BUMS Inc is offering the opportunity to join a vocal workshop series with multi talented musician and voice instructor Elizabeth Ross.  Many will remember her cello playing and vocals in the duo Gollagher Ross.  She has run very popular vocal coaching workshops at the Sunshine Coast Ukulele festival and also at SPRUKE 2023.

At this workshop, Elizabeth will be covering:

  • Vocal placement.
  • Finding your harmony.
  • Holding your own part in an ensemble.
  • Opening out your vocal range.

Date:                    Saturday 17 June

Time:                    12.00 to 2.45pm

Venue:                 Coorparoo Bowls Club

Cost:                     To be determined

Please register your interest in attending this workshop by emailing the Secretary with your name and phone number to

Profile – Elizabeth Ross

I’m a Singer, Performer, Musician and Teacher. Currently Vocal Co-ordinator and Lead vocalist for The Queensland Services Heritage Band Association who perform regularly around Southeast Queensland.

Throughout my creative arts experiences, both here and overseas, I’ve seen the importance of having a happy, healthy voice and created my vocal workshops to suit all ages, stages and abilities. Not just for singers but also actors, public speakers and for those who want to be heard.

With my workshops, I encourage everyone to find their authentic voice by enjoying the numerous benefits of singing.

With my fun, simple and sometime silly exercises, I really could teach the world to sing!

We are excited to open up ticket sales for our first big event of 2023. Sally Fields and Keith Rea (aka Green Fieldz) will be running two workshops and a concert on Saturday 4 February.

In the first workshop, Tab Reading in an Ensemble, you’ll learn to play melody, harmonies and chords in a group to create a unique sound. And by the end of the workshop, you’ll be playing like a true ukulele string quartet.

The second Workshop Adding Glamour to Chords, will show you how by moving one finger on commonly played chords you can transform your sound to something unique and lovely. Guaranteed to change the way you see and play.

Sit back and relax in the concert where Sally and Keith will wow you with their renditions of bluegrass, Celtic, ragtime, gypsy jazz, pop and old favourites.

It will be a fabulous afternoon at the Coorparoo Bowls Club from 2.00pm to 6.00pm, full of ukulele learning, toe tapping and fun

The price for the whole afternoon is $35. Financial members get a discount by using the promo code send out by email on 8 December. Contact the if you can’t find the promo code. To get your ticket, click on the Trybooking link  and follow the prompts.

Steve Sandilands
Events Coordinator
Brisbane Ukulele Musicians Society Inc

Coady Brule – 29 October 2021

From Geoff Dancer.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I was slow in appreciating how good a uke player Coady is, but that says more about me than it does about Coady. He has grown and grown on me. These days I really look forward to hearing him play and sing.

Coady delivered a great workshop, and I loved the way Coady said things like: “So you made a mistake….who CARES!” with a big grin. There’s a cheeky freshness about this dude.

He suggested we find a song that we love. Listen to it – well. And then see if you can work out how to play it to capture the feeling in the song. How are going to play the song on your instrument to capture the feeling that you love? Yep, you can download the sheet music and then religiously play it, but why not play around with the song yourself? How are YOU going to capture the emotion of the song? How are you going to play it on YOUR ukulele? I hope Coady agrees with me, because that’s probably the main thing I got out of the workshop!!

Making a chord shape

Coady explained that chords are made up of independent notes. Chord voicing is the process of arranging the notes of a chord to vary its sound and feel. A particular chord shape, even though it may have the same chord by name, may have a different sound quality. That’s because the individual notes are played in a different sequence and/or are slightly different.

Take the C major chord. It comprises the root note C and the third (E) and fifth (G) notes in the scale plus a fourth note of C, E or G. Beginners know it as 0003 which means you are playing GCEC.

Get your uke out and try these next chords. You could play the C chord as 0403 which is GEEC – it’s still C but sounds different because it has the E note twice. Or you could play it as 0433 which is GEGC – again it’s still C but has the G note twice.

One other alternative is to play it as 5433 which is the chord shape for the Bb chord moved up two frets. It’s still the chord of C playing the notes CEGC.

It’s not a finger, it’s a nut

Coady showed us different chord shapes up and down the fretboard. He went on to discuss barre chords, and I loved the way he held up his index finger and said: “this is not a finger…..it’s a nut!’ What he meant was when you are using the index finger to barre a fret, you are moving the ‘nut’ of the ukulele closer to the body of the ukulele.

