Monthly Archives: March 2016

Cutie Circle’s 2016 Ukulele Workshop Series for Absolute Beginners


Cutie Circle volunteers (aka Cuties) will once again be offering aspiring ukulele players a free ukulele workshop series on Saturday afternoons from April 16 to June 11. Intended for absolute beginners with little to no background in music, this workshop will give participants some basic knowledge to begin a journey into music using the happiest instrument on earth!

It was a fantastic experience for attendees and volunteers alike last fall and we can hardly wait to meet everyone and share the joy of ukulele this spring.

Photo Credit: Helena M.

We thank the City of Port Coquitlam for offering the beautiful Michael Wright Art Gallery at Leigh Square for this workshop free of charge.


Gathering Place, Leigh Square Community Arts Village

Date: Saturdays, April 16 to June 11, 2016 (*note the start date has moved to April 16)
Time: 1:30 to 3:30 pm
Location: Michael Wright Art Gallery, Gathering Place, 2253 Leigh Square Place, Port Coquitlam
Admission: Free
Pre-registration is required. Registration form is located on the bottom of this page.

Courtesy of City of Port Coquitlam

Courtesy of City of Port Coquitlam

Workshop Requirements

Participants are encouraged to bring their own ukulele, music stand, digital tuner and copy of the textbook, Ukulele for Dummies, 2nd Edition. (Please do not be offended by the title of this rather good publication.)


Ukulele Kits Loaning Program

We have acquired a few sets of ukuleles, music stands, digital tuners and textbooks (with our personal funds) for loaning to participants who do not own any equipment, upon receipt of a refundable deposit of $60. Please do not mark in (and/or damage) the loaner textbooks (otherwise the deposit will be forfeited). Participants can reserve a set when they register using the form below. [The new deposit amount reflects the increased costs of textbooks and music stands.]

Ukulele Scholarship Initiative

We are in the process of establishing a small scholarship for a few keen students who might otherwise not be able to afford to buy their own ukuleles to continue their music journey upon conclusion of our ukulele workshop series. Those who would like to donate any ukulele in good condition (new or used) to this scholarship program are welcome to contact us. We will put you and the recipient in touch.

Ukulele Rental and Sales in the Region

As some of you have asked about the availability of ukuleles in the region, we have made some inquiries at local stores.


Michael Wright Art Gallery, Gathering Place

Ukulele Rental

  • Long & McQuade (Port Coquitlam) has a couple of ukuleles in stock for rent at $8/month. Please confirm with the store regarding availability if interested.

Ukulele Sales

  • Empire Music has a selection of ukuleles available via its website and has offered us a discount on the ukuleles we purchased for this workshop.
  • Long & McQuade (Port Coquitlam) has ukuleles for sale and can offer a payment plan. Please ask for Girard Knox for more information.
  • Tom Lee Music (Coquitlam) has offered participants of this workshop a 10% discount on regular-priced ukuleles and music books. Please contact Dallas Todd or Adam Dean at the store and mention you are a participant of this workshop to receive a discount. (Information current as of March 3, 2016.)

Disclosure: We do not receive commission from any of these merchants. They are mentioned here as a service to the participants only.

Scheduling Note and Supplementary Materials

The Workshop Series will start on April 16.

There will be no workshop on May 7 due to the May Day Parade.

There will be no workshop on May 21 for the Victoria Day long weekend.



Online registration began on March 15, 2016.

Registration confirmation will be sent to email addresses supplied via the form below. We look forward to hearing from you.

As seats are limited, we kindly ask that all who register for this workshop commit to attending all sessions. Participants with full attendance will receive a Certificate of Completion for the workshop. Due to the length of each afternoon session, the workshop is unsuitable for young children. To assist us in our lesson planning, please let us know briefly your music background.

Volunteers who are registering to help with the workshop, please indicate availability in the “Music Background / Comments” box.

What Have the Cuties Been Up To Lately?


Photo Credit: Lillian B.

What do Cuties do when they have their ukes in hand and songs in their hearts? They go all over town to spread ukulele joy, that’s what!

2015 Ukulele Workshop for Absolute Beginners at Leigh Square

The fall of 2015 started off with a group of Cuties volunteering at Leigh Square giving free ukulele tutorials to anyone who showed an interest in learning to play the uke. A fabulous turn-out of 60+ participants strummed and sang over the 7-week workshop series.


Hula Workshop by Kalaya Nilson

Kalaya Nilson, a hula diva and patient teacher with more than six decades of experience, gave a workshop that brought out the Hawaiian aloha in all the participants. The Cuties were amazed by how much one could shake the hips and in how many ways the hips could move! It was quite hilarious what we managed to do and how much we laughed when we did it together to ukulele music!


