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Tootler
06-20-2012, 03:06 AM
I recently started a ukulele group for Middlesbrough U3A. We meet once a month in a local community centre.

Most of the members were absolute beginners so up till now, the meetings have been pretty unstructured as I have been spending most of my time helping individuals get started fingering basic chords and doing simple strums.

However, I feel the time has come to inject some more structure into the meetings. We are quite a small group just half-a-dozen or so members. We have had more come in total but some have decided ukulele was not for them which is fair enough.

I have some thoughts on how I might structure meetings but would like to get ideas/experience from others on what has worked and what has not. As a small group, I would like to keep it pretty informal, but some structure is needed if I am not to lose members.

Whether you run a group yourself or just go along as a participant I would love to hear about your experience.

ralphk
06-20-2012, 03:43 AM
If you have a small group in a startup mode, it would be good to invest in a club song book (in a ring binder) that you, personally, bring to every meeting. Share the electronic files of the songs so they can have them, but bringing a book to your meeting, with all the same versions of a song, is a real plus in keeping everyone together. (Too many club members don't keep up a personal library and you end up with confusion.)

Google Drive is one way to have all the electronic song sheets available to all your participants.

You might start the session with some instruction, then a tune or two with a strong beat to get everyone working together, then to more general jams, then to any new songs and solos. Finish with a familiar tune that you do all the time -- Happy Trails, Goodnight Irene -- whatever works for the group for a closing number.

bazmaz
06-20-2012, 03:50 AM
We've been jamming I formally for about 3 months, and it's just kind of fallen together. We have a private Facebook group which is handy for organising bucks, sharing songs and ideas. We jam once a week with no real structure.

That said, as we have increasing beginner numbers now we are looking at putting on another midweek evening purely practice session every fortnight. That won't be for jamming, just for concentrating on one or two songs over an hour so the beginners can get up to speed.

What we have learned in our club is that group on FB has been invaluable. We are very democratic and put all new ideas up to the whole group to debate. Keeps everybody happy!

Our public facing page is here https://www.facebook.com/NantwichNukes

kaizersoza
06-20-2012, 04:04 AM
I started our ukulele club back in February this year, we meet on the 1st and 3rd tuesdays of the month, we originally set aside 30 minutes for absolute beginners to go over some basic chord patterns, then we selected 10 easyish songs (2 and 3 chords) and we practice these for about an hour and a half, then we all chill out and form into seperate groups where we can either play along with some songs that someone has brought in or you can just sit and listen to the rest of the guys having a jam, its all very laid back, this is the most popular part of the night for the more accomplished players and also beginners can then play with better musicians so they are progressing as well, we must be doing something right because we have close on 70 members now, with between 25 and forty turning up most sessions

We have also started our own band which meets up for a couple of hours on a sunday evening (when possible) and we also have a jam night in one of the local pubs on one of the alternate tuesdays just for fun, good luck with setting up your U3A M8 if you need any advice (not that I am an expert) get in touch I will be only to glad to help

kaizer

seeso
06-20-2012, 05:31 AM
We meet once a month. Our meet-ups are very informal. Everyone brings a song or two with enough copies for the whole group, and we play those for the first hour. For the second hour, we have "Uke or Dare," where each member plays a song solo. We have a volunteer to go first. When that member is done, he or she picks the next member. We've only had one person do the dare instead of the song.

If we have time after "Uke or Dare," then we just jam around for a bit.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
06-20-2012, 05:46 AM
SUPA has a Board because we are formed as a non-profit organization in the State of Washington.

We started out as a song circle where we simply went down the row, person after person, asking for a
song suggestion or a solo or pass (pick, play or pass). after a while, however, with up to 60+ showing
up, we could not give everyone a chance to pick, play, or pass so we've gone to having blank cards
at the sign-in table for people to write down the title of their selection(s) and which songbook it's in.
(SUPA now uses 2 songbooks - combined 2005-07, and 2010)

Please check out our website at ( seattleukulele.org ) for more general info about Who and How we are :)

keep uke'in',

barefootgypsy
06-20-2012, 06:45 AM
The group I have started going to works on the same lines as ralphk and it works well. The group leaders use "drop box" so everyone prints off the same song sheets. If people are all at the a similar level it works particularly well. (Some of our players are really good, but they still go to the group just for the fun of all playing together, even if they find the material easy!) Drop box is a lot of work for the leader, but it makes the group function well. I think it's important to keep everyone playing through the session - or there's a danger individuals could get bored, and fall off... I hope that helps! :)

