Workshop Advice & Etiquette



The biggest issue for us in presenting “Newbie” classes is the inconsistant use of the term itself. Who is a newbie?  Newbie Introduction to Ukulele is intended for brand new players and those who have played a bit, but still struggle with basic chords and/or strumming. All other “Newbie Pass eligible” classes (indicate in light blue on the schedule) are open to all, but may be too advanced for those who have just begun without any previous instruction. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the class, just be sure to take the “Intro” class first, and perhaps twice!

What to bring to all classes: Bring a ukulele and tuner, a notepad, and an erasable pencil. A music stand can come in handy but can also be cumbersome to set up in a crowded classroom, so we recommend a coat hanger with a swivel hook and clips on the bottom that will hold paper. You can hook this onto the back of the chair in front of you. SEE BELOW!


Bass guitars OK!
So you bought one of those cool bass ukuleles and don’t know what to do with it. Bring your bass uke and your questions. *Since bass ukes and guitars are tuned the same, this is the one class where it’s OK to use a bass guitar. But do NOT bring an amplifier! Unplugged is fine to learn the technique and keeps the audible playing field level.

All About Workshops

To get the most out of our festival workshops, strive to select workshops that match your abilities and interests and follow the classroom etiquette described below. This benefits you, your fellow workshop attendees, and our hard working instructors.

At registration, you will be given a badge and lanyard whose combination is color-coded to permit admission to all* workshops during the days you purchased. (*Newbie passes are only good for Level 1 workshops.) Please wear your badge while inside any workshop. Our staff and instructors periodically scan each class for proper credentials. Note: Only Earlybird/All-Access pass holders may attend “Earlybird Bonus Day” workshops.

Levels: There are 4 levels of workshops. These are suggestions to help you choose appropriate classes. Again, except for Newbie passes, any 1,2,3 day or All-Access pass allows you to attend any class you wish, from level 1-4.

Level 1: Newbies. See above.

Level 2, Intermediate: Been around the block a time or two. You have a good feel for lots of chords, maybe even in more than one position and certainly basic barre chords like Bb and D7. You also have a decent sense of timing with your strumming hand.

Level 3: Advanced Intermediate. You have Level 2 skills plus the ability to strum and finger pick a little in syncopated rhythms. You play chords in more than one position. You know a little basic music theory. You are good at barre chords in different positions.

Level 4: Advanced. You are all of the above plus… You are a quick learner and understand music instruction. You have a confident handle on techniques for both hands. You can play chords in multiple positions. You know some scales. You can pick individual strings at will.

You should consider the following when choosing a class: – What is your current playing level in relation to the class levels described below? – Will the topic be understandable to you? – What styles of playing and music are you most interested in?

1) REFRAIN FROM “NOODLING.” Do not make ANY noise with your ukulele when the instructor is talking! This can be difficult. After all, you are holding an instrument that is itching to be played! But it interferes with the ability of others to hear and can be distracting to your instructor, who is trying to give you as much information as possible in a restricted time frame. If you find yourself absentmindedly noodling and you receive some glaring looks or admonitions, cheerfully apologize. We’ve all done it.

2) Any non-Newbie badge permits you to attend any workshop, however that doesn’t mean you should attend say, a level 4 class if you fit a level 2 description. The material presented may be confusing or beyond your current playing level. That said, you are certainly entitled to attend whatever classes you wish. So if you choose to attend a higher level class rated beyond your level, please do the following:

  • Have an alternative class and location in mind, in case you decide the high level class is not for you.
  • Choose a seat that will enable you to leave without disturbing other should you decide to do so.
  • If you leave, enter your alternate class quietly. You may have missed the beginning but understanding the balance is preferable than being lost for the duration of the first class.
  • If you stay, adopt the role of a passive observer. With class time being limited, please allow attendees who are at proper level to ask the questions. All workshop rooms are close together. It is perfectly OK to quietly slip out of one class and into another!

Please understand that our instructors have a tough job. They must prepare for a class of unknown size and unknown abilities. Please do not challenge the instructor, argue, or make suggestions that may throw them off their game. This rarely happens but it has, and when it does it can make everyone in attendance feel uncomfortable.

There are brief descriptions in the Details section for each class on the schedule .

Handouts: We may not feature as many handouts as other festivals as we encourage technique-based workshops vs. “let’s play a song” classes. The thought process is that anyone can look at notes on a page, but how often do you get to have a pro show you how to do something? That said, sometimes a songsheet is used to demonstrate the technique. If a class will use a songsheet, there will be a link provided in the month preceding the festival and many emails and Facebook posts will be made to alert you to the availability of the handouts. IMPORTANT: You must download, print, and bring the songsheet. We have no way of knowing how many will attend a given workshop and after throwing out hundreds of copies several years in a row, we discontinued the practice of handouts. (There are also copyright issues sometimes involved with physical handouts.)

About Music Stands: Stands can be useful but in a crowded classroom may be cumbersome. If you want to bring one to a classroom, try to sit near an aisle. A swivel top clothes hanger with clothespins can be a good substitute. Just hook it onto the chair in front of you and clip any handouts to it. Play with it at home to make sure it works for you. Some need a piece of cardboard or backing to keep the paper from tearing through. 



How much data can you bombard your brain with and still remember what you’ve learned? If you have a one day pass, by all means, take as many classes as possible. However, if you will be with us for multiple days, consider taking a break to relax, decompress, or practice what you’ve learned. Many classes repeat from one day to the next so you may do this.

In Summation: I try to offer a “Create your own festival,” experience, with as much variety as possible, but there are only so many hours in a day. That means there will always be scheduling conflicts and choices to make. Sometimes you will want to take two classes scheduled at the same time. To remedy this, many classes repeat the next day, opposite the same other classes. If you take note of that, you can take both on alternating days.

I’ve always viewed the “unlimited workshop pass” like a ticket to Disneyland: There are too many options for you to be able to do them all–you can’t ride all the rides and see all the shows in one day. But over 2-3 days, you can do most everything you want.

If you have any other questions, feel free to email me at or text message 775-220-0995. I hope you have a great time!