James Hill

A singer, songwriter, educator and virtuoso instrumentalist, James Hill is a man on a musical mission.  It’s a mission that reaches beyond the concert stage and into communities, homes and classrooms around the world.

Representation and Touring Formats

Representation: Exclusive – United States
Touring Formats:  Solo
Educational: Residencies, workshops, school events and music educators seminars.

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Ukulele is the people’s instrument.  While his creative arrangements of Billie Jean and Voodoo Child have garnered millions of YouTube views and his acclaimed studio recordings “give the ukulele its dignity back” (Songlines Magazine), it’s his tireless work as a teacher that has made James Hill a leader in the global resurgence of the ukulele.

Hill has performed at the Kennedy Center, toured in 15 countries and is considered a “rare peer” of Hawaii’s’ premier ukulele players (John Berger, Honolulu Star-Bulletin).  He is also a prolific teacher, author and public speaker.  In the mid-2000s, Hill collaborated with Chalmers Doane – the trail-blazing teacher who first introduced ukulele in schools in the 1960s – to create the Ukulele in the Classroom method book series.  In 2010, he launched the JHUI Teacher Certification Program, the only course of its kind in the world, which has trained over 500 ukulele teachers in 12 countries.  With Ukulele in the Classroom established as the gold standard for classroom ukulele pedagogy, James set his sights on creating a resource to teach the art of solo ukulele. The Ukulele Way, with its rich blend of print, audio, video and social media technology, was launched in 2014 and set a new standard for online ukulele instruction.  More recently, his book of arrangements Duets for One was published by Hal Leonard and was the #1 selling ukulele songbook on Amazon.com for six weeks.

James Hill is an engaging, experienced speaker with a “genial, low-key sense of humour” (Edmonton Journal) who proves “beyond the shadow of a doubt that the uke can be a formidable axe” (Ann Arbor News).  His range of hands-on workshops includes the popular Booster Uke and You Can Play Jazz Ukulele while his TED-style presentation Life is Long, the Ukulele is Short is an inspiring look at how ukulele can changes lives for the better.

Hill is available for masterclasses, workshops, keynotes and performances.

JHUI Teacher Certification Program

The JHUI Teacher Certification Program is the only program of its kind in the world: a comprehensive training course for ukulele teachers.

A JHUI Teacher Certificate recognizes the attainment of knowledge and performance skills as well as a pedagogical understanding of the James Hill Ukulele Method. Certification provides acknowledgement of an ability to teach music literacy through the ukulele, providing tangible evidence of achievement to employers and/or students.

 Ukulele in the Classroom

“Is there an instrument that can be used to foster music literacy in classroom settings that is fun to play, inexpensive, portable, and suited to any style of music?”

This was the question that faced a young J. Chalmers Doane in 1967. Doane, then newly-appointed Director of Music Education in Halifax, Nova Scotia, found his answer in that chronically underestimated instrument of Hawaiian fame and European ancestry, the ukulele. The Canadian school ukulele program was born and the rest, as they say, is history.

Fast-forward forty years. Canadian virtuoso James Hill – a student of the Doane ukulele program – emerges as one of the world’s foremost masters of the instrument, his dynamic approach to the ukulele inspiring ukulele enthusiasts, professional musicians, music educators, ukulele teachers, and a host of others to take a serious look at a fun instrument.

Passionate about sharing the gift of music with a new generation of students, James envisions a method that builds on the foundation laid by the Doane ukulele program, that is “fun from day one” and that opens doors for students wishing to pursue music further. Naturally, he seeks the benefit of Chalmers’ experience and together they begin to develop Ukulele in the Classroom, a new and exciting resource for music teachers everywhere.

The result is a sequential, performance-based ukulele method through which students explore elements of music including melody, harmony, rhythm, form, tempo, dynamics, and tone. Areas of skill include singing, picking, strumming, ear training, sight-reading, improvising, music theory, harmonizing, arranging, and more. In many ways the Ukulele in the Classroom series melds the lessons of the past with a vision for the future, infusing the wisdom of elders with the creative energy of youth.

James and Chalmers share not only a love of the ukulele and of teaching, but also a passion for developing and supporting music literacy in schools and other learning environments; they warmly invite you to join them in their new approach to Ukulele in the Classroom.

It’s fun. It works. It’s music literacy, the ukulele way!

“A dazzling live performer with a genial, low-key sense of humour.” – Edmonton Journal

“Utterly world-class in every respect.” – Paul Symes, The Blacksheep Inn

“Never have four strings attached to a hollow wooden shell been coaxed to do so much.” – Vancouver Sun

“The lanky, personable Hill… proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that in the right hands the uke can be a formidable axe.” – Ann Arbor News

“The perfect evening of tunes, stories and musical virtuosity. ” – Wellington Dominion-Post

“A serious virtuoso upon the instrument… truly amazing.” – Canadian Folk Music

“Possibly the best ukulele player in the world… Hill wowed and charmed the audience.” – Waikato Times

Please check back for upcoming tour information.