Ukuleles let you play all sorts of great music. Pop stars have been turning to the ukulele, both to look a bit quirky but also because it’s just such a plucky, happy little instrument. Children love them, even my four year old son can play a few chords. At the same time we meet adults all the time who have caught the ukulele bug. Pub and village ukulele clubs are springing up all over the country with everyone from children to pensioners playing together.
Okay, so they do look a bit like a toy guitar and George Formby hardly did anything to help the ukulele’s image. Search on youtube for ukulele stars such as Jake Shimabukuro, James Hill, Kalei Gamiao, or Taimaine Gardner to name just a few. You will quickly realise that this a real and highly versatile instrument with its own history and playing styles. Check out James Hill playing one of our all time favourites here.
Many ukulele teachers stick to strumming some chords along to a few songs but there is so much more to the ukulele. Like the guitar, ukuleles can be used as a melodic instrument too. This means they can play just about anything from Tchaikovsky to Taylor Swift. They also make a great introduction to other instruments showing the basics of harmony, melody and ensemble playing which are all great transferrable skills.
It’s sad to say it, but at a time when school budgets are squeezed and many pupils can’t afford expensive instruments, a reasonable quality ukulele can be found for £20-£30. Obviously the professionals still have the option to spend thousands on an instrument, but we still love that moment when a pupil with no prior musical experience proudly brings their own ukulele to a lesson. Music services and suppliers can also help with purchasing and hire instruments for a school needing whole class sets.
We don’t want to knock other instruments but the colour options for ukuleles just can’t be beaten (black clarinet, or brown violin anyone?). They also come with designs on them from smiley faces to the notorious Spongebob Squarepants uke. Nothing says school pride like a whole class performance featuring pupils with matching uniforms and ukuleles.
Ukuleles are small. They won’t take up a whole classroom to store between lessons and hours of heavy carrying them around the school building. Top tip – you can conveniently fit 15 soprano ukuleles in the large blue bags provided by a well known Swedish furniture store.
Music theory can be a dry business and no class wants to sit through a long lecture on chord construction. The ukulele lets you learn as you go – by playing. Learn just a few notes or chords (even open strings) and you have a song that children can enjoy playing. This means music history, theory and even other non-music subjects can be taught with a quick song.
Okay so this one may be a bit tongue in cheek but seriously, that overblown squeaking sound! (Apologies to any professional recorder players – we know they ‘can’ sound nice.)
With The Ukulele School, teachers don’t need to have any prior musical experience. You can have all the fun of picking up a ukulele and learning at the same time as your pupils. You can see where they might encounter challenges for yourself and maybe even see your pupils learning experience from a whole different perspective. That said, if you are a professional musical genius already we still have a load of pieces, cartoons, activities and resources for you to make use of in your own way.
Yes we know we’re cheating and this is the same as number one but it just can’t be said enough, ukuleles are seriously good fun.
There are loads more reasons we love the ukulele. If you can think of any, let us know.
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