May 25-28, 2018
Uke Fest

photos by Stewart Dean View more photos

Uke Fest

Friday, May 25-Monday, May 28, 2018

Announcing our 6th annual family-friendly weekend retreat for ukulele players of all skill levels! Workshops, concerts, jam sessions, great food and lots of fun. Tuition includes all classes, meals and a concert by our world-class staffBring the family and enjoy a weekend of music and friends in a gorgeous natural setting, rich in history. Children and teens are welcome to attend with a guardian. Youth discounts and scholarships are available.

Included in your tuition is a terrific concert on Saturday night featuring performances by our 2018 uke fest staff — Daniel Ward, Heidi Swedberg, Kevin Carroll, Fred Sokolow, Lynn Sokolow, Gerald Ross and Ben Hassenger. An amazing group of ukulele greats! Concert tickets on sale to the general public now!

Thank you to these event sponsors

Ukulele Magazine

Ukulele Magazine,
Stringletter Publishing

Instructors & Workshops for 2018

Meet the instructors on the first day of camp, then decide what workshops you want to take!



Daniel Ward smiles while holding a ukulele

Daniel Ward

Visit Daniel’s website

Daniel Ward teaches ukulele in Los Angeles, California at U-Space and McCabes Guitar Shop as well as at festivals across the country, including the Reno Ukulele Festival, Wine Country Ukulele Festival, Port Townsend WA Ukulele Retreat, Albuquerque Ukekopelli Festival, the Kerville Texas Folk Festival, Mighty Uke day in Lansing Michigan, and the Rocky Mountain Ukulele Festival in Durango just to name a few. Internationally he has taught and played in countries from Mexico to China, and recently performed at the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain. In 2015 he released his first solo ukulele album, “El Ukulele,” as well as co-authoring “Color-Along Ukulele,” an illustrated method book for all ages. His most recent book release is the celebrated “Arpeggio Meditations for Ukulele,” a method book for fingerstyle made up of musical etudes.

Daniel’s unique style is a product of a lifetime career as a versatile guitarist. Known primarily for his virtuosic command of flamenco and Latin styles, he has toured with renowned dance companies including Maria Benitez, Yjastros, and Dance España as well as world tours with pop-phenomenon Ottmar Liebert. His skills on the electric guitar in jazz, rock and world styles have taken him to the Telluride Jazz Festival with his group Caribe, and his playing can be heard on Robbie Robertson’s “Music For The Native Americans.” His own award-winning guitar album “After The Storm” is in its fourth reprinting.

Daniel’s Workshops

HOLDING DOWN THE UKE GROOVE   Confident beginner to Intermediate
Whatever style you play, the rhythm is the magic that keeps the music afloat. We’ll explore a few different strumming styles and discover what makes them work. Geared towards intermediate uke players, this class will also be valuable to beginners eager to get off on the right foot.

In this workshop, we’ll learn two short traditional songs in the flamenco style that is named after the town they came from…Sevilla. There are hundreds of these songs that all share the same form. They are easy to learn and combine a tasty right hand strum with Spanish melodies. They can be played solo or as a duet or group as well, and will lead to hours of fun long after we class is over.

This is a 2 day workshop, but you can drop in for both or take either one if there’s another class you don’t want to miss. The popular arpeggio meditations workshop starts with a simple look at the first few studies from Daniel’s book and hits some of the more challenging songs on the second day. These easy to learn pieces will quickly yield improved ability in tone, rhythm, agility, and speed.


Heidi Swedberg smiles while playing ukulele

Heidi Swedberg

Visit Heidi’s website

Heidi Swedberg has been messing around with a ukulele since she was 5.  Born in Hawaii, she received her first instrument from the Easter Bunny.  In her 20 years as an actress in the TV/Film industry she’s had occasion to play uke, baritone and tenor guitar.  She taught the cast of SEINFELD to play “Happy Birthday” when she worked with them playing Susan, George’s ill-fated fiancée.  Heidi enjoys teaching all ages from pre-school to post secondary, and is big on involvement and empowerment.  She and her partner Daniel Ward perform for families as Sukey Jump Band and for sophisticated adults as The Smoking Jackets.  They have enjoyed participating in ukulele events from Mexico to China, and Heidi is thrilled to be visiting Ashokan for the first time.

