• Last modified 293 days ago (Aug. 10, 2023)


10-year-old a semi-regular at senior center

Staff writer

Zakai Sanders looks intently at sheet music as he plays a guitar his grandparents bought him when he was 3 years old.

He’s “on stage” at Hillsboro Senior Center, a fraction of the age of other musicians playing during a recent jam session.

Zakai, 10, holds his own, looking around occasionally at a mostly gray-haired audience.

How Zakai ended up joining the likes of Bob Delk, Steve Hanneman, Clint Seibel, and others to entertain folks after lunch is a multi-generational story.

“He started going to the senior center for lunch with his grandmother to get out of the house and socialize,” his mom, Claire Sanders, said. “Grandma said she’d talked to Bob Delk, and Zakai could play with them.”

Zakai is going into fifth grade.

Delk just turned 101.

Their age difference is immediately noticeable, of course, but Zakai is an old-soul kind of kid.

That’s probably a requirement to enjoy playing songs such as Hank Williams’ 1951 hit “Hey, Good Lookin.’ ”

Zakai started showing an interest in playing music at an early age, Sanders said. He had a drum set when he was 2 years old.

“His legs were too short to hit the pedal to play the bass drum,” Sanders said.

So David, his dad, built a wooden platform for Zakai.

“Even at that age, he was amazing at the drums,” Sanders said.

She remembers wondering how one of his old lunch boxes kept getting dented. He was using it as a drum.

Zakai is more focused now on playing guitar.

Seibel has volunteered to give him lessons.

Zakai is still learning some chords — including F. But ask him whether he feels confident in his playing, and he says yes.

“I think he’s picking it up pretty good,” Delk said, recalling his own experience learning to play guitar. “My dad showed me a few chords, and that’s where it went from.”

Zakai’s interest in music is obvious.

“It must be pretty strong for a young guy to come play songs he’s never heard before,” Seibel said.

Home-schooled, Zakai doesn’t know yet whether he wants music to be a career path.

Does he practice on guitar every day?

“I try to,” he said. “I probably don’t.”

Sanders plans to keep tabs on how often Zakai rehearses as part of his home-schooling.

She’s grateful that Delk, Seibel, and Hanneman have taken Zakai under their wings.

“I’m not musical, so I can’t impart that,” she said.

Last modified Aug. 10, 2023