Recap: The 2019 Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival

Recap: The 2019 Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival

Last Saturday, September 28, 2019, 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:

Getting Ready for the 2019 Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival!

Setting up at the 2018 festival

On Saturday, September 28, you can find me at the Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center. This week I’ve been focused on getting things in order for my vendor booth at the festival. My booth will be in the Marketplace, which is completely free and open to the public. Last year my booth was across the way from a group of talented musicians who were jamming the entire day, and it made the whole area feel like a party!

Wearing the new merch: an adorable ukulele necklace and a  Let’s Play  t-shirt.

Wearing the new merch: an adorable ukulele necklace and a Let’s Play t-shirt.

Visit the Marketplace

To find my booth, just look for the purple pop-up tent. :) This year I’ve expanded my offerings to include some fun new products:

  • My Christmas songbook — $12

  • NEW! Laminated chord charts — $5. Stay tuned for a whole separate blog post with a video on these and what makes them unique

  • NEW! Ukulele necklaces — $12, pictured at right

  • NEW! Let’s Play! t-shirts in women’s sizes — $24, pictured at right

I’ll also be running two beginner’s workshops, so my awesome friends (and ukulele players) Katie and Jane will be helping out at the booth. Come say hi!

Get Your Tickets

I love that this festival is truly a family-friendly event. Tickets are $45/person, $20 for students with ID, and kids 12 and under get in free. Buy your tickets today by visiting the Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival website.

 
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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!


Teaching Ukulele in the Classroom

Teaching Ukulele in the Classroom

Earlier this month I got to do something new—I taught a group of parent educators who lead music classes at their kids’ parent-participation school. The music classroom is already stocked with ukuleles, and the parents who lead the K-3 music program wanted to learn how to play the ukulele so they could share the fun with their students.

I led a beginner’s ukulele workshop designed to address their specific needs, covering the basics of how to play chords, how to strum, and shared tips for teaching ukulele in a classroom setting. We had a great time playing through six songs that will be fun for them to share with their students, and they knocked my socks off with their singing! I wish I had a recording to include in this post—they were harmonizing by the second song!

Here’s a review from Rosa, one of the women who attended the workshop:

A few other Moms and I took Melissa's Ukulele Workshop. Our children attend a Parent Participation school and we all teach music and were looking to pick up basics to better understand how to teach the uke. What a lovely experience! Melissa was thorough, concise, kind, and best of all, made learning a new instrument feel easy. We played several songs made up of just a couple of chords and troubleshooted basic hand shapes and positions that made playing chords so much easier. I highly recommend taking any lessons from Melissa, she's incredibly capable and was made to do this! 

If you’re looking for an easier way to teach ukulele in a classroom setting, or if you’d just like to take a lesson to see if the uke is for you, contact me and we can plan a workshop just for you!

A Q&A with Mitch Chang, Producer of the Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival

A Q&A with Mitch Chang, Producer of the Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival

Mitch Chang is an ukulele teacher, an event producer, and the brains behind the the Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival. Mitch’s vision for the festival “is to make it as easy as possible for families and ukulele fans of all ages, interest, and ability levels to discover/rediscover the ukulele where they will be supported and encouraged,” and he delivers! It’s an all-day extravaganza of performances, workshops, and fun. I taught beginner’s workshops at this year’s festival, and I was so impressed by what I saw that I wanted to learn more about the man who made it all possible. Thank you, Mitch, for giving me a peek behind the scenes!

Two Beginner Ukulele Workshops on November 18 in Torrance

My family and I are coming down to Southern California for Thanksgiving, and I’m so happy to announce that I’ll be leading two ukulele workshops while I’m in town! If you live in LA or Orange County, please come join me. The workshops are only $20/person, which is such a good deal! Here are the details:

Let’s Play! Your First Ukulele Lesson — Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 from 2-2:50 pm

AT OPUS MUSIC, 2219 TORRANCE BLVD, TORRANCE, CA 90501

I specialize in teaching people with little to no previous musical experience how to get started playing the ukulele. Regardless of your musical background, I’ll teach you how to play your first three chords and we will play four songs together. Here’s the workshop description:

Experience the fun of playing the ukulele in this workshop designed for brand-new players. Learn the basics of strumming and playing chords and start making music! No previous musical experience required. This lesson will cover the materials and songs from Part One of my book, Let’s Play! The Ukulele Handbook for Beginners (no book purchase is required).