mds725
06-20-2012, 07:37 AM
I belong to a meetup.com (http://www.meetup.com)group, San Francisco Ukulele Rebellion. We meet every other Sunday at a local cafe from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and we use Jim and Liz Beloff's The Daily Ukulele (http://www.amazon.com/Daily-Ukulele-Fakebook-Jumpin-Songbooks/dp/1423477758/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340213805&sr=8-1&keywords=the+daily+ukulele). At first, we took turns selelcting songs from the book, but new we play pre-assigned pages (usually 10 pages or 10 songs) so that those who want to can practice in advance. People are also encouraged to post digital compies of songs they want the group to try at our meetup website and to distribute hard copies of those songs at meetings. It has worked very well, although we're not sure what we're going to do when we get to the end of the book. Some in the group have talked about compiling a SFUR songbook using other clubs' songbooks that have been posted online and other online sources.

Freeda
06-20-2012, 08:25 AM
I belong to a meetup.com (http://www.meetup.com)group, San Francisco Ukulele Rebellion. We meet every other Sunday at a local cafe from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and we use Jim and Liz Beloff's The Daily Ukulele (http://www.amazon.com/Daily-Ukulele-Fakebook-Jumpin-Songbooks/dp/1423477758/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340213805&sr=8-1&keywords=the+daily+ukulele). At first, we took turns selelcting songs from the book, but new we play pre-assigned pages (usually 10 pages or 10 songs) so that those who want to can practice in advance. People are also encouraged to post digital compies of songs they want the group to try at our meetup website and to distribute hard copies of those songs at meetings. It has worked very well, although we're not sure what we're going to do when we get to the end of the book. Some in the group have talked about compiling a SFUR songbook using other clubs' songbooks that have been posted online and other online sources.

They're coming out with a second book, I heard!

kaizersoza
06-20-2012, 09:37 AM
We meet once a month. Our meet-ups are very informal. Everyone brings a song or two with enough copies for the whole group, and we play those for the first hour. For the second hour, we have "Uke or Dare," where each member plays a song solo. We have a volunteer to go first. When that member is done, he or she picks the next member. We've only had one person do the dare instead of the song.

If we have time after "Uke or Dare," then we just jam around for a bit.

wow i like that idea, can i steal it for my club please?

AnnaUK
06-20-2012, 10:31 AM
Our club has now been running since June 09 and we've been through various formats. We've got a fairly laidback approach to jamming and there is no formal structure as such. We usually average about 15 people per session. We've got a MySpace page with all the dates on it (link in sig if you're interested) to help keep things organised.

We have 12 or so club songbooks (all different genres), which members have kindly put together, to give us lots of variety. We just choose which we fancy doing and have a strum through. If anyone wants to do a song again to get it right, that's cool too. We often ask if anyone has any requests etc. If anyone wants to do a specific song they're free to bring it along as well.

We have a three hour session which is divided into slots of perhaps 45 - 60 mins with tea breaks in between in which people catch up, have a drink and generally talk all things uke.

I have to say, the social chatting part is as important to me as the uking. I've made some brilliant friends through the uke.

We also have a bassist and people bring kazoos and various percussion.

If you want any help at all, just holler. I'd be really happy to help you get your club off the ground :)

GOOD LUCK
Anna :D

seeso
06-20-2012, 11:12 AM
wow i like that idea, can i steal it for my club please?

Absolutely! Feel free.

Uke Republic
06-20-2012, 12:41 PM
The South East ukers meet once every month or so here @ Uke Republic then almost "religiously " @ a Hawaiian BBQ on Sunday afternoons here in Atlanta. We do open mic, Daily ukulele, bring a tune, Zombie songs, Twinkie songs etc. Spontaneous jams here at the store happen too. We meet in the Atlanta area but have victims from UK, Ireland, Australia, etc and all over the USA. So we are very strict on our membership. :)

nix
06-20-2012, 05:49 PM
We meet every Tuesday night from 6pm-8pm at a local Sam Ash music store. We usually have about 15 people in attendance but it varies a lot and visitors are always welcome. We alternate formats. On the first and third Tuesday we have a jam and people can bring whatever they want with copies to hand out. The second and fourth Tuesday we play songs out of Daily Ukulele and we pick them out 2 weeks ahead of time and post them on our meetup site so that people can practice if they want to. On the Daily Ukulele days, we select 6 songs and usually play each of them at least twice.

Good luck with getting your new group going!

Nix

Gillian
06-20-2012, 08:48 PM
Our uke club follows a similar format to others posted here.

