Name: Gillian Altieri

City: San Jose

Previous career: For 33 years, worked in radiation oncology as a medical dosimetrist, determining the best way to deliver the radiation dose while sparing as much normal tissue as possible.

Second act: Heading up the San Jose Ukulele Club

How did you get interested in the ukulele? "When growing up in England, my earliest introduction to the ukulele was by my grandfather. But in the age of the Beatles, guitars were the cool instruments to play. I wish I had known George Harrison and Paul McCartney were ukulele players. I might have taken up the uke back then and been a much better player than I am.

"I rediscovered the ukulele while vacationing in Hawaii. I went to the Costco in Hawaii Kai (on Oahu), where they had a ukulele package -- ukulele, tuner, instruction booklet and gig bag -- for $100. I bought some beginner instruction books, found ukulele sites online and watched a lot of YouTube videos. Three and a half years later, I'm still enamored with this lovely little instrument and have developed a case of UAS, ukulele acquisition syndrome, and now own seven."

When did you start the club, and what do you enjoy about running it? "I started the SJUC in August of 2010. The first meeting was held at the New Almaden Community Clubhouse where six people came. We now meet in the banquet room at the Denny's on Hillsdale Avenue with an average attendance of 45.


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"Running the SJUC involves thinking of new songs to introduce; designing and arranging the song sheets; updating our website, www.sanjoseukeclub.org, with the new songs and tweaking old ones; keeping the events and calendar current and sending out the premeeting email to members so they know what songs we will be playing.

"It is a lot of work but also is so gratifying seeing the SJUC grow. We now have members who participate in the running of the meeting, submitting song sheets and performing at open-mic time. I also get emails from ukulele players in other countries who come across our website and tell me how much they appreciate the songs in our song book. And when I see the enjoyment on our members' faces and hear how much their playing ability has improved, it makes the effort so worthwhile."

-- Angela Hill, Staff