Nanaimo Ukulele Festival Zoom sing and strum February 21, 2021 at 2:00pm

What better way to brush away those winter blues than to dust off your Uke and join us for our Winter Workshop and Sing & Strum on Sunday, February 21st at 2PM.
We will kick off our Winter event with a workshop called: “Quick Tips: Learn a finger picking pattern for Hallelujah“. Using Leonard Cohen’s iconic song “Hallelujah”, you will learn a finger picking pattern.  The chords in the song are easy, even for beginner players, and the chord pattern repeats throughout the whole song. The Workshop will be led by Carol Johns, Level 3 JHUI instructor.  The lead sheet and the tablature will be sent out to everyone attending.
Immediately following Carol’s Workshop, Liz Debarros will once again lead us in a Sing & Strum, with Beth and Graham taking a turn at leading a song.
The Winter Workshop and Sing & Strum is once again a free event, and is limited to the first 100 registrants. Please note that there is only one link to register, which will give you access to both the Workshop and the Sing & Strum. There is no way to register for just one or the other.
Below is a link to Register.  Just click on this link and it will take you to the Zoom App where you will need to Register for our event. Once you have registered, you will get an email confirmation with the Zoom Meeting Link.
The Winter Workshop Materials, and Sing & Strum Songbook will be sent out a few days in advance of our get together.
We look forward to playing with you all again soon!
Organizing Committee
You are invited to a Zoom meeting.
When: Feb 21, 2021 02:00 PM Vancouver

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Upcoming Winter Workshop and Sing & Strum

January 18, 2021:

Have you ever thought it might be fun to lead a group in a sing & strum?  If so, we’d love to hear from you!

Planning is in the works for our next Sing & Strum in late February.  We thought it might be fun to mix things up a bit and have some of you lead us all in a song or two. We’re not looking for seasoned performers, but instead any level Ukester who is willing to step out of their comfort zone and give it a try. So if you’re reading this thinking “why not?”, all you have to do is to reply to this email before Friday, January 29th with:

1.  the titles of 1 or 2 (maximum) songs 
2.  song sheets (with chords) of the songs proposed 
3.  whether or not you are, or can be ready for our February event
We can’t wait to hear from you! Contact us by going to the contact form found on the right side bar.


January 12, 2021:

Why stop at Christmas? We had so much fun connecting with all of you before Christmas that we are itching to get back together with all of you again in February, 2021. The Nanaimo Ukulele Festival team are back at it again planning another Zoom get together for February 21. This time, we are offering a workshop of about 15-20 minutes on a finger picking pattern that you are all going to love. I will reveal the song a little later as we get closer to the date. You will also receive the music and a sound file to learn along with. There will also be a sing and strum with hopefully some of your favourite tunes.

Hope you can join us.


Virtual Christmas Sing & Strum

Hello Everyone!

The Nanaimo Ukulele Festival is happy to announce a virtual Christmas Sing & Strum on Sunday, December 13th beginning at 2:00PM.

Since we were unable to put on our Spring Sing & Strum, as well as our Fall Festival due to Covid, we thought we would try our hands at a ‘virtual festival” like so many out there are doing. With that in mind, what better way to kick off the Holiday Season than with a short Christmas Sing & Strum?

We will be posting the Zoom registration link shortly, so please “Save the Date” and start tuning your ukes, stretching your fingers and warming up your voices!!

Why learn music theory?

Why learn music theory? I know, I know, I often hear this from my ukulele students and I know when I see their eyes glaze over that they’ve had enough. But, that is a good question. Why learn music theory?

First of all, what the heck is music theory. Well, that’s a big question with a really, really big answer. Essentially, it’s the language and the rules of music. The theory explains what we hear: the why, how, where, when of playing an instrument, singing or listening to music.

Let’s say you are on holidays in a big, strange city. You pull out your map (we are all old enough to remember a map) and look for where you want to go and how to get there. If you don’t know how to read a map then that very colourful piece of paper becomes a bunch of lines, dots, names and colours that make no sense. Understanding music theory becomes your map to understanding the music. What are all those black dots on those lines mean, the flags on the lines of those black dots, the numbers, the squiggles, the funny Italian terms and all the marks on the page all have meaning and guide you, the musician, in interpreting the music.

