From ukulele to karaoke to the classroom

From ukulele to karaoke to the classroom

She once performed at Carnegie, and over a cup of coffee, it’s clear that Yanti Rowland has had a lifelong passion for music…recently “finding her calling”, as she says, while singing at a local church. And that calling runs the gamut of singing, being a part of the Justin Glibbery Quintet, providing entertainment at senior care homes, to exploring the health benefits of music.

Who knew that the humble ukulele could help people gain confidence, enhance their mobility, and light up parts of the brain and memory that may have been in the proverbial dark?

Yanti, as she is known at home in Naramata and throughout the South Okanagan, describes herself as a music facilitator, bringing music everywhere, because “everyone has music in them.”  She has explored the academia of music, noting that music is the mother of all sciences. “We are all old-school analog machines,” she says, “and I connect with so many people on so many levels through music.” One part of that connection is through her popular ukulele classes. In fact, sales of the instrument keep rising because it is accessible to many.

And many people come to classes with Yanti to learn how to strum, pick, and play chords. She has led groups of up to two dozen in strumming sessions, watching not only the social aspects, but memory improvement — you must remember those chord progressions — and gains in mobility for the attendees. For others, she offers  classes for students from the ages of five to 85, group classes, and three-hour intensive sessions.

What do students do after mastering this instrument? They add their voice to the music.

Together with her husband Brent, she helps lead karaoke at the Naramata Pub. “Sing your song loud and proud and the audience will receive it how they will. No one will shut you down, they’ll have to come through me!” she laughs. “There’s no better feeling than singing to people.” So, she expanded into teaching karaoke: how to be heard and discover your voice.

Yanti’s voice is fast becoming a familiar one in the region, as she performs a variety of genres at both public and private events, contributes her vocal stylings to CDs and other performances, and can be found busking on occasion. If you see her performing the latter, know that any coins you drop in her case go to charity to help make music accessible for everyone. “Musicians decorate time,” she says.

What does she love about what she does, and where she does it? The four-seasons playground that is Penticton, the sense of community, and that everyone gets along because you know you’ll see each other at the grocery store. Yanti sets her own schedule: after her coffee chat, it’s off to manage her kids’ activities, buy chicken feed, followed by a vocal class, and after ukulele it’s voice discovery…but not before she agrees to help clean out a closet for a good cause.

“I love that things are constantly shifting. And I love everything I do.”