Workshop Instructor Bios:
John Sandoval is an extraordinary ukulele talent who is well respected in the local ukulele community. John focuses on the fundamentals of ukulele by introducing and breaking down songs into understandable sections. His classes are tailored to accommodate all ages and ability levels. His light-hearted, up-beat manner of teaching makes learning stress-free and tons of fun.
John developed his love and enthusiasm for ukulele during his 10+ years at the Nicholson Music Co. where he founded the (now defunct) “Saturday Ukulele Workshop” which evolved into the “Valley Ukulele Society”.
He has performed with various local music groups on both the guitar and ukulele.
John currently teaches at the Nicholson Music Co. and the Love of Learning Home School. John calls Placerville, CA home where he shares his blessed life with his beautiful wife Lisa Morgan and Lucy the cat.
Dr. Dennis Fisher has been playing banjo for over 50 years. He was privileged to study bluegrass banjo under Warren Kennison, Jr. who helped the legendary Earl Scruggs develop his instruction manual Earl Scruggs and the Five String Banjo. Having professionally taught banjo, Dennis also has performed for Ronald Reagan and played with music groups around the world. “Bluegrass ukulele” began when Dennis was asked to adapt banjo songs on the ukulele for a student at The Strum Shop. This was life changing as Bluegrass Ukulele Celebration was born!
He now teaches in-person and online lessons in in his favorite ukulele music style! Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Rocky Top, Dueling Banjos and many more classic bluegrass songs sound like a “hammered dulcimer on steroids” when played on the uke. His bluegrass ukulele technique has also been featured at the Reno Ukulele Festival. Dennis takes a special interest in students young and old helping spread his enthusiasm for the love of music. Dr. Dennis makes it easy! Come join the fun!
Steve Kritzer, who’s musical talents also include guitar, mandolin, banjo, and songwriting, has developed a special passion for ukulele over the years, and has become one of the pre-eminent instructors, jam leaders, and “go to guy” for all things ukulele in the San Francisco Bay Area.
He’s performed, and taught ukulele to everyone from Kids to Seniors at festivals and jams, and particularly enjoys sharing the joy and art of jamming and making music together on ukuleles.
A growing number of students have gone through his popular adult classes for the City Of San Ramon, and was recently hired by “Ukulele Kids” out of Canada to help bring ukulele to the schools throughout California.
Leonard Kaufer is the curator of the www.ukejams.com website where you can find over 700 high quality ukulele chord charts. He leads a weekly jam in Lincoln, CA, and presents workshops throughout Northern California. You can find out more at the website or on the UkeJams page on Facebook.
Keoki and ohana originally come from the Kalihi Valley and Nu’uaru areas of O’ahu. Raised on music, his kapuna (elders) sang and played to a variety of traditional and hapa haole music. It was during the resurgence of Hawaiian culture and music in the 70’s that he and his ohana realized the importance of carrying on and perpetuating the different styles of Hawaiian music.
Although making a transition to the Mainland is sometimes challenging, having the opportunity and privilege of playing with kumus (teachers) like Uncle Hollis Baker (Kaliponi Strings) and Uncle Saichi Kawahara (Kapalakiko Hawaiian Band) made it easier and so much more enjoyable. Both kumus perpetuated their love of the culture and the music and believed it should be joyously shared … a tradition carried on by Keoki.
Currently, Keoki focuses his attention on a monthly kanikapila (jam session) at The Strum Shop. It’s here that he continues to share and blend Hawaiian culture and the ukulele … using music to bring people together who do not speak the language but dream of sharing in the aloha.