Some of our Friends & Guests
..and many more! >

Our Story

This is the story of a guy, his ukulele and crazy idea. Seemed like Kent Knorr had shared music with people his whole life. From giving pointers to friends in college, to teaching lessons at night in his dining room while his wife and daughter made dinner to helping hopeless romantics prepare a surprise performance for their special someone, the kid who had been in bands from the time he could strum a chord was a natural at getting people into playing music.

Anything with strings was fair game. But there was one instrument Kent identified with above the others. The ukulele was pretty much considered a toy in the 1970s and 80’s when Kent was growing up. And the voice of disgruntled grunge during his college years had no room for such an upbeat little instrument.

Deciding to make his living teaching people to love and play music was an easy one. But choosing to focus on just the ukulele was another thing entirely. The ukulele hadn’t been popular since the era of Arthur Godfrey and soldiers returning from Hawaii in WWII.

But after months of dreaming, questioning, brainstorming lunches, and writing notes on napkins at nearly every restaurant in town, the plan was set.

……………………….
“So, we’ll teach an instrument no one knows they want to play yet? Yeah, I thought. This might just be amazing.”
………………..

In 2007, the North Carolina Ukulele Academy began in earnest in a little upstairs room on Racine Drive in Wilmington, NC. We began with 34 pioneering students who gave us endless energy and enthusiasm. It was great seeing those first students make the connection between their hearts, their hands and four strings. Some were memory-seekers who brought in their grandparents’ ukulele from the 20’s or 30’s, wanting to let it sing out after decades of silence. Some were musicians wanting to see what this odd little instrument could do for them. And some were just nice people who wanted to put a little ‘happy’ in their lives.

That first year brought special rewards and challenges–it may be hard to imagine now but in 2007, the ukulele was little known and even less understood. Only a few months before we opened, a video had just hit YouTube that was on the verge of going viral—the description read: “Guy in central park playing ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’…” That guy was Jake Shimabukuro and that now famous video was one of the early seeds that helped the ukulele enjoy the respect and appreciation it has today.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

“Ukulele is about having fun, and going where the music leads you.” ~ Kent Knorr, Kumu & Founder
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Now nearly seven years, 1,400 students and a whole lot of aloha later, the North Carolina Ukulele Academy has become a place where people from all over the country come to learn, play and smile a while.

The North Carolina Ukulele Academy stocks over 250 ukuleles, offers four 6-week class sessions each year with classes for ages 2 to 92 (so far) and hosts monthly ukulele jams for the community. Come by and visit us if you’re ever in the neighborhood and see what it’s all about.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

This is the story of a guy, his ukulele and crazy idea. Seemed like Kent Knorr had shared music with people his whole life. From giving pointers to friends in college, to teaching lessons at night in his dining room while his wife and daughter made dinner to helping hopeless romantics prepare a surprise performance for their special someone, the kid who had been in bands from the time he could strum a chord was a natural at getting people into playing music.

Anything with strings was fair game. But there was one instrument Kent identified with above the others. The ukulele was pretty much considered a toy in the 1970s and 80’s when Kent was growing up. And the voice of disgruntled grunge during his college years had no room for such an upbeat little instrument.

Deciding to make his living teaching people to love and play music was an easy one. But choosing to focus on just the ukulele was another thing entirely. The ukulele hadn’t been popular since the era of Arthur Godfrey and soldiers returning from Hawaii in WWII.

But after months of dreaming, questioning, brainstorming lunches, and writing notes on napkins at nearly every restaurant in town, the plan was set.

……………………….
“So, we’ll teach an instrument no one knows they want to play yet? Yeah, I thought. This might just be amazing.”
………………..

In 2007, the North Carolina Ukulele Academy began in earnest in a little upstairs room on Racine Drive in Wilmington, NC. We began with 34 pioneering students who gave us endless energy and enthusiasm. It was great seeing those first students make the connection between their hearts, their hands and four strings. Some were memory-seekers who brought in their grandparents’ ukulele from the 20’s or 30’s, wanting to let it sing out after decades of silence. Some were musicians wanting to see what this odd little instrument could do for them. And some were just nice people who wanted to put a little ‘happy’ in their lives.

That first year brought special rewards and challenges–it may be hard to imagine now but in 2007, the ukulele was little known and even less understood. Only a few months before we opened, a video had just hit YouTube that was on the verge of going viral—the description read: “Guy in central park playing ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’…” That guy was Jake Shimabukuro and that now famous video was one of the early seeds that helped the ukulele enjoy the respect and appreciation it has today.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

“Ukulele is about having fun, and going where the music leads you.” ~ Kent Knorr, Kumu & Founder
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Now nearly seven years, 1,400 students and a whole lot of aloha later, the North Carolina Ukulele Academy has become a place where people from all over the country come to learn, play and smile a while.

The North Carolina Ukulele Academy stocks over 250 ukuleles, offers four 6-week class sessions each year with classes for ages 2 to 92 (so far) and hosts monthly ukulele jams for the community. Come by and visit us if you’re ever in the neighborhood and see what it’s all about.
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Store hours:

Open 11am to 5pm every day except Sun & Wed.
910-538-3419 | Directions >