Heidi’s Workshops

This recipe uses only two ingredients: you and your new uke! We will start making music together right away, adding one skill at a time until you can play literally hundreds of songs. It seems too good to be true, but that is the magic of the ukulele. Heidi loves working with absolute beginners, making the complicated simple and fun, and sharing the joy of musical discovery. Gestalts and laughs-a-plenty. Let’s get cooking!

You have made it over the hump of learning your first few chords—congratulations. Now to make some music! Rhythm is the magic spell, and the province of the right hand. Find an alternative to the numb strum in simple picking patterns. Accompany your voice and connect to your strings! In this class we will focus on the right hand while playing familiar one- and two-chord songs. No matter your skill level, adding interest to your “speaking hand” gives you game. (And Lefties, if left is right…!)

FEARLESS!   All Levels
Why am I shaking and what can I do about it? In this class we will explore the phenomenon of stage fright, teach you practical techniques to ward it off. Then, participants have the option to work through their fears “Master Class” style, or learn from watching others brave the stage. Bring a prepared piece to share, or just your fears to lose.

Kevin Carroll leans against a wall and plays ukulele

Kevin Carroll

Visit Kevin’s website

Kevin Carroll is a certified State of Texas Elementary Educator, instructs at ukulele workshops internationally, is a performing and recording artist, and teaches both private and group music lessons to all ages and levels in Austin, TX. He has launched a ukulele-based music education company called, which brings curriculum and instruments to schools and students. Equally passionate about music, education and ukulele, Kevin seeks to inspire and empower students to exercise their birthright of making music. Kevin has completed three years of course study in the James Hill Ukulele Initiative Teacher Certification Program. This training has served to make Ukulele in the classroom a popular and successful learning approach in Austin. Kevin’s scope of teaching includes Texas-based music, blues, soul, funk, classical, jazz, family music facilitation, ukulele ensembles, and beginners of all ages. He has been a resident of Austin, TX for over 25 years where he has played guitar and toured across the globe with Americana artists such as the Flatlanders (Joe Ely, Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore), Jimmy LaFave, Alejandro Escovedo, Robyn Ludwick, Charlie and Bruce Robison and many others.

Kevin’s Workshops

CELTIC UKULELE Adventurous Beginners and above welcome!
This ensemble-style class will explore the Celtic music of Ireland, Scotland and the British Isles. Bagpipe drones, fiddly-bits, hammer-ons and pull-offs are just the beginning for this new offering. Kevin has several tunes arranged in a “Ukestra” style with a combination of single-note parts as well as chords. We will try our hand at a couple of traditional “session” tunes where the ukulele will play Celtic fiddle melodies. Material will include a curated set of traditional music that has been tailored to fit the ukulele like a fine kilt. Prior note-reading and/or tablature reading experience recommended but not required. Low-G tuning recommended to have access to all the parts, but not mandatory.

ONE HAND AT A TIME   All levels
This 60-minute workshop will shine a light on the different roles of each hand in making music on your ukulele. The strumming hand brings great emotion, dynamics, melody, harmony, rhythm and “feel” to our music. The fretting hand delivers tone, precision, shapes, intonation and accuracy to what we play. Learning to “divide and conquer” in our practice can have an astounding effect on the growth of our music, sometimes beyond our wildest dreams. We will learn several strumming hand techniques that will add depth to our playing while making sure our fretting hands are moving freely and with proper form.

PENTATONIC PLAYGROUND   Beginner to Intermediate
Learning these five-note “gateway” scales can unlock the secrets of improvising in various genres and contexts. Rock, blues, country, and folk music all make use of the pentatonic scales. This workshop has been very popular in ukulele clubs and classes in Canada and the US.

HARDLY LIFT A FINGER  Beginner to Intermediate
The classic Tin Pan Alley tune “I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate”  is what Kevin calls a “ukulele fingering miracle.” It uses similar shapes that move and progress easily by adding or subtracting a finger and yields a sound of great musical movement. It also gets us out of the common key of C for beginners and into the key of G.

