When I first learned how to play the ukulele, I stumbled upon a woman offering a free video-based ukulele course. After learning about the instructor Lisa McCormick, and the Zoom group she led each week, I joined the Silver Linings Ukulele Community. Read below to learn more about Lisa McCormick and how she has been inspiring new ukulele players throughout the pandemic.
An Exciting Start in Music
Lisa has been teaching students the ukulele since 2017, but her musical career and instruction go back to when she started as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist when she was in her early twenties. She was “discovered” one winter’s night by folk/rock legend Jonathan Edwards. “He loved my work and offered to produce my debut CD (GRAMMY-nominated!). Jonathan and I went on to tour extensively and perform live concerts in theaters and festivals for a number of years,” she says.
Lisa was hired as the guitar education site, Guitar Tricks’ first female teacher after submitting a video audition. Her time with them involved creating curriculum and producing.
Everyone Loves the Ukulele
When her time with Guitar Tricks came to an end, she got the idea to offer a live local class in ukulele for adult beginners. This was so popular she had to find classroom space to rent. Everyone loved the ukulele! She rented large classrooms for live in-person classes. She says, “This expanded to producing many public events including Ukulele Flash Mobs, having a Ukulele Float in the town’s big summer parade, concerts and ensembles, large workshops, and eventually, destination retreats in New England and the Caribbean.”
Pandemic Leads to Silver Linings
The pandemic changed everything for Lisa. Suddenly everyone was home. Lisa thought about how many lives were affected by the pandemic. “I thought about what I could do to be of service. And then it came to me: Ukulele!,” she says. She already had a video course on her website and decided to peel the price tag off and offer it for free for anyone who would like to try it. A community was the missing element though. “I believe music exists on this planet with the God-given mission of creating a positive supportive community. Just think who we’d be without music!”
In April 2020 she had the first Saturday afternoon Zoom Gathering. She says, “That first gathering on a Saturday afternoon in April 2020 was magical – strangers connecting with one another with a common interest, and commonly discovering the joy of playing the ukulele. Under the circumstances of how we had come together in the thick of Covid, I named us: The Silver Lining Ukulele Community. My goals for the group were to lead it with love and to do my best to create an environment that was fun and safe and supportive and welcoming to all. A place where we celebrated and indulged in the magic of making music – together.”
Read more: 3 Easy Ukulele Songs You Should Know
Positive Effects on Players
As the Silver Linings Community plays songs each week and covers questions and answers, mostly for adult beginners, Lisa has been blown away by the strength, kindness, and strong sense of mutual support that characterizes the Silver Lining Ukulele Community. She explains, “People will share the excitement of having played a lullaby for their first-born grandchild. Of writing their first song. Of making music together with a friend, in real-time, for the first time in their lives. Of playing at an open mic, coffeehouse, church, or a birthday party for the first time.”
Some ‘Silver Liners’ have made travel plans that include visiting and making music with another member of the online community, whom they’ve never met in person, but with whom they already feel a bond of friendship. The Silver Lining zoom gatherings are frequently attended by folks from the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, France, Israel, Croatia, the U.K., and the Netherlands. Lisa says, “Occasionally, someone from “Down Under” will set their alarm, and join us in the middle of the night.”
You can find the Silver Linings Community on Facebook. For even more community, you can join the forum here at Uke Like the Pros as well! You can never have too many ukulele friends!