Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ukulele- getting started

Two years ago, I applied for and got a grant for 30 ukulele's for my 6th graders. They have loved them. I love the ukulele because the kids can learn to play an instrument, but they are still singing as well. They can use all of the musical knowledge they have accumulated to sing and play musically.

I start by having them sing the songs before we start. It is difficult to do both at the same time.

I use this book because it has many folk songs with 2 and 3 chords that use the chords that are most useful for a beginner.

I found these large chord cards on the Ukulele in the classroom site. I post them on the wall and made a promethean to project them. Get your cards HERE.

I start by teaching the C chord and G7 and then do a bunch of 2 chord songs. I have found that if you teach them how to read the chord chart, chords are not too hard to figure out. The hard part is getting good at moving back and forth from one chord to the next. Every class period, I start by working on chord changing-- doing 8 beats per chord and then moving to the next. That is the best way to get them to really learn. 

I then teach the F chord and do three chord songs, still reviewing the chord changing and our 2 chord songs. 

As we get closer to the end of the year, I teach them e minor and a minor and for the past two years, about 30 students have accompanied Somewhere Over the Rainbow, the IZ version. I have had auditions since we only have 30 ukulele's. The rest sing. 

This year, I plan to have the students also sing "The Cup song" with Rootbeer instead of whiskey used in it. Some students will do the actual cup game while other play the ukulele and everyone sings. I am going to have all of the students do hand clapping to it as well.


  1. Hello! I am thrilled to read about your successful ukulele grant. I'm a K-5 music teacher who has applied for a grant myself. I was inspired by someone's blog - was it yours, perhaps? - that had a recording of their students performing "Fireflies" on the ukulele, while using wonderful singing voices.

    I'll be making the case for a $850 grant at a town meeting on Tuesday, January 7th. I'll have an entire 5 minutes to state my case and convince them that this is a worth-while venture. I've ready many of the materials on the 'Ukulele in the Classroom" website, but that is also a site that is trying to convince me to use their product. Do you, perhaps, have any feedback on your own program? On how well the kids have responded? Or anything you'd have like to have said to your grant committee?

    I'll be sure to let you know if I'm joining you in ukulele heaven - they hope to let people know by January 10th! If not this year, perhaps next. :-)

    Thanks for any help you can send my way!

    1. I am so sorry I just saw this post! My son and his family with 4 small children were here all during the break and then one of my best friends died. Her funeral was on Friday, and I am still dealing with it. Please e-mail me at lindas at and I'll tell you more about it. Our program works well and we spend very little money. I wish I had seen this earlier because I have all of the information I used to get the grant for $1350.00.