Steven Sutton and Anna Lyman are introducing the ukulele to the world of jazz. The duo

Steven Sutton and Anna Lyman are introducing the ukulele to the world of jazz. The duo

Miniature instrument holds mass potential

Anna Lyman, a Nanaimo singer known for her Latin quartet, discovered her new obsession, the ukulele, through one of her vocal students.

Sometimes the music teacher learns something from her students.

Anna Lyman, a Nanaimo singer known for her Latin quartet, discovered her new obsession, the ukulele, through one of her vocal students.

“One of my students kept bringing his ukulele to his lessons,” she said.

The instrument, which looks a little like a miniature guitar, was captivating to Lyman.

“I just had to have one,” she said.

The size of the instrument makes it portable and easy to transport to rehearsals and performances.

“I’ve always been attracted to miniatures,” Lyman said. “I put my ukulele in my carry on. It’s with you all the time.”

But more than just a novelty, the charming instrument is effective for playing with large groups.

“I like its bright, little voice,” Lyman said. “You can do so much on it.”

Lyman, who earned a bachelor of music from Vancouver Island University, injured her hand, which made playing guitar painful.  But with the ukulele, which is significantly smaller, she was able to play without trouble.

“A lot of my guitar skills transferred over,” she said.

In the music program, students learn to teach themselves new instruments and it was that training that helped Lyman learn the new instrument so quickly.

“I probably covered three or four years in about a year,” she said.

The ukulele may be known for traditional Hawaiian music or, unfortunately, for that Tiny Tim song about tiptoeing through a flower garden, but Lyman hopes to change that.

Her ukulele circle meets monthly and the bass player from her Latin quartet formed the duo Jazzalele, where they aim to incorporate the little instrument into the jazz genre.

They are also hosting a free concert, featuring Kimo Hussey, a Hawaiian-based ukulele player who taught Lyman his techniques on the instrument.

Hussey is also hosting a workshop the morning prior to the concert.

Joining Jazzalele at the concert is also the ukulele group that meets regularly at Bowen Seniors.

The concert is set for Aug. 7, 2 p.m., at Maffeo Sutton Park. Bring a blanket to sit on.

For more information or to register for the workshop, please call 250-754-4982.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com