It’s a Pandemic

I’m doing all lessons online for free-ish right now.

  • If you want to play ukulele, go here.
  • If you want to play guitar, go here.
  • If you want to play harmonica, go here.

But first, my tirade….

Ukulele Lessons

There comes a time in most ukulele lives when you finally realize one or more of the following truths:

1. YouTube isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and it’s harder to learn how to play an instrument than you wished. There are lots of amazing lessons and how-to-play ukulele videos out there, but those teachers can’t look back at you and customize your lesson for all the weird habits you’re developing accidentally. And, by the way, you probably know this already, but some of those lessons are so wrong it’s scary!

2. That super cool book you bought to learn how to play ukulele isn’t calling out your name every night saying, “Hey, you oughta practice tonight,” and more importantly, that stupid book doesn’t make any sense and it’s full of mistakes. Right?

3. Channeling the universe to deliver you the spiritual guidance to magically become a ukulele rock star while you’re sitting on the couch, or your bed, or on the lanai, or in your car in the lowest part of the parking garage … ah heck, no matter where you’re plinking your little buddy, it’s starting to all sound the same and it’s just not as great as you’d hoped.

4. Your friends who said they’d teach you how to play are, well, they’re lame.

So it’s time to get real.

Ukulele lessons come in several varieties:

1. The guitar teacher down the street says he can teach you ukulele too, but you notice he’s always carrying his electric guitar to gigs and somehow you’re pretty sure he’s still hoping to make it in Vegas. He will tell you a pick and a capo are part of your required rig.

2. The music school you’ve heard about gives ukulele lessons, but holy moly they’re expensive, and when you only spent $80 on your instrument paying twice that for one class doesn’t seem to compute, does it?!

3. The music shop where you bought your ukulele seems weirdly focused on you meeting [insert name] who is the greatest teacher ever and it’ll only be [insert ghastly figure here]. Oh, and ya wanna buy some other stuff while you’re here?

4. Your nephew, brother-in-law, or girlfriend’s former girlfriend just graduated from Super Important Music Conservatory and they know everything about music and if you can’t learn ukulele from them, then you just can’t learn it.

Don’t be confused by the nonsense you’re running into out in ukulele land … I’ve read it, seen it, tried some of it, and been left with a sadness in my heart about how many people are wasting time and money and failing at making music on the ukulele.

Here’s the truth and it’s available here in Denver:

1. Ukulele lessons don’t have to break the bank. Private lessons, group lessons, and activities with a ukulele focus are going on weekly here.

2. Your guitar (or singing) teacher really IS still hoping to make it in Vegas. You need to ask a lot more questions. Chances are ukulele isn’t really their “thing.” I know of about five people in the Denver-metro area who really know ukulele and care about teaching you correctly. I will help you find them.

3. That big-ole school is great … but once you’ve gone through it and unloaded all that cash from your wallet, then what?

4. Music shops sell stuff … and these days that stuff can’t keep the electricity bills paid. So they need you to keep coming back and buying more stuff, like lessons from their dude.

5. They don’t study ukulele at Super Important Music Conservatory. They’re still struggling with why they should care about guitar. At Super Important Music Conservatory, clarinet is a big deal. Ukulele is not.

6. And yeah, the internet is a mess. Mostly you’ll be wasting time there.

So what are your alternatives?

1. How about you find a group of people in town locally who’ve been in the ukulele business for years and years?

2. How about you find a group that can start you off easy and keep you going for years to come with smart and funny people?

3. How about you trust us when we say, “Playing with other people is the key to learning effectively and quickly.”

4. How about you come hang out with us and we’ll show you how to not waste your money and time going down all sorts of ineffective paths?

5. How about you take this seriously, or not, and either way, we will give you a reason to be proud of becoming a musician who believes in the power of ukulele.

6. And finally, how about we teach you more than a few chords and then expect you to sing. Why don’t we have you STOP singing altogether for a little while and have you actually play ukulele.

The Rocky Mountain Ukulele Orchestra wasn’t built by music school graduates burdened with the history of questionable pedagogy burned into their souls. We did published one heck of a mean Circle of Fifths that is the world standard and looks great on clocks and coffee cups made in China. AND we have the single best book ever written for ukulele arpeggios and it’s free on our website. And the Rocky Mountain Ukulele Orchestra was built by and and for people who love making music, making mistakes, getting better, having fun, practicing and rehearsing, and going to lunch from time to time, without the burdens imposed on traditional music students to be the best.

Why is our program more effective than others rolling around out there?

1. Our conductor Gary Jugert designed a curriculum designed to get anybody playing full “legit” arrangements in one lesson.

