Don’t worry, be happy by playing your way through the pandemic with a ukulele.


By Michael Giles

IT’S a happy little instrument, the ukulele, but don’t underestimate its power to entertain an audience and to uplift its players.

Right through the COVID-19 pandemic, even during lockdown (especially during lockdown), it’s been doing just that according to one of the organisers of the WonAleles Group, Mandy Farr.

“People I’ve spoken to said that without the weekly ukulele meetings, they wouldn’t have coped,” Mandy said.

“They say the ukulele meetings, playing together over Zoom when we had to, which we did weekly for six months or more, really saved them.

“It’s a happy little instrument, as you say, and it’s impossible not to come away smiling from our weekly play-around sessions.”

As they say: If everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a better place, certainly a happier place anyway.

Last Thursday at Mitchell House in Wonthaggi, the Sentinel-Times caught a stanza or two of the old Creedence standard, ‘Looking out my backdoor’:

Just got home from Illinois, lock the front door, oh boy!

Got to sit down, take a rest on the porch.

Imagination sets in, pretty soon I’m singin’

Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door…

Toes were tapping, fingers were flying, and wrists were strumming, with a bass line coming through nicely from Mandy and a smattering of harmonies as well, from a COVID-reduced circle of 10 players.

Sounded great!

“We’ve got about 20 members here in Wonthaggi and newcomers are always welcome, but we’ve had to restrict numbers in recent weeks.

“I think our limit goes up to 30 next week, which will more than cover us,” she said.

The WonAleles Group has been going for about four years now, with weekly sessions (meet at 9.30am for 10am start) on Tuesday at the Warrawee Club in Inverloch and on Thursday at Mitchell House in Wonthaggi.

Mandy has ukuleles to lend and can assist those interested in continuing with some advice purchasing.

“We like to support Shorelec San Remo (10/95a Marine Parade 5678 5361) by buying our instruments locally from them.”

Don’t tell anyone, but Mandy secretly has 16, yes 16, ukuleles!

Mandy Farr and Graham Riddell provide lessons for newcomers and assist with developing skills and trying new tunes.

“It doesn’t take long to get going. You’ll be able to play a song after one lesson and start to get into it right away. It’s an easy instrument to start playing but also a challenge to learn properly.”

The group stops for morning tea after a skills session and finishes the morning with a play-around, where each person selects a tune they’d like to play. It’s then off to have lunch at the Wonthaggi Club or Whalebones Hotel.

So, if you think learning the ukulele might appeal to you, contact Mandy Farr on 0419384946, and start having some fun.