The Haven
Thursdays from 5:30 to 6:30 pm.

Find out more at

Live at The Haven, October 2014

Live at The Haven, October 2014 | Photo by Barbara Williams