Ukulele workshops

I offer workshops to organizations such as music stores, camps, and festivals, as well as ukulele clubs. These 90-minute courses are available to groups of 15 or more. For individuals who prefer a customized, one-on-one tutelage, I also provide private lessons via Skype. Individuals willing to travel and want private lessons, i live in Sheboygan, WI. I offer 2-3 day intensives for instruction, which is usually 2 hours in the a.m. and 2 hours in the p.m. each day. Students lodge in a nearby hotel and booking for these intensives are usually a few months prior to the scheduled dates.
If you're interested in any of these workshops or lessons for your ukulele devotees, drop me a line.

Ukulele Festival Organizers: Lil Rev prefers that you confer with him before selecting any workshops for your event. 

The Muted Ukulele 

Open to all levels: A new strum class from Lil Rev. Learn how to get the most out of the ukulele without even making a chord. The ukulele is highly percussive and muting the strings can be beneficial in many ways. Learn how to create a train sound, marches, percussive drum techniques, vaudeville tricks, chunking, and much more. Loads of fun!

The Blues and Boogie of Lead Belly for Ukulele

Open to all levels: Join Lil Rev for a fascinating study of the blues and boogie of Lead Belly arranged for ukulele and as seen in Ukulele Magazine . Together we'll explore: the blues & rock strum, boogie lead patterns, 12 repertoire songs, the train sound, muted techniques, blues licks and history, and Lead Belly legend & lore. 

THE LIFE & MUSIC OF WOODY GUTHRIE

Open to all levels:  This is a repertoire based class that teaches 12 Guthrie classics' alongside some cool new strums and Woody's unique life story,  anecdotes, and famous sayings. Most songs are 3-4 chords. Loads of fun! 

A real strum & sing-along class! 

12 Essential Strum Patterns  

Open to all levels: Learn the 12 most important strum patterns including: calypso, reggae, blues, rock, country, waltz, Irish, do-wop and much more. Each style will include a song example. 

Novelty Songs for Ukulele 

Open to all levels: This popular class is a fun, well-rounded workshop that provides background on the evolution of the novelty number, featuring bawdy, naughty and double-entendre examples in blues, rock, Tin Pan Alley, Borscht Belt, Irish, and sailor songs. You’ll find a good variety of simple two-, three- and four-chord tunes along with some cool circle of 5th stuff and a few Tin Pan Alley numbers for ukulele. Techniques include many cool novelty strokes including the fan stroke, the zig-zag stroke, the figure eight stroke, as well as all of the silly ukulele tricks. 

Blues Styles for Ukulele 

Open to all levels familiar with basic chords: major, minor, and some 7ths: This workshop focuses on repertoire building, giving the student a great overview of typical progressions, boogie-patterns, licks, scales, and turnarounds. These techniques are woven into a background of blues history and lore. 

Claw-Hammer Style Ukulele 

Open to all levels: This workshop takes an in-depth approach to learning the banjo-derived claw-hammer stroke on the ukulele. After breaking this stroke down into three, easy to understand steps; we’ll try them out on a tune that is typically played claw-hammer style. 

Hot Licks for Ukulele

Open to advanced beginners and up (able to play basic melodies, read tablature or standard notation); bring a recording device if available: Distilling thirty years of classic rock, blues, and jazz; this workshop provides valuable soloing tips as you learn intros, endings, turnarounds, licks, fills, and riffs, as well as their respective usage and the scales they derive from. 

Essential Strums, Strokes and Tricks for Ukulele

Open to all levels: An entertaining and educational workshop that uses blues, Tin Pan Alley, and novelty tunes to teach an assortment of ukulele techniques, including: two-, four-, and five-finger roll strokes, 3 triplets, slides, tremolo, novelty strokes and whole array of classic ukulele tricks, 

Irish Songs for Ukulele

Open to all levels: This exciting celebration of Irish song and style will illustrate the use of the four-finger roll, Irish triple strum, and the fake triple (basic 6/8) strum in Irish ballads, drinking songs, sea shanties, Irish Tin Pan Alley tunes, novelty numbers, jigs, reels, and much more! 

Mastering the Triplet Stroke

Open to all levels: This workshop is a fascinating in-depth exploration of the almighty triplet stroke and the variety of ways it can be played: two variations on the two-finger triplet, a three-finger triplet, the famous George Formby fan stroke, and more. We’ll add a couple of blues standards to try out our triplet patterns and learn some practice drills to help gain proficiency and speed. 

