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62 backers pledged $3,540 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$3,540

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Quotes from students' essays about why they want to join the Orchestra.
Quotes from students' essays about why they want to join the Orchestra.

Your interest and support of the Ukulele Orchestra has been incredible, but we are not finished yet!  Our original goal just barely covers our equipment costs.  Lets see these kids play some concerts, let's see them perform out in the community and at festivals, let's get them better quality instruments, let's put smiles on their faces and confidence in their heart.  We still need your help to reach our stretch goals.  Any additional support will enrich the students' experience.  Let's make this Orchestra the best it can be.  If we can raise:

$2500--Refrigerator Magnets of the Ukulele Orchestra logo for ALL backers and two workshops from a local professional musician for the kids.

$3000--A digital release of the Ukulele Orchestra's CD free to ALL backers and t-shirts for the Orchestra students to wear at concerts and performances.  Set up a public Ukulele Orchestra blog for backers to follow our progress with pictures, videos, and interviews of the students.

$3500--An open invitation to ALL backers to our Semester End Concert along with copies of the Ukulele Orchestra's CD and a digital booklet complete with pictures of our journey.

$4000--A documentary film to be made about the Orchestra's creation and first semester playing.  We will take footage of every step along the way; our first meeting, footage of our performances, and interviews with the Orchestra members.  The film will be shown at our final Semester End Concert and will be posted to the blog afterwards for everyone to enjoy.

My appearance on the Queen Latifah Show

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My name is Dylan Hewitt and I have been teaching Middle School in North Carolina for four years now since graduating from UNC Chapel Hill.  Working with my students has been exciting and rewarding.  However, one issue I have seen take hold of them in the past couple years is an addiction to technology.  Students spend so much of their day staring at screens.  Their free time and money funnels into digital entertainment and new gadgets.  We are losing imagination and desire to create something by hand.  I want to provide my small town students an experience that wont come to them through screens and electronics, that is rewarding and collaborative, that will allow them to create something real.  I want to start a Ukulele Orchestra and record a CD with my students.

Hear me out!  The Ukulele is a very accessible instrument that can be picked up quickly.  Students will be hooked as they learn their first chords and start jamming day one.  The Uke is a relatively inexpensive, sturdy instrument with nylon strings that are easy on beginner hands.  Ukeleles come in various sizes making a group sound full and dynamic. Creating a recording will empower my students by creating something tangible that is their own, that they can share with friends and family, that they can have as a remembrance of the value of creating something original.

Desaree plays Uke for the first time!
Desaree plays Uke for the first time!

My goal is to begin this coming Spring semester and teach a group of about 20 students to be ready for performances at school events and recording.  I will work with the school community to recruit students that are not already involved in many extracurriculars.  More than 80% of my students live below the poverty line meaning there is a great opportunity to provide a very unique experience for my students.  Throughout the class, the students will work together to pick popular songs that they want to cover.  We will meet weekly to practice these songs in preparation to play at a few school events; the talent show, pep rallies, and a spring concert.  The students' experience will culminate in the creation of a recorded CD. The class and group rehearsals will prepare them for some 'studio time' to record three or four songs.  My brother owns a professional recording studio and has agreed to record the student's songs and produce a CD.  He is dedicated to helping the group have the album recorded and mastered by the end of the Spring semester.  The album will be finished early June.

Playing together, they will need to learn to care for the Ukeleles, use their hands and their voices, cooperate to choose songs, and build confidence through shows.  They will collaborate with artists I will bring in from the Asheville community, including some of my friends:  a concert violinist, a fiddler, and an electric guitarist.  They will feel a sense of accomplishment by sharing the CD they have created with others.

Brooke practices her scales.
Brooke practices her scales.

In order to get rolling in January, I need your help.  I'm hoping to start out with a small orchestral set of Ukuleles in different sizes.  The Ukuleles will also need extra strings, tuners, and cases to be properly maintained.  We will need music the students are interested in and a budget for recording.  With these tools, you can give my students the chance to express themselves in a meaningful way.  To record and perform.  To build confidence and originality.

Thank you for taking your time to read my proposal.  Help me to help my students record their album and have a creative experience they will not forget.

Risks and challenges

The biggest challenge will be not having enough interest from the students initially. I do not foresee this being a huge obstacle as I will be making an announcement on our morning news program, passing out flyers, and talking to students in the hallways to promote the program. Ukuleles are fun and easy to play so the students will be hooked with the first strum.

Update: Since telling the students about how interested the community is in our project, I have had over 40 students express interest in joining the Orchestra. I will now be selecting students based on need; whoever shows interest and dedication and does not already have after school activities, or has never played an instrument. Outside of the Orchestra, I will also be starting a club that meets monthly for any student to learn. I will have the Orchestra students teach the students that show up at the club meetings to help reinforce what they have learned.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Signed thank you letter from the Orchestra

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    Signed thank you letter from the Orchestra with pictures of the kids.

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    Copy of the Ukulele Orchestra's first CD.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Have one of the Orchestra's Ukeleles named in your honor.

    Also receive a copy of the Ukulele Orchestra's first CD.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Have the Ukulele Orchestra perform an exclusive show for you!

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Funding period

- (26 days)