2017 Workshops

Let’s start with our core curriculum, a series of five-day classes designed to take people through the various skills they need to advance to the next level. In addition to Beginner (Level 1), Advanced Beginner (Level 2), Intermediate (Level 3), and Advanced (Level 4) tracks, we’ll be offering week-long classes in ‘ukulele, hula, lap steel guitar, as well as a number of one-off workshops and sing-a-longs to fill your every ‘ukulele need. And remember, this is just what we have going on between breakfast and dinner. There are still a lot of hours in the day!

Mon – Fri,  9:15 – 10:30

Level 1 – Kaliko Beamer Trapp

For folks who maybe just got an ‘ukulele and maybe have a few chords under your belt, but still stop in-between chord changes to move your fingers to the next location. (If you’re a little more advanced, please read the individual workshop descriptions, before dismissing any of these as “too easy,” some are applicable to even more advanced players.)

The key to this class is the instructor. Kaliko Beamer Trapp, renowned for his friendly and approachable style, making learning to play the ‘ukulele fun, especially for complete novices. By the end of the week you’ll have a number of chords under your belt, be able to play in a couple of keys, and will feel comfortable joining other folks playing and singing together. The small class size guarantees you will be able to go at the speed needed by the group and take a few detours if necessary! This workshop is open to “companions.” 

Level 2 – Brad Bordessa

If you know a handful of chords and can move from one chord to another without having to think about it too much, but you still need chord diagrams written out over the words for each song, you’re at Level 2. As far as strumming goes, you may have one or two strumming patterns in your repertoire, but that’s about it. (If you’re a little more advanced, please read the individual workshop descriptions, before dismissing any of these as “too easy,” there’s probably something here you’ll be able to take away with you.)

With just a few chords under your belt, you are ready to venture “up a lazy river” with Brad Bordessa and get more comfortable using those chords, transitioning between them, and learning what else you can do with them, up and down the fret board, while expanding your musical horizons infinitely at the same time. This is a great workshop for beginning ukulele players because it will, quite simply and easily, launch you into the stratosphere of the number of chords you will have under your belt……and the number of chords you’ll be able to figure out on your own….all the while practicing and learning a few new tunes.

Level 3 – Kevin Carroll

If you can hold a steady rhythm, are competent with a variety of basic chords such as A, Am, A7, BB, C, C7, D, D7, Dm,  Em, E7, F, F7, G, and G7, can sing and strum at the same time, and learn new chords fairly quickly, this is where you belong. You also belong here if you’ve got a hankering for a LIttle blues and Soul!
Now you’re ready to move into musical genres as you learn the habits, tips, and techniques required to become a better musician’s musician, improving on comfortable skills and building a host of new ones, all wrapped inside a study of the gritty, rhythmic tones and textures of ‘Ukulele Blues & Soul. Think Bessie Smith or The Four Tops. Plus, in this 5-day class Kevin will be offering ample opportunities for vocalists, bass players, baritone, and standard ukulele players to expand their skills above and beyond. The net result will be an enhanced enjoyment of everything you do related to music, from listening and feeling to playing and projecting.

Level 4 – Gerald Ross

At this level you can hear I, IV, and V chords and you have mastered some chord inversions.  You know there is life above the fifth fret and have been there with barre or 4-fingered closed chords.

Here is where things really start to get interesting as Gerald takes an individualized approach to what the advanced students need in order to keep moving forward. More like a graduate symposium than a regular workshop, you should come away from this class with the information you need to create your own performance-worthy instrumentals. And if you want to sing along, Gerald will be teaching how to add a little “pizzazz” to your songs with snazzy intros, sophisticated chord substitutions, and memorable “outros.” Plus, the small class size means that everyone will get whatever personal attention they need. (If you can, bring a recording device so you can take a little Gerald home with you!)

Mon – Fri,  10:45 – Noon

The second session of every day also features 5-day classes, but with these  the focus is on putting the skills you have learned to fun and practical use. (You might be able to bounce between Mele Pana and Swing, Blues, & Life Beyond the Third Fret on a day to day basis, but please check with the instructor first.)

Mele Pana – Lady Ipo

Unlike anywhere else in the world, an Hawaiian’s sense of place is beautifully reflected in musical compositions that both honor and celebrate the place they call home. These songs are known as mele pana and may be in English, Hawaiian, or a little bit of both. On this 5-day journey with Lady Ipo, you will travel around the Hawaiian Islands in song  and music and learn to play at least one of them for the hula students on Friday night. Knowing some basic chord changes is a must, but other than that, the only pre-requisite is to come with a fearless sense of adventure and be willing to throw yourself into Hawaiian language and music.  (Level 1 – 3)

Uke-stra – Kevin Carroll

If you are looking to work on strumming, picking, and timing…..this is the place for you! Characteristically ambitious, Kevin Carroll will, over the course of five days, turn a disjointed group of enthusiastic and dedicated ‘ukulele players into a polished orchestral ensemble and produce, for all of our listening enjoyment, a spirited rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Chanson Triste to be performed on Friday night.  Also true to Kevin’s nature, he will have parts available for players of all skill levels, so please don’t be intimidated and ask him if he thinks you might be ready!   (Level 3 – 4)

