FRIDAY WORKSHOPS – 3.45pm to 5.00pm

WORKSHOP 1 – Gerald Ross

The popular song Blue Moon is a fun song to play on the ukulele using basic open-string chords. However, using these chords does not achieve the sound and rhythm associated with a bluesy/swing beat. In this fun, easy-to-understand workshop we will learn a few closed position chords that will have you playing that correct swing sound. The material covered in this workshop is not exclusive to the blues/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.

Level: Confident Beginner to Intermediate
Johnston Room: Holiday Inn

FRIDAY WORKSHOPS – 5.30pm to 6.45 pm

WORKSHOP 2 – Ken Middleton

The aim of this Intermediate workshop is to learn ways of effectively starting and ending songs when performing them. We will find that it is so important to be able to make a song sound like it has actually started, and we’ll to learn different ways of ending the song so that listeners are left with a good impression of your performance. We will also examine ways of adding one or more instrumental sections within the song. Those attending this class will be expected to be able to play and strum confidently all the main chords in the most common keys (C, F and G). Come to the class with any wooden ukulele.

Level: Intermediate
Johnston Room: Holiday Inn

WORKSHOP 3 – Jim D’Ville

Everyone that takes up the ukulele wants to do one thing – play right now! Unfortunately, many students are taught to rely mainly on playing and singing from a songbook which then becomes an impediment to really listening to what is happening in the music. Jam By Ear is an interactive, play-along workshop and jam session designed to get people playing without a songbook.

All Levels
Crichton Church

SATURDAY WORKSHOPS – 9.45 am to 11.00am

WORKSHOP 4 – Mike Hind

We’ll talk about ways to actively and consciously improve different aspects of our performance, focusing specifically on strumming, dynamics and “twiddles”. Strumming is one of the basic fundamentals of what we do and, often, one of the things we work on the least, falling into a rut of one or two different “strum patterns”. We’ll work on how to get out of that rut and get our strumming more fluid and musical. One of the ways we’ll do this is by using Dynamics! This is the shading in music. The light and dark, the magic. Playing with dynamics makes a good performance great.
“Twiddles” are the forbidden secret! We’ll talk about using suspended and “added tone” chords to add interest to our playing, and why they work.

This workshop is aimed at intermediate players, folks with an understanding of basic chords and strumming, although beginners are more than welcome.

Level: Confident Beginner to Intermediate
Duncan Room 1: Easterbrook Hall

WORKSHOP 5 – Ken Middleton

The aim of this claw-hammer workshop is to learn the basic principles of the style, as well as to touch on and use more advanced techniques like pull-offs and hammer-ons, drop thumbing and alternate tunings. We will employ a number of simple well-known tunes to explore the style. This should enable the student to go away after the session and practise on their own, perfecting their skill over time. Come to the session with a reentrant tuned (high G) soprano, concert or tenor wooden ukulele.

Level: Advanced Beginner to Intermediate
Duncan Room 3: Easterbrook Hall

WORKSHOP 6 – Nigel Gatherer

This was so popular last year we decided to bring it back (but with different Scottish tunes)! Learn to play a couple of real dance tunes on the ukulele without being an expert. We will explore how simple ukulele chord shapes can be used to play simple but attractive tunes, and have a go at composing your own jig, reel or hornpipe – it’s NOT as hard as it sounds!

Level: Confident Beginner to Intermediate
The Mitchell Room: Holiday Inn

WORKSHOP 7 – Jim D’Ville

Free yourself from memorising Down-Up patterns! Starting with the basic index finger strum, Jim will quickly have your muscle memory absorbing fun strums like The Gallop Triplet, The Chunky Chop and many more strumming techniques that will spice up your playing. Learn to pick the melodies to your favourite songs without tab! This ground-breaking workshop is the first of its kind to use the solfege syllables to organically train your ears to hear and play the scale patterns where all the melodies live. Topics will include playing scales, arpeggios, rolls and fills, and of course songs! This workshop is the first step to being able to play anything that comes into your head!

All Levels
Johnston Room: Holiday Inn

SATURDAY WORKSHOPS – 11.30am to 12.45pm

WORKSHOP 8 – Craig Chee

Craig’s most popular workshop! Craig’s ever-adapting Boot Camp will dive into a tonne of exercises that will help strengthen and quicken your fingers as well as focus your tone. He will then show how these exercises are applied to intermediate and even advanced techniques to take you to the next level! Ukulele beginners to intermediates will have lots to chew on as there are many variations for all levels.

