| May 07, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - May 7, 2009 Uke, Skoot 'n Boogie at Land O’Lakes& Sharbot Lake Public SchoolBy Chava Field-Green

Canadian ukulele virtuoso James Hill perform at Sharbot Lake Public School.

On Monday May 4, Canadian ukulele virtuoso James Hill performed at both Land O ’Lakes and Sharbot Lake Public Schools.

The shows were partially sponsored by Blue Skies in the Community, and in introducing the shows Linda Rush and Marily Seitz reminded students of the Blue Skies Arts Day Camp which runs for a week in July.

James started out by pronouncing the word ukulele correctly (ookoo leilei), and then played “Uke Talk” a tune written by Hill’s former teacher Chalmers Doane. He started off slowly but asked the students if they wanted to hear it faster, which received an enthusiastic “YES”. James went on to play a wide variety of music, from Latin, to classical, to opera, to folk, in order to show what a versatile instrument the ukulele is. He also described the elements of music as he broke down melodies, harmonies and rhythm components of the songs.

Highlights of the show included sing along versions of “Old MacDonald had a Farm” with a hilarious school-wide impression of a munching giraffe. During a rendition of “The Flight of the Bumblebee”, James threw in a little bit of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”, to the delight of the young audience. Another popular piece was an improvisation using chopsticks to create the ukulele sounds.

The crowd ate up the performance, and a steady stream of students came up to let James know how much they enjoyed the show.

“I think you’re better than Taylor Swift”, one student proclaimed excitedly, to which James replied that at least she was prettier than he. “You were awesome” another student said, “I really liked the drum sounds”.

The concert certainly brought interest in ukulele music into the school and also provided a great example of what James is trying to accomplish with a program called “Ukulele in the classroom”. The program was developed by James and former director of musical education, Chalmers Doane. The two have created a package for teachers to teach Ukulele in the classroom and improve musical literacy across Canada. For more information on the program visit http://www.ukuleleintheclassroom.com/

For more information on James Hill, his music and his CDs visit ukulelejames.ca

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