City’s first ukulele festival gets going with a masterclass

Nigel Morgan and Dave Cutts, with centre, Oli Poole

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MUSIC maestro Steven Sproat is used to teaching comedians Frank Skinner and Harry Hill how to play the ukulele.

But yesterday the 50-year-old Hawaiian guitar player popped into the Musicroom, in Commercial Road, Portsmouth to give members of the public a lesson.

Steven Sproat who taught comedian Harry Hill to play the ukelele

Steven Sproat who taught comedian Harry Hill to play the ukelele

He led a workshop to give budding players of the mini instrument the chance to hone their skills.

Steven, from Gloucestershire, showed members of the Pompey Pluckers how to improve their rhythm, finger-picking and strumming techniques.

The group got to grips with a triplet - a technique where you use your thumb and finger - and flamenco, which involves players strumming with all their fingers to get a percussive sound.

The artist also gave a rousing performance of The Jam’s Town Called Malice and Frankie Valli’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You on his signature six-string Tenor Lanikai ukulele.

The workshop was the beginning of this weekend’s Pompulele Ukulele Festival, the first of its kind led by the Pompey Pluckers and Musicroom.

Steven said: ‘The fantastic thing about a ukulele is that it is so versatile.

‘It used to be more known for comic songs but now its starting to get taken seriously.

‘The people who turned up today were fantastic. They’ve learnt and picked up a lot.

‘Many of them have already been playing the ukulele for six months so it was about getting them to the next step.’

Avril Keyes, 61, a member of the Pompey Pluckers, said: ‘It’s been a privilege having Steven teach us.

‘I’ve learnt how to play different notes and rhythms that otherwise I wouldn’t have ever picked up.’

Steven is no stranger to the world of music - he regularly teaches Frank Skinner and Harry Hill how to play the ukulele.

He has released four albums and his latest work Full Circle is available in store now.

He is also set to appear on a BBC Four documentary with Skinner in October which celebrates the life of banjo musician George Formby.

He said: ‘Like any celebrity Harry and Frank are normal people.

‘But Harry is very quiet and softly spoken, so not what most people would expect!’