The ukulele group from the Church of the Risen Christ, which comprises mainly retirees. The group will be performing in a Christmas Eve pageant.

A ukulele group from the Church of the Risen Christ will be performing at the parish’s Christmas Eve pageant.

The group, comprising retirees, joined the 9.45 am Sunday Mass choir in May. However, the musicians themselves started meeting about a year ago when some friends began gathering to play the instrument.

The group caters to those who have an interest in music but who find it difficult to master the guitar, said Madam Christine Chew, 68, who helped to set up the group.

The group at a practice session.

The ukulele, a four-string instrument, is affordable in price, small enough to allow for portability and easy to learn. The members started off by learning a few chords and they gradually discovered “the lovely sounds” the instrument can produce, said Madam Chew, who coaches the group.

Choir mistress Esther Leong said that the ukulele is easy to master compared to other instruments, and in just two sessions, one is “able to play and strum a simple tune”.

So far the ukulele has been providing accompaniment to one or two hymns during Sunday Mass.

As for the Christmas pageant, Ms Leong said the choir wanted a presentation different from the traditional carol-singing, and thought it would be interesting to include the sounds of the ukulele.

The group will perform carols such as Silent Night and When a Child is Born on the ukulele.

The ukulele lessons are free. The group of about 14 members meets for practice every Thursday. It is almost an entire day affair as they learn a new song, break for lunch and fellowship, and spend the afternoon brushing up on their skills individually.

Madam Chew said the challenge is to get the players to harmonise together given that each has his or her “own style, timing and standard”. But the members try their best to blend with one other’s playing, she added.

“Fellowship and good bonding is our main aim and we make it very clear we are all brothers and sisters in Christ sharing our gifts and providing heavenly music for the community,” said Madam Chew.

“We encourage them to go forth and serve the community with the ukulele songs they have learnt.”

In fact, two of the group’s members go to St Joseph’s Home in Jurong regularly to play for its residents.

One of them, Ms Veronica Chang, 64, said she is glad to be able to bring cheer through music.

Ms Chang, who did not have prior music background, said learning the ukulele helps her to “de-stress”, and added that she looks forward to the practice and fellowship each week.

Mr Robert Chia, 68, admits that he is a little nervous about performing at the pageant, but said that learning the instrument has “enriched my life” and “helped boost my morale”.

Another member, Mrs Constance Stanslaus, 83, said she feels that strumming the ukulele is good for her fingers and that such activity stimulates her brain.

She also enjoys the fellowship, the singing and the beautiful music, she added.

By Darren Boon
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