ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – While on vacation in California, Judy and Michael Muldawer came across a group of retirees learning to play musical instruments. They loved the notion that someone was taking the time to share their passion for performance and music, and decided to bring the idea back to Albuquerque.
In 2017, the couple founded the Duke City Ukes, a free program run through Albuquerque Public Libraries that teaches people how to play the ukulele.
“I just love it, I just get a kick out of it, it’s very satisfying for me to see everybody happy.”Judy Muldawer, Ukulele Instructor
So far, the Muldawers have donated ukuleles to seven different libraries throughout Albuquerque. Anyone with a library card can check out the instruments for three weeks at a time and have the chance to take a beginner’s lesson with Judy and Michael for free. Once you’ve got the hang of a few cords, the Muldawers invite you to attend their once monthly Jam Session at either the Tony Hillerman or Juan Tabo Libraries.
The program also has 10 tutors who offer one on one time to help fellow students improve outside of scheduled Duke City Uke Jam Sessions. Students range in age from 11-years-old to 90-years-old, and those participating say it’s an open environment where everyone is welcome.
“Come as you are and just have a good time.”Donna Brady, Duke City Ukes Student
The program is completely voluntary and free to all. All the Muldawers ask is that students are over the age of 8-years-old and come to class ready to learn. During each 90 minute session, Michael plays guitar and Judy plays the ukulele. They go over different cords, they sing along, they may even bust out a kazoo or two when their playing music from the roaring twenties. No matter what type of music you enjoy, the Muldawers say the ukulele is versatile enough to play just about anything.
“You can play cowboy music, you can play rock music, you can play anything with it.”Michael Muldawer, Musician
The Muldawers also perform as a team in their spare time and have won the 2015 Southwest Pickers Entertainment Duo Award. They perform for private parties as well as public venues. They say teaching people who’ve never played a musical instrument before has brightened their lives in ways they never imagined.
“The most amazing part is that people tell us it’s changed their lives.”Judy Muldawer, Ukulele Instructor