Knowledge of the basic elements of music will enable you to read most forms of sheet music: how a melody changes depending on the time signature, musical terms, notation, key signatures, rhythm and melody writing, harmony, pitch, clefs, intervals, and chords all help you understand what you are playing.

Understanding the language of music opens up a world of communication with other musicians, not just ukulele players. You won’t feel left out of a conversation with other musicians when they start talking about a tune they are working on and using terms that sound like gobbledygook to you. Why not learn a little and be part of the conversation. You don’t have to know much, just enough.

Know why these chords sound good together and why these notes sound good over this chord. Why do these chords sound so dark. What is that chord progression all about? How can I copy that? Where else can I use this? What that tablature means and what the heck am I playing anyway? Know why that combination of notes sounds weird? Learning a little about music theory explains why something sounds the way it does. What if you want to make that sound again. Will you know how to do that? What sounds good together and why would you ever want to make something sound “off.”

Know that each note has a pitch and on a ukulele those notes occur on different frets on different strings. When I press down up higher on the fret board the pitch gets higher. Why is that? Music theory even explains that.

If you are into improvising, learning even a little music theory will help you improvise over the chord progressions in the piece of music you are playing freeing you from the printed page. Besides, you will sound darn good and impress yourself and all your friends. That’s when you really enjoy what you are playing and start having fun.

You will feel pretty darn good when the music theory light bulb goes off and you get what you are trying to play. When that happens you might find that you are learning tunes much faster and trying songs that are only written in musical notation. The possibilities are endless. Give it a try.

Where to play your ukulele when the festival is over




Ground Zero Ukulele Club – Unit 8, 484, Island Hwy E., Parksville. Meets on the 2nd & 4th Monday of each month 7pm for Sing & Strum. By donation, suggested $10, for full details

Qualicum Beach Seniors Centre – 703 Memorial Ave, Qualicum Beach. Ukulele drop in, Sing and Strum Mondays, 12.30pm – 2.30pm. Members $1

Uke Lessons with Liz – Parksville Ukulele Group Orchestra starting September 20th 2019. Go to for full details. Workshop, Group & Private Lessons go to


Arbutus Music School – 6324 Metral Drive, Nanaimo – Private Lessons –

call 250 933 1900 to book lessons

Nanaimo Harbour City Seniors – Nanaimo Parks and Recreation

*These classes require a Harbour City Seniors membership and registration for the group.

  • Ukulele in the Classroom Absolute Beginners – Booster Uke – October to December

  • Ukulele in the Classroom, Beginner Level 1 – Moving On – January to May

  • Ukulele in the Classroom, Level 2 – Step UP – October to May

  • Nordli Ukulele group. Tuesday afternoon from September to June 2020

  • Folk n Oldies Music Group – ukuleles and guitars – ongoing but limited spaces available.

  • Beginner Bluegrass Slow Pitch Jam – Friday morning – ongoing throughout the year

  • Bluegrass Band – Friday afternoon – ongoing throughout the year

  • Open mic and circle performance – Tuesday afternoon – ongoing throughout the year

  • Country and Western style band – Tuesday morning – September to June


Evergreen Ukulele Club – Comox Valley, B.C. The group meets regularly every 2nd and 4th

Tuesdays as part of the “Evergreen Seniors Club” in Courtenay. Since starting up 2 years ago, the group averages between 25-30 members for some fun, singing and strumming on the uke.

For more information contact Terry Hall: eMail – Ph. (250) 338-2163

Fretted Friends – Black Creek, B.C. The group meets every 1st and 3rd Thursday evenings at the Black Creek Hall. The meetings provide instruction and group playing for beginners and experienced ukulele enthusiasts in the Black Creek area on Vancouver Island.

