Strummin’ the Ukulele Blues

In this course Angie takes a listen-and-play-as-you-learn, hands-on, laid-back approach to blues music that will liberate you to develop your own bluesy strum style and perform with the best.

Regardless of your current level of proficiency, this course aims to inspire you to express yourself musically with trusty strums, easy melody lines and loose ‘whatever’ lyrics.

Blues music can be cool or searing, agonizing or exhilarating, calming or uplifting, and it offers strummers, pickers and singers unrivaled opportunities for musical brilliance.

So grab your ukulele and let’s play some blues.

Performance as part of the course

The course includes two performance opportunities – a midweek Lunchtime Concert and an evening Gala Concert. All the gang will be there so we’ll try to join up with other blues players (pickers, harmonicas, basses or whoever we can get) for a fuller sound if all the wombats are in a row. These performances are always a lot of fun, real feel good experiences with no expectation of perfection, just participation and good humour. It really doesn’t matter if you’re shy or if you stuff it up as the ‘playing together’ magical effect will cover any mistakes. We’re all here to have a good time.

  • Half day afternoons - Monday to Friday - 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
  • Suitable for ages 16 to adult
  • Intermediate
  • Filling up

Course Info

The course will walk you through some blues strum techniques, starting with a few fundamentals around structure, style, tempo and rhythm. You’ll get to play along with performance demos and have a go at identifying some of the knacks and hacks experienced players use to achieve that bluesy sound. While there may be a few technical elements involved, the overall focus is on getting a feel for ukulele-based blues strum.

You’ll get music sheets and demos so you can play along with the greats or join in with any local band. You’ll also learn how to slow down videos to work at your own pace and hear chord changes and lyrics. You’ll get to sing and strum in a relaxed, non-judgemental setting and, if you feel ready, you might want to have a go at writing your own blues.

Musicians communicate through our instruments and vocals so the blues is a great medium for telling our stories, speaking our ideas, voicing our disappointments and generally sharing our humanness. Blues songs are wellsprings of sensuality, sexuality, heartache, passion, humour and cynicism, and players often find blues music quite a satisfying mode of expression.

Day 1: Roots

This session takes a lightning look at American blues music, pondering its possible beginnings and strumming through some of the old stuff. We’ll sample various stylistic approaches, such as shuffles, walking blues, west coast swing, rhumba form, New Orleans groove and swamp blues. Many of these have become blues standards so we’ll try out a couple as possible performance items.

Day 2: The British Bands’ Blues Lust

In this session we’ll take a peep at UK rock band forays into blues music during the 1960s and ponder probable consequences of this. We’ll strum through some of these bluesy adaptations of the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Animals, Pretenders, Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mack or others’.

Day 3: Australian Blues

In this session we’ll take a quick rootle into Australia’s history of the blues, checking out its links to folk music and rise though festivals, and we’ll strum along with some notable locals to see if we can hear a particularly Australian blues flavour.

Day 4: Ukulele Blues

Ukulele is a great vehicle for blues playing and this session will zoom in on a couple of celebrated ukulele players who’ve taken it up for its accessibility, tone and stylistic advantages. We’ll also take a walk through blue notes and blue chords that work on the uke, some of the challenges of blues uking and possible solutions to resolve any musical dilemmas.

Day 5: Playing, Singing and Writing the Blues

This will be our final day together so let’s make it count by strumming through some favourites, sorting out any performance issues and maybe even sharing some of our own blues writing. Then we’ll do a bit of practise, rest up and relax for a while.

To enrol in this course, it’s expected that you
  • have played the ukulele for at least one year
  • are able to play the basic uke chords A, C, D, F, G, A7, B7, C7, D7, E7, F7, G7, Am, Em, Dm
  • are able to change between these chords fairly confidently

Please bring the following on your first day of class:

  • Your favourite ukulele (high or low G, doesn’t matter, I prefer low)
  • Portable Music Stand
  • Ukulele Tuner
  • Pencil
  • Rubber
  • Water bottle
  • Your sense of humour!

We supply music sheets so you don’t need to buy anything extra. We usually bring a bit of merch, strings and things, in case they’re needed.

Happy Camper Reviews

Angie Smith
Course Tutor

Angie Smith

Angie Smith is a ukulele teacher with a PhD in Education, Mistress of Education, and too many years to count of teaching in the tertiary sector, including at the University of Western Sydney and University of New England.

Her workshops at various ukulele festivals (Melbourne, Brisbane, Launceston, Sunshine Coast, Newcastle, Central Coast, Deniliquin, Canberra, Townsville and Valla Beach) are invariably well received, as are her successful teaching/concert tours up and down Australia’s east coast, and once via Zoom to Canada. She has taught ukulele strum courses at Camp Creative for four years.

In Armidale NSW she taught weekly uke classes for seniors and community groups for a few years before moving to the coast where she continues with private students and occasional beginner groups.

Angie is a singer-songwriter and recording artist, and a member of the Songwriters Association of Australia. Her most recent publication is ‘The Wild Women of Anywhere Beach Ukulele Songbook’ of original songs with sheet music, which has been widely acclaimed by ukulele and folk groups.

She performs occasionally with The Wild Women of Anywhere Beach, The Valla Beach Garage Band and Blue Gum Blossom ukulele jazz band specialising in rhythm, vocals, jazzy covers and home grown folksy bluesy rocky originals.

With The Wild Women of Anywhere Beach, she won the Festival of Small Halls Talent Quest, recorded the album ‘Keep Laughing, Seriously’, and has a song on the compilation album ‘The Australian Ukulele’. She is currently recording a new studio album with Soundshed Music.