Fred Sokolow wearing a hat and tropical shirt and holding two ukuleles

Fred Sokolow

Visit Fred’s website

Fred Sokolow is best known as the author of nearly 200 instructional books and DVDs for guitar, ukulele, banjo, Dobro, mandolin and lap steel. Fred has long been a well-known West Coast multi-string performer and recording artist, particularly on the acoustic music scene. Born in Los Angeles, by the early 1960s, Fred was well- known in the California bluegrass scene. Throughout most of the 60s, he toured and recorded with Bay Areabased hippie rock band, Notes From the Underground (Vanguard Records). In the early 70s, Fred performed with R&B, rock, country and bluegrass bands. By 1975 Fred had played with bluegrass luminaries like John Herald, Frank Wakefield and Jerry Garcia, had opened for the Dead, the Doors, B.B. King, Country Joe and the Fish and countless other acts, and he was playing in jazz combos with some of the Bay Areas best studio players. In 1975 Fred recorded two groundbreaking banjo albums and began touring with artists including Bobbie Gentry, Jim Stafford, and the Limeliters.

By the end of the 70s, Fred had begun writing instructional books for music print publishers and articles in music magazines. He also began teaching at music camps and stores, including the renowned McCabes Music in Santa Monica. Fred currently performs retro jazz guitar with some of LA’s finest musicians, including British exrock star Ian Whitcomb. He’s active on the studio scene, playing on numerous albums and TV and movie soundtracks. He relishes the diversity of his portfolio:

  • played lap steel on The Show
  • played mandolin on Rick James’ last CD
  • played dobro with Chubby Checker
  • won on the Gong Show playing bluegrass banjo
  • jammed at the House of Blues with Junior Brown
  • performs with the legendary folksinger Tom Paxton
  • official banjo player for the TV show Survivor

Whether Fred is playing Delta bottleneck blues, bluegrass or old-time banjo, 30s swing guitar or screaming rock solos, he does it with authenticity and passion.

Fred’s Workshops

BLUES UKE Confident beginner to Intermediate
Everybody gets the blues sometimes (to quote Merle Haggard) and the best way to lose the blues is to play the blues. Besides teaching you some classic blues tunes, Fred will show you how to strum moveable chords to a 12-bar blues in any key, and give you some classic licks and scales for jamming with other people. Bring a slide or bottleneck, because you’ll also learn a slide blues tune. Tab will be handed out so you can practice in the days and weeks to come after the session, and Fred encourages you to use your iphone to record a video of some of the songs and lick’s he’ll present.

UNDERSTANDING CHORD PROGRESSIONS Confident beginner to Intermediate
It’s easier to learn new songs, pop, rock, jazz or whatever, if you understand progressions. Yes, there is sense to it all and Fred will explain chord movement and song structure, scale-wise patterns, 12-bar and 8 bar blues and more! We’ll look at lots of songs, including your suggestions, and see how they work. And you’ll finally get an explanation of the circle of fifths (which motivates thousands of songs) that is understandable!

FRETBOARD ROADMAPS FOR UKULELE Confident beginner to Intermediate
Take your playing to the next level. Fred shows you several ways to play chords and solos all over the fretboard (past that 5th fret!) and illuminates many things about music in general. This class helps you understand the best-selling book by the same name. Once you know the visual patterns on the fretboard that all the pros know and use, you can play chords up and down the neck, ad-lib solos, play in any key, and more. Many light bulb moments are guaranteed!

SLIDE UKULELE Confident beginner to Intermediate
If you’re ready to up the ante on your playing, you might want to con1sider learning how to play a little slide ukulele, a technique that will enhance any and all blues, Hawaiian, and country music. In this workshop you’ll learn to play slide ukulele in standard tuning and one or two open tunings, as well. Bring your own glass or metal slide or bottleneck!

Lynn Sokolow wearing a hat and holding a bass ukulele

Lynn Sokolow

Visit Lynn’s facebook page

Lynn Sokolow has been playing stand-up bass with the ukulele community ever since her husband Fred Sokolow carried her over the uke threshold! Although she began in her 20’s playing electric bass in rock and R&B bands, (and currently plays upright bass in several bluegrass bands), Lynn has since come to her senses and jumped on board with ukulele bass.

The thing about Lynn, is that the primary focus in all of her musical endeavors is to generate as much fun out of playing as is humanly possible, and this is her philosophy when it come to teaching. Lynn’s workshops not only include simple fretboard patterns that can be played all over the neck in any key, she also covers basic concepts of rhythm variations as well as how to build a bass line using chords and scales. She puts it all in context by having the students play though songs at a basic level and then stepping it up gradually to allow for more improvisation. Lynn’s workshops will introduce how and what a bass player needs to do to immediately participate in group jams and performances…and how to handle being worshiped by the group for doing so!

