CHEK Upside: Oak Bay ukulele group comes together while staying apart

CHEK Upside: Oak Bay ukulele group comes together while staying apart
WatchThe Monterey Ukulele Club has found a creative way to continue practicing during the pandemic, with the help of a community centre parking lot.

There might be an echo effect and some might be out of tune, but at least they’re still together.

The Monterey Ukulele Club has not met since COVID-19 lockdown measures began, but thanks to social distancing and a coned off parking lot, music once again fills the air.

“Because we’ve been so separated for so long, the centre has kindly offered us this area for today to play in. Hopefully, it will be a weekly event,” says Trygve Renaas, the group’s music director.

John Lawrence is one of the club regulars. The British ex-pat has lived in Canada for the last 25 years. While he enjoys spending time in his garden or riding his new e-bike, there’s nothing that can replace song.

“There’s so many chords and I don’t advise you to play it if you have a bad memory or if you’ve got arthritis in the fingers. But it keeps us nimble and it keeps us, keeps our minds a bit sharper,” says Lawrence as he holds his ukulele.

Even a strong wind couldn’t blow away the spirit of the seniors who were together once again on Monday afternoon, united by the music of their generation. The group plays everything from Hawaiian music to The Beatles.

While their chances of being professional musicians might be behind them, music is all about fun.

“We’ll never be professionals at our age, but the Monterey Centre has been very good, and they said ‘set up in the car park.’ As you can see, there’s no cars around so we’re causing no trouble and we’re all six feet away,” quips John as he strums casually to Diana by Paul Anka.

The group hopes that the meetups will continue based on the availability of the Monterey Community Centre parking lot.


Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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