It's Rockin Robin, at the home of Carbon County s bird sanctuary "with lots of pop and rock music to snap your fingers to, tap your toes to, and if you're so inclined, get up and dance to" with the big band strings of the Ukulele Institute as it presents a concert at, and to support, the Carbon County Environmental Education Center.

The concert will be held, outdoors if weather permits, or indoors if it doesn t, on Saturday, May 18 at 7 p.m. at the Carbon County Environmental Education Center, 151 E. White Bear Dr. near Mauch Chunk Lake Park between Jim Thorpe and Summit Hill. Call 570-645-8597 for directions and information.

The concert is a collaboration between CCEEC naturalist Franklin Klock and Ukulele Institute founder Nick Roberti, friends who share a love for music and the outdoors. Klock has a fascination with all things percussion and Roberti teaches and performs on the ukulele and guitar throughout Carbon County.

Building on the success of last year s Ukulele Institute/CCEEC fundraising concert, the duo decided that a reprise was in order , only bigger and better. This year the event will be held at the CCEEC, and if the weather complies, outdoors in their pavilion. The seasons performances will have new more intricate arrangements, and guest appearances from among the many musicians to jam with Klock and Roberti.

The Ukulele Institute performance draws from Roberti's students, featuring nine ukulele and guitar players, aging from 9 to 16 years old. They will be supplemented by Klock on a variety of percussion instruments, and on some songs, a bass ukulele. "We will be playing a wide variety of pop and rock songs with a little bit of classical thrown in for good measure," Roberti explained. "It's a pretty easy-going thing and we try to have fun.."

"We choose our favorite songs and work on them extra hard for a month or two before the concert," he continued. "On several songs, the students will be singing. Others will be instrumentals."

Solo numbers include Emily Roberti performing Safe and Sound by Taylor Swift from the film The Hunger Games, Jocelyn Phillips singing Just Give Me A Reason Pink, and Jack Kemmerle with a selection from the band Green Day.

The Ukulele Institute is growing on the wave of interest for the personal-sized instrument made popular in recent years by Hawaiians Israel Kamakawiwoªole and Jake Shimabukuro. As an aside, Nick Roberti had Shimabukuro sign his ukulele.

Although the ukulele has not changed in design over this last generation, it has become the instrument of choice for young players because of its smaller size and affordability with good quality ukuleles being imported for under $100.

The smallest ukulele is the soprano, and then ukuleles increase in size to the concert, the tenor, the baritone and the base. Some of my students play ukulele for a year or two and then switch to guitar, Roberti said. I went the opposite way because I was a guitar player who started playing ukulele. I saw a band using a ukulele and was taken with the sound. It sounds like a miniature classical guitar.

It sounds like a miniature classical guitar because it uses nylon strings, which are easier for young fingers to press them the steel strings used on guitars.

"We don t do much traditional ukulele music," Roberti continued. "We tend to do rock and pop songs that my students are already familiar with or stuff familiar to their parents."

"Most of it is danceable. It s upbeat stuff. The students are very enthusiastic."

"We will be doing a version of Rockin Robin, that's a lot of fun. It was on the charts around 1958. We have arrangement that uses both ukulele and guitar players. The kids enjoy this one a lot even though it came out many years before they were born, or I was born, and it's at the environmental center which gets us into the Rockin Robin theme being right amongst the birds."

Tickets are available at the door. Refreshments will be available. Donations are suggested. For additional information see [1].