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terrgy
09-15-2015, 09:15 AM
I am in the process of forming a new (and only) ukulele club in Albany, GA. I have studied the internet on forming a club, but I thought maybe some of you might offer me some advice. I really like knowing "what doesn't work".

I am running a free ad, every Sunday, in our local paper, under Community Calendar. After the 3rd week of running it, I've had 3 to respond, expressing a genuine interest.

By the end of the week posters should be ready from the printer, to place in two local music stores (we only have two). The store managers seem to be excited about this club, I guess, hoping to sell some ukes. Both even offered to allow us to use the store for our meetings.

I plan to hold the first meeting the first or second week of November. I figure to have that locked in no later than the middle of Oct., or earlier.

With the signs and the ad continuing to run, hopefully we'll have more takers, but if there are only four to start, including myself, then I'm certainly going to go for it.

One other thing, all four of us are "entry level" ukulele players. I just started playing uke in May. But I have practiced just about every day since May, and can move about in C, C7, G7, G, D, F, Dm & Am, pretty well.

While I have experience teaching Mountain Dulcimer, & I feel confident I could help a beginner get started with a uke, I am sure hoping someone with several years experience with join our club.

Anyways, wish me luck, and if you have anything to offer, please do so.

Thanks
Terry

PhilUSAFRet
09-15-2015, 09:47 AM
Here's a good place to start. Hopefully, you'll year from some folks that have actually "started" a local uke club who can share their hurdles and successes. I have explored the possibility closer to where I live and the biggest obstacle seems to be finding a place to meet on a regular basis.
The club I belong to has beginner's lessons followed by a general strumalong. Check out www.meetup.com for once source to publicize your meeting and function as your club's "website." Next, visit as many uke club sites as you can to see what they are doing for ideas. You may want to start with something like "The Daily Ukulele" as a source of relatively easy-to-play songs to get you started. Many clubs email song choices for each meeting so members can practice them before the "meetup."
https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=how+to+start+a+ukulele+club

Many uke clubs provide downloadable song books that they have put together. No shortage of free information online:
http://ukulelehunt.com/2010/03/10/ukulele-clubs-and-groups/ here's this site's ideas on starting your own uke club:
http://ukulelehunt.com/2009/02/25/ukulele-group/

As a side note, I was stationed in Albany in the early 60's and spent much time fishing in the gorgeous Flint River and hunting. Enjoyed my tour very much.

bunnyf
09-15-2015, 10:02 AM
I have a couple years running a uke club and I guess I have a little insight into some things that just didn't work (at least for me). Some folks would come as absolute beginners (know zero chords or how to tune). In a jam setting with anymore than a few players, you just can't spend the time teaching this. It's just no fun for anyone else. They have to be motivated enough to scope some info out in advance. As the group grows, it becomes a pain if you are printing out all the music but it is hard to get members to print it out themselves and bring it. That's why some groups use the Daily ukulele. Another problem is if you have few or no singers in your group, you will need to be prepared to lead songs. Be sure that the easy key you like to play in is also one that you can sing in. Depending on the range of the song, I find it often challenging to sing in C and many easy uke tunes are in C. I love, love, love to play and envisioned something like Ukulele Wednesday's (London based club that meets in a pub), singing fun, hipper songs. But that wasn't how my group somehow evolved and it stopped being fun for me, so I passed the baton. Have a vision and try to see that vision come to life, if you want to enjoy your group. I just jam now with guitarists at a local jam circle and am having more fun doing my own thing. I can play Psychokiller and someone else will get it. I'm not stuck in the Five Foot Two rut. Good luck with your group (sorry if I came off negative), hope there were some tips mixed in.

terrgy
09-15-2015, 10:59 AM
bunnyf, you didn't come off negative at all. Just real.

What I am dreaming up in my head, is to set a goal with the group, and that is to learn a set of songs, say 15, over a period of time, and prepare ourselves to perform as a group in the community.

