Back in the Ukulele Again!

So we all set up at the Harvest Crossing retirement plaza and who should saunter in, but the man himself, Peter McAvoy!

I know! I could hardly believe it myself! Here are the pictures to prove it:

Fb group 1Fb group 2

We were just that much happier to play Irish songs when our friend was well enough to be able to join us. We had been practicing for 4 weeks and one of our goals was to get the residents singing along with us, which we were able to do. We felt very proud of our efforts when Karen Rohrer, the facility activity co-ordinator, complimented us afterwards. Thank you, Harvest Crossing ~ see you next year!


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Cat Porrit and Cheryl Hansford in a teaching moment, Red Station Room, Tillsonburg Station Arts Centre, January 2017. In attendance: 18 Beginner players + 10 regular players = full house.

Next month we head back to the Red Station Room at the Tillsonburg Station Arts Centre for the Beginner’s class for Ukulele. This year it’s called “Learn to Play the Ukulele”. We are starting our fall session on Tuesday, September 19th at 6:30. We are also upping our music lesson participation fee to $5, and the lesson will be half an hour instead of a full hour. Our Play-Along Hour will now follow from 7 p.m. til 8 p.m. for 2 bucks.

With that out of the way, I also have to announce that we, the Tillsonburg Uke Society, a.k.a. the T’UkeS, will be giving up our Meet-Up page. We have made the unanimous decision ~ between Cheryl and I ~ to make it defunct. Last year the price went up by 20 bucks and became an American amount which converted to over $137 Canadian dollars which put us into overdraft. Our aim is to pay the rent at the Station Arts Centre first and foremost, then have enough funds left over to photocopy song books and have a little gas money. We are a self-declared not-for-profit organization. What we really want to end up with is a ukulele group that meets once a week in a pub or other public place to play songs and sing songs and have a really good time.

Image result for graham nash 1975
Graham Nash, right, with David Crosby.

That being said, one of our enthusiastic members sent us this great song over the summer. She actually hosted a back yard get together for the T’UkeS and it went really well.

The song is Teach Your Children Well, written by Graham Nash of Crosby & Nash fame.

From his own web-site: “Legendary singer-songwriter GRAHAM NASH is a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee-with Crosby, Stills, and Nash and with the Hollies. He was also inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame twice, as a solo artist and with CSN, and he is a GRAMMY Award winner.”

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Graham Nash 2013

The song: teachyourchildrenwell   this version by Dr. Uke.

Here is the 2013 video of him performing the song where he clearly says: “….dedicated to all the singin’ and teachin’ in the world.”

Songs From Our Uke Group

Sometimes inspiration comes from others, as well as within. And when that happens, it makes playing music that much more enjoyable.

I have been putting together songs with and for members of our newly formed uke group, T’UkeS – Tillsonburg Uke Society. Some of them have been out there performing for the nursing home called Maple Manor, using their keyboard and guitar, and since joining our group and learning how to play their ukulele’s have  been asking us to transpose some of their repetoire songs and some of our teaching songs. It’s been lots of fun and I’m sharing the arrangements with everyone below.

One of our teaching songs is On the Wings of a Dove in C, which we transposed to the Key of G which some members found easier to sing.

On the Wings of a Dove

On the Wings of a Dove G

Another teaching song was I’ll Fly Away in the Key of D, used to teach the chords used in the Key of D. They liked to sing it better in the Key of C, so here are both versions:

I’ll Fly Away in D

I’ll Fly Away in C

Another song is Could I Have This Dance by Anne Murray, which we have on good ‘intel’ is a popular country jam song:

Could I Have This Dance

We also used Tiny Bubbles as a teaching song, and that went over really well.

Tiny Bubbles C G7

And this is a more sophistocated, or performance style version of Tiny Bubbles:

Tiny Bubbles C Performance

There are a couple more that are Irish tunes, but they aren’t on my computer so I can’t upload them. However, in the foreseeable future once I get some time to type them in and add chord boxes I will add another ukulele group post. For now I hope those of you who play in groups, are looking for group songs or nursing home/performance songs enjoy these few.

Tillsonburg Uke Society

station-art-centre red

We are setting up uke shop with the Station Arts Centre, located at 41 Bridge Street W in Tillsonburg. We are using the Red Station, which has it’s very own bathroom and ensuite kitchen. (Parking spaces are available right on Bridge St.)

Beginner meetings are taking place on Tuesdays, from 6:30 til 7:30, Begin Uke Book Cover and we don’t charge for participating but we do shamelessly beg for donations. We spend the first 5 minutes getting everyone tuned up and ready to go.

Our 7 students have got their own ukulele’s and invested in some electronic tuners, purchased beginner books and are well on their way to mastering a new instrument. The Academy of Music store on Brock Street told us they will be able to offer our members some kind of discount, so we will arm any one who shows up with one of our group business cards. They have a decent variety of ukulele books, some ukuleles and I have been told by one of our students that they will special order in a ukulele for you if you pay some money down.

Currently we will be at the Station Arts Centre up until March 8th, at which point we will break until the first Tuesday in April, continuing until the end of May. After that, Station Manager Deb Beard says we might be able to play outside in the courtyard of the Station.

We’re looking forward to leading players in ukulele jams in the future, and to taking part in the Tri-County Country Jamboree being held at Avondale United Church on Harvey Street, 2 Saturdays a month. The one night last December when Cheryl and I played 2 Christmas songs there on our ukes, we really had a great time listening to all the players and visiting with new people, PLUS we attracted 5 more beginner players to our group!

