In my first post of this new year, Changes for 2017, I wrote about needing to grow as a musician by playing ukulele with others. I mentioned that I had Googled “uke jam” and found the Maryland Uke Jam in Gaithersburg, MD. It took me awhile to attend but I finally was able to yesterday.
From where I live in Northern Virginia it took me 1.5 hours to drive to Gaithersburg. For me to attend it entails five hours at a minimum to get there and back including two hours of jamming. My hope was that it would be worth it and that the group would be welcoming and fun.
The jam is held at an Episcopal Church. There is parking in three areas so that was not an issue. It was a dreary, overcast day but things were about to brighten considerably for me. The first person I met, unbeknownst to me, was one of the founders of the jam, Nani. She welcomed me as I got out of my car and showed me where we would be meeting and where to wait as another group of people was still in the room we were going to use. As usual, I was a little early, but I prefer it that way.
She introduced me to Madeline, who was also waiting. Nani started the jam almost four years ago with Lori. They have done a great job organizing and running the jam.
We began right at the advertised time, 2 p.m. I love it when that happens. People are busy so it really helps when things run on schedule. The jam does. Before I arrived I went on their website and printed out the music for the day. The theme was Hawaiian music. This fits perfectly as Nani led most of the songs and she was born in Hawaii. I was too but I didn’t tell her. She will know now after reading this. A couple of other people led songs they had suggested which made the jam all the more special. Everyone played and most sang. It was a lot of fun.
There was no feeling of being a clique at all. About 20 people attended. 3/4 of them were women and all were friendly and talkative. What a great group! Nani told me that was an average turnout. The great thing is that everyone is welcome no matter what the age. Sometime in the future I may bring one of my grandsons as they play ukulele too.
There were a variety of ukuleles present. All different sizes and makes including an electric uke bass and a resonator. Some people brought two or three ukes. I brought my new Pono with a high G. At this jam any G is welcome. I didn’t see a baritone uke but in the future I may bring mine. Love my baritone.
All levels of ability are welcome. Nani has played 40 years and I have played two. It didn’t matter. Playing with others is how we learn and grow as musicians. It is so important. Nani also teaches ukulele at Victor Litz music. She knows what she is doing!
After an hour we took a 15 minute break to sign-in, get some water and leave the $5 donation to cover the cost of the room. My fingers were glad for the break. They were hurting, which is a good thing. We resumed for another 45 minutes and ended right on time- 4 p.m.
After stacking chairs and saying goodbye it was time to hit the road home. All in all it was about a six-hour adventure for me. It was worth every minute. Nani also told me of another jam closer to me that I may check out next Saturday. If I do I will let you know.
After all the research and anticipation was the Maryland Uke Jam worth it? You bet!