Recap: The 2019 Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival

Last Saturday, September 28 was the day of the Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center. This was my second time at the festival, and it felt even bigger and better than last year! My involvement in the festival consisted of running a booth in the Marketplace and leading two beginner’s workshops. Here are some more details on both:

The Booth

Even though the festival is quite sprawling and spans multiple buildings and courtyards, I was mostly in one small area. But it was a very happy and busy nook to be in! My friends Katie and Jane were with me to help all day, and we met with and chatted with so many lovely people. Last year my only product for sale was Let’s Play! This year, I expanded my offerings to include a Christmas songbook, a chord chart (which will be coming to the Shop soon!), t-shirts (I might list them on the Shop page, too), and more.

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Booth Highlights

with Alissa Hunnicutt

with Alissa Hunnicutt

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  • Meeting Alissa Hunnicutt. I’d seen her on social media and was hoping to get to chat with her this year. And thank goodness I did! Oh my goodness, did she exceed my expectations! What a doll!

  • It was especially rewarding to be able to help people with the various issues they struggle with as they play— helping people tweak their hand positions to make chord changes easier, giving tips for folks dealing with arthritis, and talking about one of my favorite topics— the Nashville Number System.

  • It’s quite thrilling to be asked to sign your name, so thank you to everyone who asked me to sign their books! My kids were very impressed when I told them about that, and then my son asked me to sign a copy for him, ha!

  • Getting teased about my haircut! I had several inches chopped off over the summer but it hasn’t been a priority for me to update my headshots. So I got a kick out of the folks who gave me a gentle ribbing about using a picture of me with long hair in my notice about the workshops I was leading. Which leads me to…

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The Workshops

I taught two beginner’s workshops in the Garden Room, and we packed it in! One of the things I love most about the LA festival is that it’s so welcoming to beginners (if you know of other festivals that are beginner-friendly, please let me know). There were a few folks in my workshop who were playing ukulele for the very first time and Ohana even provided loaner ukuleles for anyone who needed one. Thank you to everyone who attended, and a big, big hug to everyone who sang while they strummed with me!

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The Raffle Winners

We also had three raffle winners! At both workshops and at my booth, folks could enter to win a copy of my beginner’s handbook. Congrats to Letycia, Mary Ann, and Leslie for winning!

Thank You!

Thanks to my hubby for holding down the fort while I was out of town.

Thank you to Mitch Chang, the festival organizer, for having me back.

Thank you to Ohana Ukuleles for loaning ukuleles at my workshops and being lovely people who make quality products.

Thank you to Jane and Katie for spending all day with me at the booth.

Thank you to everyone who took time out of their day to stop by my booth and/or attend my workshop. It means more than you know.

Let’s do it again next year, shall we?


I’m Melissa Stevenson, an ukulele teacher, and author of Let’s Play! The Ukulele Handbook for Beginners. On the Musical Mama blog, I post practical and inspiring tips for beginning ukulele players, free music-themed downloads, and video tutorials to make learning to play the ukulele as straightforward and fun as possible. Let’s play!