Ukulele fans may think they have died and gone to heaven when the Hibiscus Ukulele Convention arrives.
Organiser and ukulele tutor Avon Hansen-Beadle says it isn't too late to be one of the 150 ukulele players expected to descend on the Orewa Arts and Events Centre at Orewa College in October.
The instrument's popularity has grown in the past two years with clubs emerging nationwide, including Avon's groups - Hibiscus Ukuleles in Orewa and Shorecooleles in Campbells Bay.
"After playing in a sideline competition at a children's event, the Hibiscus group thought it would be nice to have something for adults," Avon says.
The convention was created with the support of Kiwi ukulele legend Kevin Fogarty.
It features day-time interactive workshops with Kevin teaching songwriting, popular trio The Nukes taking a masterclass and Avon giving singing lessons. The event concludes with an evening concert by The Nukes.
Ukulele traders will have displays in the main foyer.
"There will also be an open mic section where various groups can play two items," Avon says.
She has composed a convention theme song called Hibiscus Heaven that all players can learn before the event and play together.
The Hibiscus Ukes range in age from 30 to 70-plus.
"At the start we were inundated with people joining but we have settled down to a core group of around 25 to 30 who meet weekly," Avon says.
"I think it's popular as it is so simple to play with just four strings. Also there is a great vibe that comes from community singing."
She began teaching ukulele when her hours tutoring teachers were reduced.
"I was inspired by Maria Winder who takes a group called St Lukes Ukes."
Hibiscus Ukes was third in the Big Uke Off, an Auckland-wide competition in June, with a song by Coldplay.
The Hibiscus Ukulele Convention is on October 27, from 9.30am till 10pm.
All day passes which include the concert are $50, while concert-only tickets are $20.
Visit ukuleleheaven.co.nz for information.
- © Fairfax NZ News