4 Week Playing in a Ukulele Orchestra Course…

This course consists of (the usual Learn To Uke format) four 2 hour sessions working towards a “performance” of two finished pieces (selected on week 3 to suit the group) and arising from the techniques and experimentation undertaken. Participants only need to bring their instrument(s).

The course will explore the experience of playing ukulele in an orchestra of up to 14 players. Collective playing is always enjoyable but at its best can become intoxicating. With ensemble playing we will; seek to perform in a way that is contrasting but congruent and complimentary, present light and shade, and pose technical challenges suitable to players from a wide range of experiences and styles.

The aim of the course will be to:

  • Provide a supported and directed experience of playing in an orchestral/ensemble context.
  • Give all participants the opportunity to make a contribution to the musical whole, irrespective of experience.
  • Offer solo players the chance to develop their skills of playing with other musicians of differing interests and abilities.
  • Encourage “sympathetic listening” as part of the participants’ overall musical skills.
  • Improve the confidence of all participants

About the (awesome) teachers:

Awesome Andy Astle, Playing at the Royal Albert Hall with The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

Awesome Andy Astle, Playing at the Royal Albert Hall with The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.


Andy Astle took up the ukulele in the mid 80’s as a founder member of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, with whom he played for the first ten years. He continues his ukulele playing alongside guitar, having used it in a variety of professional contexts from arrangements of early European music, to contemporary ‘left field’ rock with ‘Band of Holy Joy’, and his continuing solo work. He is an experienced teacher and performer, and has a special fondness for massed ranks of ukes, and a fascination with the ‘dark side’ of the ukulele.


'Noodly' Nick Browning, playing at the Royal Albert Hall with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

‘Noodly’ Nick Browning, playing at the Royal Albert Hall with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain


Nick Browning has been active within the London ukulele community since 2006, performing, teaching and helping to organise events. He studied music at the City University and the classical guitar at the Guildhall School of Music. He has worked with George Hinchliffe (of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain) on original arrangements and performances of the classical repertoire for the Ukulele and in 2011 played on Joe McElderry’s “Classic” album which reached #2 in the charts.

Ukulelezaza Strum Fun Ukulele Workshop…


We are really excited to announce the arrival of the Brilliant, Belgian Ukulele Superstar Ukulelezaza, and the Ukulelezaza Strum Fun Workshop!  This event has been opened up to Learn To Uke Alumni.

Belgian Superstar Ukulelezaza

This is The Belgian Superstar Ukulelezaza

Ukulele Strum Fun Workshop

As a master of the right hand and a well experienced teacher, Zaza’s workshop on strumming techniques is a must-attend for anyone interested in traditional syncopated rhythm techniques, like the triplet, split stroke and swing jazz. One finger, two fingers, three fingers… You will leave this workshop with a few quintessential ukulele strums up your sleeve.

If you want to know all about the man himself, read on:

Ukulelezaza (real name Remco Houtman-Janssen) started playing ukulele at age 11, following in his mother’s footsteps, who organised George Formby meetings and sang and played ukulele and uke-banjo in several bands. In his teens he lost interest, but then rediscovered the uke in 1994, in his early twenties, and has been playing passionately ever since.

From the mid-1990s onwards Zaza played in Hawaiian bands for about eight years and attended about a dozen ukulele events in the UK, which formed the basis of his style of playing. Nowadays, when performing solo, Zaza mostly plays 1920s/30s music and original instrumentals, and uses a variety of ukuleles: Martin soprano and taropatch, National resonator, plastic Ukette and the instrument that started it all for him, the uke-banjo (a fine Ludwig). His gentle touch and overall right hand mastery rank him amongst Europe’s finest ukulele players, and he has performed at many ukulele festivals throughout the world. He is a well experienced ukulele teacher for all levels, with a bag of tricks second to none. Zaza is also the co-founder and organiser of the Belgian Ukulele Festival, which had its first edition in 2007.

