The ukulele is a whole lot of happy in an itty bitty package. With only four strings and endless YouTube videos teaching you how to pluck ‘em, these fun-sized guitars attract hipsters and music-lovers alike, and luckily for everyone on campus who falls under either of those categories or somewhere in between, Penn State has a club for that.
Currently in its first year on campus, the Ukulele club is all about good vibes and good times, teaching newbies the basics and giving established uke fans a place to jam out together, and TBH, we’d much rather be learning how to play ‘Timber’ on the ukulele than studying for our physics exam.
For sophomore advertising major and president of the Ukulele club, Christy Rae Nunn, the decision to start the club all began in West Halls where she picked up a passion for ukuleles from a friend across the hall.
After receiving her first ukulele as a gift, Nunn decided to seek out fellow uke-heads around Penn State.
“I was sure there would be a ukulele club on campus, and when I looked and there wasn’t one, I knew I had to start one – it was my calling,” she says.
For like-minded ukulele lovers on campus like club member and sophomore veterinary and biomedical science major Nick Krause, Nunn’s club provides an organized community to meet up and rock out that had been missing from the extracurricular scene at Dear Old State.
“What I like about Ukulele club is being able to play with a bunch of other ukulele players and sharing what musical knowledge I have with them,” says Krause. “I took guitar lessons for 2 years so I use a lot of that knowledge in my ukulele playing.”
And while some of the club’s members are experienced ukulele players, Nunn emphasizes that prospective members need not worry about their skill level.
“There are a few people that come out every week that are just outstanding players, and then there are people like me that are mediocre – yeah, the president of the club is mediocre,” she says. “But there are also a few people who come that have no idea what they’re doing, but want to learn.”
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned expert, Nunn says the Ukulele club is simply a place to relax, meet new people and learn a new skill – no experience or time commitment required.
“The only rule in this club is to be nice,” says Nunn. “I literally wrote in the constitution that I would kick you out if you were mean.”
The Uke club’s mission of spreading joy (and general niceness) is one Nunn hopes to continue for years to come, planning on taking the club’s talents and good cheer all the way to Hershey, where its members will play their ukes for the children who can’t make it to THON.
Among some of the updates Nunn hopes to make to the club in the near future – including getting funding for a stock of new ukuleles – might be a club wardrobe change.
“When we go perform at the hospitals, we want to get Hawaiian shirts,” says Nunn with a laugh.
But even if florals clash with the rest of your closet, the Ukulele club could still be for you.
“If you’re nice, join!” says Nunn. “No, but seriously, if you join and you can come out, come out and if you’re busy, you’re busy.”
The Ukulele clubs meets every other Wednesday and every other Thursday on the third floor of the Boucke Building at 6:30 p.m.
Photo by Skylar Yuen