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THE GAITHERSBURG UKULELE SCENE
Gaithersburg: Maryland’s Home Of The Ukulele
The state of Maryland is defined by its abundant waterways and coastlines. Its largest city, Baltimore, has a long history as a major seaport, Salisbury is known for its university and student body, and Fort McHenry, birthplace of the US national anthem, is home to the National Aquarium and Maryland Science Center. But perhaps the most exciting of all of Maryland’s cities is currently Gaithersburg.
The city known for its lakes and parks is also becoming well known for its ukulele community. Its most central uke club is the Maryland Ukulele Jam, which meets monthly on the third (or occasional second) Sunday of every month. The group’s meetings are often themed, with past themes including “Who Runs The World? Girls!” in honor of Women’s History Month, “Let’s Hear It For The Boys” to give the guys equal playing time, and “Mother May I?” in celebration of Mother’s Day.
Those interested in seeing what else the group has to offer can find information on Maryland Ukulele Jam’s website, where all the latest pictures and news are posted. The group also shares information on local events of interest, like the Uke and Guitar Summit in North Bethesda, a 20 minute drive from Gaithersburg.
The uke-heavy, five-day event usually kicks off in early August and is held at the Music Center in Strathmore (5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda). The fest offers classes for every skill level, with past instructors including Benny Chong, Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel. And that’s not all – in addition to a concert, the Uke and Guitar Summit’s website, other events have included “jam sessions, music workshops and both hula and yoga classes.”
For those looking for more intensive skill development, Strathmore’s UkeFest “is the only program of its kind that offers an advanced track,” its website states.
The price for this ukulele bliss? $399 if you’re looking to buy tickets on the early bird special. Costs increase after July 1st. It might seem a tad pricy, but the five-day pass includes eight hours of skill-based classes, five hours of Choose Your Own Class sessions, jam sessions and ensemble work, and admission to the Student and Instructor Showcases. Did we mention 2018’s instructor lineup includes world-class players like Craig Chee, Sarah Maisel, Cathy Fink, Ginger Johnson, Marcy Marxer, Gerald Ross and Frank Youngman?
If you’re more interested in watching rather than playing yourself, the Gaithersburg area usually puts on a show once or twice a year. In 2016, Salisbury University hosted a ukulele jam session held by Dr. Louise Anderson of the Music, Theatre and Dance Department.
Whether you’re looking to fine-tune your ukulele skills, watch professionals do what they do best, or simply just jam with like-minded individuals in a stress-free environment, Gaithersburg, Maryland has what you’re looking for.
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