Meet Taj, aka “Ukulele Dad”
By Kylie Schmidt
Our members are like family to us. We get to meet them and see them on a regular basis and watch their families and kids grow. It’s one of the best parts about working here. We occasionally get the chance to highlight some of our members and the unique personalities and talents they bring to our community. One member who all of our staff know is Taj or, as he’s affectionately known around here, “Ukulele Dad.” How did Taj come to have this nickname? Well, his title is actually pretty self-explanatory.
Taj and his kids have been frequent visitors of the museum for years. The easiest way to tell if they’re around? You’ll hear the sound of ukulele music floating around the exhibits. When he and his family visit, Taj brings his ukulele along and plays as his kids play. While the children explore the museum, they can listen for the cheerful melodies and know that dad is never far away. Taj and his partner Jessica met in Hawaii and now live in Minnesota with their two kids. With Taj being a stay-at-home dad, he’s loved having the museum as a place to bring his kids for fun and exploration. “Having a place — especially during the winter, but really any time of year — that the kids can run around and have fun and learn things is absolutely invaluable,” says Taj. He watched his younger child make a breakthrough in walking right here in Sprouts, our exhibit designed specifically for kids age 3 and under.
Why the Ukulele?
We asked Taj why he brings the ukulele with him to the museum to find out more about the “why” behind Ukulele Dad.
- Exposes kids to creativity and artfulness “It’s like having a soundtrack to your childhood,” he says. “I think that’s something we all might have loved. It teaches them a lot about being creative, resourceful and artistic.”
- Boosts confidence “It shows them it’s ok to be different and stand out a little. I think it supports confidence because if my two-year-old can hear me, he knows how close I am and my general direction without having to see me.”
- Keeps the phone at bay Taj also says that playing the ukulele keeps his mind busy and his eyes away from his phone. It’s so easy to get sucked into our digital worlds, but playing the ukulele is one way he stays present with his kids while they learn and play.
We think Taj’s efforts to use his ukulele skills to be more present with his kids and show them the importance of creativity and confidence is super cool and something that should be celebrated. We’re honored he views the museum as a great place to spend time with his kids as they have fun, explore and grow.
Next time you’re here, keep your ears open and see if you hear some ukulele music playing nearby. You just might run into Ukulele Dad himself!
St. Paul, MN 55102