On an uplifting note, members of the Royal City Ukulele Ensemble are gifting classrooms with music by providing free ukuleles and educational resources.
“I’m really hoping it can ignite some excitement about being back together again in person after all of this pandemic," said Cynthia Kinnunen, director of the RCUE about helping students engage with music.
Starting the initiative three years ago, Kinnunen said it aims to get ukuleles into the hands of students who are making music. When it comes to arts education, she mentions funding for the arts, like music, get cut frequently.
“Music is not always seen as a priority, and it’s unfortunate, because arts and creativity are a really big piece of development in young people. It’s a skill that’s going to be valued no matter what field a student takes in life," said Kinnunen.
She adds it took a little longer to raise the funds for the event due to the pandemic. This year, RCUE selected Primrose Elementary School from the Upper Grand District School Board. The school will receive 30 new ukuleles and educational resources to help run music programs at the school.
“We’ve heard from the teacher team and their administration that everyone is really pumped,” said Kinnunen. “It’s the second time that we have been able to do this, and it’s a really nice piece of our community connection and the ensemble."
“Primrose is a rural school, all of the students are bused, from what we understood from the application, they definitely had a need. They did not have a robust music program happening," said Kinnunen.
With ukuleles being a good instrument for students to engage with in masks and social distancing, Kinnunen hopes the instruments can also help students to build social and communication skills.
"I’m really looking forward to delivering the ukuleles."
Along with handing out ukuleles, Kinnunen mentions the ensemble would have come out to the school to give a performance. Due to the pandemic, she said they opted to record a cover of David Bowie's song, Space Oddity. The video can be seen below:
“We wanted to choose a song that we thought would be great for any age, and so we were mindful of lyrics and message, but also, we knew this song would be a lot of fun, because some people in the ensemble really enjoyed dressing up and having a little extra fun with it," said Kinnunen.
“Apparently, the school really enjoyed it, and so my hope, and the hope of the group, is that anybody watching it would feel happy, have some fun and maybe feel inspired to sing along or pick up an instrument.”
To learn more about Royal City Ukulele Ensemble, go to cynthiakmusic.com.