High G tuning (standard) recommended.

All levels
Duncan Room 1: Easterbrook Hall

WORKSHOP 9 – Sarah Maisel

This class focuses on popular progressions, including Doo-wop, Blues and Pop. With those we will also discuss holding the instrument, barre chords, and creating efficiency while playing. It’s a perfect class for the beginner and intermediate player.

Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Duncan Room 3: Easterbrook Hall

WORKSHOP 10 – Andreas David

In this workshop, Andreas starts by showing you the typical basic grooves for Latin and Reggae Music. You should be familiar with the basic open chords, as you will learn how to move these chord shapes around to find any other chord. Then, Andreas will teach you how to spice up these grooves with dead notes and right-hand percussion techniques. At the end of the workshop, you will be well prepared for the next Latin or Reggae jam session (or at least know what to practise to be prepared).

Level: Confident Beginner to Intermediate
The Mitchell Room: Holiday Inn

WORKSHOP 11 – Jim D’Ville

Get the most out of your ukulele experience by learning to Play Ukulele By Ear. This entertaining and informative workshop will give you the tools you need to tap into your innate musical abilities. Playing by ear is easy, fun and it will propel your understanding of how music works to a new level. This workshop will make you a better listener and student! Knowledge of basic chord shapes (C F G7) is helpful for this workshop.

All Levels
Johnston Room: Holiday Inn



WORKSHOP 12 – Stuart Butterworth

Taking Hey Good Lookin’ as a starting point, you will learn some simple yet effective left-hand techniques which will enhance your playing of this popular song. What’s more, you’ll be able to transfer these skills to other songs in your repertoire. As an Advanced Beginner/Improver you will already know, play and be able to link together easily the chords of; C, C7, D7, Dm, F, G, G7 and Am using any basic, four-beat strumming pattern. Singing whilst playing will not be a problem to you and you will be open to learning several new skills during this fast-paced workshop. Please bring your uke, your sense of humour and a smile! This workshop works with Soprano, Concert or Tenor ukes tuned GCEA. The G can be high or low.

Level: Advanced Beginner and above
Duncan Room 1: Easterbrook Hall

WORKSHOP 13 – Rob MacKillop

Fingerstyle playing is a wonderful way to play the ukulele, from accompanying songs in an interesting way (beyond strumming!) to playing self-contained solo pieces. This class will help lay the foundations for good right-hand technique, using simple exercises everyone can do. You will be expected to be able to read tab, and know at least a few basic chords.

Level: Confident Beginner
Duncan Room 3: Easterbrook Hall

WORKSHOP 14 – Liam Capper-Starr

This workshop will look at how to expand your basic calypso strum into 4 or 5 more advanced and more interesting versions, to bring life and groove to your songs. Bored of playing calypso the same way in every song? Then this workshop is for you! You will already be able to play the calypso strum (D DU UDU).

Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Mitchell Room: Holiday Inn

WORKSHOP 15 – Opera-lele

Ok, so we all know the form. You decided that you fancied learning an instrument and the ukulele seemed cheap to buy and easy to start. BUT – you never realised there would be so much singing! George & Mandi from Opera-lele will teach you some tips and tricks about singing while you play. Wear loose clothing and bring your ukes!

Level: Beginner – Intermediate
Johnston Room: Holiday Inn

WORKSHOP 25 – Jim D’Ville

The Beatles employed every trick on the Circle of 5ths to write some of the most ear-catching musical phrasings in popular music. In this workshop we’ll play snippets of over 25 Beatles songs and examine how they used the emotional values found in chords to write some of the most popular music of all time. Songs include Hey Jude, Nowhere Man, Let It Be, Taxman, Octopus’ Garden, Eight Days A Week, Rain and many more.

Level: Intermediate
Crichton Church

SUNDAY WORKSHOPS – 9.30am to 10.45am

WORKSHOP 16 – Sarah Maisel

This workshop is perfect for those who are comfortable with their basic chords and want to spread their wings into the Jazz realm. We will be covering some popular progressions and show you how easy, or hard you can make Jazz on your uke. There will be some theory covered in this workshop. Be ready to move quickly, and you’ll be surprised how much fun playing Standards can be.

Level: Confident Beginner to Intermediate
Duncan Room 1: Easterbrook Hall

WORKSHOP 17 – Phil Doleman

Developing a solid right hand, making it swing, the triple stroke and 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 good practice to develop your rhythm playing further.

