How 3 Different Ukulele Studios Got Their Start


August 9, 2022

These three ukulele teachers are some of the best in the business and offer lessons that will help you become a master of this fun instrument. From beginners classes to more advanced instruction, there is something for everyone interested in learning the ukulele. Check out their stories to see how they got their start and what they are up to with their studios.

Arlie-Avery Asiu

Arlie-Avery grew up on Maui and was first introduced to the ‘ukulele by his uncle as a youngster. A few years later, as a fourth grader at Wailuku Elementary School, he joined his classmates in learning to play classic favorites like You Are My Sunshine. At the tender age of nine years old, he started composing his own music. To date, he has recorded and released four instrumental ‘ukulele albums comprised of all original music, written, composed and performed by Arlie-Avery.

Two of the albums, “Ukulele...Off the Couch” and “My Dog Has Fleas” earned Arlie-Avery Nā nominations for Hōkū Hanohano Awards in 2017 and 2018. His music is best known for incorporating a variety of music genres, from jazz to rock, and from classical to Hawaiian. His musical stylings blend ‘ukulele with cello, bass, saxophone, various percussion instruments and—in true Hawai‘i style—a rubbah slippah. Arlie’s enthusiasm shines through in his refreshingly upbeat music. He prefers fancy finger picking over strumming and loves to experiment with unusual tunings. He doesn’t play it safe—he stretches himself artistically. His latest album entitled, “Arlie & His Magic ‘Ukulele”, was released in November 2021. It was inspired by the late Uncle Willie K, who often spoke about his desire to write a children’s book with the same name. Arlie-Avery had the privilege of playing his original music as a regular opening act for Uncle Willie K’s Thursday night Blues show and Sunday Brunch at the King. Kamehameha Golf Club. Arlie’s album is a finalist in this year’s Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards in the category of ʻUkulele Album of the Year. The awards program is scheduled for July 20. These days, Arlie-Avery can be found in the studio recording his next album, which will feature his love of other stringed instruments, including the electric and acoustic guitar. He enjoys performing for a variety of events around the island of Maui and teaching ‘ukulele lessons to people of all ages around the globe.

How long have you been playing?

I have been playing music since I was in the 4th grade at Wailuku Elementary School on Maui. I was also introduced to playing the guitar by my uncle that year as well. It was then that I began composing music, using elements of pop, jazz and rock.

In what ways have other musicians inspired you?

Musicians inspire me to write music that is unique to me, just as they do to create their signature sound, Iʻm inspired to create my own style and sound.

What got you interested in teaching others?

I developed an interest in helping people learn how to play the ʻukulele and guitar and to bring music into their lives when I saw what it did for my nephews and grandnephews. I witnessed how much music can enrich a personʻs life. Also, as the old adage goes, when you love what you do, youʻll never work a day in your life.

What aspects of music excite you?

I find recording sessions particularly exciting, whether Iʻm playing my own original music for an album or as a studio musician for another artist. Recording music that I wrote for a loved one is one of the best ways that I can honor them.

Sounds of Harmony

Miriam Edelstein fell in love with music at the age of 7 when she took her very first guitar lesson after picking up her dad's guitar. In addition to learning the guitar, Miriam worked on her confidence through singing throughout her childhood as well.

After developing the passion for both singing and playing an instrument, Miriam went on to study music education at Caldwell University in Caldwell, NJ, with a concentration in voice. Miriam also received her special education certification while at Caldwell University. As an undergraduate, Miriam performed with the Caldwell University Chorale and the Garden State Opera. Miriam studied voice with Dr. Laura Greenwald at Caldwell University.

In 2018, Miriam's private music studio began. Miriam's passion for music grew and she worked towards her masters of the arts, which she received in December of 2021. Miriam studied music therapy at Montclair State University and is currently working towards her board certification. While at Montclair, Miriam interned at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center, leading music therapy sessions for patients in pediatrics, PICU, NICU and burn center.

Miriam's dream is to have her own music studio at the Jersey shore where she can facilitate music therapy sessions as well as teach music lessons. Miriam hopes to share her love for music with her students and show them how music is inspiring, exciting, and most importantly, fun.

Besides the music world, Miriam enjoys spending time with her friends, her family, and her dog Matilda. Miriam enjoys cooking, going to the beach, going to concerts and to Broadway Shows. Miriam is currently based in Plainsboro, NJ.

How long have you been playing?

I started playing ukulele maybe 3 years ago. I was starting to receive inquiries for ukulele lessons and thought to myself that maybe I should learn it (it sounded fun) and then I can teach another instrument!

In what ways have other musicians inspired you?

When I was 7 - I wanted to be my music teacher when I grew up. She was amazing and still is one of the most amazing teachers and individuals that I have ever met. She taught me guitar lessons and the rest was history - I knew I had to have a career in music. I've also been so inspired by other musicians. Music therapy is the path I took in graduate school and my plan is to open my own studio space once I am board-certified where I can see clients for music therapy and teach music students lessons. In graduate school, I had a six month internship in pediatrics - I witnessed music do some pretty powerful and special things - and my supervisor, who is a music therapist, was one of the most talented people I've ever met.

What aspects of music excite you?

I fell in love with music through my guitar lessons when I was younger. I love being able to witness my students fall in love with music and the growth that happens throughout their lessons. In music therapy, I have been able to be a part of music supporting patients through challenging times - and that shows the power of music. I can't think of any other way I would rather spend my career.

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Mastering Music

Karyn Van Dam has been playing the ukulele for 4-5 years, although she played guitar and a few other instruments previously.

In what ways have other musicians inspired you?

I've actually been inspired by a talented friend of mine, who opened my eyes to what's really possible with a ukulele. You can play beautiful, or even quite rocky sounding solo's with picking such as string bends just like with an electric guitar! I also like how some large ukulele groups have done flash mobs and I really enjoy the concept of ukulele orchestras or groups. Like many others, I was also inspired by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and the raw beauty and artistry evoked in his version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

What got you interested in teaching others?

I was already teaching voice/singing which I specialize in, but was working with other teachers at the time who were involved in summer ukulele festivals and noticed the rising popularity of the instrument. What I love about it is that it's attainable, affordable and portable, and a great instrument for group learning. I enjoy teaching group classes, workshops, camps or other events. It's also a great starting instrument for younger kids - a great stepping stone for moving up to learning guitar as well. But really, I play in a wonderful local adults group which keeps me interested and inspired. We play and sing together each week and when we get the chance to perform, it's always great fun, and awesome to bring happiness to people's faces! Ultimately, the ukulele is really great to be able to play while singing too! This is a big thing for me as I specialize in voice. I find it can be a really helpful approach for singers who can't yet play an instrument, to be able to learn and accompany themselves.

What aspects of music excite you?

Creativity, originality, artistry, the unity and fun of bringing people together, as well as singing, voice and harmony. Sharing my love for music and live performance adrenalin are really special! I also love the possibilities that come from telling a story or connecting with people through songwriting. I love the aspects of place and time, and how music or genre develop from this. In terms of the ukulele specifically, it resembles summer fun to me... sitting under a tree with a picnic and good company and sharing the love and joy of music!   (@mastermusicvoiceonline)    (@masteringvoice)

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