BEYOND TINY TIM When Kate Yoder, executive director of the Concord Conservatory of Music, sings — or, more accurately, strums — the praises of the ukulele, she is not just dutifully promoting her organization’s newest program. She is speaking as a recent convert herself — and one of the very first students to sign up for the conservatory’s inaugural ukulele course last fall.
“So many people will tell you they have ukuleles at home on a closet shelf,” Yoder said. “It’s not an intimidating instrument to learn. It’s easy and social; it’s fun to play in a group.”
And it’s not just throwbacks to the ’60s or Hawaiian folk singers exploring the possibilities of the ukulele, either. Pop singers including Eddie Vedder and LP have devoted entire albums to the instrument, Yoder noted. Chaim Burstein, a guitar teacher at the conservatory, offered to teach the course. Last fall’s class attracted 14 adults, ranging from their 30s to their 60s.
Yoder, whose primary instrument is the saxophone, was surprised by how much music theory the class covered. “We learned chord progressions,” she said. “We learned to play songs by Taylor Swift, the Beatles, Stevie Wonder.”
LIGHTER SIDE OF STEM The Goodnow Library in Sudbury hosts its first STEM Fair on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m., celebrating the rising presence of science, technology, engineering, and math in public school curricula. Admissions is free. Goodnow Library is located at 21 Concord Road, Sudbury. For more information, call 978-443-1035 or go to goodnowlibrary.org.
ALL TOGETHER NOW The Wick Festival, an annual celebration of music that features the talents of local high school a cappella ensembles, takes place Friday and Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m. at St. Mark’s School in Southborough. Each night is capped off with a performance by a collegiate group. Schools taking part this year along with St. Mark’s include Pomfret, Middlesex, Roxbury Latin, and Algonquin Regional High School, along with Dartmouth College and Boston University. The event is free and open to the public. Parking is available at the library lot at the corner of routes 85 and 30, where a shuttle will run to and from St. Mark’s Putnam Family Arts Center. For more information, call 508-786-6343. St. Mark’s School is located at 25 Marlboro Road, Southborough.
A HISTORY OF CEILINGS Hudson resident Michael Volk, mechanical engineer and history buff, will present a program on the functional but fireproof tile ceilings of Spanish-born architect Rafael Guastavino at the Hudson Historical Society meeting on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in First Federated Church hall, 200 Central St., Hudson.
Volk’s presentation will include a photos of several local structures with tile ceilings designed by Guastavino. Admission is free.
LOCAL COMPOSER HONORED The Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra presents the world premiere of Symphony Number 2, a creation of composer, conductor, musician, and educator Thomas Hojnacki, formerly of Franklin, on Saturday at the Milford Town Hall Grand Ballroom at 7:30 p.m. Other works by Hojnacki that will be included in the program are “The River Runs; Mountains Rise,” “New Orleans March,” “Adagio for Strings,” and “Concerto for Orchestra.” The Milford Town Hall Grand Ballroom is located at 52 Main St., Milford. Tickets are $25-$39. For tickets or more information, call 508-478-5924, or go to www.claflinhill.org.
THE POSITIVE BEHIND THE NEGATIVE The New Art Center announces the opening of “The Power of Negative Thinking,” an exhibition celebrating the joys of pessimism. The seven featured artists address some of the more unpleasant aspects of life, creating work that in some way challenges societal notions of happiness, either through humor, avoidance, or direct confrontation. Gallery Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 1 to 6 p.m. For more information, call 617-964-3424 or go to www.newartcenter.org. The New Art Center is located at 61 Washington Park, Newtonville.
COMMERCIAL VISIONS In “New Visionaries: Photographers Who Bridge Art + Commerce,” on exhibit from Feb. 5 through April 21, Mount Ida College presents photographers whose work is renowned for turning commercial images into art, through their work for major clients such as J. Crew, The New York Times, Hermés, and W Magazine. The exhibit commemorates the inaugural year Mount Ida’s new commercial arts major. An opening reception takes place Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. the gallery is located in the School of Design at Mount Ida College, 777 Dedham St., Newton. For more information, go to www.mountida.edu.
GUITAR MAGIC Four world-acclaimed guitarists convene at the Center for the Arts in Natick (TCAN) on Saturday for International Guitar Night (IGN). Performers are IGN founder Brian Gore will be joined by classical innovator and fellow Californian Andrew York; Brazilian jazz master Diego Figueiredo, and contemporary Iranian-Canadian steel string prodigy Maneli Jamal. Tickets are $28 general admission; $26 members. TCAN is located at 14 Summer St., Natick. For more information, call 508-647-0097 or go to www.natickarts.org.
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