Ukulele Magic at December Meeting

Time and time again we were delighted by simple miracles that happened when ukuleles were involved!

An hour or so before our Christmas Strum-and-Singalong was to start, Christmas miracles happened. The ukes that were destined to be put into Santa’s sac arrived by Canada Post, on a SUNDAY! We are especially thankful to Ken, our miracle postal worker who made the delivery in the nick of time, because he worked on Sundays even without overtime pay!

At the Circle, when Santa and the Elf were handing out the final ukulele, the lucky recipient, Helena, exclaimed she had already told her family that if it were meant for her and her grandchildren to be strumming together during the holiday season, she would get to bring home a uke that afternoon! She was so right!


We are especially grateful to Empire Music for supplying our uke prizes at a discount!


The December Circle was especially memorable because of the record number of Cuties! By the way, if you are new to the Cutie Circle, you need to know that anyone who comes to the Circle automatically becomes an official Cutie!


At the meeting, Cuties all pitched in to help. Thanks to Laurie for getting the coffee ready. Marjorie was marvelous for tuning the ukes! Charmaine and Juliana made sure the tables were all set up. Harvey ferried the supplies and food to the venue. An honourable mention went to Santa for making a special appearance. We were grateful to Paul for leading the songs! We had the Cuties to thank for a festive spread of goodies on the refreshment tables!

We also had the honour to unveil some magnificent ukulele creations, a first in ukulele history. The innovative ukulele straps that Ilona and Leanne produced were extremely popular and garnered lots of compliments.

The Christmas magic continued as the Cuties together donated more than 70 food items that Sunday! When the items were brought to the SHARE Food Bank, the total weight came to 135 pounds! Imagine what can be accomplished if we all donate just a little bit every week!


Ukulele Concert at Christmas Community Outreach Dinner

The lead-up to the Christmas concert at the Port Moody Pacific Grace MB Church was a marvelous event on its own. The City of Port Coquitlam generously let us rehearse in one of our favourite homes, Leigh Square, for the upcoming concert.

Our Cutie comrade, Jerry, came all the way from White Rock with all his percussive instruments to make us like pros! In fact, our “band members” represented many municipalities including Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, the North Shore, and beyond!


Photo Credit: Leone S.

On the evening of the performance, we were wildly rewarded with an audience of neighbours from our community and a scrumptious Christmas dinner. One Cutie remarked that it was the fastest 30 minutes of her life.


We were truly impressed when hands just popped up in response to our ukulele trivia questions! The most memorable moment came when a young girl came up right after the concert to wish us all a very Merry Christmas. She remembered us from the ukulele tutorial we offered on Canada Day at Lafarge Lake so many months ago. We had so much fun and could not be happier.

Performances for Burnett Fellowship Church and S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Seniors’ Multicultural Day

January proved to be a month of ukulele concerts for Cuties who were eager to perform as we received two invitations. There’s no time for winter slumber! All decked out in aloha attire, some of us performed on the uke, some of us followed Kalaya’s able guidance and did our hula dance! We rehearsed, performed, and met so many kind people that we otherwise would not have got to know. The ukulele really brought us closer to each other.


Photo Credit: Laura Thomas

Photo Credit: Laura Thomas


Photo Credit: Todd G.


Photo Credit: Lillian B.

January and February Meetings

Our recent meetings have been one star-studded affair after another. Our ukulele friends from far and near (e.g., Abbotsford, Agassiz, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Dewdney, Deep Cove, Mission,  New Westminster, North Vancouver, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Surrey, West Vancouver, Vancouver, White Rock, etc.) entertained us with funny and lighthearted musical numbers that left us in stitches (and sometimes feeling compelled to supply accompanying horsey-sounds).


Last January, we saw our numbers soar to about 70. It was quite a turn-out and we thanked everyone for being there with us. We were overjoyed to see all the new faces that greeted us with smiles.

Jake’s February Concert

The biggest ukulele event in town had to be Jake Shimabukuro’s sold-out concert at Rio Theatre. Loyal Cutie fans braved the rain and cold with tiny stools and a heated jacket to secure seats for their family and friends hours before the concert. Some came as far as Kelowna and Nanaimo to witness ukulele greatness in action! As it turned out, the time spent outside the theatre with other ukesters was actually tremendously enjoyable!


The reward was even sweeter — these same ukesters got front-row seats and found out that Jake liked to eat chestnuts! How cool is that!


Photo Credit: Marianna V.


Photo Credit: Marianna V.

As we enter the month of March, the Cuties are busy getting ready for their free 2016 Ukulele Workshop Series in April and organizing the upcoming visit by ukulele masters, Kimo Hussey and Zanuck Lindsey, in July. Stay tuned for more exciting events!

Until then, keep on strumming to bring sunshine for everyone!