THE UKULELE has shrugged off its oldtime, music-hall image and is back in fashion.

Now Eastleigh sixth form student Jon Masters is playing a part in its revival by setting up a five-strong band.

The band made its debut at a Barton Peveril concert last month.

Jon was inspired to learn the instrument after seeing the quirky Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain perform in Eastleigh.

He said: “The ukulele is the perfect student instrument.

“It’s cheap to buy, easy to teach yourself, very transportable and not difficult to encourage friends to get one too.”

John and fellow band members Rebecca Fox, Polly Boyles, Sarah Allen and Emily Pullen all belong to the college’s Gifted and Talented programme, which encourages students to set up their own clubs and societies.

Schools across Hampshire are also using the “uke” as they are nicknamed, as an alternative to the recorder for musical beginners.

Thousands of children have been learning the instrument under the tuition of Hampshire Music Service, as part of the service’s Listen2Me programme, which provides students across the county with free music lessons.

Music teacher Richard Hales said: “The ukulele has become an increasingly popular choice because it is inexpensive, easy to learn and lots of fun.

“The ukuele is the right size for smaller hands, they come in a range of different colours which makes them attractive and you can sing along, which you can’t do with recorders.”

Mr Hales said whole classes could be taught to play and sing a song in just a few lessons. Favourites include You Are My Sunshine and Singing In The Rain.

Last year, youngsters from Lee-on-the- Solent Junior School broke the Hampshire record for the most children playing the instrument at the same time.

Pupils at the school formed a 90-strong ukulele orchestra to perform.