March 27, 2020

Uke Society Annual Newsletter 2020 (12 minute read)

What is Uke Society?
Over the past few years, the events arranged through Uke Society had helped ukulele players of all levels connect with other ukulele players, as well as introduced the instrument to many who couldn’t tell it apart from a lute

But, it’s about more than just people getting together and strumming to familiar jazz standards…
By supporting the uke sessions, our network of small business partners from coffee shops to wineries, to even a dog lounge, have been able to enjoy the extra business and marketing opportunities made possible by all the event traffic

And still, there’s more to helping local businesses create additional sales
The Uke Society framework is designed with the intention to solve an existing economic condition: Repurposing space for alternative use, systematically, and at scale

And yet, we need to go even a little bit deeper…
Had I been a talented origami artist, or even just a passionate paper-airplane folder, perhaps what you know today as the Uke Society would have been something different. The truth is, I had an immense interest in what I observed to be often unused (or underused) spaces within coffee shops, tasting rooms and other small retailers, and I imagined filling the spaces with people who have similar interests or activities. Playing the ukulele just happened to be something I was quite familiar with and enjoyed, and so it began – an org to bring about a more social and connected society in the modern world, through playing the uke.

Around early April 2017, not long before the name “Uke Society” had been conceived, I had a conversation with a close friend while in the parking lot of a neighborhood community center, right after a local ukulele session had wrapped up. I remembered sharing with him the dream of a uke network I had envisioned, in which people would cultivate a stronger sense of community. I rattled on with enthusiasm about the various details and impact it could make. At one point while in the peak of my excitement I even came up with a bold example of how a depressed and suicidal individual might find inspiration through the org. While my friend listened respectfully, I have to admit even I was a bit unsure about how convinced I was at my own half-baked ideas.

A note posted by one of our member-influencers Heather Lambert from earlier this month reaffirmed my parking-lot-inspirations and reminded me about why we are doing what we do. In the facebook post on March 5th, Heather described an uplifting encounter she had with a man and the note which he left behind. The man had felt down and suicidal, and when he walked by her neighborhood, he heard her playing her uke from her porch, and it had a profound effect on his outlook on life. The note reads: “I believe it was your music that changed my life, thank you.” You can revisit the post (3/5/2020) at Heather also reflected on her own story about how she had gotten through a rough time in her own life through the discovery of music-making, and how it allowed her to express her inner emotions and to slowly heal from past trauma and pain. You can revisit the post (3/16/2020) at Heather’s story about finding hope and healing and passing it on is what makes Uke Society such a special place to be.

Now some announcements & summary items
-We launched our own events platform! Check it out at
-What all can it do? The events platform allows anyone in the world to view, to attend, and to create any uke-related event in and around their desired geographic locations; both physical or virtual events are supported.
-Why it is needed: The events platform differentiates from existing platforms like Meetup and Facebook, and third-party events plugins like Eventbrite. It is a purpose-built engine with the global ukulele community in mind, by providing a central location and single-point of entry to better facilitate creation and management of events
We’ve launched multiple community-submitted/ member-lead events all around the Seattle area!
-More than doubled our facebook members at this time last year to well more than 1,000 members
-Song-library grew steadily through many member-submitted tunes
-New members brought on to join the Core Influencer Team to better serve our community
-Created series of video play-alongs on the YouTube channel:

Get Connected
Uke Society works a little differently than a traditional weekly jam club/ song-circle. If you are looking for more strumming fun, reach out to these friendly orgs all around town (in the Seattle area), please share if you know more than the ones listed!
-Bellevue UKE’sters –
-Juanita Ukulele Group –
-Bothell Ukulele Strummers Meetup –
-Redmond Community Sing Along – search on
-Uke Jam with the Honeyville Rascals –
-Edmonds Ukulele Aikanes Weekly Song Circle –

Our focus in 2020
-Localized facebook groups: creation of umbrella facebook groups based on geographical regions so that the posts and forum content is more relevant for its members
-Support more physical and virtual events from around the world: Getting the word out and gaining better adoption for the amazing network we can help grow

How you can get involved
-Sign up on and get connected to the communities around you. Discover events, join events, and create and manage your own events within the global uke community
-Join our facebook group and share & invite those you play the uke with

Some final thoughts

In the days and weeks leading up to writing this third annual newsletter, I reminded myself to limit the amount of focus on things of depressive nature or about dealing with the adversities of life as I seemed to have gravitated towards in previous installments. After all, we’re an org that revolves around playing the happiest instrument in the world!

