the story of

(established 28 February 2007)

The story of how the Hobart Ukulele Group (HUG) emerged is detailed here in the hope that my experiences might help others wishing to establish a local ukulele group. I acknowledge that each area, person and group of people is different and therefore do not offer the following as a blueprint, but simply an example of one way of doing it.

You can read how my love of the ukulele was rekindled engendering a desire to join a ukulele group here. It traspired that after several spectacularly unsuccessful months endeavouring to get someone else to start a ukulele group in Hobart it eventually dawned on me that it would have to be me or it would not be at all. So, the first step was to secure a suitable venue. I decided the criteria would be free of charge, a separate room, free of charge, centrally located, free of charge, staff who were friendly and sympathetic to our cause and, did I mention, free of charge? Some friends I managed to rope in and I traipsed around the Hobart pub scene and finally found all the criteria satisfied at the Republic Bar & Cafe in North Hobart.

The next step was to publicise the (yet unformed) group. I set up a free internet email account for a point of contact and then created an A4 flier...

(Actually the original flier stated the venue, date and time of the first HUG-in. This later flier directs people to HUG's website for information as occasionally we have to vacate the room for paying customers! You can visit HUG's (new) website at here)

About 2 weeks before the first HUG-in on 28 February 2007, I put copies of the flier on notice boards, windows, etc of music shops, cafes, the university, and other establishments around town...and waited nervously!

Step 3 was the question of material. I decided to prepare one songsheet for the first HUG-in. I chose a song with a simple chord structure (C F G C7) to begin with as I had no idea of the abilities that would turn up. The songsheet contained lyrics and chords and I took along about 10 photocopies on the first night...as it eventuated, I had totally overtrained! The first HUG-in consisted of 3 people and 2 ukes...but it was a start! The very next week there were 7 people and 7 ukes and HUG has continued to grow ever since.

The first night motivated me to go further so step 4 was to set up a free group website . This allowed me to upload a number of songsheets which the group could download and print themselves...thus saving photocopy costs.  The website now provides a forum for group discussion and an easy way of advising HUG-in details and upcoming events. All HUGers can upload songsheets...a very efficient way to distribute new material.

So HUG was established with these 4 simple steps...and a lot of faith!

And now a little about how HUG is organised (not really the right word!) on a weekly basis.

HUG is a very relaxed group and meets for about 90 minutes every Monday night at 6:15pm. HUG-ins aren't highly structured unless there's an upcoming gig. Each week, HUGers choose songs to play at random...it's more like jam sessions. Everyone is welcome to introduce new songs by uploading songsheets and advising the group. Because we meet in a pub HUGers tend to buy their own refreshments during HUG-ins. So, because the venue is free, HUGers provide their own refreshments and download songsheets there are no financials attached to HUG. Which means we don't need a Treasurer!! In fact, HUG has no 'positions' at this stage. Of course, things may progress differently in the future. It's not how other ukulele groups work but it suits us...maybe is a Tasmanian thing!!

One other bit of information that may be useful...once HUG was up and running I produced contact cards using perforated business cards stock available at most large stationery suppliers. HUGers carry a small supply and you'd be surprised how often in daily life enough interest is shown to hand one over! I've also placed them in inexpensive business card holders and left them on counters in the establishments that display the poster. I guess you could call this step 5 but it is not essential to setting up a group...just stops you having to continually write out the URL for people!!

If you're looking to establish your own ukulele group and would like to know more about my experience please email me or HUG...I'm only too happy to help if I can.

And what does HUG get up to beside weekly HUG-ins? The story continues here...

But before you go...just for fun along the way and to make life a little more interesting, I've created some stickers and t-shirt decals. Here's a small selection...

HUG's mascot Huggy

a ukulele flower!

I wonder if you'd be surprised at the comments and questions generated by this motif on a t-shirt!