December 03, 2020

Frontline Program Brings Ukes to First Responders

Way on back in May of 2020 (what seems like a lifetime ago now!) a local ukulele lover in southern Maine got in touch with our office about giving something back to his community -- especially to those who have dedicated their life to servicing theirs.

As we all dealt with the ‘new normal’ of life with the new Covid-19 virus, Duncan Perry of Portland, Maine wanted to find a way to help those on the front lines maintain their wellness and joy.  With his history in teaching ukulele and his familiarity working within Maine’s largest trauma center -- Maine Medical Center -- he was the perfect liaison to spearhead this great initiative.

“While many aspiring ukulele players have their own ukuleles, a fair number do not. To make this program happen, I needed a supply of ukuleles to use as loaners for those participants who do not already own one. I contacted Ohana Music, explained what I was hoping to do and they immediately responded with an openhearted donation of 10 brand new concert and tenor model ukuleles.” - Duncan Perry

Duncan Teaching Ukulele by Zoom

When Duncan first reached out, we could tell he had thoroughly considered many of the issues he’d be facing -- maintaining regular connection for classes, providing instruments to those who didn’t have access to one, and maintaining the safety of his students with loaner instruments.  With the program now 6 months in, Duncan has proven ready and able to spin these obstacles into opportunities to learn and further hone his teaching skills while bringing his students a brand new tool for self healing.

zoom ukulele meeting

“One nurse actually takes a commuter bus daily to work and brings her uke to play for the other passengers! A frontline technician told me recently she runs home to grab her uke each day to unwind from the sadness and stress of the day. Others derive great joy from playing for others. All express thanks for the relief that playing the ukulele brings them and that makes the effort worthwhile.”

Duncan with TK-10

Music has been a well known way to combat mental and emotional stress for years.  Playing or listening to music is a unique way to bridge the physical body with the emotional and thoughtful mind and allow a person to immerse themselves in creativity. As of this writing, 62 frontline workers have benefitted from these local and fun programs, with more programs joining in 2021 across Maine, New Hampshire, and New York State.  We all need healthy ways to cope, and are so lucky to have folks like Duncan spreading hope and love to their communities with music.

Ohana Starter Pack

 “This program for those standing in the front line against the virus combines my love for teaching and playing the ukulele with the opportunity to brighten their lives. I’ve had a good life, and this is payback time.” - Duncan Perry