Here are our 2023 Las Cruces UkeFest workshops! There is no need to sign up in advance — simply head to the workshops you’d like to attend. However, if you do want to take part in the glockenspiel workshop and haven’t yet told us, please email so we have enough. Workshop descriptions are below the schedule.




Bass Uke: Intro to Latin Patterns
Add some Latin spice to your next jam with interesting and easy to learn bass patterns that are useful in all styles of music. Helpful for more advanced ukulele bassists as well as those with limited (or no) bass experience.

Practice Made Perfect
One cannot improve on any instrument without practice. But how often do we seem to work long and hard with little to show for all our time and effort? Effective practice is an elusive beast, an art in and of itself. This workshop will help you learn to make the most of your precious practice time by developing strategies to maximize effectiveness in your sessions so that you actually see results.

Rockin’ Out with Ukulele Power Chords
What do great rock songs like “You Really Got Me,” “All Day and All of the Night,” and “Smoke on the Water” all have in common? Power chords, of course! This workshop will teach you the ins and outs of using power chords to expand your chordal palette, add more color and, of course, generate smokin’ rock and roll riffs. You will not only learn how to play the most common power chord shapes but also how to apply them immediately to well-known songs as well as how to use them to enhance your everyday jamming. Put your best “jam face” on and come join us!      


All of Me
Why not take all of me?  It’s a wonderful opportunity to explore and learn this iconic tune with Daniel Ward and discover all its lovely jazz changes without getting lost! And, since the tune itself travels through several different keys, you’ll start to get a feel for how the dominant chord can take you places you didn’t know you wanted to go!  And you’ll be learning some basic jazz strumming techniques at the same time. By the end of the session, you’ll not only have a new tune under your belt, you’ll also have a pocketful of tricks to apply to other songs of the genre. Can’t you see? You’re no good without this.

End Game
What if you could learn songs without making mistakes? It sounds crazy, but learning a song backwards is one of the smartest things you can do. In this workshop, we will learn a short piece of music starting with the last phrase and backing up one at a time. By the time the song is learned, you will already know the path to the end. Once you feel just a couple of phrases come together, the magic of this method will reveal its deep power.

In this workshop, we’ll learn two short traditional songs in the flamenco style named after the town they came from…Sevilla. There are hundreds of these songs that all share the same form. They are easy to learn and combine a tasty right-hand strum with Spanish melodies. They can be played solo or as a duet or group as well and will lead to hours of fun long after we class is over.


Ukulele From Scratch
NEWBIES (and people who would like to teach them)
This recipe uses only two ingredients: you and your new uke! We will start making music together right away, adding one skill at a time until you can play literally hundreds of songs. It seems too good to be true, but that is the magic of the ukulele. Heidi Swedberg loves working with absolute beginners, making the complicated simple and fun, and sharing their joy of musical discovery. Gestalts and laughs a plenty. Let’s get cooking!

Pentatonic Pleasures: Haikus and blues
Mastering the 5-tone pentatonic scale is an important piece of music theory to have under your belt — it is a tool for soloing and is especially helpful in playing the blues. This class includes composed songs with haiku lyrics that will get the scale under your fingers, and apply it to playing the blues in A.

I Get A Round
Cannons, commonly called “rounds,” are magic! Short and simple enough to learn quickly, they are a fantastic challenge to sing, for they force one to hold pitch against other voices, creating counterpoint harmony. The simplicity of the melodies is a perfect challenge for players wishing to play single-note lines. The songs may be small, but the challenges and rewards are huge! Participants can sing, play, or do both!

Meditative and soothing, lullabies are amongst the oldest musical forms- they are truly an essential worker.  In this class we will learn songs from around the world in a variety of keys and time signatures, with lyrics in many languages (and sing-able English language versions too!) Simple rhythmic ukulele accompaniments are within the grasp of beginning students as well as interesting to more advanced players.


Fun With Strums
Once you know a chord or two you can play hundreds of songs, but they will all sound the same until you learn to have FUN WITH STRUMS. Easy rhythmic variations will give your playing style! Don’t let the up-and-downs bring you down: Island Style, Latin Slap, and Do-Wack-A-Do are for YOU!

Beat It!
​​Four-on-the-floor, Bo-Diddley, Backbeat, Shuffle…You may never tune your strings again once you learn to play these rhythms ON YOUR UKE. John Bartlit distills his 30 years of experience as a sought-after drummer into essential rhythm parts you can play using only your body and your ukulele. Explore a new way to enjoy your instrument and become the backbone of your ensemble by taking over the drum throne!

Rock the Glock: Expand your musicality with mallets
Optional materials fee of $40 allows you to reserve a glockenspiel TO KEEP!

Learn how to add the magical sound of the glockenspiel to your songs and gain some knowledge of music theory, too. This class introduces you to an instrument that has a lot in common with the ukulele: it’s portable, accessible, fun and addictive.

You will gain a greater understanding of how keyboards, stringed instruments, and percussion instruments work. Plus, you will be able to play a melodic line, find harmonies, and create accompaniments, adding a cheery chime to your uke group!

There will be a limited number of instruments available to share in class, also available for purchase.



Saturday – You Sound Amazing (especially with a band!)
Ever wonder what it would feel like/sound like to have a crack band backing you up? Bring a chart of your song and your confidence and find out. Practice your song with the band, and then perform it at Saturday evening’s open mic/jam session.

Sunday – Sea Shanties: Classic songs of the sea in four-part harmony
The Smoking Jackets invite you to raise your voice in a rousing chorus with us! The shanty craze during the pandemic revealed the power of these simple ditties. The joys include singing songs as old as the ocean which don’t require memorization, learning to find vocal harmonies using your ukulele as a guide, and the pleasure of group singing. These are songs you will love to lead from the helm of your own uke yacht!



Local musician and music teacher Joe Seltzer will provide an introduction to his Great Rhythm course because every musician needs to have rhythm! Participants will each receive a copy of Joe’s book to keep them moving forward so they can say with confidence, “I’ve got rhythm!”


At the 2022 Las Cruces UkeFest, attendees at Della’s workshop were amazed to discover that with just a few easy modifications to their breathing and other techniques, they could sing better and with a wider range, all while having a great time! Della is a music and voice instructor who also performs. Come find out how much better you can sing with just a little help.


CRAIG MCCLELLAND Bass Uke: Intro to Latin PatternsBEGINNER +Add some Latin spice to your next jam with interesting and easy to learn bass patterns that are useful in all styles of music. Helpful for more advanced ukulele bassists as well as those with limited (or no) bass experience. Practice Made PerfectALL LEVELSOne cannot improve on … Continue reading Classes


This is the weekend’s overview for the full festival. Friday, May 19, 2033: Doña Ana Community College East Mesa Campus Auditorium 6 p.m.: Registration begins 7 p.m.: Concert Saturday, May 20, 2023: Doña Ana Community College East Mesa Campus 8:30 a.m.: Registration begins; Marketplace and Ukulele Swap Meet (sell your “old” ukes and related items such … Continue reading Schedule

Workshop Materials

This year (because the website is being a bit troublesome) we’re posting the handouts in a Google Drive folder. You can access the drive here and download the handouts your need. Please remember that these are our instructor’s intellectual property and are for the use of UkeFest participants only. If you have trouble with the … Continue reading Workshop Materials