Ukuleles bridge generation gap

By on May 5, 2016
Students from the John Beck Elementary School Ukulele Club. Students from the John Beck Elementary School Ukulele Club. Photo by Preston Whitcraft.

Students from the John Beck Elementary School Ukulele Club. Photo by Preston Whitcraft.

Willow Valley Communities Ukulele Group met with the John Beck Elementary School Ukulele Club on April 27 for an informal intergenerational music event. The two groups performed for each other and performed together at the school.

John Gerdy, founder and director of Music For Everyone helped facilitate the event. MFE is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to raising awareness and resources to promote music in schools and the community. Since 2006, MFE has awarded over $850,000 in grants, scholarships and direct program support to schools and community arts groups in Lancaster County.

It was through such a grant that John Beck Elementary received their ukuleles for their 17-member club. When Gerdy mentioned to general music teacher, Michele Conrad, about the Willow Valley Ukulele group, she wanted to get the two together.

“As a teacher, for my students, I don’t want them to just build an orchestra. I want them to help build a community,” Conrad said. “We’re going to make some good music!”

Both Gerdy and Conrad agree ukuleles are regaining in popularity. It’s a very fun, social instrument that’s easy to learn quickly. The small size makes it perfect to transport and for small hands to play.

“Music For Everyone has been giving grants to schools for instruments for 10 years,” Gerdy said. “The first six I received no requests for ukuleles but for the last four I’ve received about two requests a year from schools. Ukuleles are very hot right now.”

Peggy Thomas of Willow Valley Communities has played the ukulele most of her life and started the Ukulele Group at Willow Valley 13 years ago. The group has grown to include 14 members who play together about seven times a month with rehearsals and scheduled performances. The group was excited to share what they have learned about the instrument with the students and the intergenerational exchange of ideas.

Members of the Willow Valley and John Beck ukulele clubs jam together. Photo by Preston Whitcraft.

Members of the Willow Valley and John Beck ukulele clubs jam together. Photo by Preston Whitcraft.

 

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