Versatile little instrument is attracting the numbers
‘‘Anyone of any age can play the ukulele,’’ says guitarist-turned-ukulele-player-cumteacher, Shane McAlister.
‘‘Put a ukulele in their hands and I’ll teach them three or four chords and a couple of songs in 45 minutes.’’
He is proof of his word. His youngest pupil is three years of age and his oldest is 91.
Mr McAlister will be ukulele-teacher-inresidence at the Festival of the Elements tomorrow with two scheduled afternoon workshops. He would like people to register by email to give him an idea of numbers, but also won’t mind if folks just turn up on the day.
‘‘That will be fine as long as they bring a uke with them. I’ve got about 30 of my own but I’ll be grateful for any loans. Someone told me I could get more than 100 people along at the workshops – but you just don’t know.’’
He says there has been a big resurgence with the ukulele, boosted by its versatility.
‘‘The beauty of a ukulele is that you can take it anywhere – put it in your back pocket just about – and you can pick up a really good one for $50, or even less.’’
Athough easy to learn at the basic level, he says the ukulele can be used to perform intricate and complicated compositions.
‘‘People can be complete beginners but we’ll have them playing and singing to a good rhythm by the end of the session – and it doesn’t cost anything. It’s all part of the festival.
‘‘And if they can go away with a song on their lips, a melody in their hearts and able to strum a tune on a ukulele – we’ll be more than happy.’’
McAlister has 700 learners from schools throughout the region and regularly offers ukulele workshops.
‘‘I recently had 130 chartered accountants in one group and then 120 bankers in another. Great for team building . . . and they all had a wonderful time.’’
World on a string: Ukulele exponent Shane McAlister leading 100 youngsters in a performance at Porirua Christmas in the Park. He’s expecting a similar-sized contingent for a workshop at tomorrow’s Festival of the Elements.