2017 HIUR Instructors

Gerald Ross

Gerald Ross has long been one of our favorite ‘ukulele instructors–always bringing new, advanced techniques and tunes, and occasionally a few new jokes.  He delivers them  all in a relaxed, un-intimidating style. . . . .bordering on mischievous.

If you’ve ever seen Gerald perform, you know that one of his favorite disclaimers is that he doesn’t sing on any of his CD’s, so the music has to stand on its own. And that’s what he teaches, along with how to break a few “rules” along the way! He’ll be teaching how to add a little “pizzazz” with snazzy intros, chord substitutions, and memorable “outros” to enhance your tunes, even if you do sing like a bird.  And there will be workshops featuring “life beyond the third fret,” with Swing & Jazz! And, as Gerald often proclaims, “No music theory or ability to read music required. . . . .and no knuckle-busting chord shapes to learn!”

We’ll also be tapping Gerald for another one of his many musical talents when he joins us in Hawi this year: classes in Hawaiian lap steel guitar in the key of C6, to augment those taught by KonaBob in G6.  So, we’re going to have a whole lotta lap steel, in addition to ‘ukulele, going on at the Kohala Village Hub this year,

Kaliko Beamer Trapp

Kaliko Beamer Trapp is renowned for taking faltering, struggling ‘ukulele beginners, with six thumbs on each hand, to the point where they can change chords, strum, and sing . . . . .all at the same time! Consequently, he was a natural choice to teach  beginning ‘ukulele  at the Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat. . . . . .and this year, we were finally able  to nab him!  But, teaching ‘ukulele is just the tip of Kaliko’s iceberg.

He is the hānai (adopted) son of the late Aunty Nona Beamer, and brother to famed Hawaiian slack key guitarist, Keola Beamer. He is an avid student of Polynesian culture and language and  a lecturer in Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo, all of which creates an opportunity for us to  gain a deeper understanding of local music, culture, history, language, and tradition.

In addition to beginning ‘ukulele, Kaliko will be offering delightful storytelling sessions each day after lunch, Ha’i Mo’olelo, accompanied by a Hawaiian mele, or song.  He will also be our personal guide for an optional visit to Pu’ukoholā Heiau, the temple built by King Kamahameha and dedicated to Kū, the Hawaiian war god.  It’s a story no visitor to Hawai’i should miss.

Kaliko  will also be teaching a workshop on rhythm using traditional Hawaiian percussion instruments.  And he will teach us  “Hawai’i Aloha,” the beautiful song that traditionally closes all Hawaiian gatherings and ceremonies, emphasizing the meaning and correct pronunciation of the Hawaiian words, which is more important than you might realize.  (Just imagine if you heard someone enthusiastically singing “Tinkle, tinkle, little star!” Don’t be that person!)

Kevin Carroll

We started working with Kevin Carroll several years ago based on a recommendation from James Hill. We we have never regretted it.

Kevin brings incredible talent, patience, generosity, and enthusiasm to every event he is involved in and this is no exception as he brings a variety of musical genres and advanced techniques to Hawi, including an opportunity for students to work on picking, strumming, and timing, while learning to play and perform Tchaikovsky’s Chanson Triste. . . . .with our very own ‘ukulele ensemble!

Or how about a 5-day class in ‘Ukulele Blues & Soul, (this year’s Level 3 5-day class) to experience the gritty, rhythmic tones and textures of another iconic musical form. Think Bessie Smith or The Four Tops. Plus, Kevin will be offering ample opportunities for vocalists, bass players, baritone, and standard ukulele players to expand their skills. Or how about a little Celtic ‘Ukulele?  You might be surprised at how similar in format and spirit an Irish “session” is to an Hawaiian kanikapila and how readily an ‘ukulele can be used to play Celtic fiddle melodies!

And because it is Hawai’i (and because Kevin always goes all out for his students) he’ll also brings us an an ukulele arrangement of at least one classic Tin-Pan-Alley “Hawaiian” tune to play as an Hawaiian band!

Honi kâua wikiwiki!

Lady Ipo Kahaunaele-Ferreira

Born and raised on Kaua`i, Lady Ipo grew up in a household and community where generations of family members sang, played, and danced hula–the typical backyard kanikapila.  Some of you may have seen her impromptu appearance on opening night at last year’s retreat, and already know what a valuable addition she will be to our staff this year.

