Students Launch UkuleYAY Club


UkeleYAY members pose for a photo after their first meeting.

With artists like Grace Vanderwaal on the rise, interest in learning to play the ukulele has peaked. In response to its popularity, Westwood created its own ukulele club, coined “UkuleYAY,” as a way for students to both learn and perform songs on the instrument.  The club faced difficulties in kicking off, but had a successful first meeting on Oct. 16.

“It all started with a song recommendation [from] a friend,” Vice President Anthony Pham ‘19 said. “I listened to it, really liked it, and came across a [ukulele] cover and loved the idea of playing the ukulele. So literally one day I went to get one after school. I learned to play a couple songs and brought it with me to orchestra once and played for my friends. [The Co-President], Ava [Hsu ‘19], had been wanting to get one too and soon started playing as well, and the ball just kept rolling from there. Ava, Veda [Allen ‘19], Ashley [Zhang ‘20] and I hatched the idea of making our little uke circle a club one day and we got right to work on it.”

The club is open to everyone, regardless of past experience. Some members had near a year of experience while others had started playing for less than a week. In order to account for the discrepancies, the club offers both beginner and advanced groups, and at any time a member can audition to join the advanced group. The audition includes playing a list of chords and giving a mini-performance in front of all the other members in the club, singing required.

I want to have a ragtag team of singing, tiny-guitar-playing sunshines.

— Anthony Pham '19

“I have a vision of frequent, informal, public performances and a relatively large following of motivated, enthusiastic individuals who work together to bring the best of themselves out and spread the love of music,” Pham said. “At the end of the year, for this club, I hope to train and corroborate the musical talents of every member. I want to have a ragtag team of singing, tiny-guitar-playing sunshines.”

Rather than just limiting auditions and performances to playing the ukulele, the club aims to push members into singing as well. This not only makes the  performances more interesting and complete, but also trains the members to be able to carry an entire performance on their own on stage, and build up so that they can perform duets and larger group performances.

“I hope to become a stronger ukulele player and a singer,” Historian Vy Nguyen ‘19 said. “Both areas need improvement and this club allows me to healthily facilitate the growth of those two skills.”

The officers of the club have an inclusive vision in terms of club growth. As a first year club, there is a lot to settle in place before future development can occur.

“I had my doubts about the first meeting because there weren’t as many people as I thought there would be,” Nguyen said. “However, after the formalities, everything went extremely well. The icebreakers were, for once, rather effective in making the environment comfortable. In addition, the teaching done by the respective people were well thought out and coordinated! I’m excited to hear and see the growth and development of the other group members, as well as my own, ukulele playing, singing, and performing skills.”

UkuleYAY will have its next meeting on Monday, Oct. 23 in Mr. Phillip Tran’s room (D2303).