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The Playing’s the Thing

Weekly ukulele jam teaches the joys of music making

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News Feature

When Zachariah Longinidis, ’21, learned during orientation about Bridgewater State University’s regular ukulele jam, he decided to give it a try.

“I never thought learning an instrument would be easy,” said Zachariah, a physics major from Hyannis.

But, the stringed instrument is a blast to play and simple to learn, said Hayley Wright, ’20, a political science major with a minor in music, who decided to continue her ukulele playing at BSU.

And, the jams turned out to be “a lot of fun,” Zachariah said.

Hayley and Zachariah were among about a dozen people who gathered in a Hunt Hall classroom on a recent Wednesday afternoon for the weekly jam led by Dr. Paula Bishop, an assistant professor of music. Dr. Bishop started the program in the fall of 2016.

She recently led a professional development day for K-12 teachers, music therapists and undergraduate students centered around the ukulele. Attendees learned how to play and how to incorporate the instrument into their classrooms.

At the jam, Dr. Bishop teaches participants chords and has beginners playing in just a few minutes to YouTube videos of songs such as “Surfin’ USA” and “Stand by Me.” And, if someone can’t play a chord, she tells them to just smile: Someone else in the group will play it for them.

“It’s a very accessible instrument,” Dr. Bishop said. “It’s small. It doesn’t seem threatening.”

Playing the ukulele is a great way to relieve stress. The jam attracts people from outside the music major and outside the university, she said.

“For me, it’s about letting people experience the fact they can make music even if they’re not a musician,” Dr. Bishop said.

The jam is held this semester from 5 to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays in Hunt 109. Participants do not need an instrument or experience playing the ukulele. For more information, contact Dr. Bishop at (Story and photos by Brian Benson, University News)

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