Space Available! Last Minute!

A last minute “adjustment” opens another room at the Kohala Village Inn!

If you were hoping to join us at the Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat next month, but were a little slow to act, here’s another chance!

A last minute “adjustment” has opened up an opportunity for a female attendee to share a room with a private bathroom at the Inn.  If you’re interested in this option, please contact me as soon as possible.

If you would prefer your own room, there are some really nice options still available just down the street at Lilikoi House, within walking distance of the Kohala Village Inn or down the street a bit further at the Kohala Club Hotel. If you choose either of these options, you would need to register for the retreat as kama’aina. (Go ahead and secure your lodging before registering for the retreat.) You might also find some places nearby on Airbnb.

If you’re still unsure about whether an ‘ukulele adventure to the Big Island should be in your future, you should check out the updated list of ‘ukulele workshops and their descriptions.  We have a little something for just about everyone.

There’s nothing but fun and aloha on the horizon. I hope you decide to join us.


2017 Core Curriculum

Here is a summary of the core classes being offered at the  2017 Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat, October 15 – 21.  More detailed descriptions of the rest of the workshops and classes (including a few new ones by Gerald Ross) are available on our website. As you’ll see, we have a little bit of something for everyone!

And even though the rooms at the Kohala Village Inn are currently sold out, there are a number of very nice accommodations available off campus and there is always the possibility of a last minute cancellation.  So please don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d still like to join us this year.

Meanwhile, here’s a brief description of the core curriculum, a series of five-day classes designed to take people through the various skills they need to advance to the next level.

Level 1 – Kaliko Beamer Trapp

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

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

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

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!)

To see what other classes and workshops await, or to register for individual workshops as kama’aina, please be sure to visit the website.

Even more reason to bring your ‘ukulele to Hawai’i!

We have already listed all the reasons why you should come to Hawai’i to play your ‘ukulele,  but we just added another!

Because, if you are so inclined, at this year’s Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat, October 15 – 21, you can also learn to play Hawaiian lap steel guitar with Konabob or with the “King of Mid-Western Swing,” Gerald Ross! This not only means we’ll be able to offer two 5-day classses in Hawaiian lap steel, it also means we’ll be able to offer it in two tunings: C6 (with Gerald) and G6 (with Konabob).

Just take a look at what Gerald will be bringing our way!

And this is in addition to the other classes in ‘ukulele, hula, rhythm, and story telling being taught by our esteemed staff: Kevin Carroll, Brad Bordessa, Kaliko Beamer, Lehua Wilson AhSam, and Lady Ipo.

And it’s not just all about Hawai’i, either.  It’s about the joy of music of all genres.  Just look at what Kevin Carroll is bringing to the table: Celtic Music for ‘Ukulele and Tchaikovsky!

So, the Kohala Village Hub in Hawi, is not only the best place to come learn to play your ‘ukulele this October, it’s just the best place to be, period!

Please contact us if you’d like to join us.  The rooms at the Kohala Village Hub are currently spoken for, but there are other options nearby.

Hope to see you there!


SOLD OUT! (But you can still join us!)

Rooms at the Kohala Village Inn for the 2017 Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Festival are currently sold out!

But, if you can find accommodations nearby, we’d love to have you join us at the kama’aina rates:

• FULL TIME – Includes all workshops, activities, evening performances, and three meals/day, Sunday –  Friday, Oct. 15 – 20 – $1,189

• DAY TIME – Includes lunch, only, and all day-time workshops and activities, Monday –  Friday, October 16 – 20  – $869

Be sure to visit the website for a full list of instructors and workshops they’ll be teaching.  We’ve got a little bit of something for everyone, including more expanded workshops for Hawaiian lap-steel guitar!

Register Now!

Kevin Carroll      Lehua AhSam      Gerald Ross      KonaBob      Kaliko Beamer-Trapp      Lady Ipo      Brad Bordessa

Lady Ipo Comes Back to Hawi!

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 various instruments (including the ‘ukulele), and danced hula in a 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 the staff of the 2017  Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat, October 15 – 21, in Hawi on the Big Island of Hawai’i.

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  for luaus at the various hotels at night. For many years she danced hula, shared stories of the islands, poured mai tais, emceed shows, and sewed leis. And thus began a career as a performer, recording artist, and teacher that has lasted 45 years!

And she’s not done yet!

Lady Ipo will be joining us at the Kohala Village Hub this year to teach Mele Pana (songs of the Hawaiian Islands) and Hula, bringing the lyrics to life through dance.  But, she’ll also be mixing it up a little bit and will be 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 Kauai filming “Blue Hawai’i.

