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Starting a Ukulele Program in Your Classroom: Part 4 of 6
By Sam Marchuk
1/25/2018 4:21:00 PM  

Starting a Ukulele Program in Your Classroom Part 4 of 6: Which Curriculum/Method Should I Use?

 
 

Essential Elements for Ukulele Series

by Marty Gross

essential elements

Hal Leonard applies the same concepts featured in their proven Essential Elements series for the ukulele. This method begins with basic chords and strumming patterns for immediate student gratification. Note reading, theory, and some advanced techniques are introduced later to round out the essentials of playing. There is a large selection of recognizable folk and popular songs too, such as Home on the Range, Hound Dog, La Bamba, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, The Rainbow Connection, Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and much more! This method also includes an access code for audio files in place of a CD. Can be used as a resource to brush up your skills, to have as a reference for their classroom, or for each student to use for practice.
 
 
 
Book 2 is also available with more advanced strumming options and fingerpicking techniques.
 
 
 

Easy Ukulele Songs Series

by Denise Gagné

easy ukulele songs
This collection is part of a series of easy songs for ukulele will have students singing and playing the ukulele in the first lesson! The focus is learning songs to sing and strum. The first 15 songs are one-chord songs, followed by 15 easy two-chord songs. The last 2 songs use three chords. The enhanced CD also has projectable PDFs with links to easy pop songs on YouTube that use the same chords, as well as recordings of all songs. The 860395 Easy Ukulele Songs Teacher’s Guide is 48 pages and includes reproducible lyrics pages and enhanced CD. Student books are also available. Advance to the next title in the series 864302 More Easy Ukulele Songs for even more one, two, and three-chord songs:
 
 
 
 

Strum It Up (21 Soprano Ukulele Pieces in Orff Style)

by Sandy Lantz and Gretchen Wahlberg

strum it up book

This new method integrates ukuleles with other classroom instruments and has full Orff-style orchestrations for your Orff music classes. Students will learn chord progressions, vocabulary, and how to accompany songs and melodies. The unique timbre of the ukulele supports the child's singing voice and allows students to hear and sing harmony accurately.
 
A FREE security code for online PDF files is included, along with lyric sheets (reproducible for student books, or for SMART board applications, videos, and other resource materials. Movement/dance suggestions, Polynesian instrumental suggestions, Hawaiian Language guide, and Ukulele strumming techniques are also included.
 
 
 
 

Strum, Strike, Sing, & Play: Artfully Adding Ukulele to the General Music Classroom

by Kate Hagen & Sarah Fairfield
strum strike sing and play

This ensemble-based publication introduces students to the ukulele as a versatile instrument capable of spanning multiple musical genres. The ensembles are appropriate for day to day teaching as well as performances. The lessons represent a "seed" of an idea with the intention that educators will cultivate the repertoire to fit their environment. Each lesson can be adapted, changed, or molded to fit your students' needs. Includes digital access to visuals.
 
 
 

Ukulele in the Classroom Series

by James Hill and J. Chalmers Doane

ukuleles in the classroom
 
This classroom method series is a more in-depth and sequential study and begins with ear training, note reading, rhythm, scale, strumming exercises, and over two dozen vocal and instrumental arrangements. Includes traditional English, French, Chinese, Hawaiian, African, Chilean, and Canadian songs, as well as arrangements of works by Brahms, Benedict, and Holst.
 
Individual student books and an advanced Book 2 are available. The series also offers additional supplemental ensemble repertoire books for planning performances:
 
 
 
 
 

The Complete Ukulele Course for Kids DVD

By Ralph Shaw

the complete ukulele dvd
As an educator through DVD videos, Ralph Shaw has helped many people of all ages improve their ukulele skill. Ralph starts with a lesson on tuning the ukulele and then guides the student through carefully prepared lessons that cover: playing four chords in the key of C, strumming/rhythm techniques, changing keys, playing 4/4 & 3/4 time, and understanding simple transposition. Students from the Wondertree Learning Centre will demonstrate the songs so you can play along!
Includes 15 kid-friendly songs such as He's Got the Whole World in His Hands, When the Saints Go Marching In, Frere Jacques, This Little Light of Mine, Grandfather's Clock, and more!
 
 
 
 

Summary

With so many options you can find the best method to best suit the needs of your students, classroom teaching style, and objectives. For more ideas, contact an educational consultant at 800-397-9379 to see how we can help bring ukulele to YOUR classroom!
 
 

About the Author

Sam MarchukSam Marchuk is an Education Consultant for West Music specializing in folk instruments and curriculum for the elementary classroom. He has been playing ukulele since 1998 and is an avid collector of vintage and contemporary ukulele models.

As an Education Consultant, Sam assists with the selection and acquisition of instruments and curriculum with teachers across the U.S. He enjoys matching up players of all skill levels and classroom teachers with the right ukulele to fit their personality, style, and budget.

Sam has demonstrated the potential of the of the ukulele at numerous state and national music education conferences, helped with the startup of ukulele programs across the U.S., and has taught beginning ukulele at the annual Strathmore Ukulele and Guitar Summit in Rockville, MD.

 



Tags: ukulele, music education, classroom
Categories: Music, Books & Resources, Music Education
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Starting a Ukulele Program in Your Classroom: Part 3 of 6
By Sam Marchuk
12/1/2017 12:34:00 PM  

Starting a Ukulele Program in Your Classroom Part 3 of 6: Which Ukulele Model Should I Choose for My Classroom?

Printable PDF Version

There are many different models of ukuleles available, so how do you which one you should choose for your classroom?

You will want to make sure to choose a quality instrument that will play in tune and produce a good tone - while staying within your budget. You will also want to consider how these instruments will be stored and budget accordingly as some models do not include a gig bag. (See upcoming Part 6 of 6: How Should I Store My Ukuleles? for options.)

Here are some of our most popular models that have proven themselves with our classroom teachers:

Makala MK Series Ukuleles

makala mk ukulelesFor the classroom, the 303685 Makala MK-S Soprano Ukulele really sets the standard. Branded under Kala’s entry-level Makala name, it is a traditional all-wood model that is consistent in quality, playability, and tone. It features an agathis wood body, mahogany neck, rosewood or walnut fingerboard and bridge, geared tuners, and the highly sought-after Aquila Super Nylgut strings. The bridge is set up with the strings wrapped around it and securely knotted in place – a feature not typical on ukuleles in this price range. Our teachers rave about the quality, sound, and affordability of this ukulele! This series is available in the larger concert, tenor and baritone sizes plus classroom sets:
 

303685 MK-S Soprano Ukulele

  Ukulele only

  Bundled with gig bag and digital clip-on tuner

  Classroom sets

303686 MK-C Concert Ukulele

  Ukulele only

  Bundled with gig bag and digital clip-on tuner 

303687 MK-T Tenor Ukulele

303688 MK-B Baritone Ukulele

 

Kala KA-15S Soprano Ukuleles

kala a ukulelesThis model is based on the Makala MK-S all-wood version but has several upgrades with only a nominal price difference. If you have the budget these upgrades are worth the investment and include:

 - GraphTech NuBone nut and saddle (vs. plastic on the MK-S). This denser material transfers more vibration to the instrument top, producing a fuller sound with more volume

 - Pearloid tuning buttons (more decorative than the plain plastic buttons on the MK-S)

 - Laser-etched design around the sound hole

 

See more info on this model here:

  Ukulele only

  Bundled with gig bag and digital clip-on tuner

 

Makala MK-S/Dolphin Ukuleles

dolphin ukulelesIf you are looking to add some color to your classroom, Makala’s Dolphin Series ukuleles are a great option! Based on the MK-S all-wood model this series features a molded plastic body over a wood top and are painted in a variety of bold colors (black, blue, green, pink, purple, red, white, or yellow). This model has many of the same features as the all-wood version, including Aquila Super Nylgut strings, metal frets, and rosewood or walnut fretboard and bridge. The plastic body makes for a brighter tone than the wood model, with plenty of volume – but also making it washable and extremely durable. The plastic body may hold up better for locations that are warmer and have high humidity. This model includes a non-padded gig bag. More info and available options.

 

Westwood Ukuleles

westwood ukes

Our Westwood series of ukuleles offer many extras at a great value. Constructed of basswood, these ukuleles also include a non-padded gig bag, a strap, and pre-installed strap buttons. Available in soprano, concert, and tenor sizes and classroom sets:

304101 Westwood Soprano Ukulele

  Ukulele only

  Classroom sets

304102 Westwood Concert Ukulele

304103 Westwood Tenor Ukulele

 

Kala Waterman Ukuleles

watermanThe Kala Waterman ukuleles is another inexpensive option and a great value! While the Makala Dolphin series has a plastic covered body with wood neck and metal frets, the Waterman ukuleles are constructed entirely of plastic (except for the geared metal tuners). That makes this ukulele completely waterproof and a fun option with the color choices and available finishes. Solid color models are the most popular and affordable, while translucent, and even a glow-in-the dark model, are available for just a bit more. Each Waterman ukulele includes a non-padded carry tote. The larger concert size is also available in this series. Here is a link for more available options!

Be sure to remember that the strings on any new ukulele will stretch quite a bit when being tuned up for the first time. They may take some time to settle before staying in tune. Check out this article on how to break in new ukulele strings. Have any questions or comments? Contact one of our Education Consultants at 800-397-9378 to see how we can put together a set of classroom ukuleles to best suit your budget and needs!

Read Part 4

About the Author

Sam MarchukSam Marchuk is an Education Consultant for West Music specializing in folk instruments and curriculum for the elementary classroom. He has been playing ukulele since 1998 and is an avid collector of vintage and contemporary ukulele models.

As an Education Consultant, Sam assists with the selection and acquisition of instruments and curriculum with teachers across the U.S. He enjoys matching up players of all skill levels and classroom teachers with the right ukulele to fit their personality, style, and budget.

Sam has demonstrated the potential of the of the ukulele at numerous state and national music education conferences, helped with the startup of ukulele programs across the U.S., and has taught beginning ukulele at the annual Strathmore Ukulele and Guitar Summit in Rockville, MD.




Tags: ukulele, music education, classroom
Categories: Guitars & Folk, Music Education
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Starting a Ukulele Program in Your Classroom: Part 2 of 6
By Sam Marchuk
10/10/2017 3:27:00 PM  

Starting a Ukulele Program in Your Classroom: Part 2 of 6: What Size Ukulele?

ukulele sizesIn Part One of this series, we discussed the many benefits of bringing ukuleles into the classroom. In part two we go over the four sizes of ukuleles available and which might be best for your students. Continue reading, or download this printable PFD version.


The first thing to know is that there are 4 different sizes of ukuleles to choose from: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. The smallest of these, the soprano, is the most common for beginners. This is due to it having the lowest cost of the bunch, making it the best value when purchasing a classroom set. It is also considered the “standard” ukulele size, dating back from its original roots in Hawaii in the late 1870s.

Children and adults alike can enjoy soprano size ukulele and will be pleased with the bright, signature sound, portability, and cost. But what about the larger concert or tenor sizes, which feature the same tuning? If your budget allows, there can be several advantages if you decide to use a larger size ukulele in your classroom.

Advantages of Using a Larger Size Ukulele


Fuller, Deeper Sound

A larger resonator body allows the lower tones to resonate, providing a fuller, deeper sound. This creates a more well-balanced and pleasing tone over the soprano model.


Comfort

The larger body and longer neck may be more comfortable to hold, which may put the instrument in a more natural playing position for some students.

Less Cramped

More frets and space between them. This will allow for easier finger positions when moving up the fretboard as fingers will become less cramped.


More Range

This may be more useful if you are offering advanced classes where you will play beyond the first position (past the first 5 frets). Concert and tenor ukuleles typically have a higher range with 17 or more frets to a soprano’s 12. The extra frets may come in handy and add more interest when playing with a ukulele ensemble.


Student's Perception

Students may view it as more as a true musical instrument and less as a novelty/toy. The larger ukulele size becomes more guitar-like to play and listen to.


Concert or Tenor?

Only a bit larger than a soprano, concert size ukulele may be the ideal choice for many of these reasons. For this reason the concert size is often referred to the in-between, or “Goldilocks” size for its perfect blend of characteristics of the soprano and tenor.

The tenor ukulele is also an option, with it having the fullest sound due to an even larger body than the concert size. But it can become considerably more expensive than the soprano, especially when purchased in sets, and feel too large to comfortable hold for younger students.


What About Baritone?

The baritone ukulele tuned differently to a fourth lower than the other ukulele sizes, which are the same pitches as the top four guitar strings. Therefore, the baritone is in a different key and requires different fingering from the soprano/concert/tenor. See this article for more information on ukulele tunings and size comparisons: Models and Tunings and Sizes, Oh My! How to Choose the Right Ukulele for You.


Other Considerations

For demonstrative and personal use, teachers may want to opt for a larger or different model ukulele to make their instrument stand out from the student models. That may be another example where concert or tenor may be a good choice for them, even if their students use the soprano. Check out Makala’s MK Series of mahogany ukuleles, available in all 4 sizes:

Read Part 3


Summary

Ultimately, the deciding factors are going to come to the budget you are working with, and the use of ukulele as an introduction or advanced lessons. Contact one of our Education Consultants at 800-397-9379 to see how we can put together a set of classroom ukuleles to best suit your budget and needs!


About the Author

Sam MarchukSam Marchuk is an Education Consultant for West Music specializing in folk instruments and curriculum for the elementary classroom. He has been playing ukulele since 1998 and is an avid collector of vintage and contemporary ukulele models.

As an Education Consultant, Sam assists with the selection and acquisition of instruments and curriculum with teachers across the U.S. He enjoys matching up players of all skill levels and classroom teachers with the right ukulele to fit their personality, style, and budget.

Sam has demonstrated the potential of the of the ukulele at numerous state and national music education conferences, helped with the startup of ukulele programs across the U.S., and has taught beginning ukulele at the annual Strathmore Ukulele and Guitar Summit in Rockville, MD.




Tags: ukulele, music education, classroom
Categories: Guitars & Folk, Music Education
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Starting a Ukulele Program in Your Classroom: Part 1 of 6
By Sam Marchuk
9/20/2017 6:19:00 AM  

Starting a Ukulele Program in Your Classroom Part 1 of 6: Why Teach Ukulele?

Are you looking to start a ukulele program in your school but not sure where to start? You don’t need to be an accomplished guitar/ukulele player or have a big budget to add ukulele to your curriculum. Here is what you need to know if you are considering starting ukulele with your students:

Printable PDF Version

Why Teach Ukulele?

 

School ukulele program

Ukuleles are Educational

Many skills are developed that are essential not only for creating music, but in learning other subjects while building character, and responsibility, too!  

Musicianship: Students will learn tuning, strumming/rhythm, accompaniment, melody, singing, hand coordination, sight-reading, and many other skills while learning the ukulele.

Mathematics: Students can see the string becoming shorter in length to create a higher pitch. As another example, the open A string makes the note because it vibrates at a frequency of 440 hertz. If you fret this same string exactly halfway up the fretboard, it results in the string vibrating twice as much at frequency of 880 hertz, the A note an octave above.

History: Students learn about history with the development of the instrument, how it is made, how sound is produced, and what events were occurring at the time.

Culture: Students can learn about the origins of the instrument, its history, and the culture of the music being experienced.

Social Skills: Students assist classmates with learning, develop teamwork in playing together, and creativity in making their own songs!

Responsibility: Students learn how to care for their instrument, track their practice time, and monitor their progress.

 

Ukuleles are Affordable

school music ukulele

Ukuleles for your classroom do not require a major investment to start and can cost a fraction of the amount you could spend for a set of guitars. With good quality instruments starting at just under $40 each, a full classroom set of 25 instrument can be purchased for under $1000. 

West Music offers discounts for classroom sets and can create a custom package to meet your specific requirements and budget needs. On leaner budgets, some teachers may have students share a ukulele, making 10 ukuleles sufficient for use among 20 students, for example. This can be a good opportunity for the students to work on movement or rhythm skills while awaiting their turn on the ukulele. 

Many educational grants and other funding opportunities are available to help teachers fund instruments for their classroom. Be sure to check out West Music’s Funding Resource page for ways to expand your classroom materials: edufund.westmusic.com

 

Ukuleles are Easy to Learn…and the Perfect Lead-in to Guitar

Because of its smaller size, the ukulele is easier to hold than a guitar. The ukulele uses the same fingerings as guitar, but with only 4 strings instead of the guitar’s 6 strings. This makes learning how to play chords much simpler, allowing the student to focus on individual skills such as strumming, than combining chord changes with more complex finger positions on a guitar. 

For example, the major C chord on the ukulele requires one finger to be positioned on a single string, whereas the same chord would require three fingers, all on separate strings, on a guitar. Here is an example, showing 3 fingers to make the same chord shape on guitar, versus only 1 finger on ukulele:

g chord on guitar c chord on ukulele

Plus, the ukulele’s softer, all-nylon strings are much easier on the tips of beginner’s fingers than guitar’s steel strings. All of the skills learned are transferrable too…if you can play the ukulele, you can use the same techniques to play guitar!

 

Ukuleles are Versatile

The ukulele is an instrument students can play alone or with a group, regardless of the skill level or genre. Plus, it can be used to accompany while singing or with other instruments, songwriting, or alone with instrumental arrangements. 

 

Ukuleles are Portable

With all of the fun your students will have, they will want to take it everywhere - which is easy to do with the convenient size of ukulele!

 

Ukuleles are Fun…for Life!

Students are enthusiastic to learn such a diverse instrument that can be used to express and discover themselves through music. Because of its versatility and similarity to guitar, ukulele players can use their skills to enjoy making music outside of the classroom and throughout the rest of their lives. 

With so many benefits, it is easy to see why ukulele is becoming a staple in classrooms across the nation. Time and time again I have heard from many of our classroom teachers, informing us the ukulele class is the highlight not only for them, but for their students as well. This level of enthusiasm has helped spawn after-school ukulele groups and other extra-curricular activities. 

Read Part 2

Don’t be left out Let us know what we can do to assist with a ukulele program in your school! Contact a West Music Education Consultant at 800-397-9378 and we can help you equip your classroom.


About the Author

Sam MarchukSam Marchuk is an Educaton Consultant for West Music specializing in folk instruments and curriculum for the elementary classroom. He has been playing ukulele since 1998 and is an avid collector of vintage and contemporary ukulele models.

As an Education Consultant, Sam assists with the selection and acquisition of instruments and curriculum with teachers across the U.S. He enjoys matching up players of all skill levels and classroom teachers with the right ukulele to fit their personality, style, and budget.

Sam has demonstrated the potential of the of the ukulele at numerous state and national music education conferences, helped with the startup of ukulele programs across the U.S., and has taught beginning ukulele at the annual Strathmore Ukulele and Guitar Summit in Rockville, MD.




Tags: ukulele, music education, classroom
Categories: Guitars & Folk, Music Education
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How To Break In New Ukulele Strings
By Sam Marchuk
6/2/2015 1:13:00 PM  
You get your new ukulele, tune it up to pitch and play your first chord and - it is already out of tune! Have no fear. There is nothing wrong with your ukulele or the tuners: you just need to break-in your strings.

Ukuleles come pre-strung with nylon strings which have never been brought up to pitch. They will go out of tune immediately due to the elasticity of the nylon and the looseness of the knot holding it in place. Therefore, it is imperative to pre-stretch each string and lock each knot into place. Here is how:



1. Begin by tuning the ukulele up to approximate pitch (for Soprano, Concert and Tenor: G – C – E – A). Don’t worry about fine tuning for now as you will need to do this several times until the strings are stretched a bit and broken in. You might opt to use a string winder to speed up this process.

2. Place your right hand palm on the bridge and wrap your fingers around a single string, pulling it up gently away from the body. IMPORTANT: Be sure to keep your palm on the bridge so that you are not pulling the bridge away from the body, only the string. This will help lock the bridge knot. Repeat for each of the other 3 strings.

3. Next, place your right forearm on the bridge (which will position your fingers higher on the fretboard area close to the nut), wrap your fingers around a single string, and pull up gently. Again, be sure to keep your forearm on the bridge to avoid pulling the bridge away from the body. You may wish to hold the string in place at the nut with your left hand so that it does not come out of the nut groove. Pulling on the string in this upper range will help lock the knot in place at the tuner. Repeat for each of the other 3 strings.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 until the strings remain in tune to approximate pitch after you have lightly pulled on them.

5. You can now fine tune your ukulele with a digital tuner or tuner of your choice. Note: it is always better to fine tune a string up to pitch. (If you tune down to pitch it is possible for the string tension to get hung up at the friction points, ie. saddle or nut and then slip further down in pitch when released.)


Voila! You are now ready to play. Happy Strumming!!

This article can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Have a ukulele question or comment? Contact Sam Marchuk at (800) 397-9378 Ext. 1343 or smarchuk@westmusic.com





Tags: sam marchuk, ukulele, ukulele strings, new strings, break-in, breaking-in new strings
Categories: Guitars & Folk, Conservatory, Music Education
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