Grab your ukulele and join the club.
Chilliwack Academy of Music has kicked off Uke Club 3.0 on the heels of a successful program started last summer.
“We originally decided to run it as a drop-in class,” says Academy Principal Graham Yates.
They had no idea if it would fly or not.
“It was a risk.”
But the class was a hit with groups of friends and couples captivated by the recent uke craze.
“One night we packed 26 people into a small classroom,” he said. “That’s when I knew we’d hit on something good, something worth nurturing.”
Now the Uke Club 3.0 is set to go every Wednesday night at Decades.
Yates figures the ukulele is popular not only because is it easy and versatile to play, but it’s he says it’s also “hard to keep from laughing when you hear that gentle, folksy sound.”
Interest in the uke globally has hit a fever pitch.
Eddie Vedder released an all-ukulele album last year.
Then there’s the super-popular uke version of Over the Rainbow showcased last season on the hit show Glee.
CBC Radio did a segment on Ruby’s Ukes, a music studio in Vancouver about the therapeutic qualities of learning the ukulele.
If you missed the first and second drop-in sessions, don’t worry, says Yates, it’s easy to catch up.
The club is for anyone interested in ukulele. There’s a whole lot of cross-generational learning going on.
“I was in the class last year and we all needed more,” said Yates.
The first session of 2012 they worked on Over the Rainbow, refining the strumming and chord changes.
“That tune would be a great one to work up and make it our signature song.”
They also tackled Sweet Georgia Brown, recognized by many because it was the theme song of the Harlem Globetrotters.
“It was so much fun,” says the classically trained pianist who has become “fanatical” about the uke.
The class meets Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in the meeting room at Decades Coffee Club.
“Participants can buy punch cards so that they can drop in whenever it is convenient for them, rather than have to pay a tuition fee and risk losing out if they can’t make every class.”
“We’ve also kept the cost low – $30 for 6 classes – to encourage commitment, cover the rent, but keep it affordable.”
The idea is that people who are at least a little bit competent on the instrument (either through their own experience or by taking Uke Club Levels 1 and 2) will set the pace.
Ultimately, Yates says, he’d like to form a thriving ukulele band in Chilliwack that can give performances and continue to attract adults who struggled with music lessons in the past or never had time to learn.
“Making music is such a gift. You might think you’re giving it to yourself, but then realize you are actually giving to others.”
Yates said he’s taken ukulele hero Jake Shimabukuro’s quote to heart: “If everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a better place.”
More information about ukulele programs, Uke Club Levels and Uke Club 3.0 are available at the Chilliwack Academy of Music registration desk in the Cultural Centre, by calling 604.792.0790, or by visiting www.chilliwackmusic.com.