Luthiers for a Cause and Ukulele Kids Club Bring Healing Powers of Music to a Red Cross Shelter

Luthiers for a Cause and Ukulele Kids Club raised funds to help bring the healing powers of music to children living in areas ravaged by Hurricane Harvey. Thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers on the ground in Houston and the support of the American Red Cross, we will be helping some young people discover the joy of making music. The article below was written for Red Cross Chat.

Story and photos by Chris Genin, American Red Cross volunteer

Shelter residents and volunteers gathered to the sound of a live band, featuring the ukulele, playing at the Greenspoint Mall Shelter in Houston. Children sang along to nursery rhymes, while older residents sang along to the classics as the Ukulele Kids Club performed for people who remain displaced after Hurricane Harvey. Joy radiated from the crowd, demonstrating the happy and healing powers of music.

Ukulele Kids Club’s mission is to share the magic of the ukulele, a unique string instrument, and to teach kids the basics. Operating out of the Miami area, the club normally goes to hospitals and plays for kids in long-term care. However, when Hurricane Harvey made landfall, local musician Kevin Griffin put out word to the local ukulele community that there would be kids in shelters who might enjoy a new activity.

Club members answered the call to help, and word spread quickly among musicians. Not only were they willing to play, but local instrument builders generously donated 100 ukuleles.

These interactive experiences teach children that ukuleles are not just toys, and that music is something you can keep up with your entire life. The longer-term goal is to provide children with something positive as they transition from shelter living to a new household.

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“We believe music has potential to heal, and that’s the whole idea,” Griffin said. “We aren’t here for exposure or anything like that. We just love music, it has had an impact in our lives and we’d like to share that with those who may need it.”

Of course, it can be difficult to keep the attention of young people so Griffin enlisted the help with this Susan Pearson, a former school teacher, who helped implement some teaching techniques during the ukulele lessons.

“Everyone was clapping and bouncing their feet up and down,” Pearson said. “It was neat watching the kids play along.”

After such a positive experience and response from the shelter community, and with at least 10 kids showing interest, Griffin is eager to return to teach future lessons. He is also planning to keep in touch with the families of the children who continue to show interest so they may gift the instruments as a family transitions out of the shelter.

If you are interested in helping with the Hurricane Harvey relief and recovery efforts, please visit redcross.org to learn more.

Get a Sneak Peek of the Kinnard Charity Uke at the Los Angeles International Uke Festival

Luthiers for a Cause and participating luthier Kinnard Ukes both will be exhibiting at the Los Angeles International Uke Festival on September 30, 2017 at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center (3330 Civic Center Drive, Torrance, CA 90503).

The LA International Uke Festival is a fun-packed, all-day event with playing workshops for players of all levels, group strum-alongs, and an expo area with exhibitors displaying ukuleles from entry-level to high-end customs. Plus, many of today's top ukulele musicians will be performing throughout the day, including Kalei Gamiao, Victoria Vox, Little 'Rev, Honoka & Azita and many more. Tickets for access to all activities throughout the day are just $45.

While the six Luthiers for a Cause charity ukuleles will not be unveiled together until November, this is your chance to get a sneak peek at the Kinnard project uke. Kinnard Ukes, the distributor for John S. Kinnard ukuleles, will be exhibiting several fine Kinnard ukuleles, including the Luthiers for a Cause project uke. This incredible tenor ukulele was made with wood from two legendary trees: the body wood is "The Tree" and the top is Lucky Strike Redwood.

Luthiers for a Cause will be offering merchandise with the project logo, with all proceeds going to benefit The Ukulele Kids Club, a non-profit whose mission is to harness the healing power of music by supporting music therapy programs and gifting ukuleles to pediatric hospital music therapy programs so that children in need can be sent home with the gift of music for life.

To purchase Los Angeles International Uke Festival tickets or to see a full schedule of events, visit the event website here.

 

 

Ukulele Girl and The Ripple Effect From One Act of Kindness

Corey Bergman of The Ukulele Kids Club shared this very personal email that came through "contact" on their website. It brought tears to his eyes the first time he read it, but the next five times he smiled because this is what UKC dreams about. 

Subject: Girl Scout Silver Award!
Message: 
Hello! I'm ......and I am fourteen. When I was twelve, I got myself into serious trouble and ended up compressing L1 through L5 and fracturing S4. Along with that I had a left rooted hematoma and was stuck in the ICU for about a week. While there a lady asked me what my interests were and I told her I'm a musician and my goal is to go on to play the ukulele. She came back with a box. You guys have donated me my own ukulele. It wasn't just an ordinary ukulele, though. It's a life-changer. Without this guy I wouldn't have had such a successful recovery and would not go on to know a group of people that I trust enough to call my friends. I bring my ukulele everywhere with me and as a Girl Scout I wanted to give back. Right now I have a Girl Scout Silver Award and I was wondering if now can be the time I help to change other kids lives. What I wanted to do was pre-record lessons and tips for kids who were going through the same trouble as I did. To spread my help around I was wondering if we can some how connect us two to help teach the kids the ukulele. If there is anyway I can meet up with you to talk about it or even just keep emailing back-and-forth or even just simple phones. Please contact me.

