Aloha to Elements of Ukulele

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Aloha to Elements of Ukulele

Senior Jack Crossley practices on the ukulele

Senior Jack Crossley practices on the ukulele

Chloe Morbelli

Senior Jack Crossley practices on the ukulele

Chloe Morbelli

Chloe Morbelli

Senior Jack Crossley practices on the ukulele

Chloe Morbelli, Staff Writer

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The ukulele, a Hawaiian adaption of the Portuguese machete, is a small four-stringed guitar. The simplicity of it makes it an instrument for everyone even to those who are not musically inclined. This small guitar has made a large impression on Westford Academy, sparking interest among all four grades.

The new class is taught by Karen St. George, who has had a passion for music since she was a young girl. Her interest in music carried her throughout high school and into college. With a degree in music education, St. George began teaching at WA in 1999.

Having mastery in a variety of instruments, the ukulele was not on this list. Her interest in the instrument developed when a former student gave St. George her old ukulele. St. George discovered the simplicity of the instrument due to its size, amount of strings, and clear ring that it gave off.

With her newfound interest in the ukulele, St. George attended conferences to further her knowledge in the instrument. Shortly after, she wrote for a grant to receive ukuleles for WA. With an overwhelming amount of student interest in the class, St. George wrote for a second grant for even more ukuleles.

A typical day in an “Elements of Ukulele” class consists of tuning the instrument, practicing the instrument individually or in groups, and working up to a performance. Being a performance based class, students play for the class and also for the teacher. They first learn the basics with the music book provided and then are able to branch out and choose songs of their choice to learn.

The ukulele students are currently practicing a version of “Over the Rainbow” that they will perform with the chorus on December 7, at the annual WA winter concert.

Although this is only a semester long class, the students will learn about thirty-two different cords within the half year according to St. George.

“It’s pretty easy [to play], and I would think that the middle schools are going to get on board with this also,” St. George said.

The new class has already generated positive feedback from its students. The ukulele is not an extremely common instrument, and hence its curiosity attracts students.

As for the possibility of implementing more advanced ukulele classes in the future, St. George is open to the idea.

“Absolutely, I would love to see an advanced level of the class. Just like with the guitar class, we have an elements and an advanced class. And beyond that too because an instrument is not something that you master in two semesters. Music is a lifelong learning process,” St George said.

Katherine Arnold, a junior at Westford Academy is currently enrolled in the ukulele class. Not being previously involved with an instrument, she wanted to dabble in the world of music. Arnold describes the class as something she looks forward to and a relaxing, but also educational experience.

“It’s something fun, if I want to do something productive but not do schoolwork, I can play the ukulele,” Arnold said. “I would recommend it to other people because I really enjoy it and feel that more people should take [on] an instrument.”

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