Beginners Group Lessons and Workshops starting in January2023

Liz DeBarros is holding another session of Absolute Beginner Group Lessons at the McMillan Arts Centre in Parksville starting on Wednesday January 25th 4pm – 5pm. Six, one hour lessons $150 – for full details go or to register email

Also on offer are two essential skills workshops –

Saturday January 21st 2023 2.00pm – 3.30pm MYSTERY OF CHORDS

Learn how and when to use a capo and how to change the key of a song to suit your singing voice – $30 plus $18 if you need a capo

Saturday February 25th 2023 2.00pm to 3.30pm FINGERPICKING TECHNIQUES

Learn basic fingerpicking skills, how to pick a tune and an introduction to simple TABS – $30

If you register for both workshops, the fee is $55 plus $18 if you need a capo

Full details on or to register, email

Parksville Ukulele Sing and Strum

Great News!


Doug Pickard and Liz DeBarros are restarting the Ukulele Sing and Strum in Parksville, formerly hosted by Doug and Ron Usher.

From Monday October 25th, we’ll be holding a bi-weekly Sing and Strum 6.30pm – 7.30pm at Shelly Road Hall,186 Shelly Road, Parksville.

With spaces limited, we will be requiring pre-registration and pre-payment, so we don’t have to turn anyone away at the door.

We have a block of five dates for our initial sessions, alternate Mondays: October 25th, November 8th, 22nd, December 6th, 20th. We are asking for a pre-payment of $50 for the five dates.

COVID protocols will be in place and anyone wishing to participate must show proof of double vaccination with some photo ID at the first Sing & Strum on October 25th. We will also be wearing facemasks.

For more information or to register and prepay,


Beginner Ukulele Clinic





Are you an adult who would like to play but don’t know how to go about choosing and buying a uke or how to learn?

This clinic will be led by Liz DeBarros, a JHUI certified ukulele teacher, and will demonstrate the versatility of the ukulele, the different sizes of uke available and how to choose the correct one for you. You will also have a chance to learn some basic skills.

Spaces are limited for these clinics, so pre-registration is necessary, and there is a charge of $10, which can be redeemed against the purchase of a ukulele, package or uke accessories in the Store.

To Register, call the store at 250 933 1900

or email me at

Beginner Group Lessons

Our own Liz DeBarros will be starting “in person” Group Beginner Ukulele Lessons at the McMillan Arts Centre in Parksville.

If you’ve never played, have only recently started playing or have played for a while but need a “tune up” (pardon the pun) of your skills by going back to basics; this is the course for you.

There are six, one hour sessions, starting on Thursday September 16th, 2-3pm, and going to the end of October (No class on September 30th). For full details and to register go to Liz’s website


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.