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We decided to stay. OK, I decided to stay. Two thirds of our group would have been happy to come back "when we can really do it." I wanted to see how a large crowd of students, most of whom were beginners, could learn to play a musical instrument in an hour.

As I concentrated on when and how to switch chords, she grabbed my phone and added to my notes. After passing the shared ukulele to my son, I read what she'd written: "I got handed an instrument, and I did terrible."

"Very funny," I whispered.

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"Now," my daughter said at the end of the intro. I started to strum, and she guided my fingers to the right positions. Then it was time (for her) to move them again.

We'd gotten to the free ukulele class at ABC Music to find every available seat and lendable instrument taken by people who'd arrived earlier than "just on time."

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Prada Backpack Navy

When the music stopped, one of the store workers came over and offered me his ukulele to play. At that point, I wished I hadn't been so distracted by the other students.

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to play these and not smile," the ukulele teacher said with a grin. Then, as an afterthought, he added, "and it's good to smile."

I had, but I turned my attention back to my own kids, the siblings who had argued in the car, the two who hadn't wanted to spend time together. They were sharing the small instrument. Burberry Quilted Tote

"That would be hard to do," my teenage daughter observed as the teacher simultaneously played, gave chord cues and sang the song.

who said she "just got a ukulele for Christmas" was old enough to be a grandma yet kept grinning and wriggling like an excited kid.

"I like that blue one," I said, pointing a few feet away.

Learn to uke during all

There were rows and rows of them stretching from one end of the store to where we stood, which was just feet inside the door. Kids. Adults. Teens. I was later told this month's session right after Christmas was the busiest session of the year, as many get ukuleles as gifts.

"Did you see that bright pink one?"

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One did the chords while the other strummed. And, as our skilled teacher had promised, they were smiling.

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Waiting for her brother to finish his turn, my daughter pointed to the price tag and whispered, "We could buy it."

It was time for a new song, two more chords and a slightly different strumming pattern.

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Prada Backpack Navy

"Goodbye, Joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh." As the song continued, the mass of ukuleles played more and more in synch. "That sounds amazingly good," I whispered.

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Then, it was time to make music together.

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Minutes later, they'd been taught the fingering for two chords. The chords needed for their first song.

All of the people listened and tried, seemingly enjoying themselves. A middle school girl concentrated intently, then blushed, grinned and stopped when she got off beat. A little girl in the back row expended all her energy on the first verse, then sleepily strummed while relaxing against her dad's arm. A woman Burberry Bags Men

Holly Hamlin lives in Salem with Prada Backpack Navy her husband and four children ranging from ages 5 to 17. Kid Trips appears Tuesdays in this section. Box 13009, Salem, OR 97309 3009.

Excited about their new knowledge, many of the newbies continued practicing their two chords during the strumming tutorial.

"Now, I'll teach you about strumming." The image on the screen showed arrows pointing up and down, and the teacher explained how that translated to hand movement.

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