Ukuleles and unicorns

I love alliteration.  How often can you use ‘U’ words in consecutive fashion?

In case you’re wondering, I have been playing the ukulele for about seven years, firstly starting out with a bright blue Makala ukulele adorned with a smiling dolphin.  Over the years I progressed to ‘more serious’ ukuleles and contained my playing to the occaimg_2138sional jam session in the lounge of my house.  Sorry Roy Orbison, The Everly Brothers, Patsy Cline and A-Ha… your music was massacred by ‘yours truly’.

What I quickly realised was that playing the ukulele alone at home was a tad restrictive.  I had long been a fan of The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra and admired how their group seemed to have so much fun playing and singing along together. How dare they be so musically talented and quirky.

About two years ago I remember chatting with my fantastic friend and ex-colleague Yolanda, and she was telling me how she was teaching Early Childhood Teachers to incorporate the ukulele into their activities with children.

We thought we’d take a chance and start a weekly Ukulele sing-along group at work, starting with a month trial.  We were prepared for the fact that it might fizzle out, heck, who takes the uke seriously?  But lo and behold, the group has gone from strength to strength and we are running to this day!

We’ve had lots of different staff members play with our group and we usually have at least five people show up each Monday for a one hour session.   It’s been such a treat to see ukulele enthusiasts come out of the woodwork, but we’ve also attracted people who prefer just to come along and sing too.


Monday jam time

The sound that is created when you bring together a group of like-minded people is incredible.  The strums are delicate and delicious.  The singing melodious and warm.  I feel so safe when I play with the group, in fact it has helped me to overcome my fear of singing in public!  You honestly can’t get mad at a ukulele, so perhaps that helps to create a supportive atmosphere.

Under the tutelage of Yolanda, we performed at the Up Market last December, and at the
Ukulele Ceili this year (we played two songs by Turtles in front of 100 people).  This Sunday we’re performing at the Hobsonville Point Farmers Market, and we’ve been invited to play at Unitec’s staff awards in December.

Good times at the Ukulele Ceili

I guess the point I’m trying to make from all of this is that organisations have an opportunity to support the wellbeing and development of their staff by offering an array of activities to engage in.  I have grown in confidence as an amateur uke player and singer and I’m grateful that my workplace was able to provide the space and time for the group.  Yes, development opportunities CAN come from non-job related activities at work.

As for the unicorn reference?  I work for Unitec and the word that quickly popped into my head was unicorn.  The name stuck and is now our group’s name.  Pure, simple and magical.

If you happen to be free this Sunday then come and hear us play at the Hobsonville Point Farmers Market, between 9am – 1pm.  You can also follow us on our Facebook page:


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