Uke Revolution aims to revolutionize music’s impact


Anna Henning

Uke Revolution members enjoy each other’s company.

By Anna Henning, Fossil Ridge High School

More than just a club, Uke Revolution brings together people from all aspects of Fossil Ridge High School. Regardless of previous knowledge and ability, Uke Revolution is a place where people can be surrounded by music and filled with the acceptance of others. Brayden Lake, who has been attending club meetings since the club first started said, “The club has been an escape. Whenever I’m feeling stressed with class or something, I can just go and get a ukulele and everything will be just fine.”

Uke Revolution meets Wednesdays at 3 p.m. in the Media Center and Fridays at lunch in room 515. The club focuses on bringing music to all students, using an instrument that is easy to learn, accessible, portable, and affordable. They also are planning several community outreach events in the future, as well as working to grow the program. Their name, “Uke Revolution,” was created with the idea of transforming the world through music. The original club members voted on the name with the intention of doing something bigger than themselves, and they have continued that mission ever since.

Anna Henning
A school ukulele sits on top of a case, waiting to be picked up.

Long before the first meeting, Lana Fain, the library media specialist, began to form the foundation of the club without even knowing it: with ukuleles. Fain began playing ukulele in 2016, and meets with a group to practice together. After the impact the instrument has made on her life and learning about ukuleles circulating in libraries, she was determined to get them in Fossil. Ukuleles are popular among teens and many already play the instrument, and she wanted to give more the opportunity to try it.

In 2018, Fain was able to begin purchasing ukuleles for check-out. After receiving a grant for funding, and a good deal from a music store, she was able to buy even more ukuleles for the school. Fossil’s Media Center now contains a total of 35 ukulele kits available for check-out. These kits contain a uke, case, strap, stand, tuner, and chord chart. There are three different sizes available as well: sopranos, concerts, and tenors. Any student or teacher can check one out, even if they are not a part of Uke Revolution.

A few months after getting ukuleles at the school, Fain wanted to start a ukulele club, similar to her meet-up group. The meetings started with just a few people, meeting during academic time in March of 2018. Through raising awareness, talking to students who check out ukes, and recommendations, the club slowly grew. At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, the club had to change their meeting time due to the elimination of traveling during advisory. The club increased their meeting times to two times a week, now meeting every Wednesday and Friday.

Anna Henning
Two of the club’s sponsors, Renee Forsythe and Lana Fain teach chords before a new song. Using links from their website, Uke Revolution provides resources to play different songs.

The average meeting consists of tuning, teaching chords, and playing songs. They begin by helping any new members learn a few basic skills, and ask for song requests. Uke Revolution even has their own website, containing PDFs of music, play-along tracks from YouTube, and an events calendar. They use the website to easily access chords and tracks during meetings, with lists of personally requested songs. The relaxed, community setting welcomes in students, and makes sure everyone feels comfortable playing along.

Although Fain is the official club sponsor, three other sponsors from Fain’s ukulele group regularly come to interact with the students. Students and sponsors have been able to bond over something they are both passionate about. Sponsors have enjoyed the opportunity to play along with the other club members, and getting to know everyone better through music.

Recently, students with special needs have been encouraged to join Uke Revolution. They enjoy learning new skills, everything from chords to taking care of an instrument. Fain has been thrilled with the new involvement, saying, “it’s a new experience, it opens up the doors for experiencing music for kids who haven’t yet. It brings people from every place in life together, and that’s very exciting.” Additionally, students who are not in a music program at Fossil have been incorporated into music through the club. “It’s pulling people into music, who otherwise aren’t engaging in it. People are getting involved who don’t do band, orchestra, or choir,” according to Fain. The club continues to grow through drawing in a variety of students with a variety of backgrounds.

It’s let me know that I belong here.”

— Alea Atkins

Every student involved has gotten the opportunity to meet people they would not otherwise know, and form new friendships. Regardless of playing ability, Uke Revolution embraces each member just as they are, and allows everyone to enjoy the experience of music. “It’s let me know that I belong here,” reflects Alea Atkins.

Uke Revolution meets people where they are. It takes people with different talents, music tastes, and ideas and brings everyone together. Since people come from different backgrounds, Uke Revolution explores all types of music. From current artists, to old songs, there is something for everyone to enjoy playing. They learn music written by a variety of creators, such as Dodie Clark, The Beatles, and Sam Smith.

Anna Henning
A ukulele bass is like a bass guitar, but in the size of a ukulele.

Fain hopes that students will establish a long-lasting passion for music through the club. Fain believes, “it shows that music is accessible to anyone. It has value for every person. I don’t see it as a Fossil Ridge exclusive experience, I see it as broadening across their lives. I hope that they get pleasure from exploring music.” Ukulele teaches music skills to beginners, as they can learn a few simple chords in just minutes. It can be a starter instrument to make learning things like guitar easier, or students can stick with the simplicity of four strings. Besides just ukuleles, Uke Revolution is a place where students can join in with a variety of instruments. Ukulele basses, guitars, harmonicas, and drums have all been brought to meetings. Students are invited to sing along to the music with songs like “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman and “Riptide” by Vance Joy, but if singing is not one’s forte, it is not required.

Anna Henning
Silvia Morales smiles at a friend.

In the future, Uke Revolution is hoping to do more events and collaborations with other clubs. They want to work with Songwriter’s Guild to hold open mic nights, giving both clubs opportunities to share something they have been working on. Lake says he is “hoping we can get the opportunity to do an open mic night, because we’ve always talked about it but never actually gotten to pursue making one.” They want to do outreach events as well, such as visits to local nursing homes. Fain wants to share the club’s energy and positivity with others. Hence the “revolution” aspect of the club’s name, Fain says “We have a mission outside of just our own personal enjoyment, and we want to spread that to other people.” The club is planning a lock-in event to do bonding activities, watch ukulele documentaries, write music, and play songs. On March 8, Danielle Ate the Sandwich, a popular artist among the ukulele community, will perform at Fossil. Additionally, Uke Revolution will get to do a workshop with her to learn new skills.

Uke Revolution hopes new people will join- even those without previous knowledge of ukulele. Alison Shad said, “I just looked at other people’s fingers and caught on. It’s pretty easy to pick up, so you just want to have fun with it,” after her first time at a meeting. If someone comes for the first time and has never played, leaders will help teach basic chords before playing. Fain said, “We welcome people who have zero experience, and even the first time you come to a meeting, you will be playing something if you’re inclined to. Come observe us. Come see if you’re interested. Come get your hands on an instrument and see what you think.”

This story was originally published on Etched in Stone on January 26, 2019.