However, in light of recent crisis, which may well be the most devastating phenomenon most of us, if not all of us, will ever experience in our lifetime in terms of its global scale and impact, I find myself again unable to steer clear of matters to an existential extent. I am referring of course to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the severely hit global economy which affects jobs and security, there are the shortage of medical supplies, rise of violent and hate crimes, there are also the effects of extreme social quarantine measures which inevitably produces harsh effects on people’s mental and physical health. But certainly nothing compares with the loss of lives through the infection of the virus, and the projection for the weeks ahead still does not seem to offer any comfort.

When I reflect on the past few weeks, I can’t help but realize just how connected we all are – there’s nothing quite like an extremely contagious disease to remind us of it. It doesn’t matter what your social status is, wealth, race, or where you live, the virus shows no prejudice.

However, in the midst of all the hardships and difficulties, I’m encouraged to see how the good and love and kindness is also being spread around, even while the whole world seems to be in lockdown and its citizens isolated from one other. I’m humbled by those in the medical field who risk their own wellbeing by caring for others, governments’ and its leadership at a time of immense pressure, companies and entities doing what they can to support their employees and partners, organizations who selflessly contribute their valuable resources, and families and friends taking care of one another and providing physical necessities and emotional comfort. As violent and powerful as a virus can be, and however contagious, time and time again we see that it is no match for the spread of love and compassion from our community.

We may not feel the value of our individual contribution at times, but I hope to encourage you to be that spark to someone around you who needs it, in whatever way you are able to contribute, even if it’s as small a gesture as playing a tune on your uke. Tutu said it well, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness”. So keep strummin’ and spreading the joy. Remember to check out the Uke Society events’ page ( and attend and/or create your own events through which people can connect wherever they’d be in the world, whether it is physical or virtual events. Especially in a time as this, we’d love to see more virtual events being generated. And we would love to hear your inspirational stories through your discoveries of the events!

And so, this is Uke Society, and we hope not only will you find some lightness and joy through your own uke journey, but also practice in passing it on to those who, like the man that left the note, may enjoy a life-changing outlook.

Lastly, I want to thank my God, Jesus Christ, who is my Lord and Savior, my ultimate Comforter and tower of strength; my parents who tirelessly care and support me; my core of influencers who have contributed in a wide variety of ways in growing the org; and to each and every individual who have connected with us, strummed along, offered up your words of encouragement, time, talent, and money, for the growth of the community. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to be in the front seat of this ride. Hope to see you all soon, and stay safe out there!



March 29, 2019

Uke Society Annual Newsletter 2019

Imagine you are getting ready to go to your weekly ukulele jam. Ukulele, check, song binder/ digital display/ song books of various colors and thicknesses, check, check, and check. Hawaiian shirt, well.. that would make it three weeks in a row so you decided to save it for another week. You get into your car and drive to the jam spot, open the door, and… Whoa!! All your favorite ukulele people from YouTube are there! They welcomed you in, and before you had time to wonder “what’s all happening right now..”, your hand begins to strum along with everyone to the songs you’ve been watching and practicing from your computer at home.

