The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Callib Carver
For The LOG 

Mini music makers attend Bluegrass Camp


Callib Carver | For The LOG

Ukuleles are becoming cool again. So cool, in fact, that attendance at this year's Bluegrass Music Camp for Kids had record enrollment.

"The kids are enthusiastic. Parents tell me their kids don't want to stop playing their instruments when they go home," said Kate Hamrey, program director.

The camp, held July 7-11, received a grant from Holland America for $1,000, which allowed them to purchase seven new ukuleles and provide partial scholarships to some of their campers. The Seward Music Association also received a grant for $1,400, that was used to purchase four ukuleles and there are plans to purchase more instruments for the local schools.

"Music should be available to everyone, not just those who can afford private camps." said Heidi Zemach, the camp's facilitator.

The addition of the new ukuleles are not the only addition to the camp, as they have added new instructors, like Katey Rexford, who not only plays the guitar and fiddle, but teaches the ukulele classes as well. She also teaches in Hawaii, where the ukulele originated in the 19th century.

"All the kids are so excited to play," Rexford said, before 11 bands went on stage last Friday at the K.M. Rae Building to put on the camp finale concert play for family and friends.

"It's a country wide, worldwide fad that is just catching on here, but much bigger in Homer and Anchorage," said Zemach, who explained how the Seward camp copied the Cordova camp's Hawaii Week, where campers play the ukulele and learn to Hula dance. They also added a five to seven age group class this year.

Zemach said when she wrote the grant for the ukuleles she didn't have the fad in mind.

"The sixth grade classes are moving from the elementary to middle school, which would leave a space in the music classes," Zemach said, for kids advancing from fifth to sixth grade.

Callib Carver | For The LOG

"The ukuleles are easy to play for smaller kids, because of their size, she said. "They're also an instrument that was a great addition to the Bluegrass camp, but can be used by the Boys & Girls club during the summer and by the music classes during the school year. The camp also allows students the chance to play an instrument during their free time at school.

"You don't see them bringing a fiddle to school, but you can bring a ukulele," said Zemach.

The ukuleles are on a list of instruments that the Seward Music Association plans to purchase, such as pianos, flutes,and saxophones, to help provide opportunities for kids in Seward and Moose Pass. In the school and the community," Zemach said.


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