Alumnus uses seniors program to practice ukulele skills
For some people as they grow older, doors seem to close. But not for East Lansing resident and MSU alumnus Jim Levande.
“When I turned 50, somebody bought me a T-shirt and that T-shirt said ‘Aging is an art, color it beautiful,’” Levande said.
Levande, who is 76, said he stays active in a variety of activities in East Lansing’s Prime Time Seniors’ Program, where he took a beginner’s ukulele class in 2013.
Levande had always enjoyed music but never had the chance to learn an instrument because his uncle skipped his violin lessons when he was younger.
“Uncle Felix was taking his violin, hiding it under the front steps, taking his ball, bat and mitt and going and playing baseball with his buddies,” Levande said. “My grandfather put his foot down and said ‘No more music lessons. Felix, you spoiled it for everybody.’”
Levande now practices the ukulele daily and plays in the program’s group, the PT Strummers.
“He’s a linchpin of our group and it would not be the same without him,” PT Strummers instructor Ben Hassenger said. “He’s enthusiastic about life and that joy is contagious.”
Prime Time Director Kelly Arndt said Levande exhibits the goals the program has for its members.
“That’s what we want to generate, the postiveness, the value in our older population because they still have a lot to contribute, a lot to give,” Arndt said.
Levande said he advises the youth, especially college students, to keep an open mind and constantly try new things.
“You have to learn to play to stay young,” Levande said.