That twangy sound

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Craig Edwards, a librarian at NWT Centennial Library, will be offering five-session courses on how to play the ukulele.

People in Hay River now have an opportunity to learn how to play a fun and unique musical instrument – the ukulele.

Classes on the ukulele are being offered by NWT Centennial Library.

“More or less, it’s an introduction to the basics of singing, to the basics of using a string instrument, and just harmonization and how that works,” said librarian Craig Edwards, who will be instructing the five-session courses.

Edward said the ukulele was chosen for the classes because of its universal access.

“It’s a really easy instrument to carry around,” he noted. “It’s a really easy instrument to bring to the beach and strum when you’re singing along. Also as well, it’s cheap.”

The library bought 10 ukuleles with financial support from the NWT Arts Council.

While Edwards is a librarian, he also has a degree in music from Humber College in Toronto.

His background is woodwind instruments, primarily the saxophone but also the flute and clarinet, and he likes to play jazz music.

“Being a music teacher, I’ve been kind of looking at doing some different arts programming,” he said, noting that last year the library offered arts classes on such things as painting. “So we thought this year we’d reapply for our Arts Council grant and this time around we’d do a music hook with it. There’s been a couple of requests in town to do some general music programs, and I thought the ukulele – being one of the most universal, cheapest and easiest to get instrument – that it would be a good way to start.”

The classes will end up offering five or six hours of instruction.

Edwards said participants will learn how to play two or three songs, learn the basics of how to read music, and receive a booklet to continue learning.

“The idea is to get students started so that they continue on and do their own self-discovery of the instrument, because it’s a pretty straightforward instrument,” he said. “There are not a lot of hard technical issues with it. So really it was designed to get people set up and started.”

The instructor noted he has been playing the ukulele on and off since he was a teenager.

“It’s just a fun instrument, honestly that’s what I think,” he said.

Edwards said, like with any musical instrument, anything can be played on the four-stringed ukulele.

“It’s just that it’s always going to have that twangy sound,” he noted.

Five once-a-week sessions for youth aged 10 to 16 years began on Sept. 5, while five sessions for adults aged 17 years plus will begin on Sept. 6.

In the beginning, each weekly class is being limited to eight participants, but more participants may be added later.