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.


Music Alone Shall Live

Our good friends up in Hood River, Oregon, Nicole and Aaron Keim, also known as The Quiet American, have just published ‘A Ukulele Handbook for Beginners’ and I urge ukulele players in Tunes Nation and everywhere to visit their site and buy a copy. I read a pre-publication version and loved how Aaron and Nicole touched upon all the essentials a beginner needs to launch her/his own musical journey. They introduce ukulele strumming and music theory step-by-step — just what beginners need with a lot of fun songs to learn and play along the way.

For my group ukulele class here in Ashland, here’s a YouTube link to one of my personal favorites that they introduced me to, Music Alone Shall Live find here They show several variations, both the melody and chords, and hopefully their video will help each of you learn the song. Hearing them lead almost 100 people singing it at Tunes in the Dunes created one of those ‘highlight reel’ memories for me. Thanks, Nicole and Aaron for your music and also for this great new book.


Two Ukulele Songs from Música del Sol

In early 1999, two local bilingual educators, Pam Lucas and Carol Holm, asked me to record a series of children’s songs in Spanish. Together we created a tape cassette (really!) of 24 songs from Mexico, Central and Latin America, mostly small snippets, not the entire song. These tapes were purchased by bilingual educators and administrators to use in their classrooms all over Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. The snippets helped teachers recall the song’s melody and rhythm so they could lead their students. Recorded in July 1999 by Richard Williams at Lightsound Studios in Ashland, Oregon, these were the first songs I recorded on ukulele, played on Li’l Sistah, my 1950s all-koa wood, made-in-Hawaii soprano.

El Mes de Abril  Traditional | Bryan Holley, vocal and ukulele


Mi Gallo Se Murió  Traditional | Bryan Holley, vocal and ukulele

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

Music of the Spheres

This is the virtual place where I will be posting my thoughts on all the subjects and dimensions revolving around the Great Sphere of Music. Here’s my first post.

Recent advances in neuroscience technology have allowed researchers to observe and record human brain activity in real time. When they asked musicians to get wired up and play live, what they learned astounded them. Playing a musical instrument, it is now being verified by this research, requires contributions from multiple locations of the brain and exercises our brains in a unique way not matched by participating in any other artistic or sport activity. Watch the five-minute TED video to learn more here.