Jonathan Limehouse- Index Journal
Facebook helped Kayla Beard, Lakeview Elementary music teacher, receive 37 donated ukuleles from a college friend who happened to spot the fellow Lander University music education major’s post.
Adam Alberson, Newell’s Music sales associate, instructor, website designer and marketing manager, saw Facebook friend Beard’s post asking if someone would be willing to donate a class set of ukuleles and he wanted to help. He discussed Beard’s project with Michael Newell, Newell’s Music’s owner, and the two contacted Beard about donating ukuleles.
“The ukulele is a good starting point to get to the guitar or any other instrument,” Alberson said.
Alberson and Newell intended to donate 32 ukuleles, but popular ukulele manufacturer Kala Brand Music Co. donated five more to bring the total to 37.
Newell and Alberson felt the need for students to learn a musical instrument, other than a recorder, was apparent.
“Hopefully they’ll take to the ukulele or some other musical instrument, and it gives them the courage and understanding to know that they can learn to play any musical instrument,” Newell said.
Beard thought that playing the ukulele would be a point of interest for her students since it is “something they can get their hands on.”
She initially teaches her students how to read notes on a staff and they transfer that knowledge from being able to read the music to being able to play instruments. The ukulele is also a part of her classes’ curriculum called Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music, which contains a ukulele unit filled with back tracks that her students play and “really get into.”
Greenwood County School District 50 does provide a set of ukuleles, but they are shared among the district’s schools which makes it difficult to teach throughout the school year, Beard said. Students have music class once a week for 45 minutes — barring any school delays. Beard is grateful for the district providing ukuleles, but not having the ukuleles yearlong puts a strain on an already packed time frame, she said.
“That’s like me having a guitar (for) three months out of the year and (someone) taking it away and (me) not playing it for nine months, this way they can play the ukulele the whole school year and get better at it,” Newell said.
Alberson thinks music is “very important” because it embodies one’s emotions, and as musicians, that’s what he and Newell live for. Starting music at a younger age is also important to him because it gives kids the ability to share their feelings in a different way opposed to only speech.
Beard said her classes seemed to really be enthusiastic about playing the ukulele and that her kids talk a lot about “Mr. Adam” so she knows he is “doing what he’s supposed to do.”
Alberson and Newell hosts a “ukulele jam” once a month usually on Tuesdays at 7 p.m., and he wants “to get everyone in the community involved, to come out, just strum and sing some songs.” The next ukulele jam session will probably be in April, but a date has not been set.