A fresh, new sound is coming from the Wartburg Fine Arts Center on Tuesday evenings. Dubbed the “ukulele club,” members comprise this new organization on campus.
Traditionally played in Hawaii, the ukulele is a four-stringed musical instrument similar to the guitar. Music written for the instrument consists mainly of chord symbols which show a player’s finger positions rather than notes.
Chas Beeler the ukulele club founder, said the organization began last summer.
“The foundation for the club started at band camp this year. Some campers’ hands were too small for guitars, so they switched to ukuleles,” Beeler said. “Everyone had such a great time playing together, I thought we could carry it over into the school year.”
Students’ interest has manifested itself into a Facebook group with 22 members and an active playing group averaging ten members per meeting. Students do not have to be experienced musicians.
“We all decide what music we want to play. More experienced ukulele players teach basic chords and strumming patterns,” Beeler said. “We’re open to all skill levels.”
Unlike the more formal musical groups at Wartburg, Beeler said ukulele club has a simple goal: to “destress.” There are no auditions, no chair placements, or prior learning requirements needed to participate.
“We aren’t as competitive. I know a lot of our members come here for stress relief,” Beeler said. “We wanted to make sure the club is open to everyone, no matter what their ability.”
Despite the ukulele’s recent prominence in the musical world, Beeler said he is surprised how popular both the instrument and the club have become. “We have only had one meeting,” Beeler said. “I am extremely amazed at the amount of attention we have received on campus. I couldn’t have imagined this.”
With all the sudden recognition, Beeler and his group may be looking to be recognized by the college.
“We are thinking about becoming an official club, which could help us gain even more members,” Beeler said
While the group is not focused on performances, Beeler said he and other ukulele club members have been toying with the possibility of presenting a song for Kastle Kapers at this year’s Homecoming, if they are selected to perform.
“We thought it could be a fun way to showcase what we do at the club. But we are not focused on performing,” Beeler said.