Kiwileles master the ukelele

WARM VIBES: Hinds School pupils are learning the ukelele thanks to their teachers and the New Zealand Ukelele Trust.
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In the midst of a cold winter in Mid Canterbury, the sounds of a musical instrument more associated with the warm beaches of Hawaii have been emanating from some classrooms.

Senior pupils at Lagmhor and Hinds schools are learning to play the ukulele, thanks to instruments and songbooks provided by the New Zealand Ukulele Trust.

The schools are the first in Mid Canterbury to receive the instruments, each receiving one dozen.

Children learning to play the ukelele through the trust are known as kiwileles.

Lagmhor’s kiwileles have a goal of performing at a school assembly at the end of the term.

Teacher Fiona Shaw said pupils and staff alike were excited about the prospect, and thrilled to have the instruments.

WARM VIBES: Lagmhor Schools pupils (above) are learning the ukelele.

‘‘The students love it and get excited when it comes time to practice their playing.’’

While they were just in the learning stages, the pupils were enthusiastic.

‘‘As they play the instrument it brings a smile to them and that is important,’’ Shaw said.

‘‘It’s all about having fun and giving it a go,’’ she said.

‘‘Last year the students were learning the recorder so it is great that this year they can learn another instruments.’’

Once the students have mastered the chords they will move on to learning a tune or two.

‘‘Some of the students have a good ear for music, ’’ Shaw said.

Teacher Melanie Field at Hinds said she had received ukuleles for pupils at South Brighton School when she taught there last year.

‘‘We had some ukuleles at Hinds school but not enough for everyone, so now I have enough thanks to receiving some this year for my class of 24.

‘‘I am very happy to have them and we are enjoying the support the kiwileles receive through such resources are videos showing fingering and cords,’’ Field said.

As well as performing at a school assembly, the pupils were looking forward to playing at Strum Strike Blow, a festival for ukuleles in Christchurch, next year.

‘‘We weren’t able to do it this year due to other commitments,’’ Field said.

Lagmhor pupil, eight-year-old Raine Gurung, has enjoyed learning.

‘‘I like experimenting with the chords,’’ she said.

Trust administrator Christina Reid said more than 100 schools applied this year for the 21 sets of ukuleles we give each year.

‘‘We have donated over 2800 ukuleles to schools in New Zealand between 2009 and 2024. Two hundred and thirty eight schools have benefited from this initiative since its inception,’’ Reid said.