Currently I’m hunkered down in Champaign-Urbana at the Illinois Summer Youth Music camps. I have had the pleasure of teaching the ukulele elective and soon I’ll be putting up a resource page with charts, fun exercises, and places to get cool ukulele gear. To those of you I had in class last week I miss you already and those of you I get to hang out with this week, I cannot wait. Stay tuned for the update, It will be up shortly.
The last couple of weeks are a little hazy (much like this photo), but I am happy to say that all the ukes—every last one—is now strung and somewhat in tune! Applying polyurethane with an HVLP (high volume, low pressure) sprayer was great for the ukes, but easily one of the most exhausting tasks I have ever undertaken. After that, we still had to string them, but I’ll detail that process on the uke project page soon.
This week in class, I was reminded of why I wrote the grant that led to the craziness that has been life over the past couple of months. We played. We sang. We made mistakes. We learned something new. We laughed, and we had FUN. I sincerely hope that the experiences we have had throughout this project are just the beginning for my students. They have created a unique instrument from scratch, and have shared that experience and the experience of social music making with their peers. We have given them what they need to enjoy a lifetime of music making in whatever capacity they wish. Perhaps they’ll continue to play and advance in their abilities. Perhaps, they will write their own songs, teach a sibling how to play, or just play casually every now and then with friends and family. Whatever their choice, I’m happy they have the abilities and experiences to make it.
On Monday, International Ukulele Hero, Jake Shimabukuro, will join us via Skype. Early on in the project, we reached out to Jake just to let him know what we were up to; and soon, we were trying to figure out a way to include him in our project. The kids’ first introduction to the ukulele was a video of Jake talking about ukulele and how playing it has changed his life. It is fitting that we will culminate the project by coming together with Jake to play for each other, share some music, and have fun. I encourage you to do the same this week. Come together with some friends, share some music, and have some fun.