Miller-Driscoll students learn the ukulele

Miller-Driscoll music teacher Chris Johnson tunes a students ukulele. Taken Wednesday May 1 at Miller-Driscoll School. - Lynandro Simmons photo
Students follow along as music teacher Chris Johnson leads them in playing the ukulele. Taken Wednesday, May 1 at Miller-Driscoll School. - Lynandro Simmons photo
Students play their ukuleles as music teacher Chris Johnson provides a beat. Taken Wednesday May 1 at Miller-Driscoll School. - Lynandro Simmons photo
Chris Johnson instructing students on playing the ukulele as part of the new ukulele workshop at Miller-Driscoll. Taken Wednesday, May 1. - Lynandro Simmons photo
The ukulele workshop at Miller-Driscoll School is halfway complete. Music teacher Chris Johnson leads students in learning how to play the instrument. Taken Wednesday, May 1 at Miller-Driscoll School. - Lynandro Simmons photo
Miller-Driscoll teacher Chris Johnson helps a student tune their ukulele. Taken Wednesday, May 1 at Miller-Driscoll. - Lynandro Simmons photo

Earlier this month, Miller-Driscoll students gathered in a circle ready to learn. With their ukuleles in hand, they waited patiently to be given a cue by music teacher Chris Johnson.

Once the cue was given the class began. This year a music workshop is giving students the opportunity to learn how to play the ukulele.

“This is brand new,” Johnson said of the program. “It’s in its infancy.”

The after-school program is offered by Wilton Continuing Education and started this spring.

Johnson said the program began after several students expressed interest in the instrument. As the general music teacher at Miller-Driscoll he sometimes uses the instrument in his second-grade class.

“I figured it would be nice to start the club as an extension of that,” he said. “So any kid interested could learn more about it.”

Once the decision was made to start the workshop, parents were notified and students quickly signed up.

“The class filled up in two days and a waiting list was formed within another couple of days,” Johnson said.

Currently there are 14 students in the workshop. To start the class, Johnson helps students tune their instruments. After tuning he gives a quick lesson on the various chords on the ukulele to refresh students on their previous lessons. They then follow Johnson’s lead in playing a variety of songs.

With the workshop halfway completed on May 1, the students showed their grasp of the instrument. Johnson said teaching the workshop has been both fun and challenging.

“It can be challenging because there are kids at different places,” he said. “You have some kids who have played for a while and some who are brand new to the instrument.”

Johnson said they could possibly do two different sessions next year. One for students with experience and another for those picking up the instrument for the first time. With a range of students with different levels of experience, Johnson works to ensure every student is comfortable in class this year.

“I try to find ways to reach every kid and try to see that they all feel success in their own way,” he said. “There’s no performance. It’s just about having a good time and learning.”

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com

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