On not playing all the strings

He demonstrated the importance of choosing strings to play up the fretboard. For example, you can form a shape up the fretboard WITHOUT barring by not playing all the strings. For instance, you may want to play the top 2 or 3 strings only, the bottom 2 or 3 strings only, or even non-adjacent strings.

On knowing the root note in your chord

It’s important to know where the root note of your chord is. He showed us how you can determine the root note of shapes by checking certain strings.

For instance, the note sounded on the G-string with the ‘A’ shape (2100) is A and will tell you what the chord is. If you barre the third fret and make the ‘A’ shape (5433) you are playing a C chord. Your middle finger will be on the 5th fret of the G string. This note is C which is the root note of the ‘C Major’ chord.

Slide up the fretboard two more frets and it must be the D chord.

On choosing a chord shape

You might choose a chord shape because it has a particular tonal quality or because it suits the song. Or because it makes the song more easily playable.

For instance, if you have to move your hand up the fretboard to the 7th fret position to play a particular chord/s or note/s you may be able to stay in that position to play the next chord.

It’s also important when you incorporate chord melody, notes, or riffs into the song. You need to assess whether you are using the right fingers to move smoothly to different chord shapes. Simple hand movements are important.

Making it practical

Like all good workshop presenters, Coady led us in a song which illustrated the forming of different chord shapes, and where we could all join in and have a go! Yeah!

He chose “Colors” by Black Pumas, a song that he obviously loves, and which had chord shapes which are not commonly used in ukulele jams. You’ll have to take my word for it (Dodgy I know, I know).  I loved learning how you could change from playing an E chord to an Fdim chord by leaving your hand and fingers in the same place except with the added use of your little pinkie. I also loved the way we incorporated runs on the G-string which ended in F#m or A chords up the fretboard. I guess you had to be there. Hope you get some idea of what I’m talking about.


At the end, Coady returned to different tools you can use to express emotion and add interest in the song, for example hammer-ons, pull-offs, muting and different types of strums.  We also discussed other external tools you can use as a crutch to help you work out a song, such as ‘Ultimate Guitar’ and ‘The Ukulele’ apps.


I really enjoyed the workshop, and judging by the applause at the end, I think most people there did so, too. Coady was obviously well-prepared for the workshop, and the notes he handed out were great, too.

He was well-aware that people vary in their learning approach – some need to see it, some to hear it, some to do it. He used a few different ways to get his message across, which I liked.

If I have one suggestion, it is to slow down a bit. I had some trouble keeping up when we got to play the song, and I have been using barre chords quite a bit. It’s tough trying to play a new song (new to me anyway) with different rhythms and chords you are new to.  And when there are alternative chord shapes to consider on the fly, it can fry the brain a little.

But then again, I come back to the thing I like about Coady. The challenge. I came home and had a go at the chords used in the song again and found I had learnt several useful tips. Isn’t that the point of a workshop? Well done, Coady.

On 5 November, Tony Richardson and Marg Monaghan on bass led a group of 16 ukulele players through a bluegrass jam and a workshop. They promised to explore the basics of bluegrass on the ukulele and play lots of bluegrass songs

Tony, Marg and Kevin

In case you missed the workshop, bluegrass is a blend of traditional Americana styles that became prevalent around the 1940’s. It’s a unique style of acoustic instruments overlaid with vocal harmonies. It’s not gospel, it’s not blues, it’s not country, it’s not jazz and it’s not Trad (traditional), but it has elements of all of these styles… It’s bluegrass.

If you have never heard bluegrass have a listen to this link


Here’s some feedback from some of the players who attended.

John: The workshop catered for a wide range of abilities. There were no complicated chords – It was all in the strum patterns. Entertaining!

Pam: It was a lovely evening. The bluegrass rhythms united everyone and we all had a lot of fun.

Jen: I came with my sister because she likes bluegrass. This was my first time playing in a large group. It was so much fun playing and learning with like-minded people.

Bob: As an ex-banjo player, I’ve always liked bluegrass. Tony’s instruction recapped what was in his last workshop, but I learnt some more tricks. I’d like to be able to improvise like Bluegrass players do in the breaks.

