The Home of Ukulele Orchestras in the Hunter Valley, NSW
We teach ukulele, but more importantly, we help you connect to a community that values music in their lives. We run ten weekly Ukestras (ukulele orchestras) for all ages in the Lower Hunter.
‘We’ are Mark and Jane, and friends and co-workers – Danielle Scott, Dianne Murray, Leigh I’Anson and Susan Gleeson. Every month there is a beginners ukulele workshop, as well as numerous Ukulele Entrée (six week) courses which teach the basics of ukulele musicianship.
We also teach children in Jukestras (Junior Ukestras) – in schools and after school. Bronwyn Sartori and Julia Rutten really give us a big helping hand with this teaching.
Our community choir (Ukestral Voices) meets each week and there is even a banjo group that meets once a month (Mark wishes that we did not mention that; but that is merely the legacy of many year’s of awful banjo jokes).
Every week of the year (except maybe Christmas) The Sum of The Parts (Music) helps between 160 and 200 adults, and 60 children to make music and to learn, together.
Why do we do this? To help people have fun together through music. This video shows these efforts at our best. Thanks to Groovy Banana for a wonderful production.
This is community music at its best; people of all ages coming together and having a go!
Mark and Jane also play in a couple of bands including a blurgrass acoustic group called The Do Riders, and with Danielle Scott to form ukulele trio – SQ3. They also play for the occasional wedding, birthday party and other celebrations of life (and death. Yes. Funerals too).
And just because this doesn’t make us anywhere near busy enough, we travel and teach ukestration too: Vietnam, Singapore, Vancouver B.C., the west coast of USA, Hawaii (of course) and even (!) Australia. Ukestration is a way of teaching ukulele that is fun and seductive; sometimes you don’t even know that you are learning music theory! And it seems that others want to learn our ways, so we go there and teach ‘em.
Need to know more?
But if you are in to delving more deeply, here are a couple of videos that might satisfy your information thirst. This first video is a news report of Jane and Mark’s beginners / ukestration workshop in Hanoi, Vietnam in April 2013.
The ukulele helps create community
We are quite committed to helping people connect together using music. We all need community, and the uke can be just what the doctor ordered for so many people.
Mark has spoken about this in a couple of forums, and you may find some of it interesting.
ABC 1233 Storybox Interview
In August 2014 Mark was the chance recipient of the ABC1233 Storybox. This is a recording of that 13 minute interview on breakfast radio.
Alternatively, have a look at this 16 minute presentation by Mark at TEDxNewy back in November 2011.
We do hope that you are playing music with others, somewhere and somewhen in your life. If you need a hand with that, grab a ukulele and come and see us.