Patrons at the Livingston Parish Library can check out a ukulele along with their summer reading materials, thanks to Lonna Vines, head of Youth Services for the Livingston Parish Library system, and ukulele enthusiast.
“They’re fun, and if you know just three or four chords, you can play quite a few songs,” said Vines, who took up the instrument several years ago with her husband when the two lived in Athens, Georgia.
“I play it when I’m doing StoryTimes (a reading program for children) at the library. It really keeps their attention,” she said.
They liked the ukulele so much, she said, that she suggested the library buy a few to put into circulation.
“And, of course, if we have them here to check out, we need to teach people how to play them,” Vines said.
This sparked the seed of what turned into children’s ukulele classes, which will start next month.
Potential students may register now, Vines said, and no experience is necessary.
“We start from the very basics,” she said. Classes teach students how to tune, hold and strum their instruments before moving on to forming chords.
“Ukuleles are especially good for children. They’re small, so it’s easier for them to reach around the neck, and the strings are plastic, so they’re not as hard to press. It’s good for tiny hands.”
When children began signing up for classes, word spread, and adult patrons of the library began asking when classes for those 16 and over would begin.
Vines said they didn’t have any specific plans to do so but responded to the demand by adding an adult class, which is meeting now, every Sunday afternoon at the Denham Springs branch.
Sarah Columbo, head of Adult Services at the library, also is a musician and learned to play the ukulele so she could teach the adult class.
All 12 instruments are checked out right now by members of the adult class, which is ongoing until June 21.
The children’s class for ages 8 to 11, called Sunshine Strummers, will begin at 2 p.m. June 24 and will be held every Wednesday at that time for six weeks.
The students will learn “You Are My Sunshine,” and at the end of the class, they will perform the song at the Denham Springs/Walker branch with the library’s own band, The Dewey Decibels.
Registration for the class began June 10. There is room for 12 students, Vine said.
For more information about this or any other Livingston Parish Library program, visit a local branch, or call (225) 665-8118.