Join Tony Richardson and Marg Monaghan at a Jam exploring the Bluegrass style. Dabble a bit with your uke, workshopping songs along the way. Add to your repertoire and expand on your playing skills. Aimed at intermediate players, ALL levels are welcome but you need to know your basic chords and be able to match a strum pattern to get by!

Warning: Ain’t no part of nothin’ if you think we’ll stop to teach you chords…NO chords taught in this workshop, and it could be the quickest strumming you’ve ever attempted!

Bar is open. BYO Food.

This is a BUMS Covid Safe event. Check out the latest directives here.

DATE: Friday Night 5 November 2021
TIME: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
VENUE: Northern Suburbs Bowls Club Hall 175 Edinburgh Castle Road Wavell Heights, Qld, 4012
TICKETS $20 : Available from Trybooking 

BUMS financial members tickets 50% off with promo code.

Check your email 25 October 2021, subject: Members Promo Code for November Ukulele Workshops.
Please Note: Trybooking has an addition booking fee $0.50 TIPS for using Trybooking here

What is the workshop about?

“What the hell is bluegrass?” you ask. Well it’s a blend of traditional Americana styles that became prevalent around the 1940’s. It’s a unique style of acoustic instruments overlaid with vocal harmonies. It’s not gospel, it’s not blues, it’s not country, it’s not jazz and it’s not Trad (traditional), but it has elements of all of these styles… It’s bluegrass. If you get a bit uneasy with gospel music or murder ballads then this isn’t for you, but if you can see through that, and enjoy it for what it is, you’ll gain plenty.

What will you learn while you jam?
1. The basics of traditional bluegrass
2. How to best play it on your Ukulele
3. How to fit in at a bluegrass jam
4. A little of the circle of fifths
5. How to form a bluegrass band that emulates the sound of a traditional bluegrass band
6. We’ll play lots of bluegrass songs
7. We’ll explore the songs a little along the way

What to bring?

A sense of humor, any ukulele you desire, as many ukuleles as you desire, a notepad if you want to take notes, a tuner, water to drink, a snack to eat during the breaks, a questioning mind because there are lots of people who don’t understand the same thing as you and they are never game to ask so no one finds out. Patience and plenty of it.
This workshop can cater for Ubass, Baritone, Tenor, Concert, Soprano and Banjo ukes so please bring them along. Hell you can bring your devils box (fiddle)! If its stringed just bring it along, I’m not going to exclude other instruments, except bagpipes…. don’t bring bagpipes along.
That being said you need to be proficient enough to play basic songs in basic chords, and if you bring a lead instrument be prepared to play the melody.

All participants will receive a copy of the songs played in the workshop to take home to help you practise.

Want to get your Bluegrass on now? Check these out to help you understand the style …
1. Watch the movie Oh Brother Where For Art Thou staring George Clooney
2. Listen to the following bands on Spotify or YouTube

  • The Davidson Brothers
  • Bluegrass Parkway
  • Honey and Knives
  • The Steel Drivers
  • Bill Monroe
  • Earl Scruggs
  • The Soggy Bottom Boys

3. Listen to the radio show Three Chords and The Truth on 98.9fm Thursdays 6.00pm to 7.00pm
4. Purchase a “Parking Lot Picker’s Songbook” for most of the bluegrass standards.
5. Google e.g. Jo found this great list of songs https://www.idahobluegrassassociation.org/jasons-beginner-jam-blog-2017—2018

Presenter: Tony Richardson

Tony reprises this very popular workshop first shared in 2019. Apart from being instigator and jam leader of the Northside Jam for many years, he is one of only a handful of BUMS to play at bluegrass festivals on stage, in the Bumsteaders bluegrass ukulele band.



Finally …. One to get you in the mood

A traditional Mama Don’t Allow played by just about everyone… check out Flatt & Scruggs or this version by the Jive Aces which features uke.

For the Bluegrass aficionados, here’s one from the “Father of Bluegrass Music”, Bill Monroe, together with his band, with the classic instrument ensemble of fiddle, mandolin, guitar, 5-string banjo, and bass. The clip also demonstrates Bluegrass singing at its purest, solo and harmonised, in the style that has been described as “High and Lonesome”. Thank you Chris Bird for the link.


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: https://youtu.be/2EntxPIULUI

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.