Finding inspiration in the ukulele

Patrice Savoie teaches both the guitar and the ukulele. | Photo courtesy of Patrice Savoie

Dreaming of strumming a few tunes on a ukulele? Music enthusiasts might be interested in Patrice Savoie’s offer of introductory lessons on the stringed instrument.

The local musician will be conducting a special four-week beginner session, starting on Oct. 26 at Terry Fox Library in Port Coquitlam.

History and meaning of the ukulele

The four stringed instrument originally comes from Portugal where its name is Machete de Braga, says Savoie. However, the ukulele is mainly known for being a popular instrument in Hawaii.

“The word ukulele means ‘fleas jumping,’ because when Portuguese people brought their version of the ukulele to Hawaii, Hawaiians thought that their fingers looked like fleas jumping,” he adds.

According to Savoie, the ukelele can be used in various musical genres. He recommends that beginners get familiar with it as it is an easy instrument to learn and not too expensive to buy.

“The ukulele can be used to play chords, as an accompanying instrument, but can also be used as a solo instrument,’’ he says.

Finding passion in music

Savoie has been holding workshops to teach people how to play the ukulele for the past two years. His experience has been a positive one.

“I really like to do workshops, it’s always an adventure, because every class is different. It usually goes really well, people enjoy it, they learn something new and hopefully they get inspired to keep playing after,”he says.

Savoie recalls many memorable moments of his time working with the participants.

“I really enjoy [seeing] a big group of people that have never played music before play together and make it sound good. I love to see their smiles,” he says. “Sometimes people don’t stay for the four weeks, which is very normal, because music is not easy, but that’s okay, because the other students get more out of the lessons. The smaller the group the more I can teach them.”

For the upcoming ukulele workshop, he says that inspiration is one of the factors he’s looking for.

“What I always look for is that some of the students get inspired to keep playing. Music has changed my life for the better, so I hope that I inspire people and that they can see what I find so interesting and fascinating about music,” he says.

Music as a way of life

Hailing from the province of Quebec, Savoie spent his time playing and learning the guitar. He then took up music as a career, attending specialized music courses and opening his own teaching centre in British Columbia.

While finding his path to become a music teacher, Savoie says he first started with the guitar, then added the ukulele. His music workshops have gathered a lot of interested learners. He attributes this success to the similarities between the guitar and the ukulele.

“I fell in love with this little instrument. I started writing songs with it and I noticed that it is a great instrument to teach beginners, as it is easier than guitar,” he says.

Savoie hopes to inspire other people to explore the world of music and find happiness in creating their own melodies.

“I also love to see them realize that you can learn just a few things and be able to play and create songs,” he says enthusiastically.

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