The first learning session for the “Ukulele and Ice Cream Therapy” summer program took place last night. Like last month’s ukulele sing-in it was organized by Jean MacLeod of the Greater Syracuse School of Music. I didn’t count heads but I think there were about 15 or so of us there, with an age range covering, I’d guess, about 70 years or so (The girl sitting to my right I would say was no more than 6. She’s a violinist too.) Jean said she knew of five or so more people who were interested but couldn’t make it last night. Most were absolute beginners, a few had more experience. One girl apparently has been teaching herself and was playing “left handed” even though she’s right handed. She tried switching to the standard position for a while and then, invoking the spirit of Libba Cotten, switched back. (On a reentrant tuned uke I suppose playing upside down is less problematic than on guitar.) The one person (Kevin?) who clearly had the most uke experience led the evening, teaching the C, G7, and F chords and getting the group through four songs. The plan in future meetings is to have the more advanced less beginning players do some separate work on slightly less simple songs.

The instruments too were varied in age; one dated from, I think the owner said, the 1940s. Sopranos predominated but other sizes were present including a couple baritones providing their own challenges to their players. I brought my Kala soprano and my Makala tenor, and ended up loaning the latter to a girl who’d come without an instrument.

The learning sessions continue on Wednesdays until June 20 after which we take our show on the road to various ice cream stands through August 15. Wednesdays are also Binghamton Morris Men practice nights so I’ll have to skip one in favor of the other each week.


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