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THE MADISON UKULELE SCENE
Thriving Ukulele Community In Madison, Wisconsin
The similarities between Hawaii and Wisconsin start and end at the ukulele.
Wisconsin isn’t known for tropical beaches, palm trees, towering volcanoes or a world-renowned surf culture. Instead, it’s known for its cheese, deep-fried dairy products, brandy old fashions and harsh winter weather.
It’s about as opposite to the tropical islands of Hawaii as you can get, but that doesn’t stop the ukulele community here from living a life full of Aloha – and in Madison, an 800-strong group of uke enthusiasts does just that.
The Madison Area Ukulele Initiative (MAUI) is a thriving club of players who enjoy promoting the diminutive instrument and its potential for musical community. Anyone interested in the ukulele is welcome to join this volunteer-run organization, which its own events (like monthly sing-alongs and frequent public performances) and supports other ukulele organizations in the region.
All prospective members have to do to join MAUI is just show up.
“If you only know one chord, play that chord every time it comes around. Soon enough, you'll learn another. Ukulele culture is very accepting. We sound great and have a lot of fun collectively even though many of us fall off the wagon every now and then. We just get back on and no one even notices. Many beginners think a certain level of proficiency is required before participating. Not true. Just come as you are. Let the group inspire you to play. Proficiency will happen at it's own pace...and you'll be smiling for the entire ride,” the group states on its website.
Members can also opt-in to MAUI’s mailing list, which shares enjoyable, encouraging and trusting information about Madison’s ukulele community.
Other ukulele organizations that MAUI supports include Good Day Ukulele, which offers ukulele classes and lessons; Front Porch String Band, a ukulele performance group; Madison Ukulele Gatherings, a beginner group coordinated through Google Groups; First Unitarian Beginners Group; and Fitchurg Ukulele Network.
The Wisconsin Ukulele Club is another Madison club worth checking out, too. While its members are solely comprised of University of Wisconsin-Madison, the club promotes the study and performance of ukulele music both in and around campus.
Sure, Wisconsin may not look like Hawaii, but it definitely has a ukulele community that rivals some of the island’s best.
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