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Sisters teens get instrumental lesson


Sisters High students are fine-tuning a very special project in wood shop class, building not just a work of art, but bringing a sweet sound to life: ukuleles.

“We’re probably the only high school class in the United States that builds ukuleles,” volunteer instructor Bill MacDonald of Kona Breeze Ukuleles said Thursday.

MacDonald said Sisters students have been building guitars in wood shop class for eight years, but ukuleles were added more recently.

It’s no beginner project. Students work with delicate wood and thin strips of metal, building nearly each piece of the instrument.

“It’s a nice break from the regular academics,” senior Kristen Sanders said.

And senior Evan Rickards knows his class is lucky.

“I love it, it’s really fun,” he said. “It’s a privilege to be building incredible instruments that are really going to be mementos of our lives.”

The students pay $130 to take the class, and get to keep their ukulele afterward.

Many are skilled woodworkers, but not musicians — yet.

“I’m trying to learn to play, but this is more of an initiative to get going,” Sanders said.

The class is one trimester long, giving students three months of fine-tuning to turn wood into a masterpiece.

“It’s really methodical — just getting to sit back and take your time on stuff, make it look really pretty and perfect,” Rickards said.

It’s a class bridging one art to another.

“I try to teach them three chords before they leave here,” MacDonald said.

Students said they hope to keep the music playing long after high school.

“I hope to bring my uke to college with me,” Sanders said.

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