Here’s the exciting list of workshops we’ll be offering at Las Cruces UkeFest 2017! Some changes may be made as we refine our plans, but you can get a good idea of what classes you can take in Las Cruces. If you’re a beginner, we’ll have lots of workshops for you…and we’ll even loan you a ukulele for workshops if you haven’t purchased your first one yet! (Vendors will be on hand to help you with that, too!)

Jim Beloff

At the Ritz: (intermediate/advanced): A challenging but revealing hour of working through the unique beauty of standards arranged by the father of the jazz ukulele, Lyle Ritz.

Advanced Beginner Ukulele workshop: For those who know a handful of chords and a basic up/down strum, here’s a chance to take your skills to a new level. Another half dozen or so well-known songs will be played while learning more chords, new fingerings, new strums, a picking pattern, reading ukulele tablature, transposing on the fly and performance tips and techniques along the way. Note: This is a two-part workshop taking two time blocks.

Beatles Jam (advanced beginner): An hour of strumming through a bunch of Beatles songs with periodic stops to extol the songwriting genius of the Liverpool lads and a bit of history behind each song. Also the story about the day George Harrison came to our house. What a great way to wrap up your weekend of ukulele fun in Las Cruces!

Danielle Ate The Sandwich

How to Play the Ukulele Knowing Hardly Anything About Music (beginners): A great class for beginners who don’t have previous knowledge of music or the ukulele. We will move slow and accomplish small goals to improve your confidence and skill as new player!

Performance Skills and Playing with Confidence (all levels): Learn techniques to help improve your performance, whether practicing at home, in front of your ukulele group, or at a sold out show in Madison Square Garden! Learn ways to perform thoughtfully, develop a stage persona and even get the chance to play in front of the class during the class mini open mic! This is a great chance for shy players to gain some experience in a fun and friendly environment.

Singing with the Ukulele (all levels): If you love to play the ukulele and want to practice your singing skills, this workshop can help! As a group, we’ll work on warming up and bringing out your best singing voice, as well as tricks to to compliment your ukulele playing! We will learn and play a few easy songs to leave the focus on our breathing, phrasing and vocal skills! All levels of players and singers are welcome!

Heidi Swedberg

Freight Train (Beginner and up):  Learn a great American folk standard, add second position chords and a classic Travis pick.

Somatics: Finding and Freeing Your Voice: Explore the mind-body connection as you release tension and connect with your voice. Learn techniques used by actors and musicians to re-program your primary instrument from the inside out.

Fun & Games: Ukulele is a social instrument. This workshop brings us all together to have fun. Learn some simple games with roots in Africa and the American south. Play, sing, and enjoy one another’s instruments and company in a no-stress, all-levels-welcome (no uke necessary) environment. Be prepared to laugh and have a great time! (Children who attend the Kids’ Workshop are also welcome to attend this workshop.) We’ve scheduled this workshop last and all by itself, so we encourage everyone to attend and have some ukulele fun as a group.

Daniel Ward

Finger-style Fiesta: In this workshop Daniel Ward will take you through several right-hand fingerpicking styles from around the world. From the very simple arpeggio to the fancier sounding picks, we will look at how to break each of the patterns down into simple loops so they can be learned quickly and practiced till they bloom. Spanish style right hand patterns, Latin montunos, and even the straightforward folk styles including the “travis” pick will be covered. Serious fun, and a nice new bag of tricks to take home.

 The “Windmill” (triplet strumming): Not the Pete Townsend version! We’re talking Roy Smeck, and all that crazy flamenco rasgueado strumming that gets your blood running.

In this workshop Daniel will break down the forward and reverse triplet strums that seem so incredibly difficult and fast. That fact is, there’s a key to the basic movement that, with a lot of carful repetition, will get you there every time. Once you see it and learn these movements you will be adding a brand new spice that can be used in any song to enhance the music… or even just show off a little!!

 Loop Station: Here is a new workshop that has spun off from the successful “uke meditations” track that many of you may remember. Daniel has written some new material meant for “looping” over and over while blending tone, rhythm, and right hand patterns with new chords, melodies, and musical dynamics.

This workshop will follow the model of playing slowly through the material over and over until it starts to sink into your bones, so you can use it for warm-ups and to “center” yourself on the instrument.

Gorton Smith

Gospel According to Uke (All levels): Sunday morning kicks off with a fun sing-along featuring traditional gospel music, led by Las Cruces Ukes’ own Gorton Smith, a retired pastor. He has led this session for two years at the Albuquerque Ukekopelli Festival.