By Abigail Murphy and Lenah Allen, Turner Center Interns

The Hal & Jill Project, an outreach program at the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts, allows youth ages 12 through 18 to positively express themselves through music. The project, originally offering guitar lessons on Thursdays, from 5-6 p.m., has been expanded to include ukulele lessons on Tuesdays, from 5- 6 p.m., beginning Oct. 6.

Lessons cost $40 per month, although full and partial scholarships are also available. Through generous donor support, guitars have been provided for students in the program to take home and practice. However, the Turner Center is in need of ukulele instruments.

Ken Hase, one of two guitar instructors at the Turner Center, said students receive a handbook to get them started and to serve as a reference, which covers guitar basics such as chords, tuning, and the parts of a guitar.

“We first, learn D, A, E chords. When students learn those first three chords, they can play 150 songs or more,” he said.

David Rodock, an avid musician with the ability to play a diversity of instruments, has become the program’s first ukulele instructor. Rodock said he is excited to become a part of the expanded program at the Center.

Former Executive Director of the Turner Center Cheryl Oliver founded The Hal and Jill Project in memory of her two children: Hal and Jill. Hal passed away from cancer in 2016.

“One of Hal’s passions was playing the guitar and other stringed instruments, and he seemed determined to get everyone in his world strumming,” she said.

Jill was his younger sister who died due to a car accident in 1974. Oliver said she has always felt, from heaven, Jill was cheering on Hal in his pursuit of music; therefore, Oliver created the music education program in their memory to provide others the opportunity to pursue music for themselves.

Sementha Mathews, current executive director of the Turner Center, said that the project has been expanded to add a diversity of instruments to the program.

“We have been extremely fortunate to witness young people find joy through this program for so many years,” she said. “We hope adding the ukulele, and possibly hand drums in the near future, to our music program will attract and help additional young people discover the many benefits that learning to play a musical instrument provides.”

For more information about guitar or ukulele lessons or any other programs at the Turner Center, visit www.turnercenter.org or call 229-247-2787.