Improvising on a Blue Ukulele

What makes the BLUES, blue? How and what to add to your playing to give your ukulele that special ‘blues’ quality.

We will explore and play some fabulous blues standards to identify what makes them blue.

To develop improvisation skills, we will add playing the blues scale to our skill set so that we can play great licks and riffs, and do this in any key!

We will learn some additional licks and riffs and turnarounds that can be used in many blues songs and explore the riffs of well-known players: sometimes, less is more!

Be prepared to play up the dusty end of the neck and to perform at lunchtimes and in the Friday night finale concert.

  • Half day mornings - Monday to Friday - 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
  • Suitable for ages 16 to adult
  • Intermediate
  • Join waiting list

Course Info

Day One Focus: Blues structure and chord progressions

  • The structure of blues songs: Well-known songs in 8, 12, 16 or 24 bar blues;
  • styles of blues, and
  • blues strumming, ‘the shuffle.’

Exploring common blues chord progressions and their variations with repertoire examples.

Day Two Focus: Improvisation in the blues

  • Starting to improvise in the blues: the blues scale.
  • Playing our first improvisations: 1, 2 note and 3 note varieties.
  • Using the blues scale for impro in every key or Playing ‘in the box’

Day Three Focus: Adding effects

  • Learning techniques to play bends, slides, hammer ons, pull offs.
  • Adding effects to well-known repertoire

Day Four Focus: Well known riffs and licks

  • Learning common and famous licks and riffs and turnarounds in different keys.
  • Adding these to known songs.

Day Five Focus: Putting it all together

  • Using what we have learned to play some great blues.

Collaboration with the Strumming Blues course/harmonica course?

Intermediate and advanced-intermediate ukulele players who have probably been playing for 5 years or more on ukulele or guitar; those wishing to develop their skills in playing blues ukulele and beginning improvisation.


* Know how to play many common chords (20+)

* Able to change between those chords fluently

* Confidently sing and play simultaneously

* Ability to read TAB or notation

* Willing to play barre chords and/or 4 finger chords (closed chords)

* Willingness to explore new skills

Please bring the following on your first day of class:

  • Ukulele
  • Music Stand
  • Tuner
  • Pencil
  • Rubber
  • Water bottle
  • Your sense of humour!

Happy Camper Reviews

Cathy Welsford
Course Tutor

Cathy Welsford

Cathy plays in the fabulous Wild Women of Anywhere Beach duo performing at folk and ukulele events all over the east coast of Australia, writing and playing original songs with her partner, Angie Smith. She has been playing, performing and teaching music all her life. She is a sought-after tutor creating high-quality teaching materials for community ukulele groups, ukulele ensembles and workshops at many ukulele festivals.

Cathy plays all sizes of ukulele, harp ukulele and banjo uke, 5 string banjo and stick dulcimer. She was a founding member and inaugural president of the Australian Ukulele Teachers and Leaders Association (AUTLA). She holds a Level 3 James Hill Ukulele Teacher’s accreditation, a Mistress of Education degree and was a Project Officer for the New England Conservatorium of Music. Cathy was also a member of the Outlaws Ukulele Ensemble and the Australian Ukulele Orchestra.

As a choral director, Cathy established the New England Singers youth choir that toured England and France representing Australia at D-Day commemorations. She was the choral director for Cantilena Choir at the New England Conservatoriun of Music and has conducted massed choirs at Sydney Town Hall and The Sydney Opera House. As a music educator, she has created two ukulele-based music programs for primary schools and preschools.

Cathy runs online ukulele courses and is currently directing, arranging and playing in a Ukulele Jazz ensemble, Blue Gum Blossom.

Cathy and Angie are the organisers and creative directors of the Valla Beach Ukulele Camp: a ukulele camp focused on providing high quality workshops presented by highly regarded international and local tutors.