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THE BANGOR UKULELE SCENE
The Elderly Show Us How To Really Uke In Bangor, Maine
In 2013, the United States had an elderly population of 44.5 million people – that’s about 14.1% of the total population.
Unsurprisingly, Florida – famous for its oranges, tourism and retirees – took top spot as the number one elderly state in America. Second place turned out to be Maine.
The northeasternmost US state known for its rocky coastline, maritime history and natural beauty has the second highet percentage of elderly people in the country. A total of 18.24% of the state’s population is 65 and older, but that doesn’t mean they have to act their age.
Gray-haired Mainers interested in building a lively culture of aging have begun to take part in ukulele clubs to retain their youth. In 2017, musicians Lynne and Rick Gammon of Portland, Maine were set to lead a two-part workshop called “Creating and Connecting through Music”. Participants learned about the basic chords needed to play a number of tunes on the four-string instrument, and then participated in a group jam session.
Think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Tell the residents of Bangor, Maine that. Words like “senior citizen” are often associated with frailty, inability and a lack of competence, but most of the aging population here is just the opposite. These older adults are in good health and are fully capable of participating actively in life – especially when it comes to the ukulele.
Speaking to Bangor Daily News, Rick Gammon, 59, said that learning the uke later in life is fairly simple when compared to learning other instruments like the piano or guitar. And for Lynne, also 59, the benefit is largely social, which is why the couple have joined a local ukulele group and lead a monthly ukulele jam session at a neighbourhood bar. The Portland Ukulele Social Club – just a two hour drive from downtown Bangor – gather monthly to play, sing and socialize. The group doesn’t require dues or commitment – just fun.
There’s no denying that ukuleles have become popular across the country in the past several years. In Maine along, several enthusiasts have formed groups in Maine, from Portland to the University of Maine at Machias . Last spring, Belfast had a ukulele picnic , and a ukulele gathering in Newport in 2011 attracted 45 people.
If you’re new to the ukulele and want to start out in a place where everyone – regardless of age – is welcome, head to Maine.
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