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Guitar Center surprises Southwest Airlines passengers to Hawaii with inflight ukulele lessons

Guitar Center x Southwest Airlines
(Image credit: Guitar Center)

Guitar Center and Southwest Airlines recently teamed up for a most bonkers drive to teach passengers beginner ukulele during a flight from Long Beach to Honolulu.

Passengers onboard the flight on Friday 16 September had barely the time to slip into their flight socks and to the embrace of a gin and tonic, when instructors from Guitar Center boarded the flight and presented them with a Mitchell MU40 Soprano acoustic ukulele, a carry case to keep the travel-friendly strummer safe, and a lesson in how to play such uke standards as Hello Aloha, How are you? 

This ia useful skill for anyone planning to watch the sunset at Kāneʻohe Bay with a Mai Tai in hand. But is this the way forward for music education? It is enough to send send nervous flyers over the edge, particularly those allergic to the trebly plunk of the ukulele. 

Still, the ukulele is safer and more convenient in the cabin than a dreadnought acoustic guitar. If one thing watching Airplane has taught us, is that dreadnoughts and safe flying do not mix, no matter how wholesome the performance.

Guitar Center x Southwest Airlines

(Image credit: Guitar Center)

The Guitar Centre x Southwest Airlines ukulele lesson was delivered by Alexandra Windsor, educational affairs specialist for Guitar Center Lessons, and Ryan Miyashiro and Ryan Imata, both “best-in-class” Guitar Center instructors at the company’s Pearl City store – on 1000 Kamehameha Highway if you have the good fortune to be out that way. Teaching people to play at cruising altitude was a new one on Windsor.

“I’ve taught students through Guitar Center Lessons since 2014, but never in an airplane,” Windsor said. “It was inspiring to see how quickly passengers of all ages picked up the ukulele – many with no musical background. The ukulele is the perfect instrument for beginners, and it shows just how fun and easy learning something new can be.” 

Southwest Airlines and Guitar Center have also partnered for the Ukuleles Take Flight sweepstakes, with first price to win round trip air travel on Southwest for two people, with a pair of Mitchell ukuleles to jam on – in the air or from the comfort of the couch. See Southwest (opens in new tab) to enter [US only, conditions apply].

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.