Here is a printable flyer:    Want to learn how to play the ukulele 3

To contact us for more information, visit our group page on Facebook under Tillsonburg Uke Society or email us at

Everyone is welcome to join us, no matter what level of player you are – novice to well worn….. just join us for some good company and fun!


My Friend Cheryl

Burnin’ Love and Grandma’s Feather Bed – country theme song night

Have you ever had one of those friends? One who keeps you surprised because you never know what to expect, and at the same time you expect them to rise above everything. This is my friend Cheryl, and she sure keeps me laughing.

“You know what I like about you Cheryl? The fact that we can talk about anything!” (Laughter)

This is what I declared last Tuesday night on our way back home from Tillsonburg. We had just finished a lively discussion about the British versus the American way of appropriating countries from Jamaica and the Virgin islands to Hawaii, Alaska and Cuba. In fifteen minutes, ha ha!

Cheryl can also be like a big sister to me, but she doesn’t play that “I’m a few years older” card on me, ever. Two weeks ago we were talking about our relationships with our daughters. We both have three children. I have a son and two daughters; she has a son, only one daughter and a younger son. We have lots in common yet we come from different backgrounds.

The most hilarious thing about her is she is a Minister’s wife. It just makes her huge socially and she has got to be the most diplomatic person I have ever met. She also manages the church choir and is a walking encyclopedia of musical facts. She also has a flare for dressing up to play parts – she owns two tickle trunks!

When I first met her in 2011, it was actually at Sharp Bus Lines. I had just gotten back from attending the Ukulele Ceilidh in Liverpool, Nova Scotia and had come into the office to reclaim my bus keys so I could go back to work on Tuesday. Cheryl was in the office too because, well, first of all she is one of their new driver trainers and secondly she was returning my bus keys because she covered my route for me. She ran around the counter and grabbed me by both arms, looked me strait in the eye and demanded to know where this uke group was. Like an interrogation. She was so excited and couldn’t wait to join.

Turns out Cheryl has been playing the ukulele ever since she heard Peter Gzowski on CBC Radio announce that he could teach anyone to play the ukulele in 10 minutes. When they came back from commercial break she was waiting for her first lesson, borrowed uke in hand. The year she joined our uke group she asked me if I wanted to perform a song with her for the upcoming theme song night, “Show Tunes”. She wanted to do “New York, New York.” (You know, by Sinatra) So we practice it a bit and get it down and she keeps telling me to remember to wear a suit jacket on performance night, etc.  Below is the outcome.

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In case you are confused, Cheryl is Liza Minelli. 🙂 I am dressed the way I am because I didn’t understand the assignment! Seriously: I had no idea we could dress up for songs. Ever since then, we have been as thick as thieves. Below are some more pictures of our good times together. Read the captions for a description of the event.

At the 2nd annual potluck Luau in Port Ryerse
Potluck Christmas uke party
Potluck Christmas uke party
At the Tie-Dye and Flowers in Your Hair theme song night
At the Tie-Dye and Flowers in Your Hair theme song night

And now, we are starting our own group in Tillsonburg. We are calling it the T’UkeS to stand for the Tillsonburg Uke Society. We are going to occupy a room at the Tillsonburg Station Arts Centre to teach beginners, and hopefully these people will form the basis of a group for us. You just never know!

Onwards and upwards!  Looking forward to this next chapter in both of our lives!

My New Thing

Aloha ukies! (Ha ha, that’s a play on “foodies”)

Cheryl and me at a potluck Christmas uke party, yeeeeears ago
Cheryl and me at a potluck Christmas uke party, yeeeeears ago

Recently I had to make a big decision. I conferred for many months in fact, with numerous friends (whether they wanted to hear about it or not!) and family members. I came to the best decision for me, which was to leave my parent uke group, Dover Uke Heads. Although I enjoyed my time with them, my friend Cheryl and I wanted to start a ukulele group in the town of Tillsonburg, so that is what we are doing.

DSCF6541One of the most memorable times with DUH was the Port Dover Santa Claus Parade in November 2013. That year that I had joined the United Drum and Bugle Corps playing snare drum with my sister and my daughter Samantha playing bugle and marching in the corps. Turned out that year both the Drum and Bugle Corps and the DUH were going to be in this local parade. Since our group leader was going to be there on the float with the ukers, I decided to march with the drum corpDSCF6559s.

About a half hour before the parade starts the officials judge all the floats and the DUH float won “Best Non-Commercial Float”!! When I heard the news I ran over to the DUH’s to celebrate with them. I was so proud of everyone!!! So here I am  dressed to the nines in a bright green marching uniform with white rope epaulets, brass buttons, a silver-sequinned sash and a huge black hat with a big, fluffy green plume, and I’m jumping up and down, whooping and hollering with all these folks in yellow shirts. Ha ha. And afterwards one of the DUH’s said to me, “I know you were in uniform to be with the marching band but I could see that your heart was with us.”

And that sentiment was true for quite a while. I am now moving on to activities that make me happy, that I want to make time for and one of them is starting a new group. Beyond that, I have to point out that I am not a Senior, I work full time, I have 3 children to look after plus a next-husband, my car, yard and household. I can’t dedicate 30 hours a week to something that is supposed to be a hobby. Maybe someday when I am 65 years old and have all the time in the world on my hands, I might be part of a performance group again, but until then my life and my family are going to be my priorities. Of course, there is much more to it than that ~ which remains best unsaid.


I am really looking forward to what the future may bring in a new town, especially meeting new people. We are going to be teaching beginners at the Tillsonburg Senior Centre and eventually growing into a decent group of uke players. I hope you will wish us luck!