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aka the UKE MAN

Paul Hennessee is a music educator, composer, and multi-instrumentalist from New York City. 

He has been teaching at the Spence School in Manhattan since 2000. Prior to that, Paul was the Principal Hornist (and frequently bassist) with the Air Force Band of the Golden West and has played in numerous orchestras, bands, and other ensembles over the years.

Toward the beginning of his tenure at Spence, Paul developed the ukulele afterschool program along with one of his colleagues. The class was extremely popular and always had a waiting list. Because of this and other factors, Paul decided to make the ukulele an integral part of the Grade 3 and 4 music curriculum. Because of his strong support for and contribution to the ukulele community across social media platforms, Paul was named “Ambassador” for Ohana Ukuleles. 

In addition to teaching music, Paul has composed and arranged numerous choral and instrumental works for a variety of ensembles. These include published original children’s songs, settings of famous poems by the likes of William Blake and Robert Frost, and scores for multiple Shakespeare plays, including Twelfth Night, As You Like It, and The Tempest.


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Paul hugging Uke.heic
In 2013, Paul won the prestigious Ruth Boshkoff Composition Prize sponsored by the Organization of American Kodaly Educators (OAKE) and was commissioned to write a piece for the Children's Honor Choir. Paul’s setting of Robert Louis Stevenson’s, "The Land of Nod" (SSA), was premiered at the OAKE National Conference in March, 2014 at Atlanta Symphony Hall. More recently, Paul was invited to the Berlin International Music Project (BIMP), as honorary composer. While in Berlin, two of his compositions were premiered by the festival choirs and orchestras under the batons of the renowned Australian conductor, Vladimir Fanshil, and festival creator and choral conductor, Anna “Panni” Kovacs. Paul is currently in talks with Ms. Kovacs regarding a commission for a new piece and another visit to the festival in Berlin in the future. 

Paul received his Bachelor's Degree in Music Performance from Cameron University and

his Master of Arts from Stephen F. Austin State University. Once he relocated to New York City, he studied the Kodály Methodology at NYU and remains active in KONY (Kodaly Organization of New York).

In the summer of 2023, Paul was hired by ukulele virtuoso, educator, and head of Uketropolis, James Hill, to be his Director of Engagement. Paul is in Level 3 (the final level) of his ukulele teacher certification in the James Hill Ukulele Initiative (JHUI).  

Paul lives in East Harlem with his wife and youngest daughter, two orange tabby cats, and numerous fish. His eldest daughter is an award-winning singer-songwriter and Ohana Artist who currently attends New York University.

Check out Paul’s Instagram music page @paulhennesseemusic for lots of covers, (and some originals) and his many collaborative projects.

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