Again, in my head, to just go and strum and sing, with no goal in mind, I think things may would get boring. Even though I am an older guy (69), I am still goal oriented, always thinking ahead. I have spent a lifetime in this gear, and it's very difficult to change. Don't want to change. At the first meeting I plan to give my vision for the club.

I would welcome beginners. I figure beginner instruction for the first 30 min. Promptly too. I'll stress to them that if they want to progress with the group, then they need to really do some practicing the songs prior to the meeting. I discovered with teaching dulcimer, some are really lazy and some are really excited and will work. The lazy quickly vanish. And it's sad.

Yeah, I like what you had to say, very much so.

Thanks!

Brian1
09-15-2015, 11:04 AM
I have not started a uke club, but I am part of a non music related group that meets every Monday Night without missing a meeting for about 12 years.

The important thing for our group is that nobody was in charge- other than someone once said we meet here every Monday night and everyone is welcome. (that was it) We have regular attending people who would be equivalent to not owning a ukulele (But of course ours isn't a music group) to people who are very experienced.

The one thing I Notice about uke groups is that people show up play and leave. In our group people show up (whenever they like on monday) and they stay as late as they want. I think the most important thing is to talk to each other and become friends with each other in the group.

Another important thing I think of that destroys groups are people who remain in charge... Share as much responsibility as you can. IF the "key guy" has a wife and she has a baby that means he won't be making the meeting every week. IF the "key gal" gets a job out of state the entire group will fall apart. So take turns, rotate leadership as often as possible, or do whatever it takes to make sure if one person expected to be in charge doesn't show up or can't make it that someone else can take their place.

Maybe If you have a small group you can go around in a circle and each person leads one song. (allowing anyone to pass to the next person) But if you do this make sure you have enough music to lead the group yourself.

I think the biggest problem any group or club can have is a "leader" who thinks they are in charge... The opposite is actually true. The lowest ranking person in a group that works is the leader, but a group that works also respects people equally regardless of their position, and the best way to help the low ranking leader is to offer to demote yourself to a position where you can offer him or her the help he or she needs.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
09-15-2015, 11:32 AM
lots of good ideas here.

just my 2 cents worth, if you have a dream, try to get it very clear in your mind, precisely what you want to accomplish.
Then invite others to come join you. They may or may not share your vision so be prepared to see people come and go.
try to find out what they were looking for from the group and work out for yourself if you can go along with them or
if it truly does not fit your vision/dream. In other words, I think it's good for the impulse person or people to have a general
idea of what they want to have happen in their group.

If you are going to have 30 mins of beginner instruction at the start of every meeting, be prepared for late arrivals who may
not want to have to wait or work through what they think they already know :) If they consider themselves beyond Beginner,
they may opt to come 30 mins later for the 'real' meeting :)

if you are going for a song circle, I think it is important to have a good song leader who knows the song and can confidently
lead it, whether anyone sings along or not, esp if they are beginners who need to focus mostly on the chords and chord changes.
Not having a strong song leader can possibly kill a group because everything will seem tentative and most will not want to stand
out in the group for fear of sounding bad or giving the impression that they are trying to take over. By strong song leader I simply
mean someone who is comfortable with the selected songs, who can carry a tune with good volume and proper timing for the group
to follow.

Regarding taking turns leading, I'd suggest that that be entered into gradually. If some are not ready to lead you might scare them
off. Some will never want to lead, or to even select a song - for whatever reason. They prefer to simply go with the flow with leadership
coming from others. And that's OK, at the beginning :)

Selecting the 'right' keys for the songs is important for the song leader to be able to sing with confidence and volume and without
having to strain their voice during the duration of the session. Will you have amplification for the vocals? that might help... a lot!

if you need some help with the initial song selections, PM me and I will see what I can do to assist :)

keep uke'in', We're pulling for you!

acmespaceship
09-15-2015, 01:47 PM
Variety is the spice of life -- and the lifeblood of a uke club. The clubs around here mix it up with a range of genres and skill levels. In a given evening, we'll play a dozen easy songs (3 or 4-chord) and a handful of more challenging songs. Anybody can bring a song and lead the group for that song -- which makes for a more interesting range of music and also shuts up the complainers ;-)

While the group is small and everybody's at entry level, there's not much to worry about. Bring some drinks and snacks if the venue allows; it helps to keep the vibe more like a party than a classroom. Encourage everybody to play on every song, and get them to sing! When you find a song everybody sounds good on, play it again.

