2017 Camp Workshops!

Here’s a list of some the workshops, jam sessions, and string-alongs we’ll be offering at Camp Oo-Koo-Lay-Lay this year.  But don’t think for a minute that this will be all.  Our instructors are ready, willing, and able to help you, in any way they can, achieve ‘ukulele satisfaction.

Thursday – Session 1

All Together Now!

Here’s something that isn’t covered nearly enough! But in this popular workshop, Rhan Wilson will teach the basics of playing in a group: how to count in songs, lead and follow, group dynamics, and how to listen while playing – a rarely taught, but necessary skill. As always, rhythm is the key to Rhan’s instruction, along with a healthy dose of optimism and encouragement. And you’ll get to play a few tunes with Rhan, to boot! This workshop is a must for everyone who leads or plays with a group. (All Levels)

Claw Hammer Uke

No, it’s not an ‘ukulele made out of a hammer, or even one that’s played with a hammer. “Claw hammer” is actually a rhythmic technique, developed initially on the banjo, that works beautifully in slow, soulful ballads as well as foot-stomping barn-burners. And, it’s a natural fit for the ‘ukulele. Dave Egan, a closet banjo-player who has been teaching claw-hammer-style banjo for years, is now prepared to come out in the open and teach this technique to players of the ‘ukulele as a great way to explore a bit of melody playing on the uke and venture into the world of Bluegrass music. In the process students will learn a few fiddle tunes and begin to embrace the multi-cultural capacity of their mighty little ‘uke. The only requirement is that you bring an ‘ukulele with a “high” G string…a low G just won’t cut it.  (Level 2 – 4)

It’s All About That Bass

At last!  A chance to learn some of the finer points of playing ukulele bass from Lynn Sokolow, a master at her craft! Lynn’s workshop will not only include simple fretboard patterns that can be played all over the neck in any key, she will also cover basic concepts of rhythm variations, as well as how to build a bass line using chords and scales. You’ll be playing through songs at a basic level and then stepping it up gradually to allow for more improvisation.  You will be taught what a bass player needs to do to immediately participate in group jams and performances (along with the appropriate etiquette) and how to handle being worshiped by the group for doing so! (All levels)

Thursday – Session 2

Ukulele Blues

Come lose the blues by playing the blues with Fred Sokolow, the man who wrote the book! And since the blues is at the heart of all forms of American music (jazz, rock, country, you name it) you really do need to learn to play the blues on your uke.  In addition to strumming some classic blues tunes in this workshop, you’ll learn some single-note soloing/jamming techniques that will help you ad lib blues solos regardless of the key you’re playing in. You’ll also learn how to play blues chord changes in any key, using movable chord shapes. (Level 2 – 3)

Isometric ‘Ukulele

The notion that it takes hours and hours each and every day to kick your technique upstairs is a bit of a myth. The reality is that Dave Egan has some simple focused exercises can build your coordination very quickly. In this workshop you will learn a few valuable exercises that are like tongue twisters for your hands and will help you gain greater dexterity while making fast, smooth chord changes in less time than you think. Eliminate the wasted motion and see how quickly precise, relaxed strumming and picking are yours.  (Level 2 – 4)

Taking the Mystery out of SongWriting

Have you thought about writing a song, or two, but just didn’t quite know where, or how, to start?  If so, then this may be a great way to while away a couple of hours at the retreat with Rick Zeek, who will help guide you through the process, from lyrics to melody and rhythm. Start from scratch or bring a tune you have been working on to a safe place to unleash your creative muse. (All Levels)

Thursday – Session 3

Fred’s Blues Jam

Here is a great opportunity to play with the big boys and lose the blues at the same time.  Bring whatever instrument floats your boat–guitar, harmonica, bass, mandolin, Dobro, or even your uke and learn how to love the blues while you discover or hone your jamming skills. Fred, musician’s musician will lead you through some classic blues tunes and offer tips to improve your back-up and soloing.  At the same time you’ll learn some of the standard protocols of playing music with other people so you can jam like a pro the next time opportunity strikes. (All Levels)

Thursday – Session 4

Band Practice

What’s the point of all those new-found ukulele skills if you can’t put them to use in a public setting? But maybe you are just the tiniest bit shy. (Or not!)  In any case, we are going to pair you and few others with one of our illustrious band leaders and together you will create a performance piece to share with the rest of us on Saturday night. So bring your ideas, props, costumes, and any other instruments you might have laying around the house and get ready to have some musical fun. There really is no better way to take to the stage, especially if you are new to the game, as part of a band performing for your new best friends. (All Levels)

Friday – Session 1

Rhythm and Strumming

Whether you know just one chord on the ukulele or a jillion, you still have to get a grip on what rhythm is and how it works if you want to be any good. In this workshop, Rhan Wilson will teach you how to turn your right arm into a rhythm machine that will keep you synced up with everyone else, so no matter what sound you make while you are playing,  you will at least be “in time.” And once you understand rhythm, you won’t need to learn a new strum – you will be making them up faster than you can find songs to use them with! And this, from an instructor who spent many years playing drums and percussion, so he knows rhythm. Rhan also understands that some of you will be entering an unfamiliar world, and will take it slow and make sure that no one gets left behind. (All Levels)

Swing Set

“When I take my sugar to tea……..” Such a great tune, and one that doesn’t get anywhere near as much attention as it deserves.  But we’re going to change all that. In this workshop, Dave Egan will be using this, and a few more classic swing-era tunes, such as Sweet Sue and Bye Bye Blues, to teach you how to play just about any swing tune in the up-tempo, swing style reminiscent of Django Reinhardt. Before you know it you’ll be “as Ritzy as you can be.” This a mid to advanced level workshop that is all about learning some cool songs and how to play them with loads of swing. (Level 3 – 4)

