2nd Annual Willoughby Ukulele Orchestra Workshop

1st February 2020

Following last year’s successful workshop where over 55 people attended, this full-day workshop is again run by Ian Porter assisted by other James Hill -certified teachers who will guide you through 3 intensive tutoring sessions in the morning, based on your skill level (Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and expert- see below for information on levels) covering 3 mulit-part instrumental pieces. All pieces will have a competent bass player this year, or maybe a few of them.

This year we have a Jazz arrangement by James Hill, an excerpt from a Mozart symphony, and a pop tune (TBA). James’ arrangement is in 5 parts + bass – all picked, although Ian is creating a strumming part as well. The Mozart is also in 5 parts + bass + a strumming part. When you choose your skill-level you will be sent all the parts we think would work for you.

In the afternoon you will be combined with the other players for a rehearsal as a full ensemble. The day wraps up with a recording of your performance. All music is provided 1 month in advance, so you can start to practice your part. The workshop outcomes include:

  • provide understanding of what it means to be part of a structured orchestra
  • understanding conductor instructions and signals
  • listening critically to the other parts in the orchestra and how your part fits in
  • exposure to three different genres of music arranged for this special little instrument
  • HAVE FUN !!

Ukuleles of all sizes in standard C6 GCEA tuning are welcome. No baritone parts will be allocated, and no allowance for leftest handed chords or TAB. Three 45 minutes rehearsal sessions start at 9:00am sharp. There will be a 1 hour lunch break, where you can wander through the Restaurant precinct in Crows Nest and source food, then a session in the afternoon, with the final recording and performance concluding the workshop by 5pm. Morning and Afternoon refreshments will be provided. The number of spaces in each skill-Level is strictly limited.  

Contact Ian if you have any questions about this event


Crows Nest Community Centre
2 Ernest Place, Crows Nest, NSW, 2065


Workshop price for the full day, including all materials, audio practice files, tutoring, morning and afternoon tea and final recording is $150.00

There is an Early Bird 20% discount if you booking before 31st October

Click here to book

Skill Level Pre-requisites

All players must read either TAB or music notation (or both). Strumming parts will often be shown in slash notation as well as chord boxes.


Level 1 & strummers: 

  • Suits either High G or Low G configurations
  • Can tune your ukulele and do so regularly !
  • You know 1st position major & minor chords, for A, Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, plus D7, E7, F7, G7.
  • Might know first position barre chords, such as Bb7 (1211), F# (3121) (these may need a little practice and tutorials will be available on these chords specifically – don’t panic!)
  • Can thumb strum and simple up and down finger strumming,
  • You know some of the notes, by name, on the fret board up to 4th fret
  • Can pick the C major scale in first position in 1/4 notes at about 60bpm
  • You can keep a steady beat when strumming and picking
  • Have a basic understanding and experience reading TAB or notation
  • Please note for the James Hill arrangement and the Mozart there is a picking part which many Level 1’s could probably handle. If you select this level you will be sent the strumming and the picking part so you can consider both. We will need to ensure a good sound balance on the day, so it may be that you be asked to do one or the other.

Level 2:

  • In addition to Level 1 requirements:
    • You can play E chord, and some of the less common barre chord shapes
    • You are not freaked out by extension chords, including ‘5’ chords, some common augmented, diminished (like C# dim7 – [0101] ).
    • You can confidently play the island/calypso strum and other syncopated strums that emphasize the up (or off-beat) strum
    • You can play chuck (chunk) and basic fan strums.
    • You have experience with chords further up the neck, and moveable chords
    • You can pick some other major scales, may have some experience with pentatonic or blues scales. Scales should be able to be played as 1/4 notes @ 100 bpm
    • Have basic experience in picking multiple strings simultaneously
    • You have experience picking out notes, by name, above first position and across the fretboard
    • Has confidence reading more complex TAB or notation for melody lines
    • In the James Hill arrangement there will be two parts at level 2 and they are both picked and will suit either High or Low G tunings
    • In the Mozart, there will be a High G Level 2 part and a Low G Part. The high G part is slightly more advanced than the Low G… but only just..

Level 3:

  • Whilst generally written for High G, these parts could be played on Low-G in some cases. The Mozart has a low and high G part , both really important!
  • In addition to Level 2 requirement:
    • You can grab common movable chord/barre chord shapes (such as C7: 3433, F: 5558, F#7: 6667, Gmaj7: 7779) for major, minor, dominant 7th and min7th chords as required. There are not many strumming chords in these parts.
    • You have ‘some’ familiarity with and would not be phased by more complex chords, such as Am7b5
    • You can pick basic major scales at a moderate pace, possibly in broken 3rds. Scales should be able to be played as 1/4 notes at ~120-140 bpm
    • Has exposure to other scales possibly including major modes, pentatonic, or blues
    • You have experience in picking melodies all over the fretboard
    • Can pick multiple strings at once as part of melody or between strums.
    • Has no problems wth TAB or notation reading, particularly for single line melodies


  • High G only. If you can improvise (well), there may be an opportunity to do so in the James Hill Arrangement
  • In addition to Level 3 requirement:
    • You can play pretty much any chord anywhere on the fretboard, maybe sometimes you need to think first though
    • You can pick all major & minor scales, a few modes in all keys in 1/4 notes @ ~140+ bpm
    • You must be proficient playing melodies up the neck and using alternate fingering as required
    • Have no problems wth TAB or notation reading, particularly for single line melodies

Terms and conditions

Regular ticket price $150 per person (excludes early-bird)

Cancellation/refund: If YOU cancel within 10 calendar days of registration WE will refund the full payment made, less $20 in administration costs, but only for registrations made on or before 30th November 2019
For registrations that are older than 10 calendar days, or registrations made after 30th November 2019 if YOU cancel, you will receive a 50% refund, provided cancellation occurs prior to 1st January 2020.
If YOU cancel after 1st January 2020 for whatever reason there will be no refund.
In the unlikely event that WE cancel the event all monies paid (registration fees) will be refunded in FULL.

The organiser makes no representations as to the suitability of the workshop for your skill level or musical preferences.

All material supplied is strictly for the use of the participants, is for educational purposes only, and may not be copied or distributed to persons or organisations not registered at the event. Material will be emailed to participants via the email provided in the registration on or before 1st January 2020 in PDF format.

Any refreshments provided are consumed at the participants’ own risk, in terms of allergies, suitability and preference.

All participants must arrange all travel to and from the workshop at their own expense. Parking is available in the Hume Street Car Park https://www.northsydney.nsw.gov.au/Transport_Parking/Car_Parks/Hume_St_Crows_Nest for a daily rate of $10. The Venue is two blocks from this car park

Participants must be at least 16 years of age, and be responsible for their own behaviour. All participants must ensure they have read and can meet all playing skill prerequisites for their chosen level prior to registration. No refund will be made where due care of the participant or person making the booking has not met these requirements of playing.

The organiser reserves the right not to accept a registration without any claim or action, whether previously accepted on TryBooking or by any other means and will refund any payments in this case.