JAM SESSION: Ken Gates is here in Grafton this weekend to teach people how to play the harmonica and the ukulele. Photo: contributed
JAM SESSION: Ken Gates is here in Grafton this weekend to teach people how to play the harmonica and the ukulele. Photo: contributed

Pluck a chord and hum a tune with Ken Gates

FOR the past seven years Ken Gates has travelled Australia offering lessons in his two favourite instruments, the harmonica and the ukulele. And this weekend it's Grafton's turn to dance to his tune.

"I'd never played a musical instrument before but I always wanted to learn to play the harmonica, so a bunch of us at St George's Basin got together and started to learn and practice together and we taught each other how to play," Mr Gates said.

"It was then I decided to try the guitar, but I never had much luck with it. But through the guitar I found the ukulele and turns out I can actually play a ukulele."

For 15 years Mr Gates taught locals at St George's Basin, but in 2008 he decided to widen his horizons.

"Every winter from May to September I've been travelling from Newcastle to Brunswick Heads teaching at local community colleges," he said.

"I figured, I know the music, I know how to play, why not teach others who want to learn?"

Making appearances from Ballina to the Bruthen Blues and Arts Festival in Victoria,Mr Gates found an audience, and a willing group of students wherever he went.

But the teaching days are coming to a close, with next year being his last teaching trip along the coast.

"I've been doing this for a very long time and it's about time to put my feet up and end it," he said.

"I love teaching people how to play these instruments, it's been very fun, very fulfilling to do this for so long, but you just get to that age you know?"

The classes are at CHS training, South Grafton, this weekend. The classes will be divided through the weekend, with the ukulele class happening on Saturday and the harmonica lessons on Sunday.



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