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Thread: New ukulele club

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    South West Georgia
    Posts
    73

    Default New ukulele club

    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

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Florida Space Coast
    Posts
    11,949

    Default

    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...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/uk...bs-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.
    Last edited by PhilUSAFRet; 09-15-2015 at 09:54 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    on a sunny FL beach
    Posts
    1,362

    Default

    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.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    South West Georgia
    Posts
    73

    Default

    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!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    557

    Default

    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.
    Last edited by Brian1; 09-15-2015 at 11:08 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    2,147

    Default

    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!
    Uncle Rod Higuchi
    ( rohiguchi@seattleschools.org )

    MP3s: http://www.mediafire.com/?50db7nls4o6m6
    Ukulele Boot Camp, FREE Songbook, Holiday, Hawaiian & More: http://ukulelebootcamp.weebly.com
    Crazy G tutorial on YouTube ( uncle rod crazy g )
    pdf file for Crazy G:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/0o6id06c06...20TAB.pdf?dl=0

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    303

    Default

    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.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Gold Coast, Qld, Australia
    Posts
    427

    Default

    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.
    Last edited by KaraUkey; 09-15-2015 at 05:13 PM.
    http://www.karaukey.com - Ukulele Karaoke - Ukulele Backing Tracks - Strum Class
    http://www.downtomeet.com/strummers - Gold Coast and Hinterland strummers

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    South West Georgia
    Posts
    73

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    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.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    2,000

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    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!
    Last edited by hendulele; 09-16-2015 at 04:52 AM.
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