Hawaiian music done traditionally or with a little swing, songs of old (and new) Hawaii, hula that tells the story in the song. . . . .these are the stylings of Lady Ipo Kahaunaele-Ferreira and this is just a small bit of what she will be sharing with us at the retreat.

Lady Ipo rounds out an already stellar staff with: Gerald Ross (lap steel and ‘ukulele), Kevin Carroll (‘ukulele and uke-stration), Brad Bordessa (‘ukulele), Kaliko Beamer (‘ukulele, stories, Hawaiian pronunciation, and rhythm), and KonaBob (stick bass and steel guitar).

And!  We still have a few rooms left at the Kohala Village Inn, if you’d like to join us! There really is no better place to learn to play the ‘ukulele than Hawai’i!

Register Now

Introducing Kaliko Beamer Trapp

Kaliko Beamer Trapp will always hold a special place in my heart.  He is the instructor who took this faltering, struggling ‘ukulele beginner with six thumbs on each hand, and got her to the point where she could change chords, strum, and sing (in Hawaiian). . . . .all at the same time. . . . .and with a certain amount of ease!  So Kaliko was a natural choice to teach our beginning ‘ukulele classes at the Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat. . . . . .and  this year, we were finally able  to nab him!

But, teaching beginning ‘ukulele is just the tip of the iceberg.

Kaliko, is the hānai (adopted) son of the late Aunty Nona Beamer and brother of famed Hawaiian slack key guitarist, Keola Beamer. He is an avid student of Polynesian culture and language and is a lecturer in Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo. And he’s a fabulous story teller who lovingly, and respectfully, recounts the ancient tales of his adopted homeland. He will be bringing all of that with him to this Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat, October 15 – 21, at the Kohala Village Inn in Hawi.

In addition to teaching ‘ukulele for beginners, Kaliko will be teaching a workshop on rhythm (something we all can use) with traditional Hawaiian percussion instruments and another workshop focusing on “Hawai’i Aloha,” the beautiful song that traditionally closes any Hawaiian gathering or ceremony. His students will also  learn the meaning and correct pronunciation of the Hawaiian words.  (Imagine if you heard a visitor enthusiastically singing “Tinkle, tinkle, little star!”. . . . .Don’t be that person!)

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

Kaliko’s fun-loving approach to ʻukulele and his ability to make everyone feel at ease as they chart new territory will be a huge benefit to all beginners at this year’s retreat. But what he brings for everyone else is every bit as valuable: a unique opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Hawaiian music, culture, history, language, and tradition . . . . . a very important piece of the puzzle that makes up this year’s Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat. We sincerely hope you can join us.

Register Now

(Hurry!   We only have 4 rooms left!)

Brad Bordessa: Hometown ‘Ukulele Hero

Brad Bordessa has been with the five-year-old Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat from the beginning. But I have known him much longer than that.

We first met at Keoki Kahamoku’s Hawaiian Lifestyle Workshop in Pahala, back in 2007. Brad was just 14 years old at the time, but even then, he showed amazing promise and 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 around him, but he did it in an unassuming and generous manner. Barely in their teens, Brad and a friend created Live ‘Ukulele,  one of the first on-line blogs devoted exclusively to the instrument. That blog, now more than 10 years old, is still maintained by Brad and is updated regularly with lessons, tabs, and gear reviews. To this day, it is a valuable resource for all students of the ‘ukulele.

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

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. That’s what he brings to the Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat each year, That’s why we keep asking him back.

Among other things we can expect from Brad at the retreat this year are some definitive workshops on ‘Ukulele Chord Shapes, since he just wrote the book on that subject. He’ll also be teaching us how to play using our ears–and not our eyes–and how to strum and pick to deliver a cleaner, more polished, sound, over all. For more advanced players, Brad will be teaching a brand new workshop on how to tab out some favorite tunes, so you can create your own arrangements with a little finger picking, alternate chords, and chord melody. And he’s putting together a jam of contemporary Hawaiian tunes.

Brad joins an all star line-up at this year’s retreat in Hawi, October 15 – 21, with Gerald Ross, Kevin Carroll, Kaliko Beamer Trapp, Lady Ipo, and KonaBob and will be adding to an already comprehensive list of classes and workshops for ukulele players of all skill levels and genres.

While the Kohala Village Inn is totally booked, you can still register for this year’s retreat if you can find someplace nearby to stay! (Search Airbnb or VRBO for Hawi–there were still some great options available the last time I checked!) Or, feel free to contact us in case there have been any last minute cancellations.

Here’s a little “freebie:”

Really, you really should take this opportunity to take some classes from Brad now, so you can say, “I knew him when.”