Eventually, some people's skills will progress faster than others, and somebody will want the group to perform at a local event while other people are scared to play in public, and the tab binders will be full to bursting and the place where you meet will be too small and so it goes. Cross those bridges when you get there.

KaraUkey
09-15-2015, 05:11 PM
Some great info here from all of these folks. I started my group in 2012. We now have around 340 plus members.
It's a meetup group (I also have another older non uke related meetup group with nearly 2000 members, so it was an easy choice). The website makes it easy to handle the organisation of meetings and communicating with members. Absolutely worth the little it costs. Better than that though, is that meetup presents your new meetup group to all the other meetup members in the area. It is, and was, the only promotional activity I used.

As for the songs. I always include a fair number of easy 3 - 4 chord songs usually in C to get everyone involved. I started with printed booklets, (and still have a few for download from my website), then moved on to projected pdf files and now use KaraUkey, but that's a whole other story. Like you I'm in my 60's and love my uke group and all the things we now do. Good luck with it. The whole process is a lot of fun.

terrgy
09-16-2015, 03:35 AM
I just wanted to say thank you to all who responded. No kidding, each reply included at least one or more nuggets. Even Brian1 comment about "no one in charge". While I disagree, it did remind me that I need to be sure to share responsibilities, and be gentle in my approach. Fun should be the main theme. Brian1, sometimes we mistake "being in charge", kind of like a drill Sargeant, to someone who simply "keeps things organized", and running smoothly as possible. Until moving from the state, I used to belong to an Indian artifact club. Perhaps 20 regular members. While no one was officially in charge, we had this really super retired lady who brought the meeting to order and kept things moving. Brian1, the great thing about what you had to say is you sure gave me some "food for thought". Seriously. My wife tells me I am a control freak, so I have to be careful. That's why I value what you had to say. Thanks.

I am thinking once a month meetings. I would like to get some feedback on this idea.

hendulele
09-16-2015, 04:49 AM
I second the idea of using meetup. Our group in Raleigh started two years ago, and we've gotten many newbies from meetup. If there's a regional nonprofit organization that supports or promotes traditional or folk music (even if it's based in Atlanta or Columbus or Savannah), try to get a notice posted in their newsletter or on their website. That's how I found out about our jam.

Also, solicit song ideas, and ask people to bring enough copies of new songs so that everyone can learn them. Our songbook has about 100 numbers in it, roughly half generated by the members over time. (The leader of our group keeps the songbooks and brings them to each session. That way, all anyone really needs to bring is a uke and, if possible, a music stand.)

And yes, someone must be in charge of the group overall and most certainly in charge of each meeting. Otherwise, you'll never play anything. Even when we have as few as eight or nine people, unless someone is expected to lead, things get chaotic very quickly.

Once a month is good to start, but if enthusiasm picks up, add a second meeting. We meet on the first and third Thursdays. On those months with a fifth Thursday, it's open mic night, which is challenging for those of us who aren't that experienced, but a lot of fun before a very sympathetic audience.

Good luck and keep us posted!

hendulele
09-16-2015, 04:54 AM
One more thing: Start a Facebook page or a blog so people can find you on the web.