Christmas Songs for Beginners — Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 from 3-3:50 pm

AT OPUS MUSIC, 2219 TORRANCE BLVD, TORRANCE, CA 90501

Does it feel a little bit too soon to be talking about Christmas music? That’s kind of the point! Join me for this festive workshop on the Sunday before Thanksgiving so that you’ll be ready when it’s officially time to trim the tree! Here’s the workshop description:

Get your uke ready for the holidays with this fun and festive workshop. We'll strum and sing several beginner-friendly Christmas songs so you can make merry and fa-la-la all season long! Prior to the workshop, I will email you a PDF of all the songs we’ll play.

No uke? No problem! If you click on the Register Now button, you’ll also be able to pre-order a starter ukulele kit, which includes everything you need to get started: a soprano ukulele, a digital tuner, a gig bag, a strap, and a copy of my book!


Have a question about either workshop? Ask away in the comments.

PS: A big thank you to Mitch Chang for helping me set these up. 

Recap: SF Uke-toberfest 2018

SF Uke-toberfest is an annual ukulele festival in San Francisco, and it consists of a day full of workshops, a marketplace area, and an evening concert. I was there with my fellow uke-mama Ashlee to host a Musical Mama booth in the marketplace. This was my second-ever festival, and I knew the vibe was going to be different from my first festival. For starters, Uke-toberfest is smaller, held indoors, and takes place in a completely different city with a completely different culture.

My day started before dawn, when I woke up to get ready, load up the car, and deal with a few surprises (like my son’s bloody nose!). Once things at home were under control, I drove over to pick up Ashlee, and we made our way up to San Francisco. WHAT. A. FUN. DAY! Most of my time was spent at the MM table, where I got to engage in some really great conversations with some of the workshop leaders, other vendors, and many people attending the event.

At my booth I had my book, free chord charts, free ukulele coloring pages, and a new offering: ukulele starter kits featuring Ohana ukuleles. Two highlights were the man who bought an ukulele starter kit for his sister (I won’t name names, on the off chance I’d blow the surprise, but seriously— what a sweet brother!) and Roxanne, a woodworker who bought the turquoise ukulele starter kit because she had been looking for a new hobby. Other highlights include getting to chat with Craig Chee, Ukulenny, Patrick and Eric from Kala, and the many, many kind folks who stopped by the Musical Mama booth.

I offer a heartfelt thank you to everyone I met with yesterday, and a big hug to all who purchased my book! NB: If you bought my book, please make sure you read the introduction to find the URL for the play-along videos.

PS: We recently set-up our kids with email accounts so they can stay in touch with family members, and that means they can also send a select few of us messages from the family laptop. They kept my spirits up by sending me texts like this throughout the day:

I’m still waiting for my daughter to explain what the poop-trophy emojis are all about

I’m still waiting for my daughter to explain what the poop-trophy emojis are all about

More emojis, more sweetness

More emojis, more sweetness

Getting Ready for SF Uke-toberfest 2018

Are you going to Uke-toberfest? The second annual festival, hosted by SF Uke Jam Leaders Cynthia Lin and Ukulenny, is happening this Saturday 9/27/18 in Japantown in San Francisco. The event consists of a full day of workshops covering a wide range of topics targeted for a variety of skill levels, followed by a concert that evening.

I’ll be there with my uke mama friend Ashlee, representing Musical Mama in the marketplace area. The marketplace is free and open to the public, so come check it out!

In the video, I chat a bit about what I’ll have available at my booth. I forgot to mention that I’ll also have free chord charts and ukulele colorings pages, too. If you’ll be there, make sure you come by and say hi!

SF Uke-toberfest at Hotel Kabuki, 1625 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115

Recap: The 2018 Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival

UPDATE: Several people asked when I planned to host another workshop in the area, and I hope to have an answer for them soon! I will likely be back in Southern CA in November and am currently looking into whether I can plan another workshop while I’m in town. I will post about upcoming events on the blog, and you can email me if you’d like to join my mailing list.

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The 2018 Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival took place on Saturday, 9/22 at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center. I drove down from San Jose (leaving my hubby and kids at home) on the Thursday prior, spent some time with my parents in OC on Friday, spent all day at the festival on Saturday, and drove home on Sunday. This event was the first time I’d ever led workshops at a festival and the first time I’d ever operated a vendor booth! I did my best to prepare for both, and I’m so glad I got to be a part of this unique event.

my only regret for the workshops was not getting more pictures and videos!

my only regret for the workshops was not getting more pictures and videos!

