Ukulele & Languages

Different countries,
Different cultures
one common language... the ukulele.

Questions to Jamie, classical ukulele arranger

19 2009

This post has been updated on the 4th of June 2020 : links that were broken have been updated.

As a great admirer of Alfred Deller, the first thing I did when I started to play the ukulele was to look for arrangements of pieces he had sung,  especially traditional folksongs and songs by John Dowland that I could picture being played on a ukulele. I did find a few traditional songs at the time but nothing by John Dowland.

Then about a month ago, I discovered Jamie Holding‘s arrangements. Jamie Holding, a young musician from near York is initially a guitar and lute player but has recently been smitten by the ukulele virus. To date, he has written 2 e-books, Blame not my uke (30 easy ukulele pieces arranged from the lute) and John Dowland – 18 pieces which you can purchase by sending him an email at

Sharing Jamie‘s interest in Renaissance music and the ukulele, I have asked him a few questions.

U&L : How long have you been playing the ukulele? How did you learn to play ?

Jamie : About three or four months now, but I’ve been playing the guitar for four or more years and lute since the new year so I have experience with plucked stringed instruments and the switch I found quite easy. I taught myself, but again, I’ve had teachers for the guitar and lute which are basically the same.

U&L : You are playing the lute and the guitar, why did you decide to play the ukulele as well ?

Jamie : I have been in contact with Rob Mackillop and went to visit him as well earlier this year.  I saw his ukulele site and was blown away by the beauty of the instrument when fingerplucked, so I bought one along with a book of his.  I love the sound and feel of the instrument (and the fact that it’s cheap!).  I then started arranging for it simply because I wanted to play more music on it!

U&L : Do you have any piece of advice you would like to give to ukulele players who would like to learn to play fingerpicking ukulele ?

Jamie : Don’t try to play pieces out of your depth – it will only depress you and you’ll make a worse sound than you’re capable of. I can play quite hard pieces now on the uke and guitar but I never find them nearly as fun to play as the simpler ones…

U&L : Can you think of any tune to recommend for beginners in fingerstyle ukulele ?

Jamie : I don’t know any modern or pop music for the uke so I would suggest the first study in my short booklet of Fernando Sor pieces – he’s a master of the classical guitar and this study I think works beautifully on the ukulele and is easy to play. Other than that, Greensleeves is a fun tune to play. (I’ve got that in my Blame Not my Uke book). Also, there are some wonderful easy pieces in Rob Mackillop’s books – I’ve got his Gasper Sanz book and it is excellent – although some of the pieces are a little too hard I think for beginners.

Here is a video of an arrangement from Jamie‘s Blame not my Uke e-book, a renaissance lute piece called Bella Gioiosa.

And another lovely Renaissance piece called Packington’s Pound

To keep up with Jamie‘s videos, subscribe to his YouTube channel


  1. Ukulele Perspective on the 25th of September 2009 @ 21:34

    This is great music. I read more from his YouTube page and he is only 15 years old. I downloaded the Sor book and love it. Jamie thinks it’s easy, but it is a lot of fun to play and has some challenges for me. You find some great classical resources for the ukulele. I liked Rob McKillop’s work too and found Valery from his links. Wow. Thanks.

  2. Armelle Europe on the 25th of September 2009 @ 22:22

    Ukulele Perspective : thank you for the feedback. Jamie is definitely gifted and Rob MacKillop’s work is excellent. Good to see you’re enjoying classical ukulele too.

  3. Ten Thousand Hours of Playing Ukulele? « Ukulele Perspective on the 28th of September 2009 @ 03:40

    […] 26, 2009 by ukuleleperspective Thanks to Armelle for her post about Jamie.  After reading her interview with Jamie, I visited his YouTube channel and his […]

  4. Jeff / Humble Uker on the 17th of May 2010 @ 00:16


    There’s so much on the Internet for the ukulele. Thank you for gathering up this fingerstyle work. I have played some of the Fernando Sor arrangements too. You are getting some good interviews.


  5. Jeff / Humble Uker on the 17th of May 2010 @ 00:17

    Oh yes, I also need to pay more attention to U&L.

  6. Armelle Europe on the 17th of May 2010 @ 18:48

    Jeff : Glad you’re finding the information provided useful and that you enjoy the interviews.
    Thanks for the feedback.

  7. Moacyr addor on the 27th of September 2018 @ 15:51

    I am from Brazil and like very much ukulele. I have six ukuleles. Gosto muito das suas transcricoes e peças para ukulele. Sorry for speak portugues. Thanks

  8. Armelle Europe on the 27th of September 2018 @ 16:12

    @Moacyr addor : glad you enjoyed the tabs and sorry I can’t speak Portuguese :)

  9. Troy on the 15th of November 2018 @ 06:01

    Looking for some country blues for baritone uke.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks in advance for any help.


  10. Armelle Europe on the 19th of November 2018 @ 10:12

    @Troy : you could try here :

    Hope this helps

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