Wells Branch ukulele students receive gift of music

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Jennifer Koenig with third-grader Maggie Thomas

Each Thursday afternoon a group of Wells Branch Elementary Arts Integration Academy (AIA) students gather with music teacher Jaime Castillo to learn how to play the ukulele.

The Ukulele Club is practicing to perform in the school’s January showcase where they will perform “The Lime in the Coconut,” “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” and “Open String A-tude” an original composition by Castillo.

Wells Branch started their after-school ukulele enrichment club with an inventory of ukuleles that students could check out and practice with at home. That is, until third-grader, Maggie Thomas’s mom contacted a family member who works for Kala Brand Music Co. in California.

Kala Brand Music Co. shipped Wells Branch 40 brand new ukuleles, providing students the opportunity to own a personal instrument.

“The students are doing a good job keeping a steady beat and showing musicality,” Castillo said. “I can’t wait to see their faces when they learn they get their own instruments.”

The ukuleles supplied by Kala Brand Music Co. are water-resistant, have strong strings and come with a tote carrying bag. Students will have the opportunity to pick between turquoise blue or pastel pink.

After performing in the showcase, students will begin a level two ukulele lesson while simultaneously a new level one club begins for students who were unable to join during the first semester.

With four chords spaced wide apart, ukulele is the easiest of the string instruments to learn. “Music making with the uke gives students a musical voice,” Jennifer Koenig, Wells Branch Arts Integration Coordinator said. “Instrument learning allows students to express themselves through playing, composing songs and performing for others.

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