“Here’s one I made earlier”. While this may sound like the beginning of a Blue Peter nightmare, fear not. Sly Community Arts has been teaching the nation how much fun can be had from recycled materials.
In May 2009, after being inspired by Nick Penny, a man who creates his own instruments from recycled materials, Sly Arts director Steve Nutter teamed up with Dairy Crest to create the Utterly Butterly Ukulele Project (TUBUP). This aims to show people of all ages that you can make good quality sounding music from the most ordinary objects, and have a lot of fun at the same time.
At workshops, people get the chance to turn an empty tub of dairy spread, a length of wood, fishing line and curtain hooks into a fully-playable ukulele.
Age and previous musical experience (or lack of) is not a barrier, as participants are shown some basic chord structures and taught a few songs, including the “Utterly Butterly Ukulele Song”, composed especially for the occasion.
This then leads to a jam session at the end of the workshop, some of which are recorded and uploaded to the TUBUP website, allowing participants to look back on their experiences and to showcase their performance to friends and family.
Currently, over 2000 ukuleles have been created across the UK as part of the project. Half of these were produced over a three month period in Corby when 1000 people of all ages and abilities got involved in creating music, resulting in the biggest jam session ever.
TUBUP will be visiting Durham University later this year to run a workshop for 250 legal professionals as part of a team-building exercise, and is also currently in talks with the BBC about the possibility of appearing on Children in Need in Wales with the project.
TUBUP has visited Ukulele festivals across the nation, receiving praise for the quality and sound of the finished products, and some professional ukulele players have even incorporated the TUBUP produced instruments into their live act.
Steve says “I have been delivering community arts projects for over 20 years, and this project is certainly the most inclusive. It seems to have a universal appeal everybody, and is good fun”.
More information, including image and video galleries can be found on the TUBUP website: www.tubup.org