It’s All About That Bass (Description above)

Friday Session 2

Banjo Styles for the ‘Ukulele 

If your uke is armed with “high” G string,  you can play both old-time and bluegrass banjo styles with it. And who better to teach you than Fred Sokolow who wrote a book on this very topic. In this workshop you’ll learn some basic picking and strumming patterns you can use on any tune (claw hammer and Skruggs-style) and some of the tunes from Fred’s book: such as Wabash Cannonball, Bile Them Cabbage Down, Friend of the Devil, and Paint it Black!  Who knew? (Level 2 -3)

The Right Right Hand

Most of us are right-handed.  Even so, we’re usually so busy focusing on what our left hand is doing on the ‘ukulele that we let our right hand just laze along.  Not anymore!  In this workshop, Dave Egan is going to help you get your right hand in gear. It’s your right hand, after all, that can make your ‘ukulele sound as sweet as a harp or as rhythmically compelling as a swing guitar or a Dixieland banjo. Through a series of picking and strumming exercises and specifically chosen tunes, Dave will show you how to combine picking and strumming in a relaxed, open style that will unlock the elusive right hand. Both novice and advanced players will have much to learn in this class where the emphasis will be on playing…a lot.  (Level 2 – 4)

Take the Mystery Out of Songwriting (Description above)

Friday – Session 3

Fred’s Classic Country Jam

If you’re looking for “Achy Breaky Heart,” you won’t find it here.  Instead you’ll learn to play “real” country music made famous by Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Ernest Tubb, Buck Owens, Roy Acuff, and others. And the best part is, they only 3 or 4 chords. Fred will spell out the progression and, if you want, you will take turns playing backup and soloing on the best country music there is. Whatever instrument you play, here’s your chance to learn to jam with other players or hone your chops if you already know how, in the most supportive environment imaginable. (All Levels)

Friday – Session 4

Band Practice (Description above)

Saturday – Session 1

Open Mic and On-Stage

With the growing popularity of open mics and uke groups performing for functions – it’s hard to know how to properly use all the equipment and how to communicate with the person operating the sound system. In this workshop, Rhan Wilson will explain how to properly use a microphone, how and where to stand, and what you need to prepare for your time onstage, including some helpful tips on how to overcome stage fright, and the ever-present lack of confidence.  It may just be the little boost you need to not only take to the stage, but be successful at the same time. (All Levels)

Cliff Notes: Arrangements for ‘Ukulele

American songbook standards get murdered everyday on the internet, the last place you should go for your favorite songs. But you can prevent this carnage by going straight to the original source and creating your own, authentic arrangements, and in a key that works for you! In this workshop Dave Egan will show you how to do just that while you also explore advanced (but not really crazy) chord shapes, partial chords, and common chord substitutes that make fast work of complex original scores and complicated turn-arounds. At the same time he’ll help reduce your fear of long-winded chord names and show you how easily even they can be played on the uke. Sample arrangements and chord shape charts will be provided. (Level 3 – 4)

All About That Bass (Description above)

Saturday – Session 2

Understanding Chord Progressions

Ah. The magical Circle of Fifths!” Let Fred Sokolow help you unlock the mystery and power of this amazing device and learn how chord progressions work in pop, jazz, blues, rock, country…..any genre, at all. And (just in case you’re wondering why you need to know this) once you learn these patterns, it will be that much easier to learn new songs and be able to play them in any key (instead of having to memorize everything & learn by rote). There’ll be more than one “light bulb moment” as Fred illuminates the types of chord movement in all kinds of songs. Better wear your shades.  (Level 2 – 3)

Jerome Kern Classics

“Someday, when you’re awfully low…….” you’ll wish you could play some of Jerome Kern’s timeless classics on your ‘ukulele.  Well, here’s your chance.  Our own master arranger Dave Egan will be taking some time away from the recording studio this year to help you navigate a couple of relatively complicated Kern tunes such as “The Way You Look Tonight,” “I Won’t Dance,”  and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” with irresistible melodies and lyrics, but tricky modulations through the bridges. Dave’s arrangements, with the proper choice of chord voicing, will help you master the vocal key shifts at the bridge. You’ll come away with an enhanced understanding of music and a couple of great arrangements of Kern’s classics that will help you enjoy the complexity of his arrangements without cutting corners. (Level 4)

Take the Mystery Out of Songwriting (Description above)

Saturday – Session 3

Fred’s Beatles/Stones Jam

What a great way to learn some classic tunes from two of the world’s greatest rock bands, ever. You pick the tunes, Fred lays out the chord progressions, and everybody plays, with those who feel confident taking a solo or two. If you need help with chord shapes or soloing ideas and techniques, the maestro is there to help. Again, all instruments are welcome! There is no better way to learn than to play, and no better way to play than with others. (All Levels)

Saturday – Session 4

Band Practice (Description above)


Matthew, Mark, Uke & John

Join Rick Zeek and Rhan Wilson Sunday morning for an ukulele sing-along experience featuring uplifting and spiritual songs in the Americana genre and more. You’ll be singing tunes from their popular MMUJ songbooks (available for purchase from the camp store, if you don’t already own one), but stay on your toes ‘cuz the R&R duo like to mix things up a bit with the arrangements: calling out alternate chords and endings to suit the moment. This one is tried and true and just plain fun! (All Levels)

Every Day!

Visit with the Uke Guru

Come into the tent, take a seat, and spend 10 – 15 minutes with the Uke Guru and ask him anything you want. . . . .(perferably about how to improve your ‘ukulele skill.)  This is an opportunity to have your very own private lesson with the Uke Guru, one of the most experienced, compassionate, and distinguished ‘ukulele teachers in California. (All Levels)


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