Ukulele Lessons

Children can take free ukulele lessons every Monday at 4:30 p.m. at the library, and, starting in the spring, all library patrons can benefit from a new library of things, namely small kitchen appliances to check out.

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Columbia County residents can now go to the Scappoose Public Library for more than just books.

Thanks to two grants received in December from the Columbia County Cultural Coalition and the Oregon Public Library Innovation Fund, children can take free ukulele lessons every Monday at 4:30 p.m. at the library, and, starting in the spring, all library patrons can benefit from a new library of things, namely small kitchen appliances to check out.

Children can take part in the ukulele lessons regardless of their residence, and the library of things will be open to St. Helens residents as well as Scappoose residents because of a reciprocal agreement that the Scappoose Public Library has with the St. Helens Public Library, Jeff Weiss, Scappoose Public Library Director said.

The grant from the Columbia County Cultural Coalition totals $2,000 and funds the free ukulele lessons for children. While the library has always had ukulele lessons for adults, local parent Alexandra Collins wanted one for children too, and was able to reach out to Aaron Cantwell, St. Helens local who plays in the kindie rock band, Micah and Me!, to start a children’s group in September of 2019. At that time, lessons cost $10 for children.

Free lessons began this past Monday, Jan. 6, and will be held every Monday until the end of May. In addition to bringing the musical expertise to instruct children, Cantwell brings ukuleles for children to use for free while taking lessons.

Jeff Weiss, Scappoose Public Library Director, said the lessons were a way to expand children’s programming.

“Without a grant, we can’t afford to underwrite that expense, so the grant offered us to do lessons for free instead of for a fee,” Weiss said.

According to Weiss, paid ukulele lessons for children have seen as many as 20 attendees. Their adult ukulele group usually has 15 to 20 participants. The Monday, Jan. 6 children’s lesson drew a crowd of approximately 30 parents and children.

The grant funds lessons through May. However, Weiss said the library would like to keep the program ongoing with the help from business and community donations. While there are no specific plans yet to fundraise, Weiss said Collins would be approaching businesses to be sponsors after the grant runs out. Lessons cost the library $400 a month, and the library will have to raise $4,000 to continue the lessons for free from June till December.

Even for five months, the classes will expand children’s programming for the library and help children build musical skills, Weiss said.

“Developing music skills goes along with other activities and brain development,” Weiss said.

The library also received a $13,000 grant from the Oregon Public Library Innovation Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, which will be combined with the Scappoose Public Library’s Friends of the Library contribution of $2,000, for a total of $15,000.

The grant will accomplish two goals: expand the existing kitchen inside the library meeting room and create a circulating library of small kitchen appliances to increase nutrition education opportunities and access to healthy foods, according to Weiss.

For more information, call the Scappoose Public Library at 503-543-7123.

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