FYI, here's the table of contents to our songbook. It's a year old, and we've added may three dozen more songs.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-tQMPgVoRDDcjh3Q3JQZFNuWGs/edit?usp=sharing

Rllink
09-16-2015, 05:01 AM
I think that four people is a great start. I can see that number growing. As far as singing is concerned, I was jamming at a ukulele festival once, and if the woman who was running the show couldn't hear someone singing, she would call on them choose the next song and start it out. That actually was one of my first experiences in actually singing with a group, which was way out of my comfort zone at the time, and believe me, after getting called out a couple of times, I was singing loud and clear. And I liked it. So that might be something you incorporate.

terrgy
09-16-2015, 07:36 AM
While I know that I don't have a great voice, I still love to sing, oh how I love to sing. I've performed out eight times this year, campgrounds, churches, assisted living homes and a funeral. My wife tells me to not worry about my singing, just continue to make people laugh and have a good time. I never played an instrument or sung out, until I turned 65, 4 years ago. My wife tells me I am in my prime and just getting started. It's great to have a good wife, who doesn't mind stretching the truth a little, to make her old man happy. She's a keeper.

Rllink
09-16-2015, 07:44 AM
While I know that I don't have a great voice, I still love to sing, oh how I love to sing. I've performed out eight times this year, campgrounds, churches, assisted living homes and a funeral. My wife tells me to not worry about my singing, just continue to make people laugh and have a good time. I never played an instrument or sung out, until I turned 65, 4 years ago. My wife tells me I am in my prime and just getting started. It's great to have a good wife, who doesn't mind stretching the truth a little, to make her old man happy. She's a keeper.I think that a lot of people feel like they have to sing like someone else to be good, when actually they just have to sing like themselves to be good.

Brian1
09-16-2015, 09:21 AM
I just wanted to say thank you to all who responded. No kidding, each reply included at least one or more nuggets. Even Brian1 comment about "no one in charge". While I disagree, it did remind me that I need to be sure to share responsibilities, and be gentle in my approach. Fun should be the main theme. Brian1, sometimes we mistake "being in charge", kind of like a drill Sargeant, to someone who simply "keeps things organized", and running smoothly as possible. Until moving from the state, I used to belong to an Indian artifact club. Perhaps 20 regular members. While no one was officially in charge, we had this really super retired lady who brought the meeting to order and kept things moving. Brian1, the great thing about what you had to say is you sure gave me some "food for thought". Seriously. My wife tells me I am a control freak, so I have to be careful. That's why I value what you had to say. Thanks.

I am thinking once a month meetings. I would like to get some feedback on this idea.

Well thanks... I think :)

My point although could be a slap in the face of someone who believes they are in authority was intended to offer help. ANd it seems that you understand it. But there is more method to my madness... When someone is "in charge" it doesn't allow for others to improve their ability to lead. and "leading" if you want to call it that is a very important part of development... If anyone wants to really understand a subject they should try to teach it was the advice given to me...

But there is also another reason why I believe having nobody in charge leads to a good group... When someone is in charge those who progress past the ability of the leader can get disinterested and then silent rolled eyes lead to conflicts in the group. Coups and splinter groups eventually follow hurt feelings on one hand.

On the other hand something just as disappointing often happens. The group starts taking on attributes that are about gaining critical mass of members. To gain new members people with different interests and abilities are attracted like a magnet. The people who practice hours every day become disinterested in joining people who practice once a month at the actual meeting. And then the lowly "leader" is put through hoops trying to please everyone. When everyone is in the same boat there is no passing the buck when a meeting isn't fun it isn't any single persons fault everyone is equally responsible for making the meeting great.. This will make people want to improve and you will end up with a better group. ( it also weeds out those who don't want to participate)

When someone thinks they are in charge he or she will start to think that he leads the army and when HE or SHE wants to perform a show he gets pushy and forgets that the people who originally joined him didn't show up to perform they just wanted some social interaction (some of them) or some free instruction (some of them) or simply some entertainment or to get out of the house at a very low cost.


