Latest News

July 2019

The Rise of Ukuleles in New Zealand Schools. By Cassandra Moore. [Tue, 30 July 2019]

  • The Rise of Ukuleles in New Zealand Schools. By Cassandra Moore. -

The Rise of Ukuleles in New Zealand Schools.

Art and music are an essential part of the curriculum in New Zealand. They enrich students lives, allow then to be creative and expressive in a very original way. They also have a knock-on for other subjects, in fact studies have shown that students that actively participate in music and the arts average 7-12 points higher on the key academic subjects, including English, math and the sciences. To be able to afford a widespread music programme in Otago, many schools have begun to teach a humble, but very special instrument - the ukulele and is has been a resounding success. If the Annual Otago Uke Jam is anything to go by, it is certain the ukulele is here to stay.

Why the ukulele?

The ukulele is relatively inexpensive to purchase - you can buy one for less than $15. They are small enough to be played by 7 year olds, but have enough versatility that they are enjoyed by adults too. You just have to listen to the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra to see what can be achieved, or even pay a visit to the Geraldine Ukefest - the biggest festival of its kind in New Zealand. It is a community instrument that is simple to learn, yet you can play some extraordinary music, from beautiful lyrical and haunting melodies, to strummed chords that are great for singing along to.

How is the Ukulele taught?

The ukulele is taught in a very similar way to the guitar. Firstly, students can learn to read sheet music and play simple tunes. The patterns of reading a score are very logical, in a similar way to math. Students can also learn to read tablature (known as tab) - these are small symbols that represent the strings of a ukulele that show where you need to place your fingers. You don't need to be able to read music in order to play chords using tab. This is one of the reasons that ukulele is so accessible to students of all ages.

Learning through collaboration.

Like the best community art projects, bringing the ukulele into schools means that students can learn to play through group work and collaboration. One of the joys of music is playing with other people. Once you have mastered a few of the most simple chords, you have got yourself a ukulele band and can play tunes together. This helps with social bonding and a feeling of togetherness.

The ukulele is an instrument for everyone and is certainly making an impact on musical education. You can learn to play some great music and be part of the creative community in Otago.

New Group of Artists Formed in Central Otago. [Mon, 1 July 2019]

  • New Group of Artists Formed in Central Otago. -

Indigo - Central Otago Artists.

Indigo is an informal and fluid collaboration of artists who mount group exhibitions of their work. Taking a fresh and innovative approach to presenting art, Indigo artists curate and show their work in a variety of exhibition spaces. While there is a core group, Indigo may invite other artists to participate in selected exhibitions. Working in this way provides Indigo with flexibility in organising exhibitions as well as varying numbers and combinations of artists participating in group shows.

Artists who comprise Indigo are Luke Anthony, Shaun Burdon, Judy Cockerham, Rachel Hirabayashi, Annemarie Hope-Cross, Megan Huffadine, Jillian Porteous, Nigel Wilson and Lynne Wilson. Details of these exhibitions are planned for the next two years throughout the South Island. Look out for upcoming exhibitions in winter at Wanaka, spring in Cromwell and Gallery on Blueskin and over the summer at Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery.