Being able to spot someone with a “uke,” or ukulele, is becoming a regular occurrence among students at San Gabriel High School (SGHS).
As students walk out of their class, the greeting from the live music performance made by an ukuleleist creates a refreshing atmosphere that helps them divert their attention from stressful exams and classes.
“When I hear people playing the ukulele when I walk out of class and took a test, [the ukulele music] sounded really nice,” sophomore Daisy Su said. “It [serves as] a relief; it soothes me.”
A modification made by the Hawaiians based on the Portuguese’ machete—a four-stringed mini guitar—the ukulele was globalized from its native land, Hawaii, in the nineteenth-century.
“I had cool friends [who] are Samoans, and I got influenced by them,” junior Kue Sananikone, president of the ukulele club, said.
The ukulele is not merely for entertainment purposes. Rather, it creates unity and strengthens friendships among people that share a common interest in music. On a spiritual level, music serves as a stress reliever.
“It keeps me active, away from all my problems and it’s fun,” It’s pretty interesting [to see] people’s reactions; how they like music,” Sananikone said.
Although the ukulele is similar to other string instruments like the guitar—having similar chords—many people at SGHS chose to play the ukulele for its portability due to its small size, allowing them to share their music everywhere they go.
“I’ve started playing [the ukulele] because I heard my friends play, and I’ve stumbled on some videos online,” senior Leo Yue said. “So I got interested like that because I played the guitar as well. I wanted to branch out to new instruments [like the ukulele] since it is also portable.”
Under the influence of Kevin Encinas, the co-advisor of the ukulele club and the coach of SGHS’s football team, some of the football players are able to express their artistic side. Their interest in playing the ukulele “[breaks] the preconception that football players only focus on football.”
“They [can be] really talented musicians too,” Encinas said. “[Playing the ukulele] also helps them play creatively on the field.”
The ukulele club, which is co-advised by P.E teacher Carla Fujimoto and football coach Kevin Encinas, holds its meetings at S-5 for advanced ukuleleists and in the dance studio (next to the girls’ locker room) for novices every Thursday. Anyone interested in playing the ukulele is welcomed to join.