From left, Andie Kotani, Kyle Kotani, Brannon Yamaguchi and Jason Arimoto play on their ukuleles at the third annual Ukulele Jam at Keiro on Sept. 15.

The Japanese American Optimist Club hosted its third annual Ukulele Jam at Keiro on Sept. 15.

YouTube sensation, award-winning recording artist, international performer and ukulele teacher Jason Arimoto led the JAO members, Keiro residents, and friends in a spirited ukulele class followed by a jam session with his reggae/blues/rock band JMD.

Ukulele Jam regular Tina Inase said, “The JAO Ukulele Jam is the best because playing with a live band brings out your inner rock star!”

Ken Yoshihara, leader of the Keiro Strummers, enjoyed Arimoto’s easygoing instruction and the new strumming and percussive techniques that he taught to all of the students. Yoshihara also enjoyed playing reggae music with JMD.

“JAO loves to spread the aloha. It was so wonderful to see three generations of the Kotani/Matsumoto family playing and singing along with all of the ukulele players,” said incoming JAO President Kevin Shimabukuro.

First-time ukulele players Nelman Low, M.D. and JAO members Joyce Nakashima and Ryan Taketomo were jamming along with the band by the end of the session.

Arimoto and JMD band members Mark Sakaue and Mark Spiller provided the ukulele players a great opportunity to play with a real band. Arimoto had the students playing along without printed music, like real musicians.

One of his teaching goals is to have students transition from music playing to music creation on the ukulele. The players and their guests enjoyed an afternoon of great music, great food, a fun raffle and lots of aloha with a reggae twist.

Arimoto, lead instructor at Ukulele Creations, will continue teaching in Little Tokyo with a series of workshops at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center beginning on Oct. 13. He will also open the Gardena Heritage Festival on Oct. 5. He has regular classes in Torrance, Ventura and San Jose, as well as a busy solo and JMD performance schedule. See for more on his classes and appearances.

Arimoto is very excited about the growth in the popularity of the ukulele. He is currently in Suburban Soul Studios working on a follow-up solo CD to his recent “Take on the ’80s” EP. Besides teaching, performing and recording, he is one of the organizers of the L.A. Ukulele Expo coming in the summer of 2014 at the JACCC.

Residents of Keiro practice strumming, under the guidance of Arimoto.

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