Swing, Blues & Life Beyond the Third Fret – Gerald Ross

This is Gerald’s specialty–a collection of tunes from the Big Band Era, carefully arranged for solo uke. In the process of working through this iconic repertoire, you will learn that there is life beyond the third fret and how to use it to give your songs that swinging feel.  Plus, you may be surprised to learn that it can actually make more “complicated songs” easier to play.  There’s loads to learn but no “knuckle busting chords” or music theory required. (If you can, bring a recording device, so you can take a little Gerald home with you!) (Level 2+ – 4)

A Little Lap Steel, Please – Kona Bob

Nothing evokes the sound of the islands (or animated cartoons from the thirties, a la King Benny Nawahi) more than the plaintive sounds of the lap steel guitar, another instrument that KonaBob loves to introduce to neophytes. He also has a boatload of experience and tips to offer those who may be dabbling in steel guitar already. Anyone is welcome to join in on these sessions. Konabob has a spare guitar, and if you’ve got your own, all the better.  Bring it and work with KonaBob on possibly accompanying one of the bands on Band Night. It’s great fun, and the skills you learn here will translate to all kinds of other music. (Geared for beginning lap steel guitar players)

Mon – Fri,  1:00 – 3:00

We thought we’d try something a little different this year and include an extended break period after lunch for those who might be interested in giving their brains (and their fingers) a little rest or would like to head down to Mahukona for a swim.  Never-the-less we managed to add a few more “structured” events for players of all levels who just can’t seem to get enough and “office hours,” an opportunity for you to meet with one of the instructors and get a little help on any particular ukulele-related problem you might be having!


  • Hapa Haole Tunes with Lady Ipo
  • Office Hours with Gerald Ross


  • Rhythm Sessions & Hawaiian Percussion with Kaliko
  • Office Hours with Kevin Carroll


  • Elvis in Hawai’i with Lady Ipo
  • Office Hours with Kaliko


  • Hawai’i Aloha with Kaliko
  • Office Hours with Brad Bordessa

M, Tu, Th, & Fr, 3:00 – 4:15

Beginning Hula – Lady Ipo

Is your head hurting from all those chords? Is the seat of your chair just dragging you down? Maybe it’s time to bust out of that chair! Free your eyes from that paper and hula! Exploring music through dance is a great way to enhance your playing as you get a feel for the islands through hula and learn to tell the story with your body. In this beginning class with Lady Ipo you will learn basic hula steps and how to express yourself  with your hands, eyes, hips and feet. It’s also a terrific way to learn a little about Hawaiian culture in a relaxed and fun way. (Everyone welcome!)

Ha’i Mo’olelo – Kaliko Beamer Trapp

Ha’i mo’olelo means “to tell stories” and here we offer an opportunity to participate, as a student, in a rich oral tradition that spans centuries.  Kaliko Beamer Trapp has made the study of Polynesian culture and language his life’s work and is an engaging and informed story teller.  If you just want to take a little break from a busy day, kick your shoes off and relax while someone tells captivating tales of old Hawai’i, this is where you want to be. (Everyone welcome!)

Celtic ‘Ukulele – Kevin Carroll

And, if you are totally committed to playing your ‘ukulele every minute of every day while you are at the retreat, here’s an opportunity to expand your skill set and repertoire while learning a few Celtic tunes and techniques. You’d be surprised at how similar in format and spirit an Irish “session” is to an Hawaiian kanikapila and how readily an ‘ukulele can play Celtic fiddle melodies! (Level 2 -4)

Writing Tab – Brad Bordessa

A perfect workshop for those you ready to move on beyond strumming and humming and learn how the strings of your ‘ukulele correlate to the musical scale and written music and how to write your own tab.  If there’s a particular tune you’re partial to but can’t find any pre-written tab for it, this would be a chance to write your own.  Or if you want to learn how to enhance or alter what you already have, this class will be ideal. There will be lots of time in class to work on your piece under the expert tutelage of Brad Bordessa….and even a chance to perform it Friday night!

Wednesday 3:00 – ?????

We’ll be at the beach!  But, that doesn’t mean you won’t have anything to do.  Here are some of the activities you can participate in while we wait for our beach burgers to cook!

  • Outrigger canoeing ($100 extra)
  • A visit to nearby Pu’ukoholā Heiau with Kaliko
  • Hula with Lady Ipo
  • Learn “On the Beach at Waikiki” as an ensemble with Kevin Carroll

M, Tu, Th, & Fr, 4:30 – 5:45

Band Practice – Everyone

Playing music with others and stepping out of your comfort zone is absolutely the best way to advance your musical skill and raise the bar on fun. Everyone attending the retreat (companions included) will be assigned to a “band” under the leadership of one of our esteemed instructors and meet with them Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, in anticipation of the really big show Friday night. Among other things, you will learn a little song arranging, a smidgen of band dynamics, some new performance skills, and how to play well with others. At the end of the retreat you will have a chance to strut your stuff during our last night’s “Battle of the Ukulele Bands & Student Cabaret.” It’s the most fun you’ll ever have with your ‘ukulele on. Humor, costumes, and props are definitely encouraged. (All levels)

That’s it for now.  We’ll probably add a few more “opportunities” once the retreat is underway and we get a better feel for what the attendees are interested in learning. In the meantime, don’t forget to practice, and be ready for the time of your ukulele life!