How does a kid from Canada become what the Honolulu Star-Bulletin calls a “rare peer” of Hawaii’s premier ukulele players? James Hill grew up nearly three thousand miles east of Honolulu in the town of Langley, British Columbia, where ukulele instruction has been mandatory in many schools since the late 1970s. To his fourth grade classmates, the ukulele was a means to an end, a way for them to dip their toes into the vast ocean of music. For James, the uke was a sea of possibilities unto itself and inside its tiny wooden shell he saw his life in music. He was hooked.
During his teenage years James honed his skills as a key member of the renowned Langley Ukulele Ensemble and as a student at the Langley Community Music School. He continued his study of music at the University of British Columbia where he earned a Bachelor of Music Degree in 2003. In a full-circle plot twist, James – also a passionate teacher – went on to co-author the Ukulele in the Classroom method book series with J. Chalmers Doane, the trail-blazing teacher who pioneered the use of ukuleles in Canadian schools. In 2010, James and his father Barry, a retired school teacher, launched the JHUI Teacher Certification Program, the first of its kind in the world. His most ambitious educational offering to date is The Ukulele Way, a ground-breaking learning method that
combines print, video, audio and its own social media platform.