Ever since I began playing the ukulele, I discovered quickly there are an abundance of resources online, basically, it’s YouTube! Ukulele Underground, Mike Lynch (Ukulele Mike), Cynthia Lin were among the solid, quality trailblazers in this arena. And in recent years, talented educators, innovative methods and editing techniques, unique approaches and styles have all carved out its own place and made being a part of this digital ukulele community entertaining and enriching. Some of these channels I follow include: One Music School; Ukulele Vlog Trips; Elise Ecklund; Ukulele Tenor; TenThumb Production; Paper Girl; Bernadette Teaches Music; Renee Dominique, just to name a few. They all have very distinct signature “moves” or elements in the content they produce, such as covers, tutorials, play-alongs, and a wide variety of uke-related topics. Even though they may create different forms of content, they share the same spirit for diversity, creativity, and passion for the instrument, and as a result, inspire a wide range of audiences to pursue their own journey. When a viewer discovers a video or an artist that really speaks to them, it’s as if one tastes the secret sauce that really transforms a dish. You know the feeling… it’s when you wished there was something more than just a thumb-up button.

Being a viewer or subscriber to these video content is entertaining, educational, and influential, and it’s usually the first place a beginner turns to learn their first chords. Yet, I have felt, along with many I’ve gotten to know and connect with in the uke world, that this celebration of diversity and support for innovation, as well as the level of energy is not something easy to translate into the physical world, from its digital counterpart. Although many player-groups desire to foster an inviting atmosphere, the reality of the traditional ukulele culture within a group-play setting seems to suggest there are still a great deal of potentials to be fulfilled. If there is a way we could further improve accessibility, remove barriers, encourage creativity, and promote diversity, I believe more people would come to discover the joy that this little instrument is able to bring into our lives, and even impact our local communities.

In a time when most of us are making a significant number of interactions through our digital devices each day, Uke Society hopes to inspire beyond a virtual connection between friends and strangers for an enriching experience, even one that would carry over the energies from our favorite YouTube stars. Together with our small, local venue partners, we continue to build after-hour community by spreading our unique blend of jams all throughout the Greater Seattle area, and we can’t wait to see our passion passed onto other cities around the world! We invite you to join us at a jam, whether in person or via live-stream, and of course, reach out anytime to discover how to bring Uke Society into your city!

Now some announcements & summary items:

• What we did (since March 2018)
○ Now at 500+ members (from 30+ countries) on Facebook:
○ Live stream established:

○ Arrangement Kit launched (lead by Sara Jackson):

○ Official logo created (lead by Dianne Vallier):…/uploa…/2019/01/UkeSociety_color.png

○ Growing song library with new contributors:

○ Online shop established:

• Paper printing: Our group, and our library of songs, as well as the number of sessions have all been growing! So going forward we will expect all participants to print and bring their own PDF song sheets to the events (song list can be found in the event’s description)

• Pre-registration support: Uke Society’s mission to support local music education and fostering a social community through our jam sessions is free, and always will be. A limited number of Early Access pre-registration tickets will be available going forward to provide some financial support and to improve attendance experience. The tickets will be between $10 – $15 and will allow registration for future events without the standard 2-week restriction; free registration will continue to be offered as normal – available 2 weeks before the event starts.

• If you enjoy what we do and wish to provide financial support to our mission, please go to
or contact me at to make a contribution

Venue hosts:

• This year our jams have been hosted at (or scheduled to be at): Wine tasting rooms; coffee shops and specialty drinks and tea shops; bakeries; craft bar/lounges; outdoor parks and patios; breweries; apartment lounges; themed resort; restaurants; trade emporium; library system; and even a dog lounge!

• We have had at least one uke jam every 2 weeks at a unique venue. When you get a chance please stop in at a partnered venue and let them know your appreciation for the opportunity to play music in their shop!

