View Full Version : Book Suggestions for an Online Course

02-15-2016, 09:03 AM
Hi everyone! I'm a middle school music teacher currently working on my master's degree. I'm currently taking a course about online teaching, and a big component is to build my own online course. I've proposed to design one in which I teach how to play the ukulele!

I've dabbled in ukulele, but I'm no expert. I would love to get some of your thoughts about method books that may be helpful for adult (or secondary-age) online learners. What books have a nice easy-to-follow layout? I'd love to also include reading notation and tab, maybe a little music theory. Songwriting might be cool too. I don't have to limit myself to one book, but I do need a starting place to begin looking.

Any suggestions for where to begin on method books that might be useful?



Joyful Uke
02-15-2016, 09:27 AM
I haven't seen the books, but have heard that James Hill has a good series of books for teaching ukulele.
Here is one link:

02-15-2016, 02:05 PM
Hey there! I used to be a middle school band director and elementary music teacher! Sounds like a fun project.

I just received James Hill's books, Ukulele in the Classroom (book 1), and Play Ukulele Today. These methods are a wonderful introduction to ukulele for any age, but they are very child-friendly. Play Ukulele Today is just 16 pages long, covers finger picking, chords, and where the notes are located on the staff. One thing left out of both books, it seems, is how to count the rhythms of the finger picking melodies. These are my favorites so far.

Essential Elements for Ukulele http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Elements-Ukulele-Method-Ensemble/dp/1480395986 I have book one. James Hill beats EE because EE doesn't introduce reading music until page 16. You strum the first 15 pages. To me, that is a little backwards. I like to start my students with finger picking, learning where the notes are on the instrument and on the page, and then add strums a little later. So, EE is ranked second.

The Hal Leonard ukulele method, http://www.amazon.com/Hal-Leonard-Ukulele-Method-Book/dp/0634079867/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455583236&sr=1-1&keywords=Hal+Leonard+ukulele

Hal Leonard is my third favorite to James Hill. James Hill wins with very well thought transitions from skill to skill, and his use of musical notation from the start. The Hal Leonard book has been a little boring for my students. (I teach private lessons now that I'm no longer teaching in public school)

Good book called Ukulele Fretboard Roadmaps, lots of great information, but if you aren't a musical person coming in to this book, you can get lost fast. I jump around a lot in this book and just pull what I want/need. So, not a true method book with chronological lessons.

Ukulele Aerobics, good book, more for the advancing player who already has a good ukulele foundation.

I had high hopes for Alfred's Beginning Ukulele, Intermediate Ukulele, and Mastering Ukulele series. The first book had a great introduction to the musical alphabet and the notes on the fretboard. They even talked about half steps and whole steps! And then went straight into strums, so there was no practical application of notes on the fretboard and no explanation of musical notation on a staff until page 30. Yep, page 30. These books are long. Too long, in my opinion, for the student-aged player. And they are confusing - the flow is strange. If I could take these books and get someone to edit them to have a better flow from lesson to lesson, they'd be great. Just overwhelming. Here they are anyway: http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Ukulele-Method----Beginning/dp/073909548X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1455584392&sr=8-1&keywords=Beginning+Ukulele

Oh, and the Alfred series has DVD's included, which I was very excited about. Turns out, they are boring as toast - my kids, my students, my ukulele playing husband, and myself all lost interest a few minutes in. I spent a lot of money on these three books and haven't used them - very little.

Okay, so there you have it, I've bought a lot of books, because unlike the band world, there was no "gold standard" that you knew you could use. I have tried many. James Hill, who has a special emphasis on education, wins. And he's a great performer as well as a good, thoughtful teacher.

Sorry for the long post, I tried not to get too wordy. If I was still teaching elementary education, we would be using ukuleles in the classroom for sure. Kids love them. Adults love them. Even middle school kids think they are cool (and it can be hard to impress a middle schooler).

02-15-2016, 03:47 PM
Can't help you on the book selection, but I can make a suggestion about online instruction.

Check into becoming Quality Matters certified if your Master's course does not include this component. Quality Matters is a peer reviewed set of standards for online teaching. https://www.qualitymatters.org/ It is like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval in distance learning.

I have been teaching online since 2002. I am a QM peer reviewer at my institution. Even if you don't wish to have your course peer reviewed, or to become a reviewer, the information is invaluable in setting up your course in a clear and concise manner.