Jug Band Ukulele Styles

Open to all levels, bring a recording device if available: This workshop explores the history, recordings, artists, and repertoire of the 1920s and 30s jug band era with its wealth of ukulele-friendly songs, tricks, progressions, and strums that are so much fun to sing, strum, and play. It includes a whopping 12-page repertoire packet including “Walk Right In,” “Stealing, Stealing,” “KC Moan,” and classics from the Memphis Jug Band, Cannon’s Jug Stompers, Jack Kelly, the Birmingham Jug Band, Earl MacDonald’s Jug Band, the Louisville Jug Band, and Jim Kweskin. In addition to building your repertoire, we’ll also explore the I–VI–II–V progression, circle of 5ths, early boogie patterns, stop-time and much more. 

Fiddle Tunes for Ukulele 

Open to intermediate and advanced levels able to read tablature or standard notation; bring a recording device if available: That’s no typo — fiddle tunes sound fabulous when arranged for the ukulele (fingerstyle, single string and chord melody). This workshop explores waltzes, reels, jigs, schottisches, and rags tabbed and arranged for soprano, concert, and tenor ukulele in GCEA tuning. We’ll start with simple tunes like “Boil ’em Cabbage Down,” “Old Joe Clark,” and “Cripple Creek,” gradually progressing to more challenging tunes like “The Swallow Tail Jig” and “Stones Rag.” 

The Boodle Am Shake Workshop 

Open to players able to play most basic chords: Recorded in the late 1920s by Clifford Hayes’ Dixieland Jug Blowers, “Boodle Am Shake” is one of the most exciting jug band era pieces recorded, because of its infectious rhythm and its catchy melody. This workshop starts with this tune’s chords and how to sing it. Then it will challenge you with various techniques to spice it up, including moving up the neck, executing some exciting right-hand strokes, and more. 

Intros, Endings, Turnarounds and Vamps 

Open to all levels with familiarity with basic chords: This class explores the lost art of intros, endings, turnarounds and vamps.

Every great song ought to have a catchy intro and a strong ending. We’ll utilize complimentary right-hand techniques like tremolo, triplets, and roll strokes to reproduce classic intros and endings from early jazz, blues, country, Tin-Pan Alley, and rock. In addition, we'll learn about the Hawaiian Vamp and how to use it with a variety of styles. 

Beginner’s Chord Melody 

For beginners: Chord melody – the trend of strumming a song’s chords while simultaneously implying its melody – took off in the vaudeville era of the 1920s and 30s, and is one of the most exciting approaches to playing the ukulele. This course shows you how to arrange your own chord melody pieces and teaches the importance of moveable chord inversions, basic scale theory, and repertoire building with the songs “Freight Train,” “Aloha Oh,” “Oh Susannah,” and more.

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Bona Fides

Lil Rev is the Woody Guthrie of the Ukulele.
— Earnest Instruments

Listen to this! Lil Rev is great!
— Pete Seeger

Lil Rev isn’t an act! He’s the real thing!
— Joe Hickerson, former head of Folk Archive at the Library of Congress

Lil Rev has amazing right hand strumming technique!
— Lyle Ritz, Jazz Uke Legend

A Ukulele and Harmonica Wizard.
— Elderly Instruments 

Instructional Videos

Hal Leonard Materials

Background

Lil Rev is an award-winning ukulele and harmonica player from Milwaukee, WI. He began his music career as a street musician in the early 90’s after graduating from the University of WI at Milwaukee with a degree in Community Education. He has been a grade school music teacher and adjunct college lecturer in the music history department at UWM.

His awards include: 1996 National Blues Harmonica Champ at Avoca and he was Voted the Best Folk Singer in WI - 2004 (WAMI). He is often called “The Johnny Appleseed of the Ukulele,” logging over 40,000 miles a year teaching and performing at traditional arts camps, music stores, festivals, temples, house concerts, folk societies and ukulele clubs across North America. He has published numerous Ukulele instructions books and DVDS thru Hal Leonard Corporation and is the author of the best selling Hal Leonard Ukulele Method Book #1 & #2, 101 Licks for Ukulele, Essential Strums and Strokes for Ukulele, Easy Songs for Ukulele, Fiddle Tunes for Ukulele and the Hal Leonard Baritone Ukulele Method.

Lil' Rev is well known on the international ukulele scene as a protector of old songs and playing styles including early blues, Tin-Pan Alley, old time, Yiddish and American folk styles. He is also known for his passionate endeavors to preserve antiquated right hand strokes and strums and is in demand on the workshop circuit for this reason.