‘Ukes in the Classroom’ at Exeter School District

From left to right, Ukulele teacher Donna Lang with Exeter School District music teachers Amanda Mrenna and Nina Delewski.  On June 17, Lang worked with three of Exeter’s music teachers Amanda Mrenna, Heather Claus, and Patricia Kline to develop their ability to mentor students who now have uke experience.

Exeter School District is expanding its ukulele program with help from Meadowood Music.

“We are so excited to help Exeter School District grow its wonderful ukulele program,” said Mike Andrews of Meadowood Music.

“Ukes in the Classroom” is a collaboration between the Reading Musical Foundation, Pretzel City Productions, and Meadowood Music. The project fosters in-school ukulele programs in Berks County.

The uke program piloted at Owatin Elementary in 2017 started with just 40 Makala MK-S ukuleles, and three teachers dedicated to beginning an in-school ukulele program. Armed with resources and ideas gained from training with Meadowood Music ukulele instructor Donna Lang, Exeter teachers created something that generated much excitement. Within a year, the school district purchased ukuleles for Lorane Elementary and Reiffton Middle Schools.

In fact, students’ excitement about ukuleles led Exeter School District music boosters to purchase ukuleles to sell to students’ parents as a fundraiser during fall-winter of 2018. The boosters correctly guessed that parents would buy ukes for children who had, for months, talked of nothing but ukuleles.

This spring, Melissa Crotty, Chair of the Exeter School District Music Department, contacted Meadowood Music to inquire if Donna Lang could offer more advanced training to the six music teachers who now teach ukulele in Exeter School District’s Elementary and Middle Schools.

On June 17, Lang worked with three of Exeter’s music teachers (Amanda Mrenna, Heather Claus, and Patricia Kline) to develop their ability to mentor students who now have uke experience.

Meadowood Music is more than a means for its owners to sell and service stringed musical instruments. The retail part of the business is just one of its facets. Since founding the company in 2000, Mike Andrews and Paula Taylor have fostered professional and recreational music-making in Berks County by helping beginning through master-level musicians develop musical skills through expert instruction, and by creating, producing, sponsoring, and supporting opportunities for professional and amateur musicians to play music. Such opportunities include free community open mics and jam sessions, concerts by local, regional and national artists, music festivals, free workshops and clinics, and collaborations with other Berks County organizations.

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