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Cask and Cleaver hosts ukulele and guitar workshops

Every Thursday night patrons enjoy a musical class

South Cariboo visitors to the Cask and Cleaver on Thursdays will get treated to an impromptu music session.

Several musicians, led by lifelong country musician Tracy Lynn, come to the pub each week to learn how to play the guitar and ukulele.

“People seem to like coming in, having a drink and then taking a lesson,” Lynn said, adding the Cask and Cleaver has embraced the idea of having her lessons there. “The whole culture of that business is so community-minded. It’s just a comfortable place to be. Anyone can just come in, sit and listen or participate and I like that.”

Cask and Cleaver co-owner Daniel Braaten said the classes are part of a wider push to enliven the community. Since the beginning of this month, Lynn has had nine people sign up for her guitar lessons and four for ukulele lessons. While the two instruments are similar in appearance, she said a ukulele’s four-string design and smaller size makes it different from a guitar.

“It kind of adds to the unique experience of the Cask and Cleaver,” Braaten said. “It’s not something you’d typically see at a pub but we want to give people something to do during the winter. I think it’s neat, quirky and I love music. We’re just kind of facilitating a place that has a nice atmosphere and space to host that.”

Lynn teaches her students the fundamentals, including musical notes and fingering, by focusing on a single song that they can sing around a campfire the next day with friends. Guitar student Val Dennison, who took her first lesson with Lynn last week, said this approach was perfect for her and her husband Dori.

“It was awesome. She’s a very good teacher and I think it’s good to learn in a group centre rather than painfully making mistakes on your own,” Dennison said. “It’s a little bit more forgiving because the group can keep going and if you make a mistake you can just catch up.”

Dennison found out about the classes after Lynn attended a jam session with them in the Interlakes. Learning to play in a bar creates a similar, comfortable atmosphere to the jam night.

“I thought it was a really nice place to have it. You could order food or drinks while you were there, it was really nice. We felt like we came away and learned a lot.”

While Dennison is learning the guitar, Lynn said ukuleles tend to lend themselves well to folk songs and jam sessions.

While now a popular part of Hawaiian culture, the ukulele has its origins in a series of similar instruments from Portugal introduced to the island in the 1880s. It has since become popular across the world and has been used in Canada to teach music in classrooms.

“When you come for a lesson from me you’re going to be learning skills and chords but it’s going to be relative to a song,” Lynn said. “You’re going to learn a song in that lesson that’s going to have skills and components you’ll have to work on whether that’s cording or strumming.”

With a ukulele and a guitar, she said the key is to learn how to move your fingers independently of one another but also in concert. This fingering can be tricky to master at first. She encourages her students to practice on their own time as well. Rather than setting aside a half hour a day, however, she suggests they play for a few minutes at a time whenever they have the chance.

“If you play two minutes a day you will improve. Don’t set yourself up for failure, set yourself up to succeed and be realistic about what you’re hoping to and accomplish, especially with practice,” Lynn said.

Anyone looking to sign up for a class is asked to contact Lynn at 250-898-9068 or Students can rent a ukulele or guitar if they don’t have their own. The cost is $25 a lesson.

Her next ukulele class is scheduled for Feb. 23, followed by a guitar workshop on March 2.

Braaten is hopeful more people will take the opportunity to learn from a great musician like Lynn.

“Tracy is an awesome person, a great musician and she’s got a lot to offer. It’s a great opportunity for some lessons on a couple of unique instruments.”

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Patrick Davies

About the Author: Patrick Davies

An avid lover of theatre, media, and the arts in all its forms, I've enjoyed building my professional reputation in 100 Mile House.
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