Ukulele club facilitates inclusive learning
Gaining an understanding of how to play the ukulele seemed to be attainable through being present at a ukulele club’s meeting held at Long & McQuade’s recently relocated Guelph location on Feb. 23.
The club held its first meeting in January in response to calls for the creation of such a club by Kim Logue. Logue is currently the store’s lessons coordinator but advocated the creation of a ukulele club prior to finding employment with Long & McQuade.
The room in which the meeting was held was awash with participants. The gathering had an informal and supportive tone to it, as consensus was reached on what songs the club should play and its participants shared information about ukuleles. With great patience, the group often repeated songs so that participants could better understand how to play them. This inclusive nature welcomed the presence of a cuatro, an instrument similar to the ukulele, which seemed to fit seamlessly with the music played.
Like Logue, most of the meeting’s participants considered themselves to be beginners playing the ukulele. The host of the meeting, local musician Gayle Ackroyd, also shared this characteristic and is well-experienced with playing guitars.
Ukuleles typically include four cords, tuned to the G, C, E and A musical notes. Ukuleles can be divided by their size with soprano, concert, tenor and baritone ukuleles forming the smallest to largest sizes respectively.
The first song the group played was “You Are My Sunshine.” Without lyrics, the uplifting sense of the song was nonetheless conveyed. “Oh! Susanna,” written by Stephen Foster, was the second song the group addressed. Tablet sheets showing this song were presented to attendees, though this medium of written music could present difficulties in showing the number of beats.
Ackroyd provided background information on the next song performed by the group, “Iko Iko” by the Dixie Cups. The song is said to originate from the band’s time at a recording studio in which the band played it while their manager took a coffee break. Upon returning from the break, the manager insisted that this song be recorded. It was, and “Iko Iko” became a hit song.
Following a performance or two of “Iko Iko,” Ackroyd again provided background information on the next song, “Cheer Up You’re Okay.” That song was written by Ackroyd following a move to Guelph two years ago. A lack of friends and family members in Guelph provided the impetus for creating the song.
Additionally, two rail transport-themed folk songs were played during this gathering, “Freight Train” and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” “Tennesse Waltz” provided the closing act. In keeping with the club’s inclusive nature, participants were welcome to pursue solos and introduce new songs during the gathering.
Overall, ukuleles provided a soothing touch to the songs played at the club’s gathering, which will meet again on March 23.
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