Contact Lous Lucieer: eMail – phone: (250) 337-5447


Valley Seniors Ukulele Players, 198 Government St, Duncan
Contact: (250) 746-4433

Byron Thomson group, Mill Bay area

Brenda’s Brats, Mill Bay area

Chemainus Legion Ukulele Group (newly formed)

The Small Block Brewery, meet on Sundays for 2 hours. Contact Al –

Another “Great Little Festival” event this year

Wow! Didn’t we all have a great time this year with Cynthia Kinnunen, Kim Bjerga, Clark Holmes, and Andrew Nufer of the Naked Waiters  and Bill Naylor, Ade Barnum, Dean Williams and Liz DeBarros of the Revolving Doors. 

The workshops were well attended and we received very positive feedback from the participants. The Saturday night concert was a hit with stellar performances by Cynthia and The Naked Waiters. It was truly a wooo hooo time.

Sunday afternoon was a blast with several performances kicked off by Katelyn & Mira, followed by several excellent open mic players. Then the concert with the Revolving Doors proved to be a big hit again this year. The sing and strum, led by the Revolving Doors showed that 100+ ukesters and friends always do have a great time when we all get together. All the performers and organizers, Liz, Melissa and Carol got up on stage to close the festival with a rousing rendition of Hey Jude. 

And, I think I can say, that a great time was had by all.

We will be posting pictures and comments that we receive on the blog. I will also be putting up information about where you can get involved with groups in your community if you play the uke and want to connect with others.

We’d love to hear your feedback and any comments. Please get in touch.

Carol, Liz and Melissa


After the festival was over, Melody and Russ offered to take the Naked Waiters, Kim, Clark and Andy, on a sailing trip off the shores of Nanaimo. Here is the video that Melody took during their three hour tour.


The countdown to the 2018 Nanaimo Ukulele Festival

Well, we only have four days to go before the festivities begin. We are so excited to bring Vancouver Island ukesters another fantastic festival full of fun, frivolity and ukulele fever this coming weekend at the Nanaimo Ukulele Festival. 

Bringing you Cynthia Kinnunen from Guelph, Ontario, a highly skilled and masterful teacher of the ukulele. There are still a few spots open in her Ookestra workshop so it’s not to late to join in on a fantastic and fun festival experience.

Words from one of Cynthia’s students: “Right from the first lesson, Cynthia taught me a lot, from strumming techniques, to tricks of the instrument.  Cynthia is a fantastic teacher, and she brings such a passion for music to her teaching. When she plays, you can tell that Cynthia loves what she does, and that is crucial in a teacher. If you’re young and just starting out in the music world, or if you have a few years in your sails and want to bring a little uke into your life, I recommend contacting Cynthia. I can’t wait until my next lesson!”  – Emma B.

I can hardly wait to experience the musical talent and ability of the boys in the Naked Waiters group. They characterize themselves with their “impressive ukulele playing, nice hair and handsome harmonies that set the mood for any event.” The “Waiters” are also gaining an impressive resume of bookings at international ukulele festivals.

Don’t wait too long to pick up your concert tickets for the Saturday evening performance.

Parksville’s own Revolving Doors along with Mira and Katelynn and local open mic performers will bring local ukulele spirit to finish off the Festival on Sunday afternoon. Lets fill the Neighbourhood Church with great music and a rousing jamboree of ukulele playing and singing like the world is watching. Come on down for a whole lot of fun. Come even if you don’t play the ukulele (yet). 

Hope to see you all there. Bring a friend.

D’Addario Ukulele Hub

D’Addario, one of our Festival supporters, has some fun info on their website that might help you find your ukulele personality and propel you off in a surprising direction in your ukulele playing journey. Click on the image below to find out your ukulele playing personality.

Find Your Ukulele Personality

Ukulele – on line magazine link

Here is a link to a really great online Ukulele Magazine.

The Ukulele Magazine is jam packed with all kinds of tips, tutorials, gear info, stories and just way too much good stuff to mention. Click on the link above and check it out.

There is an article in this month’s Ukulele On Line Magazine about Cynthia Kinnunen. Take a peak and check it out here.

Why I Uke: Cynthia Kinnunen’s Soul-Nourishing Return to Ukulele