What do the tropical islands of Hawaii currently have in common with the snow-dusted Gretna Children’s Library? The sweet sounds of the ukulele.
As an effort to further integrate music into the lives of children in Gretna, the Gretna Children’s Library staff has picked up the art of the ukulele.
“I was looking for a cheap way to bring more music into the library,” said Rebecca Brooks, assistant director and creative director.
She said the idea came through memories of her music teacher when she was a child and the lasting impact different instruments had left on her mind.
After doing some research, Brooks said she found the ukulele was the trifecta of beginner musical instruments: fun to play, easy to learn and financially feasible.
After purchasing her own ukulele, Brooks shared the news with the library staff, and suddenly the Ukulele Librarians group began.
“It was like a light bulb went off,” she said.
Through the Friends of the Library, the entire children’s library staff, plus the young adult librarian, received a ukulele and some resources on self-teaching how to play. In addition to these resources, Brooks said there is a wealth of knowledge found on the Internet to instruct in how to play. Plus, she added, the band only needs to learn a few simple chords.
“There are tons of songs you can play with just a few chords,” she said.
While still learning how to play, the library staff is planning a Jam Day on Jan. 31 to cap off “Jamuary,” a month of musical learning.
Brooks said parents and children can request the musical librarians to play any song from a compiled selection.
“We’ll drop everything to play for them,” she said, “like a live juke-box.”
Additionally, throughout the month the librarians will incorporate the ukuleles in musical story times through sing-alongs and even allow the children to try out the instruments.
“That’s part of the excitement,” she said.
Brooks said the children’s library also hopes to expand the musical integrations, even considering hosting workshops and lessons if there is enough interest from families.
As for now, she said the library would love the community’s involvement by suggesting a band name.
“If someone comes up with something fairly punny, we’d love to get a suggestion,” Brooks said.