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Ukulele Club avoids clichés, school stressors

Members of the Ukulele club pose for a picture. Credit: Courtesy of Taylor Bryan

Members of the Ukulele club pose for a picture. Credit: Courtesy of Taylor Bryan

The Ukulele Club at Ohio State aims to avoid clichés.

“We’ve never played ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and we never will,” president Molly Bird said.

She added that it also has never played “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz.

Bird, a fourth-year in biology, said she dropped out of university band at OSU so she could focus on the club.

In the past, the group has covered a variety of songs, ranging from “I Want It That Way” to “Hungry Like the Wolf” to “Somewhere Only We Know.”

“We try to stay diverse in the music that we play. We try not to pigeonhole ourselves into traditionally ukulele-type music,” said Taylor Bryan, a third-year in medical lab science and social chair for the group.

The club has been in existence at OSU for seven years, and in that time it has grown to around 30 members that attend meetings regularly.

Meetings are held Thursdays at 7 p.m. at different locations around campus.

For the first part of the meeting, sheet music is passed around, and all of the members play together. Then members are invited to share a song they’ve been working on, be it original or cover. Sometimes they implement themes for the week, such as Disney and holiday.  

Besides preparing for their biannual concerts and various gigs, members of the Ukulele Club stay busy teaching third- through fifth-grade students at a local elementary school how to play.

Board members emphasized that the ukulele is easy to pick up, and the group has a large range of experience levels. They use the same techniques in teaching the elementary students as they do beginners in the club.  

“The same techniques that they’re learning, we teach our new people … It’s really low frustration, high reward. You can’t be frustrated when you’re playing the ukulele,” Bryan said.

Once beginners get comfortable playing, they can work up to playing and singing at the same time, something that is encouraged but not required.

Aside from playing music, the social aspect is a highlight for many of the members. The group has regular social events and has dinner together after the meetings.

“It’s a friend group more than it is like a musician group,” Bryan said. “It’s just a mishmash of cool people who all come together to just chill.”

With the winter months coming, board members agreed that the ukulele is the perfect cure for winter blues.

“It’s a sunny instrument, really cheers you up. It’s the perfect cure for seasonal affective disorder. You can’t be unhappy when you’re playing it or listening to it,” Bryan said.

The members see the club’s meetings as an escape from schoolwork as well.

“This is the only group of people that I don’t know what everyone’s major is. It just doesn’t come up in conversation,” said vice president and fourth-year in mechanical engineering Andrea Valera.

She added, “We don’t talk about school. It doesn’t matter on Thursdays from 7 to 8. For that hour, it doesn’t matter.”

The Ukulele Club’s fall concert will be on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. in the U.S. Bank Conference Theatre in the Union. Admission is free.

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