Thank you so much,
.....(or as my school calls me, ukulele girl)

Wonderful and a powerful demonstration of how one act of kindness can create a powerful ripple effect. How many people will "Ukulele Girl" impact and who, in turn, will they impact?

Remember, it takes only about $40 to give the gift of music for life by putting a uke into the hands of a child in-need who is undergoing a serious medical situation. Learn more about The Ukulele Kids Club and make your donation here.

Hawaii Music Supply to Showcase Luthiers for a Cause Ukes

LOS ANGELES, CA – Luthiers for a Cause is proud to announce that Hawaii Music Supply will contribute its world-class showcasing and retail expertise in November when all six of the completed tenor ukuleles are ready to be sold for the benefit of The Ukulele Kids Club.

Commonly known by its website The Ukulele Site (www.theukulelesite.com), Hawaii Music Supply was established in 2005 and offers quality ukuleles ranging from about $150 to over $3,000 for custom instruments. The company was built on the principle that regardless of price, every ukulele should undergo a rigorous inspection and setup process. This ensures each customer receives a properly setup instrument to maximize its playability and therefore their enjoyment of the ukulele they select. With its best-in-class set up, strong focus on providing customers with a broad selection of ukuleles, and outstanding sound demos, The Ukulele Site is thought by many ukulele enthusiasts to be the pre-eminent retailer of ukuleles.

“Each of our six world-class luthiers has worked with The Ukulele Site and has the greatest respect for the team that works so hard to introduce many great luthiers to the ukulele community,” said project founder Eddie Monnier. “Nobody does a better job showcasing ukuleles and ensuring that every ukulele is properly set up so that every customer receives the best ukulele for his or her price point.”

Hawaii Music Supply founder Andrew Kitakis shared, “I come from a luthier family and know firsthand what a tremendous sacrifice these luthiers are making to donate a custom-crafted instrument to benefit The Ukulele Kids Club charity. We are proud to contribute to the project and excited to help Luthiers for a Cause demonstrate the unique voice and aesthetic beauty each of these highly respected luthiers brings to the special woods being used in this project.”

Learn more about the project developments and The Ukulele Kids Club at the Luthiers for a Cause website (www.luthiersforacause.org). You can also visit the Ukulele Kids Club website at www.theukc.org.

About Luthiers for a Cause
Six of the world’s most distinguished instrument builders have come together to showcase their unique building approaches and to make a lasting difference in the lives of sick children. Each luthier will build a tenor ukulele out of wood sourced from two trees that are legendary among acoustic guitar and ukulele enthusiasts. All of the proceeds from the sale of the instruments will go to benefit The Ukulele Kids Club, a 501(c)3 non-profit whose mission is to harness the healing power of music by sending hospitalized children home with the gift of music for life.

·       Steve Grimes (www.grimesguitars.com)

·       Beau Hannam (www.beauhannamguitars.com)

·       John Kinnard (www.kinnardukes.com)

·       Jay Lichty (www.lichtyguitars.com)

·       Jake Maclay (www.hiveukuleles.com)

·       Joji Yoshida (www.jojiyoshidaguitars.com)

# # #

Contacts: Eddie Monnier (eddie@luthiersforacause.org) | Patchen Uchiyama (patchen@luthiersforacause.org)

Spotlight On The Healing Power of Music: Eva

We wanted to shine a spotlight on a recent example of how The Ukulele Kids Club has made a positive difference in the world of a child battling through a serious medical situation. And she has gone on to inspire other children to find joy in music. This lovely expression of appreciation was excerpted from a note shared by Eva's mother.

"As I sit here typing this, Eva is upstairs practicing her ukulele. She has become devoted to the instrument. She practices every day, sometimes for hours, and has learned a variety of songs on it. For her birthday, she received a Luna ukulele that allows an amp to be plugged into it. For Christmas, we had to get a hard case because she carries it everywhere and to school most days.

"Her music teacher at school has embraced her love of the ukulele and has let her play it during school. She is also the "leader" of a ukulele group the same music teacher has started. I believe she started it knowing that the ukulele and the music is a great thing for Eva!

"And to think all of this was started because YOU provided her the ukulele and taught her some basic chords. And word has it, many of the other girls in her grade received ukulele's for Christmas! You have made such an amazing impact on her life! I would love to share a picture of her playing.

Eva Practicing, Which She Does Often!

Eva Practicing, Which She Does Often!

If there is any way we can support or put a spotlight on what a wonderful piece you provide in this rehabilitation, please let us know how we can help. If there are volunteer opportunities within the Art/Music therapy department, she would love to participate!

She still has a long road to go, but her progress is months ahead of the doctors' expectations and I believe it's because of people like YOU that touched her heart and helped provide her comfort and sharing your mutual love for music.

Thanks for all you do for the kids, and what you have given my daughter!!

Sincerely,

Jessica, the Proud Mother of Eva

We are thrilled that Eva finds comfort in making music. Knowing that her passion has resulted in spreading the joy of making music to others in her school and that she is already looking for opportunities to volunteer so she can help others like herself is inspiring.

Way to go Eva!