For what it is worth. My Mother just turned 80 and she is the youngest member of her monthly bridge playing club that has been going on for as long as I can remember. Every month 12 ladies go to one of the other ladies house's to play bridge. (the location rotates) Each month the women set their own date and time. The only thing that remains uniform from meeting to meeting is a Klondike Bar is expected to be provided after the game.

hendulele
09-16-2015, 11:06 AM
RE: Leadership. Our group is congenial enough that if the head of the jam knows he'll be unavailable, he'll ask someone else to take the helm for that meeting. It's not been a problem. The dynamic of every group will be a little different.

acmespaceship
09-16-2015, 11:40 AM
When someone thinks they are in charge he or she will start to think that he leads the army and when HE or SHE wants to perform a show he gets pushy and forgets that the people who originally joined him didn't show up to perform they just wanted some social interaction (some of them) or some free instruction (some of them) or simply some entertainment or to get out of the house at a very low cost.

For what it is worth. My Mother just turned 80 and she is the youngest member of her monthly bridge playing club that has been going on for as long as I can remember. Every month 12 ladies go to one of the other ladies house's to play bridge. (the location rotates) Each month the women set their own date and time. The only thing that remains uniform from meeting to meeting is a Klondike Bar is expected to be provided after the game.

A Klondike Bar! Now that's a reason for me to learn how to play bridge!

You're exactly right that club leaders need to maintain a light touch and not pressure members to join activities they'd rather not participate in. At the same time, members need to have reasonable expectations because no group will ever be 100% perfect. Enjoy what you enjoy and let the rest roll off your back. As a wise man once said, you can't please all of the people all of the time.

Splinter groups can be a source of hurt feelings, or they can be welcome additions that expand the options available to uke players in the area. It's all a matter of perspective. In my town there are so many schisms and splinter groups I've lost track (and we've run out of days in the week). Most of the groups have friendly relations and people come and go as they like. The few groups that hold a grudge, we avoid them and life is good.

Brian1
09-16-2015, 12:45 PM
A Klondike Bar! Now that's a reason for me to learn how to play bridge!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNRiFBrX7Nk


Splinter groups can be a source of hurt feelings, or they can be welcome additions that expand the options available to uke players in the area. It's all a matter of perspective. In my town there are so many schisms and splinter groups I've lost track (and we've run out of days in the week). Most of the groups have friendly relations and people come and go as they like. The few groups that hold a grudge, we avoid them and life is good.

I agree that splinter groups are good. Everyone should be encouraged to do their own thing. If you are lucky enough to be part of a group that encourages participation that welcomes splinter groups and the arrangers of the splinter groups continue to participate in both the original group as well the offshoot it only increases the options for members of both groups.

I should also mention that although I don't often attend the local group here where I am that it is lead by an individual he is a great guy who gets worked too hard.

Ukejenny
09-17-2015, 04:57 AM
Congratulations on forming your ukulele group. You are going to do great and it is going to be wonderful fun for everyone involved!

Only advice I have is to maybe try to be flexible - if something isn't working for the group, be willing to try something different.

I started a ukulele group a couple of years ago and I learn something new at every meeting. And, I love it - really love it. It is my music therapy. It is a great group of folks. We have fun.

terrgy
09-17-2015, 10:13 AM
Thanks Ukejenny. I believe it will be loads of fun. I love fun and I love creating fun. I sent a group email out today to the folks who have shown an interest, expressing that "while I am forming the club, I want input from all. I am not boss, just the one organizing the club."

I suggested six easy 2 and 3 chord songs to learn between now and Nov. 10th., our first meeting. I stated to them that all should have input in the songs we play, meeting to meeting. Since I began learning to play in May, my song list has grown to 52 songs. Out of those, here are the six songs I suggested to get us started:

Amazing Grace
Jambalaya
Down in the valley
He's Got The Whole world in His hands
Pay Me My Money Down
Jingle Bells

I figured these these fairly easy songs shouldn't be so hard for us to get the hang of playing together, and the songs are recognizable enough that most can sing along.

One of the members is creating a Facebook page, should be ready by the weekend.

Anyways, I've got things moving now and I am getting just a little bit excited. One might ask, why not have the first meeting in Oct. instead of Nov. The reason is I am recovering from recent back surgery. I am having to lay pretty flat right now, and no driving. By Nov. I should be rip roaring ready to get my life back.

