They do say there’s many a good tune played on an old fiddle.
But that’s nothing compared to what these budding musicians are achieving with their new ukuleles.
The Auchterarder and District Men’s Shed group are discovering hitherto hidden talents after taking up the instrument six weeks ago.
Around a dozen members gather to rehearse every Tuesday, and they’re building an expanding repertoire.
Most of the men are retired now. And few of them had picked up a ukulele previously.
But, with encouragement from tutor Flora Mathieson, they now have several tunes under their belt.
The talented bunch have progressed from Frere Jacques to Bonnie Wee Jeannie McColl. And they’ve even mastered the art of singing along.
Auchterarder and District Men’s Shed secretary John Boyd says the group has already received its first request to perform in public.
They’ve turned down the invitation to play for patients at the town’s St Margaret’s community hospital – for now. But watch this space.
“We might prolong their stay in hospital if we played for them now,” John laughed.
“But it’s something to aim for.”
Ukuleles, cups of tea and biscuits: Auchterarder Men’s Shed recipe for success
Mr Boyd is a flautist, who often plays for care homes, so he understands the power of music to touch the heart and lift the spirits.
But the retired vet says it’s been a treat to see his pals appreciate the joy that comes from gathering in a group and belting out a good tune.
“There’s nothing more fun,” he said.
“And it fits in perfectly with the Men’s Shed ethos, which is all about men’s health and wellbeing.
“Men don’t tend to socialise as much. And often, when their partner has gone they can feel lost and socially isolated.
“Here, they can come and play their ukulele, or just sit and put the world to rights with a cup of tea and a biscuit.”
The Auchterarder and district group is part of the wider Men’s Shed movement.
It exists to banish loneliness and isolation by bringing men together to fix stuff – and in the process fix themselves.
Originally the group had plans to make the ukuleles in the shed outside themselves. But a Perth and Kinross Council grant allowed them to splash out on new ones.
Men’s Shed is a lifeline
There are around 40 members on the books in Auchterarder.
They gather on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in the Parish Church community centre on the High Street.
Former Perth and Kinross Provost John Culliven says the group has been his lifeline since he lost his wife Sheila earlier this year.
For retired publican Bill Thomson, the Auchterarder and District Men’s Shed offers a short break from caring for his wife, who has dementia. And those few hours spent recharging his battery make life all the sweeter for them both when he gets back home.
The group unveiled their autumn project – a swanky Santa’s grotto – at the recent Christmas fair in the Aytoun Hall.
Members have also restored a once-dilapidated doll’s house, which was brought to them in bits. They’re now hoping to find a family who will offer it a new home.
Some are handymen. Others don’t know one end of a hammer from the other.
But here, they’re all shedders. And that’s all that matters, says Mr Boyd.
“Some of our members were joiners and tradesmen in a past life, so now they’re passing on their skills to the others,” he said.
“They’re seeing that what they do is still of value to the community. And that’s what it’s all about.”
• New members are always welcome. Pop along to the Auchterarder and District Men’s Shed meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Mr Boyd on 07767 876489.