• To view a list of our past events (and see the pictures):…

• To view a list of our future events:

Get connected:

• Join us at one of our sessions (or participate via live-stream)! Whether you’re a complete beginner or a ukulele rockstar, we’d love to strum with you. It’s hard not to have a good time around ukulele people. You can always expect some form of playing tips/workshop, group-jam, solo or group performances (open-mic), and lots of conversations and hanging out at any Uke Society session

• You don’t need fancy sound equipment to create or run a jam session, nor do you need to be an experienced educator or musician, you certainly don’t need to run it through our team of Influencers or even use our standard sheet music. If you’ve found a great spot (public or private) and do plan to run a jam and just want people know about it, or you know of any relevant events, we welcome you to share it with our facebook community. Our goal here is to allow as many people to enjoy the ukulele through the opportunities and resources provided by the community. If you would like to host or lead a standard Uke Society session or get to know our standard format, please feel free to reach out to me.

• Uke Society works a little differently than a traditional weekly jam club/ song-circle. If you are looking for more strumming fun, reach out to these friendly orgs all around town, please share if you know more than the ones listed!
1. Bellevue UKE’sters –

2. Juanita Ukulele Group –
3. Bothell Ukulele Strummers Meetup –

4. Redmond Community Sing Along – search on

5. Uke Jam with the Honeyville Rascals –

6. ESUPA –

7. STRUM –
8. SUPA –
9. Edmonds Ukulele Aikanes Weekly Song Circle –

How you can get involved:

• Share and post your thoughts on any resources you think would be of interest to other members, ask questions, initiate ideas (we’ll back you up!) at Pictures and videos are always great!

• Share the tunes from
with your ukulele friends, communities and clubs

• Help create an arrangement of your favorite tune with the Arrangement Kit at
. After it goes through our review process it is made available globally – anyone will be able to download or print the PDFs from around the world. Some call it “immortalize” your songs.

• Besides creating standardized song sheets, you can also create covers and tutorials of existing tunes from the song library. Send these recorded videos (or link it) to us and we’ll consider making it the official cover or tutorial with the link (e.g. YouTube) to appear directly on the song sheet

• Help us create more venue relationships at places where the hosts share our vision for community

Some final thoughts..

Earlier this month, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed six minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board. This happened less than six months after Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea back in last October, killing all 189 people on board. Also over the last week, three suicides captured national attention: two were young survivors of last year’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 were killed; one was the father of a child who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 26 lost their lives.

There seems to be no shortage of tragedies these days, and in chained effects… While much of the public’s attention and media coverage have been focused on discussions around the mechanical or engineering details in the aviation systems; gun/safety and mental health policies, (while these are incredibly important issues needing solutions as it will continue to have its impact in the society) I can’t help but think about the devastation endured by the families and communities from losing their loved ones.

Many of you have heard me express that the most important thing we get together to do is to have fun – after all, the concept is to invite friends and strangers to come together with a uke in hand to play songs, it’s that simple! Not all recreational activities, or situations in the society need to be looked at through existential and philosophical lens all the time. There will always be sadness, emotional distress, poverty, hunger, violence, corruption, injustice and evil in the present world, no matter what we do. However, I want to encourage you with the values we share, and the community we continue to build, the progress is already evident ever since we began holding public jam sessions a little over a year ago. I have a sense of conviction, that the opportunity to establish and lead Uke Society is to provide a platform which allows us to learn to deal kindly with one another, and increase our capacity on being purposeful with our limited time given. You never know the positive impact you could make in someone’s life because you approached them at a jam and simply asked about how they started playing the instrument… Imagine if this kind of energy and openness would catch on, beginning with the Greater Seattle area, into cities all around the world – different languages, different demographic, different styles, different skill levels, and different venues, but the same connectedness and the ability to make a difference in someone’s life just by doing what you enjoy doing. If you are familiar with how we operate, I’m grateful for you and know that you are already making a difference. As someone once said during a ukulele interview “If everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a better place.” He’s might be on to something…

Lastly, I want to again take a moment to thank my mum and dad for their support as I continue on this journey – checking on me often and making sure I was still alive and eating my meals, and encouraging me to believe on with my efforts. Also, my core of Influencers who have poured in so much time and effort into the org, innovating all sorts of things and ideas, you can meet them at
. Thank you to so many individuals for your insights and meaningful conversations and words of encouragement throughout the past year, as well as helping me load and unload my growing set of gears, your support through merchandise and supplies, and the clicks and comments and shares on social media. I hope I have in some way inspired you as well to pursue what you desire, and I would be happy to help you achieve your own breakthroughs, whether in your ukulele-playing or anything else. Be kind to one another, and see ya at a session!


