By James Hill
It's been almost a decade since my dad and I developed the James Hill Ukulele Initiative (which most of us now call JHUI). The idea was to support the growing community of ukulele teachers. The format of the program has never changed: we start with a two-day in-person institute followed by a 10-month online course followed by a two-week assessment window. Hundreds of teachers have come through the program. We now have JHUI-certified teachers in Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, England, Scotland and Wales. It has been a big success. JHUI was the first comprehensive training program for ukulele teachers and is still leading the way in professional development for ukulele instructors.
Starting in July 2020 all three levels of the JHUI program will be available online for the first time.
But everything changes. And I'm really excited to officially reveal the JHUI roadmap for the next 18 months. There are big changes ahead.
Over the years I've spoken with many of you openly about the improvements to the program that I dreamed about. At the top of my list is solving what you might call the "information problem." What I mean is: every year we meet and, essentially, my instructors and I teach the same material. And physically going to an institute was the only way to get that material. Well, starting in July 2020 all three levels of the JHUI program will be available online for the first time and registration for the first-ever online JHUI course will open in January. Here are some of the most exciting aspects of the new course structure.
First, anyone, anywhere with an internet connection can become a certified ukulele teacher. The cost of travel will no longer be a barrier to those who wish to participate in the program.
Second, now that we're free from the schedule contstraints of a two-day institute, a lot of great new material has been added to the program, especially video content. Which brings me to...
The third thing: Demonstration Class footage! For a long time people have been asking: can we see footage of JHUI teaching strategies in action with a real-life class of students? Now the answer is YES! Demonstration Class footage is integrated into lectures and presentations throughout the JHUI online program.
Perhaps most importantly, we are still going to get together in-person on a regular basis! I'm making it official right here, right now! In the summer of 2021 we're launching an education-focused ukulele conference in the heart of downtown Toronto. And we're calling it Uketropolis LIVE! Uketropolis LIVE! will be open to players and teachers alike; you don't have to be a teacher to attend.
Like any conference there will be several types of workshops running concurrently. One of these workshop categories will be devoted to ukulele education. That's where you'll hang out if you want the latest insights, arrangements and teaching techniques. This creates many more opportunities for JHUI-certified teachers to present, to play a role as conference presenters. It'll be like the JHUI Teaching Masterclass that has been so popular for the past couple of years, just on a bigger scale and we'll put out a call for submissions in the fall of 2020.
Uketropolis LIVE! is like the JHUI Teaching Masterclass ... on a bigger scale.
As you can see, this is very different different from the old JHUI model where my staff and I would more-or-less present the same material every year to a new crop of students. Now, that body of material that doesn't change from year-to-year will be delivered online 24/7 around the world. And the dynamic, evolving, living tradition; the new material bubbling out of the ukulele teacher community is what we focus on at Uketropolis LIVE!
So, to recap:
I know this is a big shift but I truly believe it's for the best and I'm stoked about the possibilities. That said, I'm open to suggestions and feedback and ideas that can help to shape the JHUI Online program and Uketropolis LIVE! Chat with me about all this on Uketropolis.com or at the Ukulele in the Classroom online forum. Thanks for being part of this journey and I'll see you real soon!
Subscribe to the Uketropolis Gazette. Free arrangements, tips, interviews and more delivered to your inbox.