This month we shine a spotlight on incredible ukulele group of very enthusiastic seniors. They’ve come from very humble musical beginnings to become polished performers.
Compton Happy Ukulele Musical Seniors (CHUMS)
CHUMS was started in 2014 by Donna Farrell with help from her husband Derek and their good friend Keryn Henderson.
CHUMS members are residents or friends of residents at Compton Gardens Retirement Village, which is located at Aspley, just behind the Hypermarket.
The original members of CHUMS were all residents and had never played a ukulele before; indeed, most had never played a musical instrument of any kind.
A charitable affair
Since almost the very beginning, the band – now twenty strong – have played concerts at other retirement villages, care homes, churches and clubs. CHUMS charge for their concerts and donate the proceeds to Dementia Research. So far, the group has donated over $6,000.
As the name suggests, the band consists mostly of mature age members, many in their eighties and some in their nineties. They meet each week for two hours to practise and usually learn a new song each time. Their repertoire is now some 200 songs.
From humble beginnings to polished performances
The band performed twice at SPRUKE, and they perform a themed concert in June each year at the Compton Village auditorium.
Concert themes include Hawaiian, Australiana, Old Music Hall Sing-along, Way Out West, Show Tunes and Movie Themes.
The June concerts attract up to 150 people in the audience. CHUMS also perform a Christmas concert at the Village each year.
For the first few concerts, Paul Morris helped out playing bass for the band, however one of the members decided she’d learn bass and now they have their very own bass player. They also have a couple of wonderful ladies who dance at some of the concerts.
Over the years the group has become very accomplished and perform many different musical styles. They love a challenge and are not daunted by new songs or learning new (and sometimes quite difficult) chords. They also like to learn new strum patterns.
COVID lockdown and beyond
During lockdown, Donna and Derek performed a “Song of the Week” on video which was put on the CHUMS “Song of the Week” website for the band to learn individually. Band practice resumed on 16 June, adhering to strict social distancing with lots of hand-sanitiser. Since returning CHUMS now has the “Lockdown Concert” ready for public performance at some future time.
The CHUMS band has brought much joy to its members, many of whom never imagined that they would ever play a musical instrument, never mind perform in front of an audience.