Original fb post:



Uke Society Annual Newsletter

A year ago today a ukulele I ordered online was delivered to my front door, it was the 10th ukulele I’ve accumulated since I first began fiddling with the instrument. Although it wasn’t intentional, somehow I have subconsciously managed to add a uke to my collection for every year I played, ranging from luthier hand-made quality to one I purchased at a touristic shop in Indonesia for around $6 bucks, but hey, it actually plays! I’m sure many ukulele enthusiasts are nodding their heads right now about the incredibly addictive nature this little 4-stringer has! In case you’re new to the uke scene, now you’re warned.. “Just one more” is a common phrase among those that have been hooked. Another thing I realized as I unboxed my $50 Luna soprano: I have never once played the uke with another ukulele player. Wait what..!?

Rewind about 10 years to a time when I was fresh out of college; a job, a salary, back in the city, it’s time to explore! Despite an uninspiring pay and poor economy during the financial crisis of early 2008, it didn’t discourage me from pursuing my biggest passion of all: Food. Not spending-time-in-the-kitchen kind, but discovering unique eats, happy-hours, high-value-big-flavor- (preferably) low-budget kind. Then I spent 2 years in an office between 1st and Union (one block from Pike Place Market), and took eating-out to a new level..

Among many of my personal experiences which contributed to founding Uke Society, perhaps the observation in the ways coffeeshops and similar places (within retail/ restaurant industry) operated was one of the most fascinating – Why do so many fun, small establishments with such charming and warm atmosphere have such limited operating hours?

Could it be possible that small businesses would be open to the idea of extending their normal operating hours to accommodate people who want to learn or play music together? Would people find it worthwhile to get-together with potential strangers and jam? Would people even find jammin’ on a little guitar fun!? These were the core set of questions that launched this gig.

About two months ago we debuted Uke Society’s first public session; as of today we have completed 6 sessions, with 4 additional ones arranged and published, and more on the way. It’s too early to tell (or too big a dream) whether the uke would experience the same renaissance yoga stretched into ten years ago.. but I would dare to say, after a year’s time, the answers to the core questions are a resounding “Yes”. Time and time again we hear from those who are either new to the instrument or new to our unique environment, that their experience of joining a uke session was fun and exciting, and “easier than I thought” – which is an encouraging thing to hear considering the uke carries such an intimidating reputation, and so we do our best to lighten things up so people can see how simple it is to begin strumming their first chords while making new friends

Now some announcements & summary items:

Venue hosts

We are grateful for our kind hosts who supported us with their fabulous space and treats, including: Many award-winning wineries including one Tuscan-themed, French bakery, artisanal tea shop, Creole-styled cafe, Brazilian coffee and bakery, and more. Photo albums here:…

1. Airfield Estates Winery 1/22/18

2. Aura Bakery & Coffee Bar 2/7/18

3. LizzyKate 2/22/18

4. LizzyKate 2/23/18

5. J Bookwalter Wines 3/8/18

6. Acadia 3/21/18

7. Chandler Reach Vineyards 3/30/18

8. Kitanda 4/2/18

9. Queen Bee Café 4/17/18

10. The Noble Fir 5/1/18

Get connected

Uke Society works a little differently than a traditional weekly jam club/ song-circle. If you are looking for more strumming fun, reach out to these friendly orgs all around town, please share if you know more than the ones listed!

