Music students at Wye Elementary will be entertaining audiences with some new instruments next year.
The Sherwood Park school used a $4500 grant from Dow Canada to buy 32 new ukuleles, instruments music teacher Monique Boyer said will replace the “well-loved but worn-out” set the school has been using for about 30 years.
More than 200 students take ukulele lessons with Boyer at Wye each year, building basic skills meant to help them when they move on to other instruments or areas of music. Boyer also leads the K to 6 school’s two ukulele ensembles, guiding the musicians through weekly practices where they learn advanced techniques and prepare for public performances.
“Often, students would be in a performance and I’d have to tune the ukuleles after each song,” Boyer said of the old instruments. “Now, we can move fluidly through a whole set, which will allow us to have more community performances.”
Wye’s ukulele program and the new ukuleles appear to be a hit with students. The school reports that many of the young musicians spend extra time practicing together during lunch or recess, gathering in the music room to try out new chords and strumming techniques.
“It was quite special to unwrap the new ukuleles,” said Grade 5 student Cate Foster. “They have a longer neck and a smooth body that make it easier to play my favourite songs, like Hawaii Five-O. It’s also inspired me to take up lessons outside of school.”
One of Boyer’s ukulele groups was in Fort Saskatchewan in May to entertain an audience at Southfort Bend Gardens.