Ukelele Troy

ukelele closeupCheck it out: there are two week-long ukelele "summer camps" coming up this month in Troy. And on July 27, campers will be invited to "Tiptoe through Troy," playing tunes they've learned on a march around downtown for Troy Night Out.

The person behind the ukelele lessons is Julia Alsarraf, who recently graduated from RPI with an electronic arts degree. We talked with her to get the scoop on the how and why for uke camp.

Julia says she grew up playing the viola, and now plays a handful of other instruments. "If someone was going to take away everything in my life but one thing, I'd want to keep music." At RPI, she focused on computer-generated music and sound art, often running her viola through a computer and looping it.

A few months back she noticed a uke at the home of a friend, who mentioned that Canadians often start kids out playing the ukelele (instead of the dreaded recorder) because it's so easy to pick up. "A lot of the chords only take a couple of fingers, at most."

Julia started playing the uke, then found herself walking around Troy playing it. People would stop and ask her about it. So she'd show them how to play it -- right there on the street. That's when she had the idea for the uke camp. "If I could teach a person a chord in five minutes, what could we do in a week?"

The two uke camp sessions each run four days -- Monday-Thursday, July 16-19 and July 23-26 -- from 5:30-6:30 pm. The cost: a $10 suggested donation. Julia says she wanted to keep the camp accessible to people. "If you've never picked up an instrument in your life, you should go for it," she says.

The uke has been riding a wave of popularity the last few years. YouTube is full of people playing the uke, either covers or their own stuff. We were curious about Julia's thoughts about why the tiny instrument has become popular again. She cited the current indie pop aesthetic, and the uke's light, sweet sound.

"It's less annoying and less pretentious than walking around with a guitar," she said with a laugh. "When you play the ukelele, it's just so cute that people can't help but smile."

[via American Troyalty]

Earlier on AOA:
+ Ask AOA: Ukulele lessons?
+ The Electric City Ukulele Club

photo: Flickr user indigodeath (cc)

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