Play along with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain


Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain will perform in Gainesville on Friday, Dec. 2, and I’m delighted  I’ll be in the audience.

George Hinchliffe wearing ukulele pin
George Hinchliffe wore one of the wood ukulele pins that I created to celebrate their 2015 concert in Gainesville.

There’s something inspiring about group musical performances. I developed that enthusiasm for musical groupwork from my own experience of playing clarinet in the high school band. Our band director would lead us through rehearsal with different sections playing. Often we would start and need to replay segments.

Then came the time – after all those rehearsals — for the band to play the complete piece. Each section contributed something special, and the result was magical.

Judy Robinson ukuleles on display at Satchel's
Some of my cigar box ukuleles were part of the artist of the month display at Satchel’s Pizza.

That’s the feeling I have as I listen to the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Sopranino, soprano, concert, tenor and bass ukuleles combine to create an unexpected approach to songs from “Pinball Wizard” to “The Theme from Shaft.”

I’ve heard the orchestra in person twice before — once in 2012 and again in 2015 when I was inspired to create special ukulele wood pins for the group 

Another reason I’m so fond of the ukulele is that it has led me on quite a few adventures.

Examining the ukulele closely at every stage. James Hill plays background music for us.
Working with Mike DaSilva in his Berkeley, California, luthier studio was a great learning experience.

I enjoyed playing the ukulele and decided to make my own cigar box ukuleles. That led me to become familiar with cigar stores in St. Augustine and Tampa where I would purchase the cigar boxes for the ukulele bodies. My ukuleles were on the walls at Satchel’s Pizza one month as part of the monthly local artist display.

When I was going to be helping teach a workshop at the University of California/Berkeley one summer, I arranged to study for a week with ukulele luthier Mike DaSilva and made a beautiful ukulele from koa wood.

As a special part of the concert, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britian is encouraging members of the audience to bring their ukuleles and join them in playing three Christmas songs – “Jingle Bells,” “Good King Wenceslas” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”

Check their website for the video tutorials for the three songs. You can download the sheet music from

Having just discovered this audience participation opportunity, I’m practicing for Friday night. I wanted you to be aware of this opportunity, too. Tickets for Friday’s concert still are available. If you can’t attend the concert play along, you can practice on your own and with other ukulele players.


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