“Go small or go home” isn’t a usual sentiment. But considering the fun that can be had with the tiny ukulele at Sip & Strum, maybe it should be. Chrissy Misso from Chrissy’s Studio has paired ukulele lessons with the one thing that might make them even more fun: beer.
While sipping one of Little Thistle’s tasty Garth Brooks Juice Diet Hazy Double IPAs, you can make your own bid for musical stardom. There are three more sessions this summer: July 14 and 28, and Aug. 18. Whether you used to play or have never even seen a ukulele before, you can walk in the door at 3 p.m. and leave two hours later with a few easy songs under your belt. Who knows? You might become the next Jake Shimabukuro.
Misso has taught music lessons since 2009. “I started teaching because I remember how I felt growing up and having music in my life,” she says. “Music is one of those easy and joyous things to share with someone else.” She moved her teaching from in-home lessons to her own brick-and-mortar studio last year.
“With the variety of events at micro-breweries that are popular,” says studio assistant Angie Ballard, “it made sense to bring a musical aspect to them and really build something in the community.” Misso says that manager Ben Ankeny at Little Thistle “welcomed our musical endeavor,” and she praises the relatively new brewery’s “relaxed environment.”
While Misso makes it clear that the Sip & Strum has the goal of teaching chords, strum patterns, and a few songs, she says the classes offer something else as well.
“I want to help draw out the courage to try something new, to revive a previous hobby or skill, and to bring the simple joys of a favorite song back to someone,” she says. For Ballard, the class allows the opportunity to branch out from more common instruments like piano and guitar. “Part of building a rich and vibrant community is having the opportunity to be different,” she adds.
At a recent Sip & Strum session, seven ukulele players sat around a table scattered with Spring Grove soda bottles, half-empty beer glasses, and sheets of music as they played the chords they’d just learned to Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours.” Ballard called out the next chord as Misso sang the melody and the class strummed along. At the end of the song, there was laughter and smiles all around the table; then the group all strummed and sang “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
At upcoming Sip & Strum gatherings, you can learn to play music from “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack and rock n’ roll standard “Feelin’ Groovy.” And hopefully by the end of the session, that’s exactly how you’ll feel. “Most walk in a little quiet and shy,” says Ballard, “but by the end, the conversation is flowing freely, people are laughing and joking with each other, and that’s the power of music - it builds a community itself.”
In addition to ukulele, Chrissy’s Studio offers lessons in piano, violin, viola, and voice. Learn more at chrissysstudio.mymusicstaff.com.