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Ukulele Workshop at Stringfest

posted 23 Mar 2014, 19:28 by Unknown user   [ updated 23 Mar 2014, 19:33 ]
Ukulele Workshop Inspires a New Generation of Young Musicians
THERE ARE many wonderful things to see at StringFest from the spectacular tonewoods to Andrew Nolan's handcrafted harpsichord to Mustered Courage live on stage. 
But perhaps the most amazing part of the festival was achieved by Thom Jackson at the Riverside Rotunda on Sunday morning.
The classically trained musician kept more than a dozen children quiet and interested for no less than 30 minutes using nothing more than a ukulele and his wits.
The workshop was held as part of StringFest Tasmania and was a free event in which all children were invited to learn to play ukulele.
Dubious parents surrounded the Rotunda and watched as Thom first tuned their instruments then taught the wide-eyed youngsters the finer points of strumming, timing and the C chord.
Almost miraculously a tune happened. It was a little rough, it was not played with confidence but ‘Row Row Row Your Boat’ did ring out. That was it! The children were hooked and parents were impressed.
Thom Jackson trained on trombone at the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music but turned to the ukulele because it allowed him to sing and it was an important part of his upbringing.
“Ukulele is what I grew up with,” Thom said.
“My Dad plays, and I grew up with a lot of Samoans and Tongans and we used to jam together so it is a very natural instrument for me.
“There are the instruments that are chosen for you and there are the instruments that you choose and for me that is the ukulele.
As the workshop progressed the children gained confidence, the volume increased and the chords F and then G7 were introduced allowing more tunes to be played.
The popular performer is known for his high-energy and engaging style and it serves him well when conducting children’s workshops, something he does a lot of.
“It is just keeping them engaged and making sure you don’t take yourself too seriously I think is the important thing to remember.”
Thom also said he does feel some guilt for encouraging children to learn the ukulele and the effect that may have on their parents but felt it had to be better than the descant recorder.
“I wouldn’t say I have a clear conscience but at least the children are playing music and that is the main thing,” Thom laughed.
“It doesn’t shriek like a recorder and you don’t have to put it in your mouth so you can sing and that means a lot more kids are singing these days, which is beautiful.”
Thom Jackson performed a number of concerts and held workshops over the StringFest weekend and said he is keen to return next year.