Chord Voicing Workshop- Make your ukulele sing with Coady Brule

Chord voicing — make your ukulele sing!

Join Coady Brûlé for an exciting new way to workshop songs. Make your ukulele sing through chord voicing.

 Coorparoo Bowls Club, 32 Riddings Street, Coorparoo, 4151

 Friday 29 Oct 2021 (rescheduled Ekka public holiday)

 6:30-8:30 pm


Tickets via Trybooking from Wed 29 September.

Financial BUMS save 50% with promo-code received Mon 27 September via email.

A ticketed COVID-Safe workshop.


There are many ways to play any chord, and they are not all created equal! They can change how a song feels, just as strum patterns do!

As a group we will dissect one song and witness how different voicing of chords brings unique flavour and feel, enhancing the experience.

Now I know if you looked at every chord, and their different shape, it may seem very daunting. However just remember the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time!

So come exploring chord voicing with the song Colors by Black Pumas as we continue our ukulele journey together!!

Link to official video on Youtube:

What you’ll need:
  • Please bring a soprano, concert or tenor ukulele. High-G or Low-G is fine. You can bring a baritone uke, but any chord diagrams will be for “GCEA” tuning.
  • smile
  • good vibes
  • pen and some lined paper (easier for jotting chord shapes)

There will be a projector in use and handouts will be given at the start of the workshop. If you prefer to look at the handouts instead of the screen, then please bring a music stand.

Hope you see you all there!


Coady Brûlé was born in Canada into a musical family. He made an early start on drums, but then learnt guitar as a teenager. In a solo trip around Europe he took up ukulele to lighten his travel load.  Since then he slowly gravitated towards the four string, and for the past five years that’s all he plays. Coady is an experienced trainer, who enjoys playing, teaching and sharing. Now he’s sharing his knowledge of music and ukulele with BUMS.

Coady Brûlé — Music on my Mind

Read more about Coady’s and other BUMS members Ukulele Journey stories on our Our BUMS Community page


Donna & Derek Farrell

A report from some happy uke players.

Donna & Derek Farrell as “Totally Insane” have created a series of workshops for Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced level players. Great fun was had at Zillmere last weekend as they presented back-to-back beginners and intermediate workshops.

Donna & Derek are well known BUMS as performers, set leaders and having conducted workshops before Ferny Grove jam pre-pandemic. They also teach and lead the CHUMS, a young at heart performing band of seniors who raise money for Dementia Research.

So You’ve Got A Uke…Now What?

Donna kicked off the afternoon with her workshop So You’ve Got A Uke…Now What? This workshop distilled all of her best tips and techniques for very new ukesters. There were smiles all around as our beginner players learnt the correct way to hold and tune their ukes…so essential!

Ably assisted by Derek and Alma, by the end of the session Donna soon had the work-shoppers strumming, getting more familiar with some most used chords and playing quite a few songs. It was a very hands on session with lots of personal attention. All participants received very generous handouts to make it easy to keep up all they had learnt and continue to play at home.

Strummin’ the Beat

Derek’s workshop was called “Strummin’ the Beat”. Derek should know cos he’s a veteran of strumming strings – guitar since he was knee high to a grasshopper, and for the last nine years, that instrument we all know and love – ukulele.

Derek’s concept is that we can play melody and accompaniment on ALL stringed instruments, but on most we can add percussion as well. Indeed, he adds that ‘all three tasks can be achieved simultaneously.’

Strumming Derek

Fascinating, tell us more. Well, for many players “it’s enough to learn a bunch of chords, sing your heart out and get stuck with only one or two strumming techniques. But whether you’re on your own or with a few friends, it’s nice to learn some more advanced strumming techniques to bring along that strumming element.”

Couldn’t agree more … but tell us how.

“There’s no subtlety in banging it loud” – you need to add “colour and interest to your music plus feel”. Here are some of the ways to do that.

Time signature.

Derek explained how a time signature assists in figuring out a good strumming pattern. His informal grid for each of our eight workshop songs showed its up/down beats, with the number of strings utilised in each bar, colour coded.

Anyone for Sting? He really knows oddball division – fitting 17 beats to the bar in some of his songs. Irish jigs commonly have 6 beats and many Beatle classics have unusual time sigs – Norwegian Wood for example. Derek’s all time fave is the Classic Dave Brubeck Take Five, (5/4 time) one of the first jazz songs to be written in a beat other than the standard 4/4 or waltz.

Strumming volume and number of strings.

Both aspects can be altered to add subtlety to your tune. And if you leave out a strum or two here or there, it alters further. Derek demonstrated with Morningtown Ride by eliminating a strum and replacing it with a pluck resulting in a gentler pluck/strum pattern. He next varied speed and pattern by using a strum/mute, with a rolling hand action.


Muting (or damping), by quickly placing your hand over all strings to miss a beat, also assists in changing a piece from a boringly normal up/down into “something that matches the song – a nice rollicking thing.” Yeah, Derek I see that light and shade emerging now.

Derek explained the secret technique that transforms A Horse with No Name into a distinctive tune. You mute on the downstroke, emphasising with oomph on the 2nd and 4th beats. This “separates out the drone though it .. it never changes.” More fascinating facts.

