SOUTH LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Seven-year-old Joseph Rivas and his mother Jocelyn look forward to Tuesday afternoons. After Joseph finishes his homework, they both go to their local public library branch Junipero Serra and enjoy their free classes.
This month, they both learned how to play the ukulele.
“I like playing the ukulele because it’s very fun and you also get to learn a lot about it,” Joseph said.
Celia Lawley drove from San Diego to South Los Angeles to teach this month’s ukulele class. The ukulele is one of the 10 instruments she knows how to play. She created a system called Little Uk’s Program to teach anyone how to play.
The students are introduced to three basic elements of music: melody, rhythm, and chords through classic American folk tunes.
“Pushing these... it’s like a button," Joseph said, lifting the ukulele.
Lawley was part of the original ukulele pilot program three years ago that was created by Marc Horton from the Wilmington Branch Library. Their success and grants were made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the California State Library. This ukulele program is now available in 17 branches throughout Los Angeles.
“This is about making a better world, making better people, happier people, bringing joy. It’s about solving the problem of getting the art, the music back in our culture in an easy accessible way," said Lawley.
This access means having an instrument to practice at home.
The Junipero Serra Branch has three ukuleles available to check out. With their library card, Joseph will be able to take the instrument home for three weeks. The ukulele includes the case, chord book, and tuner and it must be returned in person at the circulation desk.
“I’m going to practice at home and play," Joseph said.
This isn’t a new concept. Instruments have been available to libraries around the nation.
The Los Angeles Public Library hopes to continue making music accessible to everyone by providing classes and workshops because if they can play the ukulele, you play the ukulele, too.