The Gold Canyon Arts Council recently turned over 35 soprano ukulele packages to Four Peaks Elementary School to expand its music programs.
The school’s music teacher, Bart Muller, had recently contacted arts council volunteer Ray Cunningham to explore the possibility of such a donation, which led to its approval by the Gold Canyon Arts Council’s board of directors.
Mr. Muller also is responsible for Four Peaks’ ongoing Lead Guitar program for fifth and sixth grade students. He believes teaching fourth graders how to play the ukulele, a fretted stringed instrument similar to a guitar, but much smaller and easier to play, will stimulate their interest in joining the Lead Guitar program the following school year.
The Lead Guitar program began last school year upon Mr. Muller joining the Four Peaks faculty. It teaches students how to read music and play the nylon-string classical guitar. The program expanded this school year from just a few student participants the initial year to involve as many as two dozen fifth and sixth grade students this year, despite the complications imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic such as remote learning at home via Zoom.
Each mahogany soprano ukulele package consists of the instrument, an electronic tuner, a spare set of strings, a set of three picks, an instruction book and a canvas case. The arts council purchased the 35 packages at a substantial discount from Cordoba Guitars, an affiliate of Guitar Salon International, a manufacturer of classical guitars, ukuleles and other stringed instruments. GSI also supports Lead Guitar, a non-profit based in Tucson, with its guitar instructional programs at more than 70 elementary and secondary schools in five states. Four Peaks Elementary School and Apache Junction High School are two of these programs.
The Cordoba ukulele packages were enthusiastically accepted March 23 by Four Peaks Principal Phyllis Ballemare and Mr. Muller.
Ms. Ballemare said, “Teaching students the fine arts is a major focus at our school, hence, we welcome this opportunity for our fourth graders to learn how to play and enjoy the ukulele.”
Mr. Muller added, “This donation of 35 ukuleles will enable an entire class of fourth grade students to participate at the same time and simplify the teaching challenge. We are most grateful to the Gold Canyon Arts Council and to Cordoba Guitars for making this possible.”
Supporting music education outreach programs in local schools is part of the Gold Canyon Arts Council’s mission since it was founded more than two decades ago.
Editor’s note: Chuck Cuffaro is in charge of publicity for the Gold Canyon Arts Council. Go to goldcanyonarts.org.