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Carbondale Library strikes a chord with youth programming

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When Lauren Harutun, youth services coordinator at the Carbondale Branch Library, began asking parents and teens what they would like to see for youth programming, she said, “Far and away, the answer was ‘music.’ I heard the call and said, ‘I’m bringing in music for the kids.’”

The first offering of youth music programming is a six-part series of ukulele lessons led by Aspen Music Festival instructor Mateo Sandate. Classes will meet on Tuesdays from 3 to 5pm from June 20 to Aug. 1 at the Carbondale Library at 320 Sopris Avenue.

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Many locals know Sandate as a guitarist and vocalist for Let Them Roar, a beloved band that played their final show at Mountain Fair’s 50th anniversary in 2021. And, as coincidence would have it, he is a former employee of the Carbondale Library.

Harutun said enlisting Sandate as the class instructor was a stroke of good fortune. “He’s one of those souls that everybody knows, and is such a calming, wonderful presence. You just feel better for being in his presence,” she said.

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Accolades for Sandate are only matched by his willingness to share his talents. “I love the library and what it offers the community,” he said. “I’ve been blessed to call Carbondale home for many years, so it’s an honor to give back to this community I love.”

The Garfield County Public Library District has purchased 10 ukuleles, allowing each student to keep their instrument. Harutun excitedly said, “They’re all under my desk, and it’s amazing right now — it looks like Christmas morning!”

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While the goal of the class is for students to gain some proficiency on the ukulele, Sandate’s teaching philosophy focuses on enjoying the experience. “There’s no better way to learn than ‘play’ when it comes to learning anything, including an instrument. I hope we have a lot of fun and play a lot of songs,” he said.

Harutun hopes the library’s music offerings will expand to other options, such as adult-child music classes and a Día de los Muertos-themed class. Another of Harutun’s goals is to increase the library’s inventory of musical instruments (which now includes one ukulele) available for checkout.

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Looking ahead, a visit from the local Celtic band, Oran Mor, will have kiddos moving and grooving to the beat on July 15 at 10:30am. As Harutun shared, “I bought a bunch of blocks and spoons and things, and [band member] Bobby Campbell will teach kids about rhythm, music and movement.”

No previous musical experience is necessary for the ukulele class, which is limited to 10 students. Registration is required and graduates are scheduled to perform a song or two onstage at this year’s Mountain Fair, garbed in, Harutun hopes, tie-dyed Garfield County Public Library District t-shirts.

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Anyone interested in contributing to youth programming can make a monetary donation online by clicking on the “Give Back” icon on the branch’s homepage. If you would like to donate to a specific library program, you can email Branch Manager Tracy Kallassy at

Register for the free ukulele class — meeting Tuesdays from 3 to 5pm from June 20 to Aug. 1 — by stopping by the Carbondale Library or calling 970-963-2889. For more information, go to

Tags: #Carbondale Library #Garfield County Public Library District #Mateo Sandate #ukulele
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