Lynn’s Workshops

BASS-ICS (for ukulele bass players)  Bass ukulele beginners
Want to be a hero at your next jam session? Lynn will show you some simple bass patterns that make all those strumming ukes sound so much better. You’ll learn easy-to-play bass moves that can be applied to countless tunes, starting with the basic “root-fifth” accompaniment. Add simple bass runs, chord arpeggios and walking bass lines, and you’ll be off and running on this easy and fun instrument.

BASS-ICS (part 2) Bass ukulele beginners
A follow-up to “Bass-ics,” you’ll have a chance to practice what you learned and apply it to a variety of songs. Lynn will show you how to make your walking bass lines a little fancier, focus on playing moveable, up-the neck patterns and cover playing in any key. There will be handouts and of course you will be invited to ask questions as you expand your bass consciousness.

There are lots of different rhythm grooves in popular music: the shuffle beat, rock beat, waltz, rock ballad, R&B and more. Lynn will show you two bass patterns for each of these, using popular songs from different genres as examples (pop, country, rock, bluegrass, etc.). You’ll be able to apply these groove patterns to countless tunes.

FIVE EASY BASS RIFFS Bass ukulele beginners
Some popular songs are driven by a memorable bass riff. Lynn will walk you through at least five well-known tunes and teach you their bass patterns. Besides learning some great tunes and bass riffs, you’ll gain some understanding of how the bass can enhance a song. There will be handouts (tab) to help you along, so learning them will be no treble at all!

Gerald Ross smiles and holds a ukulele while at a festival

Gerald Ross, Uke Fest Organizer and Instructor

Visit Gerald’s website

Gerald Ross is comfortable with just about every type of “roots” music there is, from western swing, bluegrass, Hawaiian, blues, jug band music, jazz standards, Tin Pan Alley, New Orleans rhythms to boogie-woogie, and he plays it all on guitar, lap steel, Dobro and ukulele.

He’s performed in concert with Bonnie Raitt, Arlo Guthrie, Doc Watson, Johnny Gimble, Riders In The Sky, Brownie McGhee and many others. Gerald won the Solo Artist Category of the 1993 WEMU Jazz Competition and has appeared many times on “A Prairie Home Companion.”

These days, Gerald is one of America’s best-known performers on, and advocates for, the ukulele and lap steel guitar; he’s released several CDs of ukulele music, published instructional materials, and is very much in demand as a camp instructor.


Gerald’s Workshops

YOU DON’T NEED TO LEARN ALL THOSE CHORDS!  Confident beginner to Intermediate

One look at the number of chords typically found in a ukulele chord dictionary is enough to make anyone want to throw in the towel. It looks like thousands! Do you really need to learn all those chords? The answer is a definite NO! But if you don’t learn all the chords, how will you play in all the keys? How will you quickly play an A flat chord, a C sharp minor or a B minor? And what if the singer decides to sing in the key of E flat?

Closed position chords to the rescue!!! These easily-fingered “chord shapes” are the chameleon chords of the ukulele. One movable chord shape is twelve different chords. We will use simple songs to explore this concept. After the workshop you’ll ask “why didn’t somebody show me this years ago? It’s so easy!”

Ben Hassenger wears a colorful shirt and plays his ukulele in front of some wildflowers

Ben Hassenger

Visit Ben’s website

Ben Hassenger’s musical career began in the early 1970s when he was arrested for playing “Smoke on the Water” on accordion and singing in animal sounds in the cafeteria at Lansing Community College. It was the start of something special, for sure.

Ben now works as a music facilitator with Special Education children, teaches ukulele to students and teachers in Michigan school systems, seniors at Prime Time in East Lansing, as well as group and individual ukulele lessons at Elderly Instruments, Interlochen Center for the Arts, and Michigan State University’s Community Music School. He plays guitar and ukulele in the bands Blue Jello and The Ukulele Kings and is the cofounder of the Lansing (MI) Area Ukulele Group and the organizer of the Mighty Uke Day festival, Interlochen’s Uketoberfest, and the Midwest Uke Camp in Olivet . He is also a prolific songwriter, with two of his songs about the Detroit Tigers enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Ben’s a fun and involving teaching artist with a variety of original songs about dogs, food, love, Michigan, and the other important things in life.

