Who can play? Uke ‘n play at the Chilliwack Library

A new music program at the Chilliwack Library offers ukuleles for loan through the FVRL’s new Uke ‘n Play collection.

Rod Swanson (black shirt) leads new ukulele players through a song during the Uke ‘n Play launch at the Chilliwack Library.

Rod Swanson (black shirt) leads new ukulele players through a song during the Uke ‘n Play launch at the Chilliwack Library.

You can learn the ukulele with Uke ‘n Play.

The new music program at the Chilliwack Library kicked off this month offering ukuleles for loan through the FVRL’s new Uke ‘n Play collection.

Fifty soprano-size ukuleles — donated by the Coquitlam Ukulele Tiny Instruments Enthusiasts Circle, or ‘Cutie Circle’ — are now available to check out of the library, just like a book, for three weeks at a time.

The small, four-stringed Hawaiian instrument is currently experiencing a wave of popularity.

“It’s crazy how fast it’s taken on,” says community librarian Deborah Kendze.

They’re easy to learn and can be inexpensive too, she says. Ukuleles start at around $40.

During the official launch on Oct. 1 at the Chilliwack Library, Rod Swanson with the Chilliwack Ukulele Club was on hand teaching kids and adults how to play.

He adhered small, circle-shaped stickers of different colours to the neck of the library’s instruments to differentiate the chords.

“London Bridge is falling down — yellow,” shouts Swanson. “Falling down — green! Falling down — yellow!”

The new students strum along like pros.

Each ukulele kit comes with a ukulele, tuner, soft case and a beginner ‘learn-to-play’ book all neatly tucked into its own plastic storage box.

The 50 instruments in various colours circulate through FVRL’s 25 branches, including Chilliwack, Sardis and Yarrow. The Uke ‘n Play collection is available to anyone with an FVRL card.

By adding ukuleles to its collection, FVRL is taking its first step towards the ‘Library of Things,’ a trend that sees public libraries offering musical instruments, tools, games and other objects for loan.

Uke ‘n Play began when Cutie Circle founder, Jen Chang, approached staff at FVRL’s Terry Fox Library with an idea for lending instruments through the library. Chang has seen the life-transforming magic of the ukulele firsthand and believes wholeheartedly that “where there’s a uke, there’s a way.”

In addition to the Cutie Circle donating the 50 ukuleles to FVRL, it will also assist with instrument maintenance.

“FVRL is extremely proud to provide our customers with new experiences and opportunities,” says Heather Scoular, director of customer experience. “There has never been a better time to visit your local FVRL library.”

As part of this month’s Uke ‘n Play launch, the Chilliwack Library is having a draw where you can win one of three ukuleles. Anyone can enter, and the draw is for the month of October.

For more, visit your local library or go online to fvrl.ca.

jenna.hauck@theprogress.comtwitter.com/PhotoJennalism