October 02, 2018

   Music Education has been shown to have a long and varied list of benefits— especially to young people and the elderly. The unique way that music engages both the mind and body to create give the growing mind the opportunity to use both learning sets at once. Learning music and the skills to play music has been shown to allow for better concentration and behavior in the classroom as well as better memory retention, increased IQ, better spatial temporal skills, and better test scores. Music allows for basic and real human connection that is missing from much of our modern lives! The sad reality is that many schools are unable to secure funding for music programs, and must rely on their communities and pro-music grants available. This makes the ukulele lending program at LAPL an even greater boon to LA area schools, as it works to make music education possible for any budget.

"One of the most rewarding aspects of my position at Ohana, is working with special interest groups to bring the ukulele to areas that wouldn’t get to try one ordinarily. A particularly cool endeavor has been working with the Los Angeles Public Library!"

-Stephanie Snell

Getting Started

   Ohana was first contacted by Marc Horton, one of the librarians at the Wilmington Branch of LAPL. Marc wanted to instill a set of lendable ukuleles at the library, so that folks with an itch to learn could get their hands on one of these happy little instruments and try them out. His 2016 grant program “Uke Can Do It!” was a wonderful way for children and adults in the area to learn about music, and enjoy the summer!


Marc Horton with Ohana soprano ukulele promoting the Wilmington LA Library Branch. Image Source: Wilmington Library Facebook


   At Ohana, we understand that putting quality instruments in a player’s hand is the best way to encourage their learning journey— each of these loaners received top notch set-up and quality control check before being delivered to the library. We hope that by beginning on a ukulele that intonates properly, and has good action and no buzzing; those that participate in the program will continue to learn and love music for a lifetime.


Ohana Ukes ready to be checked out. Image Source: @wilmingtonbranchlibrary_lapl



   Once the trial in Wilmington was a vetted success, Marc worked to bring in the rest of the Los Angeles Public Library system.  To date, this amazing program has secured funding to expand lending ukuleles at a dozen more branches in the City of Los Angeles Library service area, from Sherman Oaks to San Pedro, starting in 2019. Quality Ohana Ukuleles will soon be available for check out on your own to play!


Uke Can Do it! first graduating class with class instructor Hoku Bray. Image Source: Marc Horton

   It is truly wonderful that the LAPL allows folks to take home a uke for a ‘test drive’. Being able to get comfortable with the instrument and see just how easy it is to pick up and learn to play totally encourages the student. And for those with a hunger to learn more, check out the offer for a FREE ukulele lesson with Jeffrey Thomas!


Future Plans

   At Ohana, one of our core values is giving back to the communities we’re active in. We are beyond excited to be involved in such a wonderful program, especially one right in our own backyard. We hope you'll enjoy the opportunity to 'check out' a ukulele from your own local library!


Uke Can Do It! Celebrating graduating with class instructor Hoku Bray. Image Source: @lapubliclibrary


About the Uke Can Do It! Program

   Learn about this unique ukulele program through our short interview below with program creator and librarian, Marc Horton!


Benefits you see for the community in the program?

I love seeing people’s faces light up when I tell them we’re the only library in all of LA that has ukes they can check out! I wanted my community to feel like they deserved something awesome, because Wilmington has a larger than average (for LA County) number of households with kids under the age of 10, as well as of households who don’t have the financial resources to afford to buy musical instruments or enroll in special programs to access them. The program started out being aimed at kids, but now teens, their parents, or even grandparents are borrowing them!


Program instructor, Hoku Bray, conducting a Uke Can Do it! class. Image Source: Marc Horton


How did you get into the ukulele?

Would you believe I had never even touched a uke until I walked into Ohana HQ and picked up the ones I was getting for the library grant program? I certainly had never really thought about them except as a kind of novelty, but when I was scrambling for an idea for my grant application, I happened to talk to another librarian about ukes and how easy they were to play (and fun!), and it made the lightbulb turn on in my head, and it all made perfect sense. I knew I loved music, so that I would have no problem being excited for the program. I’ve played guitar since I was 16, but if I had known how much easier (and how much fun!) the uke was, I would never have bothered with anything with six strings! I teach uke classes for beginners at my library when I can, and even though I’m like the teacher who’s only one lesson ahead of the students, it still works!


Marc Horton at the California Library Association. Image Source: Marc Horton


What are the future plans for the program? Other instruments?

We are expanding the program to some other branches, including hosting some classes for library patrons of all ages, over the next year. No plans for other instruments as of yet, but don’t be surprised if that changes!  The best part of the Library Uke program has been promoting it at library conferences (and doing hands-on Uke Classes, like at the California Library Association conference this November in Santa Clara!) to get other librarians excited about the possibilities of the uke.


Marc Horton teaching ukulele. Image Source: Marc Horton


Any other special events going on at the LAPL in the near future?

Lots of great stuff happening all over LAPL every day— stop by your local branch and check it out, especially if you haven’t been to the library in a while! You wouldn’t believe how much exciting stuff is going on all over the system: special basic sewing classes, 3D printing projects, art classes taught by LACMA staff, DJ workshops on how to use turntables, storytime read-alongs led by LAPD Officers, a special online program to get your high school diploma, and so much more! Visit the library online 24/7 at www.lapl.org.


Check the Wilmington's Library Branch Website to register and see upcoming events. For more Wilmington Events follow their Facebook or Instagram