“Ben Hassenger has the ability to teach music and particularly the ukulele in a fun, thoughtful, and thorough way. His students learn quickly and his classrooms are always filled with smiling faces and positive energy. Ben is most definitely the ‘minister of morale’ at the festival. His upbeat personality and positive attitude add so much to the weekend and make everyone feel at home and welcome.”
—Gerald Ross (Director, Ashokan Uke Fest)

Ben’s Workshops

Ben shares his nifty tips for getting your song off to a good start, working on fills and transitions in the body of the song, and wrapping things up with the proper ending. Learn to arrange the song to make it your own with accents and dynamics and you’ll have your audience swaying their cell phones to and fro and throwing money at your feet!

EASY TABLATURE  Confident beginner
Do you have a good handle on strumming, but would like to learn to play the melodies of songs on your ukulele? Ben will teach you how to read tablature, a way to read music for the ukulele without having to understand actual music notation. You’ll be playing everything from “You Are My Sunshine” to “Ode to Joy” by the end of class.

STRIKE A CHORD  Confident Beginner to Intermediate
Take your playing to another level by learning to play chords in various ways including moveable/barre chords, power chords, and “James Hill” chords. Great for players who want to differentiate their sound when playing with others.

Alternate tunings are great for stimulating your songwriting and making old songs sound new. We’ll explore easy-to-play and great-sounding tunings including slack-key and minor tunings.



Meet the instructors on the first day of camp and ask questions about the workshops, then make your class selections.

While this year’s schedule is in development, you may want to take a look 2017 Uke Fest info with schedule, photos and videos here for an idea of what to expect.

Tuition and Meals

Tuition includes all classes, meals and the concert. Lodging is additional, see below. Work exchange and youth scholarships are available. 



Adults: $525
Youth (ages 13-25): $425
Children (ages 5-12) $375
Parent/Guardian* : $315
Children (under 5): Free


*Camp attendees under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. We offer a special Parent/Guardian rate which includes meals and concert, but no classes or workshops. Lodging is additional, see below.

You’ll enjoy delicious meals by our Chef William Warnes, including dinner on Friday, three meals on Saturday and Sunday, breakfast on Monday, beverages round the clock and sumptuous late night snacks.

You may select omnivore, no red meat, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free meals. We make every effort to include a range of allergen-free dishes and to inform diners of meal ingredients.


Enjoy the full Ashokan experience and choose comfortable onsite lodging as part of the registration process. More lodging information and costs here.

Payment/Cancellation/Refund Policy

You may hold your place with a deposit of $150. Full payment is due no later than six weeks before camp begins.

Partial refunds are available until two weeks before camp begins. To cancel, please log into the account you created when registering on Regonline and select the option to cancel. Cancellation fees apply.

Please refer to our official payment/cancellation/refund policy for important deadlines and dates for this workshop.

What to Bring, When to Arrive, and Transportation

  • If you are staying onsite: Sleeping bag or sheets, blankets, pillowcases, towels, soap, toiletries. Pillows are available. There are light quilts in each private room and a small number of light blankets for those bunkhouse residents who are unable to bring one of their own. If you will need us to provide one, please let us know well in advance and we’ll do our best.
  • Flashlight, camera.
  • Clothes and shoes for both wet and dry weather.

See Important Information about Uke Fest for details about what to bring, when to arrive, the schedule for camp, directions to Ashokan and more.

Youth Pricing and Scholarship Fund

We’re excited about the growing interest in traditional music and dancing among young people–the future is in their hands. To help young people take part in Ashokan Music & Dance Camps, we offer major discounts for children and young adults and have established a Youth Scholarship Fund. Anyone age 25 or younger can apply by filling out our Youth Scholarship Application.

Work Exchange

A limited number of work exchange positions are available to partially defray the cost of the camp. A list of work exchange positions can be found here.

Indicate your first three choices of positions during online registration and make a deposit of $150 or more to hold your registration.

Contact us by phone (845) 246-2121, or email for details.


Register for Uke Fest Now!

Please do not call to register or send in your check before registering online.

If you prefer to pay by check, or with a credit card by phone, you may select that option when you register.

You can pay in full now, or hold your spot with a deposit of $150 for each attendee until six weeks before camp begins, when full payment is due. If you are applying for a work exchange position, a deposit of $150 is still required.

Stay in the loop!

Like our Ashokan Music & Dance Camps Facebook page for news and updates.

and like our Uke Fest Facebook page for Uke Fest updates.

Photos on the top of this page were taken by George Touchstone and Stewart Dean.

You can see more Uke Fest photos on the Photos page.