Make music with ukuleles



Many libraries have ukes available to check out

music, ukeleles, kids, family, libraries


The ukulele is perfect for self-teaching and parent/child learning, says Catskills resident Barbara Mansfield. “That’s why it’s the 'People’s Instrument.' It’s so easy.”

Want to try out a ukulele and see if your child likes it? Public libraries are no longer just book depositories but have expanded into all kinds of services, including the lending out of many kinds of items to cardholders, ukuleles being one of them.

As Ukulele magazine reports, Mansfield talked the library in the Ulster County town of Phoenicia into starting a ukulele lending program, and there are now such programs at libraries around the country. Mansfield's son, Killian, was 15 and in hospice care when he started the Catskill Ukulele Group. Since his passing at age 16 in 2009, his parents have started ukulele collections in several libraries in the Hudson Valley to honor Killian. He loved the instrument and said, “The world would be less pissed off if everyone played ukulele.”

In addition to Phoenicia, Mid-Hudson Library System libraries in Olive, Ulster, Marlboro, Beacon, East Fishkill, and Chatham have in the past offered ukuleles for checkout. As local libraries gradually re-open, some allow checkout of ukuleles and some do not, but rules are changing daily. Check with your nearest library to see what's available at the moment.

Many libraries also offer lessons and have collections of chord books, tuners, and CDs for instruction and listening, all available for checkout. If a library in your area doesn't have ukes on loan, they can be purchased online for as little as $30 each. Online tutorials are listed on the Catskill Ukulele Group website at https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/resources.

The joy of playing ukulele lies not just in the ability to make music without a whole lot of pressure to do it perfectly. Being able to play with other people brings a sense of unity and camaraderie. Basic ukulele skills are easy to master, and groups tend to be informal and supportive, although ukulele virtuosos like Jake Shimabukuro have been wowing audiences for years.

Ukulele jams can bring together young children with their parents, singles, couples, and elderly people, all strumming and singing in unison. Mansfield participates in two groups that are currently playing together over Zoom and Google Meet. See http://ukulelecatskill.com/ for online jams that anyone can join.



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