One Lafayette music teacher is changing students’ approach to learning how to play the guitar, using the ukulele. News 15’s Megan Woods got a quick lesson on how it works.
Learning to play a new instrument isn’t easy, especially for kids who want to learn how to play the guitar. That is until guitar director and teacher Jane Vidrine at LJ Alleman Fine Arts Magnet Academy in Lafayette, came up with a brilliant idea. “One day I was actually at a music store and I saw a whole rack of ukuleles and I said, ‘That’s the way to get to the little ones’ because you know the guitar really is difficult for the little ones to get all their fingers across the strings.”
That’s when the Ukulele Suitcase program was born and is now at multiple Lafayette Parish schools. Jane explains, “I wrote a grant to the Acadiana Center for the Arts to develop a traveling set of ukuleles that would be available and then I do workshops to train to the teachers who are going to borrow them from us.”
At first, the concept seemed pretty strange to parents and their students. Seventh grader, Kalen Beavers describes his parents’ reaction, “They thought they signed me up for guitar too, but they were surprised to see the ukulele first.”
Kalen’s classmate, sixth grader, Oliver Judice says, “My reaction was ‘Wait I thought I signed up for guitar,’ but then she explained the ukulele and I was like oh this is pretty cool.”
In a few short months the outcome spoke for itself.
Oliver describes playing both the guitar and ukulele as his happy place. “So I actually started playing guitar when i was about six. I actually gave up on it when it became way too hard and then here we started learning the ukulele and when we moved to guitar, guitar got a lot easier.”
Those same positive results are what drives Jane Vidrine to keep this program alive. “Some of the schools are having their own sets of ukuleles in their schools and their classrooms so it’s just a fun way to expose the kids to a string instrument.”
The program will also be offered at the Lafayette Public Library summer 2018.