Lady Ipo came of age at a time when the easiest and most available job for high school graduates on Kauai was singing and playing ‘ukulele at the Wailua River Fern Grotto during the day and at various hotel luaus at night. And so, for many years she danced hula, shared stories of the islands, sewed leis, emceed shows, and poured mai tais–and thus launched a career as a performer, recording artist,  and teacher that has lasted 45 years! And she’s not done yet!

Lady Ipo will be teaching Hula and Mele Pana (songs of the Hawaiian Islands) and leading our Hula Band.  But, she’ll also be mixing it up a bit: teaching a few Hapa Haole Classics (with a little swing thrown in for good measure) and a couple of  “Hawaiian” tunes made famous by Elvis when he was on her beloved Kauai filming “Blue Hawai’i.

Brad Bordessa

Brad Bordessa has been with the Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat from the beginning, and there’s a very good reason we keep inviting him back.

He was just 14 years old when I first met him back in 2007, but even then he showed amazing promise and had a passion for music that went well beyond wanting to “wow” everyone with youthful skill and speed. He was hungry to learn and eager to share what he was learning with everyone else, but he did it in the same unassuming and generous manner he exhibits today.

Brad, who now lives in  Honoka’a, just over the hill from Hawi, has been mentored by the best:  Chuck Moore, George Kahumoku, Herb Ohta, Jr., and James Hill. And while he is an amazing performer and a thoughtful and talented songwriter, he also excels at sharing with his students all he has learned over the years from the masters in an easy-going,  informative manner that “adult learners” can comprehend.

This year we can expect some definitive workshops on ‘Ukulele Chord Shapes, since Brad just wrote the book, while also learning how to play using our ears and not our eyes and how to strum and pick to deliver a cleaner sound. Brand new for this year, Brad will also be teaching us how to tab out some of our favorite tunes, so we can create our own fancy schmancy arrangements with chord substitutions, chord melodies, and a little finger picking thrown in.

Brad is always on the look-out for things he thinks we need to learn and ways to teach complex concepts in an understandable fashion. And that’s why we will keep asking him back.

KonaBob Stoffer

FaceBook ProfileIs there a happier musician on the planet than KonaBob?  It’s hard to say.  Would the Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat be the same without him? Probably not.

KonaBob joins us  every year to share what he can as an accomplished lap steel guitar and stick-bass teacher and performer.  He’s there to “bring up the bottom” and back us up, making sure we all sound as good as possible.

A generous and thoughtful teacher, KonaBob loves taking on beginners, especially, and introducing them to the beautiful haunting techniques of Hawaiian lap steel guitar, in the key of G6,  complementing the classes offered this year by Gerald Ross.

Lehua Wilson AhSam

Lehua Wilson AhSam, the executive director of the Kohala Village Hub, is the “tock” to the “tick” of the Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat: consistently sure and steady, relentlesly operating in the background, and absolutely indispensable to its success.

With a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and a Master’s in Hawaiian Studies, she is fluent in Hawaiian language, and teaches Hawaiian Studies for Hawaiian Community College.  She is also trained in Hula and has performed at the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo. And to hear her sing is to take a journey back to the time of the Hawaiian monarchs.

She is also a crew member for Makali’i, Hawai’i Island’s own voyaging canoe.

“He waʻa he moku, he moku he waʻa” 

“The canoe is our island, and the island is our canoe.”

It is Lehua’s passion for Hawaiian culture and all things wa’a, that will inform and enhance our “extra-curricular” activities this year, especially our visit to the Maka o Hule Heiau. And it is her attention to every local detail that ensures all of our success.


Elaine de Man

Hey! That’s me! I’m the one who answers your emails, takes your money, pays the piper, and tries to keep everyone happy. Could anyone ask for a better life? I doubt it. I love hanging out with ‘ukulele players and seeing people smile, stepping out of their comfort zones, and realizing their potential.  I will come to this year’s retreat with eight year’s experience organizing the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival; seven year’s organizing the West Coast ‘Ukulele Retreat; two years with the Semana de Uke-Culinary Fiesta and the domestic version, The New Uke-culinary Fiesta; the one and only Yankee Ukulele Invasion of Great Britain;  three years of Camp Oo-Koo-Lay-Lay;  and  four prior years of the Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat under my belt.  But I don’t do it alone. I get a lot of support from the instructors and participants I’ve met along the way and seem to keep coming back for more.

Oh, and I almost forgot: I also have a Master’s degree in animal behavior. . . . .always helpful when attempting to corral a bunch of itinerant ukulele players. . . . .and their instructors.

Are we going to have a rollicking good time?  I think you can count on it!