1. Uke Jam with the Honeyville Rascals –

2. Bothell Ukulele Strummers Meetup – Contact Wendy directly for more info

3. East side jam lead by Kathy – Contact Kathy directly for more info

4. STRUM –

5. SUPA –

6. Edmonds Ukulele Aikanes Weekly Song Circle –

Our focus in 2018

1. 2018 is about more discovery, about what works, what’s fun, and how do we do it more often. Those who have been to a Uke Society session know that our operating model has no precedence, which means.. we’re kinda making it up as we go most of the time. Ultimately we are working to define an agenda which can be easily replicable, even systemized, so that people can form sessions whenever they’d like, with any supportive local venues. Feel free to reach out to Reece Buendia, Raymond Sismaet, or myself if you would like to know more

2. We are continuing to work towards designing sessions which are more skill-level-specific. There are no restrictions in what people might like to sign up for, but we figured experienced players wouldn’t want to hear how the “C” chord is played during each session. We may create 4 levels: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert, but for now please expect some beginner instructions in each session, unless otherwise noted. You can always expect some playing tips/workshop, group-jam, solo or group performances (open-mic), and lots of conversations and hanging out at any Uke Society session

3. We are looking into raising financial capital as with any startups. If you have any connections we certainly would appreciate an introduction, but if you enjoy what Uke Society offers, the best support you can offer is to share about us through social media. Obviously the bigger this pool is, the more convincing I can be to potential investors

4. And lastly.. We’re gonna play more and more jazzy songs with jazzy chords. Be sure to watch the Crash Course on YouTube (Uke Society Crash Course – How to master uke basics in 2 hours @
) if you haven’t so that it’ll be a breeze when it comes time to learn songs like La Vie En Rose and Quando Quando

How you can get involved

1. Join us at one of our sessions! Whether you’re a complete beginner or slaying it daily like Neal, we’d love to strum with you. It’s hard not to have a good time with a bunch of ukuleles around

2. If you like to be more involved.. We could use some help in our legal dept, business development dept, tax dept, creative dept, social media dept, wordpress dept, investors relations dept, publication/media dept, or if you just wanna lead a session. We can talk compensation privately, but you’re mostly just getting uke lessons as payment

3. Uke Society Recording Studio and Uke Society’s Youtube Channel (
) are resources designed to help everyday ukulele players learn and practice at home. If you would like to record a particular technique or topic, cover song, tutorial, or jam-along videos and inspire others to become better players, please let me know!

4. Got a question, promotion, event, or want to show off your new Luna Tattoo? Share it on our Facebook Group at (

5. Feel free to share song files, chord files on Facebook, please do go over them thoroughly to make sure they are as accurate as possible, gracias!

Some final thoughts..

So when was the last time you felt stressed out? Felt like there’s a battering ram in your head or felt your blood pressure rise like a thermometer dipped in lava? Unfortunately neither me or playing the ukulele can help solve your problems in this demanding world. Neither could we really make much of an impact in a world filled with so much violence, poverty, hunger, crisis of all sorts, corruption, and obstruction of justice. However, whether it is here in town or any of the twenty or so countries I’ve backpacked through over the years, someone is always brought to a smile whenever I get my hands on a ukulele. So I’m starting here. I believe music is built into our being, for a purpose.. I often tell people who aren’t confident of their sense of music to just listen and watch their toes.. They tap in perfect rhythm.

I’d like to think Uke Society gives the gift of music, but it is already built-in.. wouldn’t it fun though to discover and share it within our after-hour community? In the digital and globalized age dominated by e-commerce, national chains and emojis, can we again appreciate basic human interactions and support the passion and dedication of our small local businesses?

Lastly, I want to take a moment to thank my mum and dad for their support as I embarked on my entrepreneurship journey – checking on me often and making sure I was still alive and eating my meals. Also wanna thank Raymond for having my back – carrying the fifteen or so ukes each time we show up at a venue; not easy to find that kind of time for a devoted husband and engaging Father of three girls. Thank you to so many individuals for your insights and meaningful conversations and words of encouragement throughout the past year. I hope I have in some way inspired you as well to pursue what you desire, and I would be happy to help you achieve your ambitions. Be kind to one another, and see ya at a session!


Original fb post: