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​The Ukulele Kids Teaching Approach

HolyFamilyUkuleleClassUkulele Kids teaches the ukulele primarily as an instrument to accompany singing, although we do some melody work as well. We teach chords from the very beginning and build on the students' knowledge of and facility with them as we progress through song material. Apart from the numbers in the included songbook, we hand out additional song sheets for educational purposes which increase the range of music we can offer - folk, pop, Disney and other musicals, standards, etc. Our goal is to have students playing and singing virtually from the start - by the end of the first class. While we are serious about teaching, we also want their experience with the ukulele to be fun and confidence-building.

Whenever possible we try to form classes by age group. Typical divisions are Primary, Grades 1-3 and Junior, Grades 4-6. At schools covering Grades 1-8 we tend to split the classes based on what makes sense according to the registration levels for each grade. With very large registrations we will tend to have more classes with narrower grade range for each. 

The choice of song material and pace of learning expectations are geared to the ages of the students in a particular class. School concerts are opportunities we embrace as they give the parents a chance to see what we've been teaching to their children as well as a venue in which the students can strut their stuff! They generally approach these events with great excitement and pride.

​The Ukulele Kids Teaching Approach

Pitch Pipes vs. Tuners

The pitch pipe is a little wind instrument that plays the sound for each string which must be matched by the user to tune the ukulele. The digital tuner clips on to the head of the ukulele and reads the vibrations of the string being tuned. As the string is being adjusted it indicates on (yet another) screen whether the pitch is too high or too low. When the pitch for that string is right, the display turns green. It can be used in noisy environments and does not require the user to match the indicated pitch by ear as does the pitch pipe.
Keeping a ukulele in tune is very important in order to make practice meaningful and enjoyable.
In the front of the Ukulele Kids songbook there is a Parent Guide that offers a couple of websites with tuning functions.
These play the actual sound of each ukulele string making it easier to match by ear than matching to a pitch pipe's sound. One is: www.get-tuned.com/ukulele_tuner.php
 
So if you use the internet, tuner, or pitch pipe, playing a ukulele that is in tune is a happy, rewarding experience.
Pitch Pipes vs. Tuners

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Ukulele Kids curriculum

The songs in the Ukulele Kids songbook are only the beginning. We have a large repertoire of material that we had out as individual song sheets. For the primary grades we start with songs that can be played with two chords and build from there, sometimes with more chords added to the same songs.

Fortunately, an abilty to play 4-06 chords opens up a good range of material to these younger students. Their progress at this stage is very age dependent. Six months can make a big difference. As we urge them ahead, keeping it fun is our priority.

With junior students we are able to progress more quickly and expose them to a wider variety of music. At the same time we provide more advanced teaching materials, additional chord charts for practice, an introduction to bar chords and variations on bar chord structures. With the wider range of song styles come different rhythms and strumming techniques. Juniors particularly enjoy playing fairly current pop songs such as I'm Yours, Stay With Me and Riptide. often with newer pop numbers we have to adjust a few lyrics to make them more appropriate.

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