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Newcomer to Osoyoos invites all aspiring musicians to join him for guitar lessons
In five short months, Kal Taha says he’s fallen in love with the Town of Osoyoos and wants to give something back to the community.
The best way he knows how to give back to the community is to share his passion for music and the arts.
And that’s why he has volunteered to tutor and teach musicians of all ages and abilities as part of a new music program he has agreed to head up in partnership and support from the Osoyoos & District Arts Council.
“I came here because I followed my heart to be with my significant other, but also because of the beauty and peace and quiet and I knew the peace and beauty would inspire me to be creative,” said Taha. “I’ve been involved with the local arts council from literally the day I moved here.”
As a longtime musician, Taha and Sue Whittaker, president of the Osoyoos & District Arts Council, came up with the idea of offering a Strings Program, where Taha will teach guitar, mandolin, ukulele, banjo and dulcimer to anyone who is interested.
Taha has already started lessons on Tuesday nights at the Sonora Community Centre and had a half dozen students participate in a class last week.
Taha has been playing guitar and various stringed instruments for more than 35 years and is hoping his passion for music will rub off on local aspiring musicians.
“I’m self-taught and actually picked up a guitar for the first time when I was in high school because I thought the girls would think it was cool and they did,” he said smiling. “I taught myself how to play guitar and then I started experimenting with a variety of stringed instruments and was soon playing the mandolin and ukulele.
“All instruments are different of course, but once you know the basic chords of one, you can usually learn to play other stringed instruments pretty easily with a little bit of practice.”
His parents were born and raised in Lebanon and instilled in him a love of music and the arts that has never diminished, said Taha, who lived in Edmonton for several years before moving to Osoyoos four months ago.
“I grew up bilingual in the fact that we spoke Arabic in the home and ate Arabic food and my father would continue the tradition of singing and using poetry to tell stories,” he said. “Outside the home, I spoke English and attended English high school, so I had the best of both worlds.”
The music lesson he will be teaching to local residents will be very informal and be all about having a good time, while hopefully inspiring his students of all ages to want to practice more at home, he said.
“This is about getting a group of people together who have a passion for music and have never pursued that passion to learn an instrument,” he said. “I don’t expect anyone to become a concert musician, but I do hope they will learn the basics and have some fun.”
He plans to teach in a group setting without getting into too much technical detail on how to play instruments, he said.
“We will sit around as a group … and I will show them the few basics of where to put your fingers to play a couple of chords and go from there,” he said. “I will more or less be the facilitator. I want the students to have some fun and hopefully want to go home and continue playing on their own. This isn’t going to be about teaching difficult chords and reading music charts.
“They are hopefully going to learn to play by playing and repetition. I’ve taught a lot of musicians through the years and this is what has worked the best.”
Taha, who has volunteered to write a regular arts column for the Osoyoos Times since he arrived in town, is hoping aspiring musicians of all ages will show up.
“I honestly believe that most people have an internal desire to be creative and many would love to learn how to play music,” he said. “This is all about allowing them to pursue that goal and have some fun while doing it.”
While the music lessons will be free of charge, Taha said a “very nominal fee” may be charged to pay for rental of the hall at the Sonora Centre once lessons begin.
The lessons will likely be held once a week for a couple of hours, but he would be more than willing to offer two separate classes for adults and children if enough people show interest, said Taha.
“I’m willing to put in the time if enough people show interest,” he said.
Anyone interested in taking lessons from Taha can call him at 250-408-5075 or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.