Student profile: A multi-talented ukulele player


Jeff Facun

A ukulele is a miniaturized version of a guitar that contains four strings. Sound simple right?

To De Anza College student Brandi Vargas, 19, kinesiology major, it is more than an instrument with four strings.

It is a passion she enjoys every day. She plays the ukulele whenever she has free time.

“I need to play my ukulele every day,” Vargas said. “It is one of those things where it’s right next to me, and I can pick it up all the time and play. If I have nothing to do, I play random chords, and jam out by myself.”

Vargas’s grandfather inspired her to get into playing the instrument. “When I was a kid, he was the one who always said you should do this because you are going to be good at it,” Vargas said.

Her best friend, Alina Hernandez, 18, English major, remembers Vargas playing the ukulele at a leadership retreat at Camp Wellstone the weekend of Feb. 7-9.

“It was so interesting to watch her because by the end, you can tell how she was so involved in her own musical world,” Hernandez said.

Vargas puts thought and soul into her performances.

She connects with the songs, which allows her audience to connect to them too.

Vargas frequently sings along with the songs she plays on the ukulele.

During the leadership retreat, Vargas performed “Say Something” by Great Big World.

“Her voice started to break at the end and she cried a little bit. But it was beautiful,” Hernandez said. “She was really connecting with the song and she went for it.”

Vargas’s multiple talents developed since her childhood. She played basketball and did taekwondo.

She said her parents let her do what she wanted from a young age.

Vargas’s friends find her personality as entertaining as her music.

“I remember driving her with in her little jeep after eating at Denny’s,” Hernandez said. “We would go to Central Park, have Miley Cyrus’s songs blasting and we would sing ‘Wrecking Ball’ at the top of our lungs. It was so much fun.”

Vargas’s musical talents aren’t just limited to the ukulele.

She also plays the alto saxophone and crash cymbals, even though her preference is the ukulele.

Vargas’s best memories include the time she played the alto saxophone for Fremont High School’s marching band .

She also played cymbals for Fremont Winter Percussion in Sunnyvale.

“This is nerdy, but winning championships in winter percussion is my best memory,” Vargas said.

She won the championships as part of that group in 2012.

Winning the competition meaningful to her.

“I’ve never won anything like it before,” Vargas said. “Getting that feeling that you got first place was exciting.”