Thanks again for all the input.

vanflynn
09-17-2015, 10:29 AM
Congrats on forming a Uke Club. The good news is you already have a songbook! https://albanyukulele.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/songbook15.pdf

Actually it's from Albany Western Australia but it is one that our group keeps coming back to. It starts out easy, gets progressively harder, has good chord diagrams and a good song selection.

Bare in mind that expectations of the members can widely vary from those that just want the social interaction (and may never practice outside of the meeting) to those that are very serious about learning. That is sometimes a tricky balancing act.

terrgy
09-17-2015, 02:09 PM
I've got a question. One of the potential members told me today he only has a baritone uke, and learned chords in DGBE. He asked if this tuning would be compatible with other ukes being played in GCEA.

I don't know the answer, so perhaps someone could help me here.

Thanks

vanflynn
09-17-2015, 04:06 PM
I've got a question. One of the potential members told me today he only has a baritone uke, and learned chords in DGBE. He asked if this tuning would be compatible with other ukes being played in GCEA.

I don't know the answer, so perhaps someone could help me here.

Thanks

A C chord is a C chord is a C Chord. Be it soprano, baritone, guitar or trumpet. The only problem would be chord diagrams on the music. The more the merrier!

Brian1
09-17-2015, 04:15 PM
I've got a question. One of the potential members told me today he only has a baritone uke, and learned chords in DGBE. He asked if this tuning would be compatible with other ukes being played in GCEA.

I don't know the answer, so perhaps someone could help me here.

Thanks

Hi again. There are many song editors that can lay out chord sheets really nicely one of them can easily transpose from standard tuning to baritone and provide chord charts for the music. It is called Uke Geeks Song-a-Matic Editor with the touch of one button it will change all of your chord diagrams into baritone. (its free) and very simple to use.
http://ukegeeks.com/songeditor

ricdoug
09-18-2015, 09:14 AM
https://web.archive.org/web/20060114194021/http://www.ukuke.co.uk/magazine.htm#Starting a uke club

https://web.archive.org/web/20101011095501/http://ukuleletonya.com/files/beginner_lesson_pkg.pdf

good_uke_boy
09-18-2015, 09:22 AM
Hi again. There are many song editors that can lay out chord sheets really nicely one of them can easily transpose from standard tuning to baritone and provide chord charts for the music. It is called Uke Geeks Song-a-Matic Editor with the touch of one button it will change all of your chord diagrams into baritone. (its free) and very simple to use.
http://ukegeeks.com/songeditor

Wow that's a great tool. Thanks for posting it.

Nickie
09-18-2015, 01:35 PM
Yay, I think this is a fabulous idea! The Tampa Bay Ukulele Society is about 7 years old now, I think. We topped 1000 members this week. We rely heavily on Meetup.com to announce all our events. We don't charge for anything except workshops and the Getaway which happens annually. We have several sponsors, builders and sellers. We've formed a bond with Mim's Ukes, LoPrinzi, and Sam Ash Music gives us discounts. Giving back to the community is very important, thus our Library Lending Program with beginner workshops that are free. We also have a fairly active facebook page. Our 3 monthly jam sessions and one monthly open mic are the meat and potatoes of our club.
You're gonna make mistakes, and have some hard work to do, but it's all worth it. I've made plenty of mistakes, and the jam session I lead continues to thrive anyway. It's a very cool bunch of folks!
Good luck!

vanflynn
09-18-2015, 03:03 PM
Our 3 monthly jam sessions


Not trying to hijack but what/how are the jam sessions?

terrgy
09-19-2015, 06:29 AM
https://web.archive.org/web/20060114194021/http://www.ukuke.co.uk/magazine.htm#Starting a uke club

https://web.archive.org/web/20101011095501/http://ukuleletonya.com/files/beginner_lesson_pkg.pdf


Good stuff ricdoug. Thanks so much for sharing.

terrgy
09-19-2015, 06:31 AM
This forum is great. After posting this thread, I have accumulated so much information, that will help jump start my ambition and attempt to begin a ukulele club. You folks have been so helpful. A great big THANK YOU.