Calgary Ukulele Festival features 5-minute lessons: ‘It’s cool! Like a party trick’

Calgary Grade 11 student Sarah Wamboldt was enjoying teaching a lesson of her own: guiding classmate Alex Borkley through her very first attempt at playing the ukulele.

“We’re going to start and you’re going to want to tuck the ukulele under your arm,” Sarah said.

Sarah was preparing for the Calgary Ukulele Festival, where she’ll be performing and giving beginners free five-minute lessons to help them play a simple song.

“I’m so excited!” Sarah said.

The festival features performers and instructors from as far away as the U.S., Europe and Australia.

The event takes place from Friday, Sept. 13 through Sunday, Sept. 15 at cSPACE King Edward, with a Friday evening concert at River Park Church.

The festival is being organized by the Calgary Association of Lifelong Learners.

“It’s amazing. (The ukulele) is going through a renaissance and it’s called ‘the people’s instrument,’” festival organizer Louise Dormaar said.

“Anybody can pick it up and learn how to strum and play something in five minutes.”

Sarah’s father Brad is also looking forward to sharing the joys of the ukulele with others attending the festival.

“This is the instrument where you get out and have fun with other people,” he said.

“It’s crazy how much you can do with such a small instrument,” Sarah added. “I was just captivated by that the minute I picked it up.”

“People don’t realize the different styles that you can play on the ukulele,” Brad said.

“You can play Classical, you can play pop music, you can play Flamenco.”

Sarah focused on the Vance Joy hit Riptide while she gave Alex her five-minute lesson.

“It’s so crazy to see how fast (she) picked it up,” Sarah said.

Alex enjoyed the chance to try her hand at the ukulele.

“It’s cool! Like a party trick,” Alex said. “Like, ‘Hey, do you want to hear a song? I just learned it.’”

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