Level: Beginners to Confident Beginners
Duncan Room 3: Easterbrook Hall

WORKSHOP 18 – Rob MacKillop

Using pieces from Rob MacKillop’s “Progressive Fingerstyle Studies for Ukulele” you will be encouraged to take your playing to another level. Two pieces will be studied in detail – with handouts given for those who don’t own the book – “Hawaiian Landscape With Rain”, and “How About A Little Blues?” Any other piece from Rob’s books can be presented.

Level: Advanced
Mitchell Room: Holiday Inn

WORKSHOP 19 – Gerald Ross

Have you ever wondered how musicians play just the right notes when it’s time to take a solo? Do they randomly pick notes out of thin air or is there some logic to the musical lines they play? Have you ever been to a jam session and when it’s time to take an instrumental solo everyone looks at you says “take it!”? We will learn what to do when that situation arises. It’s not as difficult or scary as you may think. You can do it! Single note soloing is easy. We’ll learn some tricks and techniques that will have you playing more than just chords. You will be soloing within the first fifteen minutes of the class – guaranteed!

Level: Confident Beginner and Above
Johnston Room: Holiday Inn

SUNDAY WORKSHOPS – 11.15am to 12.30pm

WORKSHOP 20 – Craig Chee

Craig loves showcasing how percussive the ukulele can be. We take a look at muting, scratching, golpe and everything in between, to bring a whole new element to your ukulele playing! A fun and addictive workshop to create more sound and texture with your ukulele.

High G tuning recommended.

Level: All
Duncan Room 1: Easterbrook Hall

WORKSHOP 21 – Phil Doleman

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). Some experience in reading simple tab and basic fingerpicking is helpful.

Level: Beginners to Intermediate
Duncan Room 3 Easterbrook Hall

WORKSHOP 22 – James Agg

This workshop is about promoting the ukulele bass as an instrument and helping people who have taken an interest in it to understand the role it plays in a music group and to ultimately get playing. The workshop is aimed to have something for people of varying abilities as I will be covering everything from the absolute basics right up to construction of a simple bass line. This will also be an opportunity to brush up on a little music theory. Participants are welcome to attend just to listen; equally if there are people who are confident ukulele players that want to assimilate some bass theory without actually trying it at the session, they are more than welcome to bring their own ordinary ukes to play along.

The Mitchell Room: Holiday Inn

WORKSHOP 23 – Andy Eastwood

Eliminating the obstacles that players run into after getting past the basics, this workshop deals with finger/hand/wrist/arm positions in detail to get everything working effectively and make a good sound! Are you holding the uke comfortably or is tension becoming a pain? Are your chord changes quick and smooth or are barre chords a bar to your success? Is your strum more stumbling than striking? We’ll find solutions and practise plans for every problem! Lots of demonstrations from Andy, and plenty of scope for discussion too – come armed with questions to ask!

Level: Intermediate
Johnston Room: Holiday Inn

SUNDAY WORKSHOP/BUS TOUR – 9.00am to 12.00

WORKSHOP 24 – Mersey Belles

Not exactly a workshop, but an amazing experience – the Mersey Belles will lead you in song as you visit some beautiful coastal beaches and villages. You will be busking on the beach. The Solway coast is known as the Scottish Riviera – many people are discovering this wonderful part of Scotland – who knew you could just turn left at Gretna instead of heading up the M6/M74? Bring your ukes, a bottle of water and your sense of fun.

Bus leaves prompt at 9.00am from outside Easterbrook Hall.
Toilets available at the beach.

Level: All

Workshop levels:

We love the choice of workshops this year and have some truly excellent workshop leaders. It can be hard knowing which workshops to choose. You might want to challenge yourself or go for something where you will feel completely comfortable with the pace. Above all we hope you not only develop your skills but have fun and enjoy meeting our exceptional workshop leaders and fellow participants.

We have tried to describe the level of player each workshop is aimed at as accurately as possible. Despite doing this, there may naturally be a difference in the participant’s and workshop leaders’, exact interpretation of intermediate and so on. Where possible the description of the workshops indicates exactly skill level and any pre-requisites.

We found this description of levels (slightly adapted) from Port Townsend Ukulele 2016 Festival useful:

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.

Confident/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.

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.

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.

Please note we have used the term Confident Beginner and Advanced Beginner – these are simply down to the choice of the workshop leader and how they like to describe their workshop.