Early 2011 he released his first solo album, Painting The Clouds With Sunshine, on which he plays ukulele, plectrum banjo, plectrum guitar and lapsteel guitar, backed by acoustic guitar, accordion, bass and tuba. Spring 2012 he published his first ukulele instruction book featuring tabs of his solo arrangements of famous and more obscure songs from the Golden Jazz Era. The book also features information about and plenty of photographs of the vintage ukuleles Zaza passionately collects, including Martin and National.

So, there you have it.  17 October, 6.30pm.  Be there, or be square!

10 ways to improve your ukulele playing…

We often get asked for tips on how to become a better ukulele player.  Here’s a few ideas to help you along and help you to improve your ukulele playing.

absolute beginners ukulele course in London

1.  Get lessons.  Come and learn in a group with us.

We were bound to say that, right?  And yes, there are many other ways to learn to play the ukulele.  You can learn from a book, you can learn via YouTube, you can learn from your pals, or at a jam night.  The thing is, when you book lessons with a teacher, you’re getting their years of experience, with hints, tips and guidance. They’ll watch your technique, and answer your questions and go over it until you’re confident.  When you learn in a group, it’s more fun, you can socialise with your peers and it gives you the impetus to want to play along.  Ukulele is a social instrument, after all.

2.  Do your homework.  Practice playing, (and singing).

Yes, the dreaded P word.  But, all the greats practice for many, many hours to be come accomplished musicians.  You’ll be happy to know that you don’t need to spend quite that many hours practicing to strum along with your chums down the pub, but to play the songs well, you should take some time playing on your own at home.  Practice can be divided up into a few more points…

3.  Practice the things you find hardest most often.

It’s all well and good keep playing a song, but getting stuck at one point.  Practice the point that you get stuck on so that you don’t get stuck and you can play that song you love in it’s entirety, well.

4.  Strumming (and singing).

“It’s a bit like patting your head and rubbing your tummy.”  Yes, it is.  It’s also like driving a car and chatting to your passenger, when you first pass your test.  These things are possible, but first you need to get comfortable with the first thing, and introduce the second as soon into it as you can.  In the case of strumming, strum in a regular even tempo, repeating the strum so you are comfortable, and then sing as soon as you are able to stop concentrating on what your hand is doing.  Keep trying to take away the focus from your hand.

5.  Chord changing.

If that’s the bit that you’re finding difficult, take the two, three, or however many chords in succession that you’re hesitant on switching between and keep looping them until you find it easy to switch between them.

6.  Timing.

If you’re struggling to keep in time, try playing along with the track you like, or grab a metronome (there are free apps available).  Play along and keep in time with the track or metronome and don’t let the previous stumbling points stop you!

7.  Play at a local ukulele jam.  

In London there are loads including Ukulele Wednesdays, every Wednesday. Playing with others is not only fun, but a good way to meet others and get better if you’re in your early playing stages.


Ukulele Wednesdays at the Albany, London.

Ukulele Wednesdays, London.

8.  Make audio recordings.

There are many ways to make free audio recordings of your playing.  Voice recorder apps are widely available on most smartphones, free of charge.  Record yourself singing the song, and wait for a week to listen back to it.  You’ll notice any areas for improvement and you can work on them.

9.  Make video recordings.

Very much like audio recordings, you can get a lot from watching yourself a while after you’ve recorded yourself playing and singing.  You can spot any areas for improvement and work on them.  It’s reported that Tina Turner and Usher watch their tapes immediately after every performance.  Whilst we don’t suggest you become this level of perfectionist if you are just playing for fun, it’s good to see where you’re up to by watching yourself after you’ve played.  Hell, if you love your performance, you could pop your cover version on YouTube for everyone to enjoy.

10.  Go and play at an open mic night.

There are many ukulele open mic nights or standard open mic nights where you can unleash your talents on the world.  You’ll be in a wonderful supportive environment, and you’ll know from the audience feedback how your performance is doing.

How to play the G chord, here.

See how to play Bb chord on the ukulele, here.

How to play the E chord, on the ukulele here.

Do you want 6 basic strum patterns to get you going? See more here.

If you’re in London, UK, you’ll learn this in our courses. Book your course to join us in London.

If you’re not, please support us on Patreon so you can get access to all our upcoming online tutorials and challenges.