Strumming Their Way to Senior Stardom: Self-Taught Retirees’ Ukulele Skills Something to Behold

There’s never a bad time to learn something new. That’s the attitude of 17 self-taught musicians at The Stayton at Museum Way who caught the recent wave of ukulele fever about a year and a half ago.

“While it’s not uncommon for former musicians to form a band, I think it’s very unusual for a group like this to learn an instrument and begin to perform together,” said Gayle Massey, a resident at The Stayton who leads the group. “We have one member who played a bit in high school. The rest of us had never touched a ukulele, let alone played one.”

The group, which has performed for area country clubs and other gatherings, patterns their concert attire after the Fort Worth Symphony. Massey says when they play, everyone smiles.

“It’s impossible to play or listen to a ukulele and not find yourself in a better mood,” Massey said. “When I look at the faces of our audiences, all I see are big grins. That’s very rewarding.”

Recent studies have supported the premise that learning a new skill as we age slows cognitive decline, which is music to the ears of The Stayton Strummers.