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A musical journey, sparked by an email

03 May 2024

Ken from West Cheshire Rural u3a discusses how skill-sharing between u3as led to him mastering a musical instrument.

A group of members playing ukulele and smiling at the camera

I discovered the ukulele with the u3a and it changed my life.

Five years ago, my 7 year old granddaughter was learning ukulele at school and I thought it might be something I could try. I have always been musical but have never mastered playing anything I tried except singing. My wife secretly bought me a cheap ukulele for Christmas and I was really pleased, until I tried and failed to tune it. I was getting nowhere and gave up.

Several months later, our u3a received a letter from Dave, the Ukulele leader from Wallasey u3a on the Wirral. He was offering help to any one who wanted to get started but didn't know how. That was what I needed and I took up the offer.

I went up to see Dave and after tuning me up, he gave me some basic instructions, a couple of easy starter songs and a plan to go forward. I was hooked.

I went back to our u3a and put out an advert. Eight people then met in a local cafe and our group was born. None of us could play, so as leader I just made sure I was two weeks ahead of the group and it worked out fine. We progressed slowly but surely and really enjoyed our sessions together.and we grew in number to 14.

Now it is difficult for beginners to jump into a group that has already progressed a fair bit, so when a burst of beginners wanted to join, I thought it would be good to throw out an invite to other u3as in our NorthWest network, in the same way that got me started. A group from Tarporley responded and came to my beginners introduction day. and two years on their group is still going. In addition, four new people joined our group.

In November 2023 we had a repeat situation, five beginners wanted to join. So I once again sent out an invite to the network plus this time also in the local area to people who were not in the u3a. The result was ten new people joined our group and u3a and two new ukulele groups were born in Northwich and Macclesfield.

So that initial invite has resulted in four new groups and 50+ people learning a new skill. All under the banner of u3a.

This story originally featured in our u3a Friends newsletter, where we showcase one member's experiences each month. Sign up to the u3a Friends newsletter. 

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