Woman inspires local seniors with ukulele classes

Medford, Ore. – It’s been three years since Barb Meredith first walked into a Medford retirement community with her ukulele.

“My group came to play for a group of people at fountain plaza,” she explained. “When I see how people respond to music from their era it is so satisfying.”

But it was a comment from one woman in the audience that turned what was supposed to be a performance into a class.

“She was in her mid-90s and said, ‘I don’t want to listen, I want to learn.’”

Years later Barb has gone from teaching a group of three ladies to leading an entire senior ukulele chorus.

“My goal is to enrich people’s lives,” Barb said. “I had no plans of learning the ukulele but I said, ‘Well I’ll try it.’ It’s been wonderful.”

Sylvia Sarratt was a part of the original ukulele group, drawn to the music for an important reason. She explained, “Learning a new instrument helps your brain.”

It’s also built strong friendships for Sarratt. She and the rest of the class performed at the wedding ceremony of one their members

While many of the memories this group has shared have brought smiles, some have also brought tears.

“We have played around the death bed of some of our members,” Barb said. “We have been to the hospitals.”

Just over a year ago, Connie, the woman who first inspired Barb to start the class, asked her friends to serenade her one last time.

“She was just listening. She was kind of crying, and she wanted to hear Lovely Hula Hands,” Barb said. “There is a real sense of perspective that our time really is limited and you can make choices. No matter how old you are or what your health is to certain extent, you can still choose to learn you can still choose to be positive.”

Barb said she hopes that other retirement homes will consider building their own ukulele classes and groups, helping other seniors keep their minds sharp and encouraging new friendships.

Leave a Comment:

Note: By commenting below you agree to abide by the KOBI5.com commenting guidelines. View the KOBI5.com Comment Board Guidelines »