Ukulele students surprise Art of Dessert patrons

At this year’s Art of Dessert gala on April 9, something magical and unexpected happened. We started off by asking for a handful of our Bellevue Elementary School ukulele students to perform for guests. When invited, 50 youngsters threw up their hands. On the night of the event, while players squished shoulder to shoulder on the stage, movement from above caught guests’ attention. They looked up to see a crowd of proud families poised to applaud from the balcony.

“We had to make a few adjustments to the performance platform, but there was no way we were going to turn away a single child who was bursting at the seams to perform,” said Ashleigh Worley, Director of Education and Community Engagement. After the students finished performing “One Day,” originally by Matisyahu, the room erupted in cheers.

“Typically, our Music Matters Ukulele Instruction class includes a big performance at the end of the school year,” said Hannah Keefer, Curriculum Specialist. “But with COVID restrictions constantly changing for our schools, we chose not to plan a large gathering this year. It turns out that Art of Dessert was the students’ one and only chance to perform this year – and their families’ only chance to watch.”

For the last five years at Bellevue, teaching artist Andrew DeVeny has led the students in basic musicianship, instrument care, tuning, and playing ukulele. He helps them craft a song integrated with one of their study topics, such as the life cycles of the frog, math equations, spelling or grammar. In addition to lending every student an instrument, LBC also makes sure teachers are equipped so the class can keep their instruments in tune and can continue practicing even when Andrew isn’t there. The Music Matters: Ukulele Instruction class is one of LBC’s Artists in the Schools programs made possible through the generosity of Joanne Dow and Julia L. Grant. Without their support, where would all the ukulele magic come from?


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