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Looking Ahead, Looking Back
By James Hill

2009 has been a tough year for uke players. We lost John King and John Kavanagh and now we have lost another dear friend: Lorna MacPhee.

Lorna MacPhee

Lorna was a friend and mentor to many on the Canadian ukulele scene. Her teaching expertise, creativity and quick wit made her a driving force in the early days of the Canadian school ukulele movement. When the Langley, BC school board decided to implement a ukulele program in the mid-1970s, they hired Lorna for the job. She relocated from her native Nova Scotia to Langley where she pioneered the use of ukulele in the schools and founded the well-known Langley Ukulele Ensemble. It's safe to say that without Lorna, I, for one, would never have learned to play ukulele.

After retiring from teaching, Lorna lent her proof-reading and editing skills to numerous publications including The Walrus and The Literary Review of Canada; she also served as a consultant on the Ukulele in the Classroom project. She will be deeply missed.


As I look ahead to 2010 I feel that I'm on top of a wave, looking out along the shore. Surf's up! So much has happened and so much momentum has been gained: there are now thousands of Ukulele Yes! readers from all over the globe; this year when I put out the word about my cross-Canada School Tour, it took only 48 hours to fill the majority of the bookings; and we receive requests daily from people who want to start their ukulele programs (if you're one of them, take a few moments to read this free Ukulele Program Starter Kit). So, what now?

Now it's time to deliver. The campaign to convince skeptics to "take a chance" on the ukulele as a vehicle for music in schools has largely been won. Now we need results to back up our outrageous claim that ukulele is the most versatile and rewarding instrument in the world for young musicians. How can you help? Let me count the ways:

  1. Become a better player (see our feature article on why this matters and what you can do about it).
  2. Submit an article, arrangement, report or letter to Ukulele Yes! (published articles and arrangements pay $: details here).
  3. Attend a ukulele workshop in your area (see this report on the 2009 Langley Ukulele Workshop and watch for more workshops Spring and Fall 2010).
  4. Keep the big picture in mind: ukulele is the perfect vehicle for music literacy. Students should be able to take what they learn in your classes and apply it to any instrument.
  5. Keep having fun! (And also give some thought to what "fun" means to you in the music education context.)

All the best and have a happy, uke-filled holiday season.

Uke on!


James Hill
Editor, Ukulele Yes!

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