IUPUC students, faculty and staff are bonding over learning to play the ukulele.

The new group known as the IUPUC Ukulele Players was created in January, said Aimee Zoeller, who directs IUPUC’s sociology program. The club meets on the second and fourth Thursday of each month and has 12 members.

Participants learn how to play a ukulele regardless of skill level, said Emily Edwards, an IUPUC senior from Metamora studying psychology who also is an instructor for the group.

She helped guide the group in practicing strumming techniques and different chords during the group’s Jan. 25 meeting. A ukulele has four strings and is smaller than a regular sized guitar.

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Edwards learned about Zoeller’s interest in starting the group from Cheryl Warner, an IUPUC associate professor of psychology and director of the mental health counseling center, and eventually reached out to volunteer her time.

“It’s really great for beginners,” Edwards said of the group.

Joining the group doesn’t require any specific background knowledge about music or how to play, she said.

Members of the group also include administrators such as Naomi Cohenour, executive director of IUPUC’s Division of Administration and Finance, who recently decided to join. Cohenour, who has never played a ukulele before, hopes to develop her skills so she can play at Body of Christ Fellowship in Bedford.

But the group also is one way to socialize as well, she said.

“It’s a good opportunity for me to get out and interact with the campus community,” Cohenour said.

Zoeller, who created the group with fellow IUPUC employee Chuck Sturgeon, is also learning to play with the help of Edwards.

She hopes the IUPUC Ukulele Players can perform at different community locations once participants learn a few songs. The group is thinking about performing at area nursing homes, Zoeller said.

“We plan to take the show on the road once we know a few things,” Zoeller said.

Participants in the group have brought their own ukuleles to the meetings, but a basic ukulele for beginners can be purchased for around $40 to $50 at music stores or online, Edwards said. However, the cost of a ukulele varies depending on the quality, she said.

Edwards said her family has always been involved in music and was introduced to the ukulele for the first time at age 13 after attending a music camp in Martinsville. However, it wasn’t until the following Christmas that she received her own ukulele, Edwards said.

“The following year at age 15 I came back to camp and learned all these songs and just started this ukulele movement at camp,” Edwards said.

Most of the club members share a common thread of having either a musical background or an interest in music, Edwards said.

“Once you get strumming techniques down, you can play most of the songs out there — pop songs, country songs — and I think it’s a good creative outlet and it’s a way people to bring people together,” Edwards said.

Want to learn more?

The IUPUC Ukelele Players meet on the second and fourth Thursday of each month from 11 a.m. to noon in the Office of Women’s Studies, CC235. It is open to IUPUC students, faculty and staff with participants encouraged to bring their ukeleles.

For more information, contact Aimee Zoeller at anzoelle@iupuc.edu.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com