Put Up Your Ukes: meet the Lexingtones Ukulele Group

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Saraya Brewer

David Quisenberry (center) started the Lexingtones Ukulele Group on Facebook to find other interested ukulele players. The group now practices about once a week. PHOTO BY MICK JEFFRIES

After years of being hindered by what he attributes to something between laziness and intimidation, Dave Quisenberry decided it was time to step up and learn how to play a musical instrument. He had grown up around musicians and was a huge music fan, but he found himself gravitating toward the creative side of the art relatively later in life, so he wanted to start with something relatively simple.

It was with these factors in mind that Quisenberry first picked up the ukulele.

“I had also always heard that it’s fairly easy, and once you pick it up you can play a few songs,” Quisenberry noted, “and that’s true.”

Having lived in Hawaii for a spell in 2003, Quisenberry beheld the popularity and charms of the ukulele, a small, four-stringed instrument in the guitar family that was developed in that state in the 1880s. He had also learned that George Harrison was a proponent of the uke, an endorsement that carried some weight for Quisenberry, a longtime fan of The Beatles.

Rather than holing up in his bedroom with chord books, like many people do when learning a new instrument, he opted to take a different route. After chatting with The Hive Salon owner Carla Brown – who also owned a ukulele she had never learned to play – Quisenberry started a Facebook page titled “Lexingtones Uke Group” to garner interest from any other local uke players or wannabe uke players. The group quickly amassed to more than 90 members, with 12 to 15 of those members meeting at The Hive Salon on a weekly basis to practice and learn as a group.

According to Quisenberry, the structure of the group is fairly loose, people show up with a song they want to learn and they take it from there. Two of the more “seasoned” uke players of the group, Mick Jeffries and Logan Lay, tend to lead the group through the songs, but it’s expected that folks practice on their own (i.e., learn the basic chords) outside of the group practice.

“It’s not a formal teaching thing,” Quisenberry said. “We try to keep the first hour simple, basic stuff, and the second hour more advanced, complicated stuff. We always encourage people to show up, and we want the first hour to be un-intimidating so people don’t feel overwhelmed.”

The group is comprised of a wide mix of musical talents and inclinations, with the majority of the members being new musicians. But members say the learning curve is an easy one.

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