Any given day at ARS you may hear the uplifting, tropical-sounding, in-sync strumming of ukuleles, most notably found by the library in the mornings. This band of ukulele players has created a ukulele club, practicing after school every other Tuesday.
Founding member Isabella Baladez (11) began playing the ukulele because her role model, Rebecca Sugar, creator of the show “Steven Universe,” plays the instrument.
“I thought it was really cool how she could, you know, write songs on it. So, I figured it didn’t look like a hard instrument to pick up,” Baladez said. “She’s also an animator which is something I aspire to be, so I just kind of wanted to follow closely in her footsteps.”
During meetings, club members get together and learn songs, mostly covers, focusing on strumming patterns and chords.
“[Isabella Vergara] provides a bunch of songs with the chords, and we learn whatever the people who are there that day want to learn,” Baladez said.
Isabella Vergara (11), the other founding member, has played piano, cello, and ukulele.
“Ever since I was little I wanted to learn the guitar, but my mother made me play the piano instead, and then she made me play the cello – but anyway the ukulele was close,” Baladez said. “[Ukulele] is really different from the cello. I think it’s a lot more fun because you can just pick it up and play whatever.”
According to Baladez, a lot of people who say they would like to attend forget their instrument or forget what day it is. Baladez and Vergara said that sometimes the turnout is not the best, but sometimes there are five or six people that are really interested, and they play songs and have a great time.
“We just need to get the word out,” Baladez said. “Because I know that there are a lot of people who play or are interested in learning.
Helena White (11) is Outreach Manager of the ukulele club, so she works on gaining publicity for the club by organizing events for members to play at. White also plays the violin and sometimes plays along with the ukuleles on her violin.
“I’ve played with them. It’s fun because it’s, like, a mix of different instruments so it sounds really different,” White said. “You can basically put any instruments together and if you know what song you’re playing, it sounds really nice.”
The two main founders, Baladez and Vergara, are considering performing in Follies because they love playing together and it would be an effective venue for outreach.
“We’ve looked at songs that are duets, because we kind of founded it together,” Baladez said. “There were a lot more people that went into making it become something, but we figured ‘Izzy and Izzy’ would be funny.”