Ukulele circle celebrates international holiday

Published 7:12 pm Monday, June 24, 2019

Washington locals gathered on the waterfront Friday, armed with ukuleles and a willingness to learn.

Hosted by P.C. Sound, the city celebrated Make Music Day on June 21 with “Uke in the Park,” its first ukulele circle. Now Washington joins over 1,000 other cities worldwide that celebrate the French holiday Fête de la Musique, or Festival of Music and/or Make Music.

“I think it’s just a great way to bring everybody together, who loves music or wants to learn how to play an instrument and have a great time,” said Stephanie Braddy, the office manager of P.C. Sound.

Fête de la Musique began in 1982 when France’s Ministry of Culture created a day where free music would be everywhere, and anyone would be able to participate. The holiday is now celebrated in 120 countries and more than 1,000 cities, including Washington.

To celebrate this year’s Make Music Day, P.C. Sound partnered with the Washington Parks and Recreation Department and the Washington Harbor District Alliance to create a community event. Based on public feedback, P.C. Sound determined that the day was the perfect opportunity to teach people how to play ukuleles.

“We kind of put out a feeler earlier in the year to see how many people had ukuleles and how many did know how to play them, which is actually quite a bit more than what we thought,” Braddy said. “Ukulele is a happy instrument, and it’s easy to learn. Most of the chords are one or two fingers, so it’s easier for people of all ages to pick it up, including kids.”

After posting about “Uke in the Park” on the Make Music website, Braddy was contacted by Make Music Alliance Executive Cirector Aaron Friedman, who sent 24 ukulele instruction books that were given out during the event. P.C. Sound also sold ukuleles and accessories on-site for those who wanted to participate.

P.C. Sound instructor Ainsley Short taught the group of about 60 people four new songs, while those without ukuleles enjoyed the music and snacked on frozen treats from Kona Ice. According to Braddy, the ukulele circle inspired several visitors to find more opportunities to play as a group.

“I just saw the smiles on everyone’s faces, and then afterwards, they said they had a great time and a lot of them want to play together,” Braddy said. “They were asking if there were any other groups in the area that got together on a regular basis to play songs.”

P.C. Sound is planning the second-annual Make Music Day on June 21, 2020, as well as a drum circle to celebrate International Drum Month in May. Those interested in future events can follow P.C. Sound on Facebook or sign up for the store’s newsletter.