A good music lesson should always try to focus on learning through playing music, but we shouldn’t ignore the importance of listening to music as well. The national curriculum in England states that pupils should:

“appreciate and understand a wide range of high-quality live and recorded music drawn from different traditions and from great composers and musicians”

Department for Education -Music programmes of study: key stages 1 and 2 National curriculum in England -2013 Reference: DFE-00175-2013

With streaming services and youtube we are now spoilt for choice when it comes to high quality music and top quality orchestral and band music is just a click away. Listening to music is about more than just passive listening though. By showing young people performances of the instrument that they are about to learn you have a unique opportunity to inspire them and get them actively discussing music. You may even find that some of them spontaneously start practicing at home! So here is a selection of our favourites both to use in your class and enjoy yourself. We have even included a few discussion questions you could try…

∗Please note The Ukulele School is not responsible for 3rd party video content.

James Hill and Anne Janelle - Ode to a frozen boot

An original bluegrass style composition by James Hill (Ukulele) and Anne Janelle(Cello).

Useful for: lessons on tempo, fast playing/picking

Discussion Questions:

– How does this make you feel as you listen to it?

-It is called “Ode to a frozen boot”. Can you think of reasons why?

-Does this music feel like it could be associated with a particular country?

-James Hill is playing extremely fast can you see any special techniques he may be using to help him play so fast?

Taimane Gardner - Water

An original composition by Taimane Gardner.

Useful for: composition,  developing imagination, dynamics.

Dicussion Questions:

-This piece is called “Water”. What watery images does this piece of music bring to mind?

-Can you hear a story being told by this music?

– How does Taimane Gardner use dynamics to help her tell this story?

This video forms part of a set with “Fire”try having a listen to that as well.

Kalei Gamiao - Funky Tango

Funky Tango performed by Kalei Gamiao.

Useful for: Extended techniques (slides/string bends/musted strumming) World Music, Soloing.

Discussion Questions:

-This piece blends two style of music together. Where do you think tango music comes from?

-The music is described as funky. What do you think this means?

-Can you think of setting where this piece of music could be used, e.g. TV or film?

Langley Ukulele Ensemble - Flight of the bumblebee (music starts at 0.44)

Flight of the bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov performed for ukulele by the Langley Ukulele Ensemble.

Useful for: fast playing, ensemble playing. 

Discussion Questions:

-This music describes a bumblebee flying around. What is it in the music that makes you think of a bumblebee?

-This is one of the most performed pieces of music in the world and has been arranged for hundreds of different instruments. What instruments might work well playing this music?

-If this music was used on TV or film, what do you think might be happening on screen?

Jake Shimabukuro - Galloping Seahorses

Galloping Seahorses, an original composition by Jake Shimabukuro.

Useful for: jazz, improvising, different time signatures.

Discussion Questions:

-Listen closely to the beginning of the piece, it doesn’t have a strong 4 beat feel. Can you work out how many beats there are in a bar?

-This piece features lots of improvisation. Can you work out which parts of the music are composed and which are being improvised?

-This piece is called Galloping Seahorses, is there anything about the music that suggests galloping?

Bonus extra - The Ukulele School/Adam Cowburn - Soldiers Joy

Soldiers Joy a traditional tune arranged for Ukulele.

Useful for: folk music, melody and backing.

Discussion Questions:

– This is a piece of folk music, how old do you think this tune might be?

-The piece is called “Soldiers Joy what about the music makes it feel joyful?

-Would this piece feel different if it was played slower or faster?

Here at The Ukulele School, we are constantly adding new performance videos to our youtube channel as well as other great free resources. Whilst you are there why not subscribe to keep up to date with new content?

Obviously this is just a small selection of the videos available, there are a few good places to go to help you find useful ukulele videos. Hi Sessions (both the Taimane Gardner and The Kalei Gamiao videos) is a Hawaiian specialist music channel that frequently features top ukulele performers. Every two weeks www.ukulelehunt.com present a list of their favourite new ukulele videos. Whilst these five videos are perfectly safe, it is worth being careful,  as many performance videos are aimed at an adult audience so may be inappropriate for children. Always watch videos carefully yourself first.

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