In Hopkinton, community connects with ukuleles

Ric Waldman leads the Ukulele group at the Hopkinton community room at the town library on Tuesday, February 20. The group meets once a month to play and sing.

Ric Waldman leads the Ukulele group at the Hopkinton community room at the town library on Tuesday, February 20. The group meets once a month to play and sing. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

Kim Kimura of Hanover practices his ukelele before practice on Tuesday. Kimura is a member of several ukelele groups but likes this group, so he drives down from Hanover.

Kim Kimura of Hanover practices his ukelele before practice on Tuesday. Kimura is a member of several ukelele groups but likes this group, so he drives down from Hanover.

Laurel Flax tunes up the ukulele before the group gathers for practice at the Hopkinton community room at the library on Tuesday, February 20.

Laurel Flax tunes up the ukulele before the group gathers for practice at the Hopkinton community room at the library on Tuesday, February 20. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Laurel Flax tunes up the ukelehe before the group gathers for practice at the Hopkinton community room at the library on Tuesday, February 20.

Laurel Flax tunes up the ukelehe before the group gathers for practice at the Hopkinton community room at the library on Tuesday, February 20.

Ric Waldman welcomes the Ukelele group at the Hopkinton community room at the town library on Tuesday, February 20, 2024. The group meets once a month to play and sing.

Ric Waldman welcomes the Ukelele group at the Hopkinton community room at the town library on Tuesday, February 20, 2024. The group meets once a month to play and sing. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

By SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN

Monitor staff

Published: 02-26-2024 4:24 PM

Echoes of melodic strumming and the gentle fluttering of sheet music fill the walls of Hopkinton’s library in the evenings, as the Contookuleles gather at their monthly meetups, for a celebration of their shared passion for music and the ukulele.

Ric Waldman commands the spotlight, strumming beloved classics and new compositions alongside the group, exchanging knowledge and tunes as both teacher and eager student.

“Anyone can pick up the ukulele. It’s four strings. It’s easy to hold and it has a really appealing sound,” said Waldman, a Hopkinton resident.

After his retirement, shortly after the pandemic, Waldman picked up the musical instrument and started learning to play different chords.

In his journey with the instrument, he soon discovered the joy of communal play, sparking the inception of the Contookuleles.

Twice a month on Tuesdays, the group offers a space where expertise takes a backseat to enthusiasm. Beginners and seasoned players alike find common ground in the universal language of music.

“It’s a great excuse to be social. People really enjoy and it’s fun to play in those settings,” said Waldman, former program director at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord. “We’re not pretentious about what we do. We try to do songs that everyone knows so people can sing along.”

Residents from all corners of New Hampshire come together for their shared love of the four-stringed musical instrument, tapping their feet to the songs they love.

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“You learn different songs, different ways of playing the same songs. It’s the social aspect too. Everybody getting together and having a great time. I don’t think you can make enemies in ukulele groups,” said Kim Kimura from Lebanon, who travels at least 45 miles twice every month, making sure not to miss any of the ukulele jamming sessions.

For Waldman, it’s a way to stay active and find purpose after retirement. But most importantly it’s to stay connected with people.

With every strum of the ukulele played side by side, differences vanish between people with a shared love for the instrument, whether it be political affiliations or cultural beliefs.

“In this challenging day and age where it feels like a struggle to create community, having just a small organization like the Contookuleles work in our community feels really rewarding,” Waldman said.