If you have a hankering to master the ukulele, check out the Stettler Library Ukulele Group which meets twice each month.
“Every month we get a few new people coming to try out a few chords,” said Library Manager Rhonda O’Neill, who also facilitates the group. Anyone can drop by the sessions, which run the first and third Wednesdays of the month starting at 6:30 p.m. Most bring their own ukuleles, but O’Neill said there are two in the library that are available for use as well.
The first monthly meeting is geared for those who are new to the ukulele, while the second meeting is for those who are a bit more advanced.
According to Wikipedia, the ukulele is a member of the guitar family of instruments and generally employs four nylon or gut strings or four courses of strings.
“The ukulele originated in the 19th century as a Hawaiian adaptation of the Portuguese ‘machete’, a small guitar-like instrument, which was introduced to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants, mainly from Madeira and the Azores.”
It gained popularity elsewhere in the United States during the early 20th century and from there spread internationally.
The tone and volume of the instrument vary with size and construction, and ukuleles commonly come in four sizes: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.
“It’s been going since October of last year,” she explained of the growing local group. “I started here last August and this is a program that I really wanted us to have.”
O’Neill recalled playing the ukulele in elementary school.
“We had ukulele class, and it was something that was very enjoyable that I rediscovered as an adult as well.
“I’ve often thought of it as a gateway instrument. I had always wanted to learn how to play the guitar. But I picked up the ukulele and it’s so portable, too. The strings are softer, so you build up those callouses a little bit easier as well,” she added with a laugh. “It’s also something you can do where ever.”
She also pointed out that, as with pretty much any instrument, it’s a vehicle to help reduce stress by redirecting one’s focus from the events of any given day.
“My dogs even love it!”
O’Neill said that folks who are brand new to the instrument find that essentially with even just three chords, the musical possibilities are endless.
“It seems complicated when you first tackle it, but the first three chords that we start them out with are very easy. From there, you can play so many songs.
“It’s also easier to handle if you have small hands,” she said.
In the meantime, should you choose to give it a try, you would certainly be in some pretty amazing company.
“I’d encourage people to come out and try it. Warren Buffett, Eddie Vedder, George Harrison and Tom Petty all played the ukulele. You can rock out on a ukulele!”
For more information about the group, give the Library a call at 403-742-2292.