Since 2010 Mark Jackson and Jane Jelbart have been building an international reputation for unique, entertaining and educational Ukestration workshops. Our home is in Newcastle NSW, but we have had the privilege of delivering Ukestration workshops in such far flung places as Canada, the USA, Hanoi (Vietnam) and Port Macquarie (Australia).
This page will help you decipher what we call ‘ukestration’. Here you will find out where we have upcoming ukestration workshops, and a couple of videos. We deliver ukestration workshops for players (aiming to diversify your group playing style and to expand your skills and enjoyment potential). This page is all about that.
What is Ukestration?
Ukestration is where contemporary songs are arranged into parts for a ukulele orchestra. The very essence of a ukestra is inclusion, so the parts need to cater for a wide range of abilities.
Need a part that can be played by old arthritic fingers? Ukestrate.
Need a part that can hold the interest of a seasoned social player? Ukestrate.
But a great part of ukestration is also incorporating good vocal arrangements.
A ukestrated song not only holds the attention of a wide range of players, but also of the audience.
Where did Ukestration come from?
No big deal really. Orchestras do it with virtuoso musicians. Why can’t we?!!!
Mark and Jane work hard in their local communities around the Newcastle area of Australia. Here they teach ukulele to up to 150 adults and 60 children each week, using a ‘ukestra’ format that combines entertainment, music education and social connection.
Using this experience as a base, the ukestration approach has also been refined by learning from others.
Mark and Jane were the first Australians to complete the three years of the James Hill Ukulele Initiative (JHUI) in Canada and now partner with James to deliver the JHUI in Australia.
However they have also been inspired by the extraordinary abilities and entertainment of the Langley Ukulele Ensemble.
But it is the commitment of their local adult ukestras – a commitment where ‘non-musicians’ have learned to be musicians and performers, and the need to provide parts for all manner of abilities – that has been the most inspiring. The ukestration approach was so successful that in their first appearance at a national ukulele festival in Australia (Melbourne Ukulele Festival 2011), the ‘Ukastle Ukestra’ amazed everyone with their entertaining ukestrated performance. This resulted in the tongue-in-cheek awarding of the ‘Golden Ukulele’ for best community group of the festival.
Out of these experiences, Mark and Jane have distilled a two hour ‘Ukestration’ workshop that has attracted accolades from all over the world.
We love meeting and being with people from all walks of life in other communities in the world. This is one of the main reasons why we run these Ukestration workshops. But we also want people to more skillfully engage with all the potential that the ukulele offers, to get beyond ‘hum n strum’.
- NSW & Victoria 2010 – today. Inverell, Dungog, Brisbane, Bendigo, Forbes, Melbourne, Port Macquarie, Folk Festivals, Mission Beach, Atherton. And let’s not forget Newcastle, NSW, almost every day of the week! (If you are in the area, feel free to pop in).
- Melbourne Ukulele Festivals 2012, 2013 and 2014.
- Newkulele Festival 2012 and 2014
- Hanoi & Singapore – April 2013
- 2011-2016 – the West Coast of Canada and the USA.
- 2013 & 2015 – New Zealand
To give you an idea of the finished product from a workshop, here is a video from one of our two sold out workshops at Ukulele Movement in Singapore in April 2013.
And if you wish to know about how we impacted on Hanoi (Vietnam), then this little TV article will help you!
What have others said about the Ukestration Workshop?
The greatest review we have had of our work is this —> a recording of the Bellingham Ukulele Group (WA, USA) playing their version of The Middle. They even changed the name of the song! (File is about 3mb).
Gail McDonald loves ukestrating, and has adapted this Jimmy Eat World song in a fully conceptualised and well measured ukestration of our original adaptation. Chinese Whispers at its best!
If you want some other versions – here is a rehearsal of the Ukastle Ukestra (soundcloud).
*Some Reviews *from the Sacramento Ukestration Workshop in August 2012.
Thanks to Stu Herreid from the Strum Shop for the workshop, and for these comments from his Meetup site.
These guys were outstanding!!!!!!!!!!! Funny, informative, talented, well taught. If you missed them this time, they will be back in a year… Don’t miss them then!
This was amazing. I love how all different levels were able to participate to create a beautiful full sound. I hope we can continue more of this here locally
This was a very fun workshop. Having the group play different parts made the music dynamic. The instructors were very entertaining and engaging.
This was a bunch of fun, and I went home with a number of great ideas for working with my kids group!
Mark Jackson and Jane Jelbart, the instructors, did a marvelous job teaching 22 ukulele players with various skill levels how to play songs and sound professional while doing so. I think they are top notch instructors and I would gladly take another workshop from them.
It started slowly while they assessed where we all were in uke levels and then the workshop gathered steam and was great. They introduced a number of interesting techniques to accompany those who only plays chords making for a more diverse and entertaining song. Thanks Stu for making it happen for us. Bob
What a wonderful night it was. The instructors were a lot of fun and very knowledgeable about the music and the Ukulele. We got to learn a couple of new songs and how to read tabs (we are such novices.) The workshop was entertaining and informative, the time just flew by. We are looking forward to attending some more workshops in the future.