After Mr Bojangles and Lay Down Sally, he took us through reggae with I Shot the Sheriff and arpeggio with Three Little Birds. All reggae is written for 4/4 time and the emphasis is on the off beat. So, you play 1 AND 2 AND 3 AND 4 AND …, to emphasise that the beat is actually on the AND. It’s what makes the whole thing reggae!

Derek stressed that no matter what song you choose to play, nothing’s ever fixed in concrete. It’s always your choice how to produce the sound – you use different techniques to “find bits of song that work – a bit like taking a plain old cake recipe and spicing it up into something rich and fruity”.

We finished with The Carnival is Over, but it wasn’t. In fact, it was the beginning of a whole new way of studying songs and the approach to playing them. Thanks Derek.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to go shopping for some new ingredients (techniques), mix ‘em up (arrange) and produce a new tasty sound. Happy strumming to your own beat!

The Spectator

Derek Farrell showing the workshop how to strum the beat.




Mick Angeles, ably assisted by Marg Monaghan, ran this a workshop in early September. Its aim was to enlighten beginner and intermediate musicians in the mysteries of creating chords and chord diagrams. In short, the participants would learn a chord construction recipe.

Comments from some participants.

Graham Hall said the timing of the workshop was just right for him. He’s been playing ukulele for 4 years. Year 1 – learn to strum, year 2 – strum and sing, year 3 – finger picking and year 4 – play without looking. Next challenge is to understand more music theory so I can develop my improvisation skills.

I found the pace of the workshop a bit challenging. Maybe the workshop could be run over two sessions so there was time to consolidate learning in between.

John Fitzgibbon usually plays a baritone ukulele but he reverted to tenor for the workshop. He liked the way Mick explained the logic of chord progressions and ‘hearing the chords in the song’.

Geoff Dancer said Mick was a great presenter – down-to-earth, affable and with a lovely way with his audience. He enjoyed the workshop which took a different slant on the music theory he knew already. Hearing someone else’s viewpoint is always valuable.

Thanks Mick and Marg for an entertaining session.

Beginners get your ukes out and get online.

Vic Kena has the course for you. He’s hosting a six-week series of free online ukulele lessons for beginners starting 7:00 pm (Brisbane Australian Time) 24 August 2021.

Excited? Register now to join Vic via email to


Vic has taught guitar for almost 20 years and ukulele for 10 years at college plus to private, group and corporate clients and students. After playing professional guitar for almost 30 years he realised that he could teach anyone how to improve their playing technique saving them so much effort, and the time and frustration that he experienced as he taught himself.

This workshop is designed for complete beginners who have just got a ukulele and do not know where to begin, or for those who know a little but would like to go over the basics again. Donna will teach you the absolute basics of how to hold, tune and strum your uke and how to read chord diagrams and make the chord shapes.
By the end of the workshop you will have played several 1, 2, 3 and even 4 chord songs. The hand-out will allow you to take your new uke away and start practising. This workshop will give you the basic skills and confidence to join in the local ukulele jam or just enjoy playing at home more.
During this one-hour course you will;
• Learn how to tune your uke.
• Learn how to hold your uke.
• Learn how to read chord charts and play the chords.
• Learn some basic strums.
• Learn to play some songs.
Saturday 25 September 2021
Workshop 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm. 

Zillmere Community Hall, 52 Murphy Road, Zillmere, Brisbane, QLD 4034

Financial BUMS $10 use promo-code received Mon 23 August via email. Tickets at Trybooking from Wed 25 August. 
A ticketed COVID-Safe event.
Please bring a Soprano/Concert/Tenor ukulele. High-G or Low-G is fine.
There will be a projector in use, and handouts will be given at the start of the workshop. If you prefer to look at the handouts instead of the screen, then please bring a music stand.
Donna has played ukulele for around nine years. She leads the CHUMS seniors’ band at Compton Gardens retirement village and often teaches beginners at the Ferny Grove jam. Donna and her husband Derek play as the duo Totally Insane and also as the three or four piece Totally Eclectic.
This workshop is for people wishing to enhance their strumming techniques.
Whilst learning and practising chords is, of course, very important , many people don’t pay much attention to their strumming hand. Most players learn two or maybe three basic strums patterns and simply leave it at that. The ukulele however is not just a stringed instrument, it is also a percussive instrument, providing the beat and the emphasis for songs, which adds colour and interest to the music.
At this workshop, you will learn several different strumming patterns and see how different patterns can change the way songs sound.  We will look at strums for songs in both common time (4/4) and waltz time (3/4). Please note: This workshop is NOT about triple strums, fan strums or split strums.
For this workshop you will need to know the basic chords (major, minor, sevenths) and be able to change between them freely and easily.
Saturday 25 September 2021
Workshop 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm. 

Zillmere Community Hall 52 Murphy Road, Zillmere, Brisbane, QLD 4034

Financial BUMS $10 use promo-code received Mon 23 August via email. Tickets at Trybooking from Wed 25 August. 
A ticketed COVID-Safe event.
A Soprano/Concert/Tenor ukulele. High-G or Low-G is fine. You can bring a Baritone uke, but any chord diagrams will be for “GCEA” tuning.
There will be a projector in use and handouts will be given at the start of the workshop. If you prefer to look at the handouts instead of the screen, then please bring a music stand.
Derek has played guitar and keyboards all his life and ukulele for the last 9 years. With his wife Donna they play as Totally Insane and with others as Totally Eclectic. Passionate about helping others improve their playing Derek has designed several different workshops. He also loves playing bass uke.