McEwen Founds Ukulele Club at MHS
By Bailey Gabrielle – Marshfield High Schools offers many clubs for those with varying interests including foreign language and science, but recently, a new club was started centered around music: The Ukulele Club.
The Ukulele Club originated in Marshfield Middle School. Freshman Matthew McEwen started the Ukulele Club in 2016 at the end of his eighth-grade year and decided to carry it with him to the high school.
“I had seen that there were quite a few students who play ukulele just from the fact that I could see the little ukulele sized cases they were bringing around,” said McEwen. “…I knew there were people who did play ukulele, but also I had seen ukulele ensembles online and I thought that might be kind of cool to get some people together and play as a group of ukuleles, so I thought that starting a ukulele club would be a cool way to do that.”
The Ukulele Club is unique because there is not another music related club available to students. Students can audition for the musical or join choir, band, and orchestra to qualify to participate in other performing groups such as the Madrigal Singers, the Jazz Band, and the Orchestra Winds. The Ukulele Club does not require a musical background.
In fact, McEwen will teach beginners how to play during the club’s meetings. McEwen took the initiative to write out his very own lesson booklet to help teach club members how to play. The book was written for each type of ukulele: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.
“I wrote twenty-five different exercises that started really easy and then got more advanced,” said McEwen. “The big thing is so that people can get used to playing in a group, because you can be the most advanced player on your own, but sometimes playing in a group can be kind of tricky.”
McEwen also took piano arrangements from pop songs and arranged them for a ukulele ensemble.
“I just wanted to make sure we had material to work through [during club meetings].” said McEwen.
Ultimately, McEwen’s goal for the ukulele club is to build the skill levels of club members throughout the year. “If we could just play a few songs together that everybody knew and we could all play our separate parts and it all came together, I think that would be cool.”
McEwen has been playing the ukulele for about three years. He also is a percussionist in the Marshfield High School Symphonic Band.