Yuke's Ukes

Living life, singing songs, teaching, and telling stories



Ukulele at The Red Lion in Lincoln Square!

I’ll be hosting a couple of ukulele jams/sing-a-longs at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square this summer and I want you to join me! We’ll do some tunes by the Beatles, Leonard Cohen, Folk Songs, and any other requests we get from the crowd. The Queen wants to hear you sing!

Who: YOU!

What: Ukulele Jam/Sing-a-long

Where: The Red Lion, 4749 N Rockwell St, Chicago, IL 60625

When: 7:30pm, specific dates to be determined

ImageWe’ll gather around 7:30pm for a brief lesson to learn some chords and then from 8:00 on play, sing, share stories,  and enjoy the fabulous atmosphere, libations, and food at The Red Lion. I’m going to toss out a couple of dates below to figure out when we can get the most people together. Make a comment on this post to say you’d like to come on a specific day or days. Bring a uke if you have one, but I’ll have about 15 ukes to share, chord charts, and music. More details soon!

Possible Dates

Tuesday, July 9th

Saturday, July 13th

Sunday, July 14th

Tuesday, July 16th

Wednesday, July 17th



Here’s the Story: An evening of storytelling and participatory music making!


This evening I’ll be gathering with some amazing storytellers and people from all over Chicago at Theater Wit to exchange stories, share some delicious food, and play/sing a song together.

Here’s the Story is this amazing not-for-profit bringing together Chicago’s various creative communities, creating opportunities for connection, and fostering the art of storytelling and listening. They  provide a platform of support for the work of known and developing storytellers, monologists, and solo performers. It’s pretty amazing.

If you have the evening free and want to mingle and meet some really swell people from all walks of life AND join in some participatory music making then you should drop by and check it out! Hope to see you there, if not tonight, perhaps another month.

Tonight’s Show:

Where: Theater Wit

When7:30 potluck/ 8pm show

Tickets: $8 at the door, FREE if you bring a dish for the potluck
to avoid being turned away, please purchase tickets in advance here!

Check Out Leading Notes!

I recently wrote a piece for Leading Notes, a online music education magazine.  It details the ukulele project, cross-curricular learning as well as how it helped me grow as an educator. Sometimes we are unaware of the personal and professional growth we are experiencing until it is over or at least plateaus.  For me the ukulele project was something that came out of an effort to take more risks and expand the breadth and reach of my teaching–in the end it did all of that and continued to change me as an educator.

Check out the new issue, “Educating the New Educator” and my piece, “Grad School, Big Dreams and Little Ideas:  Cross Curricular Learning and Yuke’s Ukes”.  

Remembering Why

The last couple of weeks are a little hazy (much like this photo), but I am happy to say that all the ukes—every last one—is now strung and somewhat in tune! Applying polyurethane with an HVLP (high volume, low pressure) sprayer was great for the ukes, but easily one of the most exhausting tasks I have ever undertaken. After that, we still had to string them, but I’ll detail that process on the uke project page soon.

This week in class, I was reminded of why I wrote the grant that led to the craziness that has been life over the past couple of months. We played. We sang. We made mistakes. We learned something new. We laughed, and we had FUN. I sincerely hope that the experiences we have had throughout this project are just the beginning for my students. They have created a unique instrument from scratch, and have shared that experience and the experience of social music making with their peers. We have given them what they need to enjoy a lifetime of music making in whatever capacity they wish. Perhaps they’ll continue to play and advance in their abilities. Perhaps, they will write their own songs, teach a sibling how to play, or just play casually every now and then with friends and family. Whatever their choice, I’m happy they have the abilities and experiences to make it.

On Monday, International Ukulele Hero, Jake Shimabukuro, will join us via Skype. Early on in the project, we reached out to Jake just to let him know what we were up to; and soon, we were trying to figure out a way to include him in our project. The kids’ first introduction to the ukulele was a video of Jake talking about ukulele and how playing it has changed his life. It is fitting that we will culminate the project by coming together with Jake to play for each other, share some music, and have fun. I encourage you to do the same this week. Come together with some friends, share some music, and have some fun.

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