The San Jose Ukulele Club (http://sanjoseukeclub.org) meets the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month. About a week before the meeting, I send out an email with any new songsheets I've come up with so members can download/print them out from our website. I try to come up with a song list that fits some theme (Beatles Night, movie music, songs with "sunshine" in them, etc). Those who are attending the beginner session are told what new chords will be covered and the songs that contain them so they can practice prior to the meeting. The actual meeting is from 7 to 9. We start with any "Uke News" (workshops people have attended, upcoming concerts, classes), then the music starts with the songs increasing in difficulty. We break for 15 minutes at 8:00, which is then followed by Open Mike/Jam time.

greyhound
06-20-2012, 09:21 PM
We have just set up three uke meetings during the past few months in Bangkok, Thailand.
We all have them in a restaurants in different areas that get access easily by public transport and do not have to worry with catering too.

It began with our thought to gather and share resources we have then the second meeting we started expand to work shops by contributing instructors for two periods forty five minutes each, uke talks then dinner. We are quite lucky in our last meeting to have Alan Okami and KoAloha team with us to talk about how to build a uke.

The next meeting will be in 4th of July and we are having also some performance shows from guest artists and games in addition to uke education. This time we plan to set up the club name and face book to have our own channel of communication as members are now increased to around thirty peoples.

Currently we are using a web board to share our activities. Here is the link to our last meeting:
http://www.ukethai.com/webboard/index.php?topic=6124.0

I am sorry that the description and comments are in Thai but hope you enjoy the pictures.

Tootler
06-21-2012, 01:46 AM
Lots of interesting ideas here, thanks for your input. Every two weeks seems the most common frequency. I started with monthly until I could see how things went.

Being a U3A group means our members are mostly retired, but most have other interests so of the initial expressions of interest, about half turned up to the first meeting and some more have come since.

I did a little info booklet with some basics on the ukulele, terminology, holding it, fingering chords, strumming, a little history. I introduced chord diagrams and tab I found that most didn't really take to tab. Some of our members play other instruments (myself included) and can read conventional notation, so I have abandoned tab for now.

I did an initial song sheet with songs and chords and have a song book which I will be giving out next time but I suspect it will always be a work in progress. My own interest is folk song, so I have to be careful not to bias it too much in that direction, but many of the songs that everyone learns as kids and that are part of our background are, in fact, folk songs.

The age group of our members means many are not computer savvy and do not have internet access, so useful as they are, drop boxes, facebook pages etc. are out unfortunately as they would not be able to include everyone. Otherwise I could easily set up a page on my own website and also a Facebook page. I am not a Facebook fan but I do host the North East Recorder Orchestra on Facebook, so adding another page would not be a problem.

We have done a bit of communal playing through songs. Probably need to do more.

What you have all posted here has certainly given me several ideas to think about so thanks very much for your posts.

Please keep them coming. I'm sure it's of interest to more than just me.

Thanks to everyone who's shared their experiences.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
06-21-2012, 08:19 AM
Retired? Retired did you say?

I love retirees and I have constructed my performance songbook for those who
love the older popular favorites (American, in any event... but that shouldn't
make too much of a difference) :)

Please click on the MP3 link, then find ( rohiguchi(at)gmail ), click on that to get
to a page that has other links to my Oldies Performance pdfs for you to use freely :)

keep uke'in',

franulele
06-22-2012, 06:51 PM
Our group started in 2008 with 4 interested persons learning from instructional DVDs (Jim Beloff, Ralph Shaw) YouTube videos & various books (Lil Rev & Jim Beloff). Since then, our uke club meeting structure has evolved to accommodate a variety of ages, abilities & tastes. We now meet twice a month in a public space with good parking. We start at 6:30 with "Helpful hints for beginners" Then the regular meeting starts at 7:00 when we meet, greet, share news, & play several easy songs. Around 8:00 we shift toward new material, challenging material, and material for any upcoming performances. Throughout the meetings we encourage one another with tips & techniques we've learned through workshops ukefests, videos, books & the like. We keep our songs archived on our website so each member can form their own songbook. I'm the Reminder-in-Chief and I notify group members of meetings, gigs & other ukulele happenings. We typically have 6-12 people come to our meetings. Some just like to play at meetings, others like to perform 6-8 times per year. It's always a really nice evening our that I look forward to.

PS: "Uke or Dare" sounds like fun!

Tootler
06-23-2012, 08:41 AM
Retired? Retired did you say?

I love retirees and I have constructed my performance songbook for those who
love the older popular favorites (American, in any event... but that shouldn't
make too much of a difference) :)

Please click on the MP3 link, then find ( rohiguchi(at)gmail ), click on that to get
to a page that has other links to my Oldies Performance pdfs for you to use freely :)

keep uke'in',

Thanks for that, Rod. I will look into it later but I am just off to my Saturday night folk club just now - with ukulele, of course :D