The Workshops

I have to say, teaching brand-new players how to play the ukulele is one of my all-time favorite things. It’s just so darn rewarding to show people that, regardless of their musical experience (or lack of it), they really can learn to play the ukulele. In the 45-minute sessions, I taught the groups three chords and five songs that are fun and easy to sing and play. Groups of friends, young couples, grandparents with their grandkids, parents with young children, tween boys… I think almost every age group was represented!

Thank you Louis and Ohana Ukuleles for sharing the bongoleles and shakerleles!

Thank you Louis and Ohana Ukuleles for sharing the bongoleles and shakerleles!

For the kiddos who were too little to play ukes, I had some rhythm instruments and trinkets I brought out throughout the workshop. Louis from Ohana Ukuleles very generously provided Shakerleles and Bongoleles for the adults and big kids to try out. Aren’t they beautiful? I’m particularly fond of the shakerleles, which are a more sophisticated take on the egg shaker. They feel so good in the hand and make such a satisfying sound when shaken.

Making music is so much fun when it’s a shared experience, and group jams are hard to beat. Thank you to all who attended my workshops. Thank you for sharing your time, your energy, and your beautiful voices! If you attended the workshop and want a PDF of my handout, please fill out my contact form and I’ll email it to you.

Jane and Katie. Aren’t they cute?

Jane and Katie. Aren’t they cute?

The Booth

My booth was in the marketplace area, which was open to the public. And conveniently enough for me, my booth was located right next to the room where my workshops were held, so most of my time was spent either in the workshop room or in the marketplace area. At my booth, we sold copies of my book and shared free chord charts and ukulele coloring pages. My friends Katie and Jane (both of whom are Musical Mamas!) helped me out all day, and they were AMAZING. I honestly couldn’t have done it without them, and I feel so grateful for their help.

I did get a few opportunities to wander around the festival and briefly check out the other workshops and performances, and everywhere I looked I saw people having a good time. This was true for the marketplace area as well. So many smiling faces and lovely conversations with folks of all ages and levels of experience.

Thank you to all who took the time to stop by my booth. It was great chatting with you! I hope to see you next year. :)

Getting Ready for the 2018 Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival!

This Saturday, September 22, you can find me at the Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center! I’ll be leading three Family Jam workshops and running a booth in the marketplace. This starts a new chapter for me as an ukulele teacher, and I’m excited to be a part of this awesome event. There are going to be so many good workshops and performances throughout the day, featuring Taimane, Aaron and Nicole Keim, Cynthia Lin, Ukulenny, Mitch Chang, and more.

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Jam with Me!

My family-friendly workshop is designed for beginners and brand-new players of all ages. In 45-minutes, I’ll teach you how to play and sing five songs that are fun for everyone! Workshops start at 10 am, 12:30 pm, and 3pm in the (air-conditioned!) Garden Room.

Kala is generously providing loaner ukuleles for anyone who needs one, and I’ll be bringing rhythm instruments for the littlest music-makers who attend. I’ll also be hosting a giveaway at the end of each workshop, meaning there are three chances to win a copy of my new book.

doing a test-run of my tent, tables, and banners in the backyard

doing a test-run of my tent, tables, and banners in the backyard

Visit the Marketplace

If you’re local and just want to see what all the fuss is about, the marketplace area of the festival is free! To find my booth, just look for the purple pop-up tent with the big banners. :)

At the booth, I’ll be selling my new book, Let’s Play! The Ukulele Handbook for Beginners at a special festival rate of $20 (normally $24), and I’ll also be handing out free chord charts and ukulele coloring pages. Since I’ll be teaching workshops throughout the day, I’ve enlisted the help of my awesome friends (and ukulele players) Katie and Jane to help me run the booth. I’ll be at the booth as much as I can between Family Jams.

Ohana Ukuleles, Uke Life, Tyde Music, and Nalu Ukulele are just some of the vendors who will be offering their wares on Saturday. I know that there are going to be so many beautiful instruments on display!

Get Your Tickets!

I love that this is truly a family-friendly event. Tickets are $45/person and kids 12 and under get in free. See the schedule and learn about the events by visiting the Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival website.