East Sacramento 97 Ukuleles Theodore Judah

Published on June 1st, 2015 | by Inside Publications

Ninety-seven ukuleles: Music teacher gives sixth-graders a four-string challenge

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Last year, Holly Harrison, who teaches music at Theodore Judah Elementary School, realized the sixth graders needed a change.

They had been playing recorders, those whistle-like instruments, since third grade and they were more than ready for something new.

She needed an instrument that was inexpensive, and since music instruction is only a half-hour a week per class, it couldn’t be overly complicated to learn or teach. “I wanted to give kids a real instrument that was easy to play and could accompany singing to help facilitate songwriting.”

Enter the seemingly unlikely choice of ukulele.

People tend to associate ukuleles solely with Hawaiian music or, if you are a certain age, Tiny Tim’s fabulously weird rendition of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.”

But ukuleles are hip, no longer just a corny novelty. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s broke ground for a new generation when his poignant ukulele version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was featured in an eToys ad. Taylor Swift uses a ukulele for live performances of “Fearless.” Pearl Jam rocker Eddie Vedder released an entire solo album of ukulele songs. There’s even a documentary, “Mighty Uke,” that makes the case that a global ukulele revolution is underway.

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Inside Publications is the publisher of four community newsmagazines each month: Inside East Sacramento, Inside Land Park, Inside Arden and Inside Pocket.

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