June 3, 2011

The Uke Box LOVES Belgium, Part 1

For the last three and half months Marko and i have been working with 53 kids to form a ukulele orchestra at a special-needs school in Eeklo, Belgium. Last night was the big concert for over 200 friends & family in a lovely theater and oh my, just thinking of it gives me a lump in my throat. I have so much to tell about it. It's a big story envolving some amazing people with a beautiful conclusion. Let me start with a great clip from the Belgian News, Station AVS.
(English transcript below)

Today, students from the special educational school in Eeklo have had their last ukulele rehearsal. The ukulele is a 4-string instrument resembling a small guitar. For the lessons, the school made an appeal to The Uke Box, a ukulele duo from Rotterdam, The Netherlands. On Wednesday, June the 1st they perform together with the childeren in the cultural center in Adegem.
(music: Ome Kobus by the Amazing Stroopwafels)
"With a colorful ukulele at the ready and a few simple chords, the students follow the lead of their ukulele instructors with great concentration. Most of these children had never heard of the miniature guitar (their words, not mine) yet, the school choose this sympathetic instrument."
Rik Baerdemaeker, instigator of the project and all-round super dude:
"We really wanted to do something different with the music lessons instead of playing the recorder or the classical school isntruments. At a Ukulele Festival in Sint Niklaas i saw 'The Uke Box' at work. They had a workshop method for beginning ukulele players and spontaneously i thought that this must be possible to apply at this school."
"The Dutch ukulele duo, 'The Uke Box' have given diverse ukulele workshops. In our country it is a premier that elementary school children have exchanged the recorder for the ukulele."
Marko, my Big Squeeze and Ukulele Master:
"Master Rik (here they call teachers 'Meester') saw us giving a workshop at the Belgian Ukulele Festival and he thought it was a great idea to attempt a Ukulele Intervention here at this school. We are moving along quite rapidly and it's been lots fun. You get some much energy back. It's been just great."
"If the ukulele will replace the recorder at all elementary schools has yet to be answered but here in Eeklo the ukulele is very popular."
Rik de Baerdemaeker:
"It is just a very very nice, friendly, pleasant instrument. Everyone can start to learn it quite easily and quickly. In this way, making music becomes accessible to everyone including the kids from this school. It is a social project where the children learn to play and make music together and they realize that they can very quickly achieve something which gives them the feeling of becoming musicians in a small way. And everyone who wants to can be a musician."
"In two weeks the children will be performing with their Eeklo Ukulele Orchestra together with 'The Uke Box' at a sold out show."
(music: Stand By Me... well, almost, by Ben E. King)
"Okay now, fade out..."


superheidi said...

Bliss! Better than blokfluiten for sure! Will you update on the performance with the kids?

Shelley Rickey said...

Ah yes, i'll definitely update. Awaiting photo and video material from the night. It was great. It ended with very proud kids, moms crying and an extremely thrilled school director.

superheidi said...