Thanks to music teacher Elizabeth Burns, Ward Elementary fifth graders are ending their elementary career by learning how to play the ukulele.

In the fall of 2018, Mrs. Burns received a STAR Grant through the Abilene Education Foundation to purchase the new instruments. Mrs. Burns first learned to play the ukulele when she was in fourth grade at Jackson Elementary. She still remembers how much she enjoyed Bobby Clack’s music class and wants to pass on this excitement to her students.

“My goal for the ukulele is to create a curiosity for playing other string instruments such as the guitar and to give them a love for playing instruments,” she said.

Before beginning to play the ukulele, Mrs. Burns taught the students the history and parts of the instrument.

According to Kale Fried, fifth-grader, “On the first day, Mrs. Burns taught us the ‘c’ chord,” aid fifth grader Kale Fried, “and we played ‘Put a Lime in the Coconut.’ ”

On day one, students were proud to walk away knowing how to play a song. All the fifth-grade students are thrilled about this new experience.

“I’ve always wanted to play the ukulele, and it’s been a fun experience,” said student Ivy Frye-Terpstra. “Maybe I can get a ukulele of my own.”

Another fifth-grader, Jakob Elliott, explained his feelings.

“When I hear the ukulele, it brings a burst of happiness,” he said. “When I played it, I thought, ‘This is cool.’ ”

In 17 years of teaching, Mrs. Burns creates many ways to bring music alive for her students. Beyond the traditional music programs, her students learn to play recorders, participate in drum circles and bucket drumming. Mrs. Burns loves to connect children’s literature to musical experiences and enjoys utilizing puppets with the younger students.

Students at Ward Elementary are fortunate to have many opportunities to discover their passion for music with Mrs. Burns by their side.