2. We teach FREE one-day classes all over the state and have been doing it for years.

3. We teach group “Intro” classes on an ongoing basis for much less money than most (all?) of other places.

4. We have dozens of musicians who are eager to help you become the player you’d hoped you’d be using the ukulele as the fastest, easiest, most fun, and maybe the most comprehensive way you can play.

5. Our system comes straight from the old masters of the lute and skips all the “formal education” nonsense that makes many students give up on music. We’ve modernized those old fashioned skills so they work with kids, teens, and adults. We’re not sure if they work with millennials because we’re waiting for them to look up from their phones. (On the other hand, they did read ALL the Harry Potter books and for that we owe them the benefit of the doubt.)

6. We’ve built a wildly popular Summer Institute and are training more ukulele teachers to go out and spread the word about ukulele.

7. And most importantly, we founded the Rocky Mountain Ukulele Orchestra and nursed it into becoming the largest stringed orchestra in Colorado while doing the never-ending work to bring ukulele to the highest level played by ordinary folks. You’ll be hard pressed to find another group anywhere on the planet doing comparably advanced material even with professional players.

So what’re your next steps?

1. You should swing by our website and read even more than you’ve already read about joining one of the most interesting musical ideas in Denver http://ukuleleorchestra.org

2. You can call us directly and chat about the best way to get started. Sometimes it’s a private lesson, sometimes a group lesson, and sometimes you’re such a genius we’ll encourage you to go away and start your own band: 303-984-0777

3. You can email us and find out what options are best for you … some are free, and some at minimal cost. info@ukuleleorchestra.org

4. If guitar is your thing, check out our sister site at the Denver Guitar Orchestra.

5. OR, you can keep trying to learn from YouTube, the neighborhood dude, that school, the music shop, or that famous so-n-so (who is cute and blonde), and you’ll let us know how that’s going. We know how it’s going, but we’d still love to hear from you.

We joke about our daring plan to take over the world at the Rocky Mountain Ukulele Orchestra, but we’re only half kidding. We have an incredibly fun and inexpensive way for you to become a musician and make great music in a supportive educational environment. We even have scholarships if finances are going to be a challenge. We’ve been doing this for a long time. And yeah, you’ll take pride in being an orchestral musician doing something important. Come check us out.

One final note, before you buy anything, set up an appointment to come down to the shop. There are so many ways to waste money on the wrong things and we can point you in the right direction. You don’t have to buy from us, but you should.

Lessons for Kids

Academic research agrees most students should be about 10 years old before you put them into fretted instrument instruction. Prior to fourth grade, we like to see kids in percussion, singing, and piano. I know, you’ve seen that six-year-old kid on 60 Minutes who plays Chopin. That’s not your kid.

Having said that, I know there is no end to the number of guitar teachers who will sign up your little one, plunk a 6-string monstrosity in their lap, and fill your head with visions of success at Red Rocks. I also know your kid is “different.” 🙂

If your kiddo is younger than 10 years old, let’s talk about the role you’ll play in helping them learn music and agree you’ll be seated side by side with them during lessons and be an active participant. Honestly, I’ll be teaching YOU.

Group Classes

Top Secret: This is the BEST way to learn ukulele or guitar and it can be the most fun too. We keep all of our group classes listed on the Rocky Mountain Ukulele Orchestra website. Click HERE to get the lowdown. This is where the fun stuff is and where I really put my heart and soul into action.

Private Lessons

Private lessons are $25 per half hour if you do my system at my place. (You should, it works.) I hold a certification from the James Hill Ukuleles in the Classroom teacher certification institute and I’ve subsequently revised and rewrote and created from scratch a bulletproof system for getting the most out of you and your ukulele or guitar.

Private lessons are at least $30 per half hour if we do your system. (You saw something online, or bought a book by somebody else, or you saw a cute girl strumming something awesome on YouTube and you want me to help you learn it.) You should stop wasting your time on that stuff, by the way.

Add a travel fee if I agree to travel to you.

Voice, Violin, Piano & Other Stuff:

I’ve been very lucky to meet and befriend a small army of dedicated music teachers. Please check with me first if you are interested in other instruments. I bet I know the right person to take you to the next level.



Gary Jugert: Teaches all levels of ukulele and runs the guitar and ukulele orchestras. garyjugert@yahoo.com

Here are the current listings: http://ukuleleorchestra.org/classes/ and http://ukuleleorchestra.org/summer/

We have a team of certified ukulele instructors in our stable. Here’s a few of our leaders.


Marnie Ward: Teaches voice, performance and ukulele.

Cindy Warrick: Teaches ukulele in Highlands Ranch.