Ukulele time

The cheerful sound of more than 20 ukuleles could be heard at the Golden Square Hotel on Saturday as a group of novices learned how to play the tiny, four-stringed guitars.

Young and old alike plucked, strummed and sang along as teacher Mark Jackson taught them the tricks of the trade.

The former Bendigo musician was instrumental in developing the live acoustic musical scene in the town he once called home, and is now based in Newcastle where he and partner Jane Jelbart teach ukulele.

Mr Jackson said practice and repetition was vital to learning to play like a professional.

"Through repetition you get the muscle memory. You need to concentrate at the beginning but then you get a bit more native at it," Mr Jackson said.

But he told the group, the most important lesson was to enjoy the music.

"I never locked myself away for hours to play. I only like to play when I'm playing with friends or others," Mr Jackson said.

"That's why ukulele groups are so successful."

Teenager Lucas Phelps said he picked up the ukulele only a month ago and was keen to learn more.

"I've been mucking around with it for a fair while so I thought I'd just go down and have a little go," the 16-year-old said.

For Barry Carter, Saturday was the first time he'd played a tune on a string instrument.

"I've played keyboard before, but this is something I'd always had an inkling I'd like to try. It's a bit of a challenge, keyboards are easy compared to this," he said.

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