View Full Version : Ukulele Club and Performance group

11-18-2015, 01:12 AM
Our ukulele Club which began in February 2015, now has about 30 members, most of whom had never played before, some had never played any instrument before. Our objectives are to be a fun club and aid the learning and improvement of the individual with their playing. However, it soon transpired that we were being asked to perform at events, and so far we have played 7 performances. Generally about 8 to 12 of us play at performances, most of those being the original 4 founders of the club plus those who have really taken to the instrument and practice like crazy to reach a performance standard. We really do not want to alienate other members of the Club, so my question is, what is the best way forward?

11-18-2015, 01:24 AM
Not sure if this helps, but there must be numbers the less experienced can play at a performance. Even expain there new to the instrument or something like that. It might be a good way to show audiance members that the club accepts all levels. There must be some relatively easy music that sounds full. Who knows, once some of the members get a taste of fame, they may practice liek there no tommorrow and get to the point to join the top group.

11-18-2015, 03:35 AM
Our group (Pensacola Ukulele Players Society) welcomes new members and beginners all the time. Two Yeats ago I was one of them. We also perform. For most performances all that want to are welcome to participate. There is a bit of self selection for this. We practice the tunes we will perform for several weeks. The size of the group covers the few that don't quite get to all the chords. There are also the occasional sub group of more seasoned players that will get together outside the main group and practice some more difficult tunes for a more polished performance. It all works, mostly we exist to have fun playing the ukulele and singing with others. It's a real rush! If you are not in a group right now you should join one or form one. We just started doing open mic's once a month and that has turned out to be pretty cool as well.

11-18-2015, 05:13 AM
I agree with Plunker that you should try to include a beginner number or two. In addition, you could actually have an audience member or several participate. For example, "Are you sleeping" aka "Brother John" is just a one chord song in a straight 4/4 shuffle. Someone could hold down a C chord and strum along. Congrats on the successful club so far.

11-18-2015, 07:43 AM
We had one member who could no longer play the uke because of damaged hands. He rigged up a percussion set with a washboard, cowbell, cymbal and such and played right along! If someone plays harmonica better than uke, encourage that, there's joy in variety!

11-18-2015, 08:58 AM
When I read the original post it almost seemed to be talking about the group I play with. There are somewhat over twenty at each weekly meeting although to some extent it's a movable feast, there are some different people each time. There have been a number of public performances by group members, these are done on a voluntary basis and the tunes chosen are usually both familiar and relatively undemanding. The number of performers would normally be perhaps ten or twelve.

Some of the material worked on during evening sessions can become quite complicated now and I believe these items are avoided in public. Some members bring previous experience with piano, violin, guitar, or whatever, and can quickly be convincing with a ukulele. I've attended one public performance only, the first one, and I attended in the role of enthusiastic supporter not as a player.

11-20-2015, 02:55 AM
Thanks Osprey, our Club sounds as though we do all those things you do but we have a few who see the Performance players as being an ELITE bunch. We are not and we always invite anyone from the Club to rehearsal nights for performance and it is explained to them that if they attend rehearsals they are expected to come to the performances we are rehearsing for! Not sure if your club faces similar comments?

11-20-2015, 02:58 AM
Hi Pritch,
Are you sure you are not in our club? It does sound identical. We even have the same number of performers 10 to 12. What is your club and whereabouts in New Zealand, I loved it when I went there in 2006. If we come over again we will loook for your club, we always travel with our ukuleles.

11-20-2015, 04:47 AM
You need to decide if you want to be in a band/orchestra or if you want to be in a recreational group.
If you choose to be a band/orchestra don't waste your time looking for recreational players, you need hard working bandsmen who are happy to practice all day. Also make sure you are getting paid in some way by the audience or promoters if you are in a band or orchestra, avoid working for free.
If you choose to be a recreational group, forget about performance and focus on socialising with a bit of a musical challenge to entertain yourselves for the price of getting to the meeting place. Maybe there will be a performance once in a while, but not as a regular activity, maybe just as a group project as part of some musical challenges for personal enjoyment and confidence building.
Everyone should join a group, or a band, it is the best way to enjoy your music.

I agree with Bill, if you want a performance group to your high standard, you should form that group. If, as you say, this group is a fun club for all levels, everyone should be able to be at the performance. If any player is not all that good, they can be in the back and play along as they can and have fun just like everyone else.

Our group used to do a lot of performances and we had a lot of people show up, sometimes more than 20. Then, a couple members formed their little group and took a lot of the performances, that I assume the Club was invited to do. This caused a lot of tension.

Our leader decided on his own, he wanted the best Ukulele Group ever, so the weekly meetings went from jams to 2 hour lessons. Attendance dropped, total club membership dropped and the fun club vibe disappeared.

11-20-2015, 11:42 AM
A club and a performance group are not the same thing. Not even remotely. The goals are entirely different. I have seen uke clubs self-destruct because they forgot how to be a uke club.

Make a clear distinction between the club (which is a fun activity that welcomes everybody at any skill level) and a performance group (which presumably requires some level of competence and some degree of commitment to rehearsals and individual practice).

Give the performing group a different name and don't rehearse on the same night as the club meeting. Don't spend the whole club meeting talking about performance -- of course that would alienate other people!

Make sure everybody in the club knows they are valued members and their participation is on an equal basis with everybody else. Experience and musical talent SHOULD NOT MATTER within a hobby club. What matters is enthusiasm and a willingness to help others have a good time. If beginners are feeling left out, then you are doing it wrong.

If club members want to perform, then encourage them to join your group or start their own performance groups. But keep it separate from the club itself.

11-21-2015, 06:02 AM
The Ukulele Band of Alabama is a community outreach organization. The only requirement is to have fun. Period. I stress that our rehearsals/jams are low stress, and "get in where you fit in" types of activities. Yes, we do perform, but we are not a professional group, we don't play for money, and we introduce ourselves as an outreach.

Now, we do have some folks who are more performance oriented, so I could see a smaller group forming from the bigger one, but that group would need to rehearse separately and run separately. I want to keep the club feel and have it stay inclusive. I want to have fun. I don't need any more performance pressure in my life. I have an outlet for that, one that I really enjoy. I want UBA to be fun, low stress, and to bring people together.

11-21-2015, 08:21 AM
A club and a performance group are not the same thing. Not even remotely. The goals are entirely different. I have seen uke clubs self-destruct because they forgot how to be a uke club.

This resonated with me especially because I had no idea anybody else felt that way - but I agree, 100% and then some. While it was never clearly defined as a "club" or anything else, the group I co-founded some years ago started with no motive other than just to meet up and play - which is what I personally enjoy doing. Over the years, it became more performance-focused. While it didn't self-destruct and seems to be quite healthy, I opted to no longer participate because performing just isn't really my thing. I do miss meeting up to *play* with those nice folks, but to have to worry about things like buying gear for live shows and picking songs to please an audience and even stupider stuff like what to wear - ugh, just ugh. Sucks all of the joy out of it for me!