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View Full Version : Teaching Uke to Kids. Where to start?



sharp21
06-30-2010, 06:11 AM
I've been asked to teach a 9 year old how to play the ukulele his mom brought him from Hawaii. I feel that I play reasonably well enough to tackle this, but am unsure where to begin!

What do you teach a kid in the 7-10 year old range that will really capture their interest, instead of boring them to tears?

I was thinking of starting with a simple 2 chord song & work on strumming & the chord transition?

Thanks
S.

whysosrs
06-30-2010, 06:16 AM
I've been asked to teach a 9 year old how to play the ukulele his mom brought him from Hawaii. I feel that I play reasonably well enough to tackle this, but am unsure where to begin!

What do you teach a kid in the 7-10 year old range that will really capture their interest, instead of boring them to tears?

I was thinking of starting with a simple 2 chord song & work on strumming & the chord transition?

Thanks
S.
Ask him what his favorite song is, or since he's 9, his favorite television show, and play the theme song. Tell the kid if you practice, you will eventually be able to play this better than me.
Give him something that interest him, and a goal.

tuscadero
06-30-2010, 06:22 AM
alligatorboogaloo.com has some kid friendly songs. At that age, F.U.N. from Spongebob might be appealing.

One bit of advice. when my son was learning guitar, his first teacher was all about scales and technique and music theory and it turned him right off. The second teacher was a neighborhood teenager who asked my son what he was interested in learning and then taught him that (sometimes transposing the key to make it easier.) Yes, the first teacher was probably a better music teacher, but the kid got my son to play and practice and stay interested in music. It's a uke, it should be fun. Keep it fun.

spookefoote
06-30-2010, 06:37 AM
C, F & G will suffice for most three chord trick; but really twinkle, twinkle, little star is always a good starter because they can strum along to the syllables. Simples

haolejohn
06-30-2010, 07:02 AM
I've been asked to teach a 9 year old how to play the ukulele his mom brought him from Hawaii. I feel that I play reasonably well enough to tackle this, but am unsure where to begin!

What do you teach a kid in the 7-10 year old range that will really capture their interest, instead of boring them to tears?

I was thinking of starting with a simple 2 chord song & work on strumming & the chord transition?

Thanks
S.
Excellent choice. I'd also ask the kid what kind of music they listen to and then se if it is G C Am and F. THat is what I do. I teach chords and fun songs. No theory (of course I know theory not).

lambchop
06-30-2010, 08:02 AM
C, F & G will suffice for most three chord trick; but really twinkle, twinkle, little star is always a good starter because they can strum along to the syllables. Simples

This is what I was going to say, but the G may be a little difficult for a child that age, but worth a try. Might as well do an Am as well, since it's an easy chord and will add to the number of songs. Let's face it, if you learn these four, you can do tons of songs!

Tudorp
06-30-2010, 08:38 AM
I agree that it all depends on that kid. Ask him what he/she wants to play. They are MUCH more interested if they are playing something personal to them, and not just something a teacher says to learn.

70sSanO
06-30-2010, 08:58 AM
I agree with asking him what music he likes...

...just hope the artist's first name isn't Jake.

John

sharp21
06-30-2010, 09:28 AM
Great advice gang!

His mom says he likes the Beatles, especially Yellow Sub, so I'm working on that before I meet him. Thats a 3 chord trick with C,F & G7 so we'll see how it goes.

Twinkle twinkle is a good idea too. I happened upon this site:
http://www.storytimesongs.com/guitar.html

which has real simple chord arrangements for well known traditional songs, so I'll pack a few of those & see what happens!

S.

ichadwick
06-30-2010, 11:17 AM
I've been asked to teach a 9 year old how to play the ukulele...
Check with the ukuleles-in-the-classroom folk and see what they have to offer.

I was planning to offer uke lessons locally through the music store here, but the high chances of getting kids in the class has deterred me so far. I break out in hives around children and start muttering about how 'in my day' they still used the strap in school... but there are a lot of good resources for teaching kids online and I might partake of them and take some antihistamine before I start a class...

Brad Bordessa
06-30-2010, 01:50 PM
Don't expect to follow any sort of lesson plan. It's good to have, but if they want to go off on a tangent - go. I found that the stuff I came up on the spot was what stuck in the young heads best.

sharp21
06-30-2010, 07:38 PM
Check with the ukuleles-in-the-classroom folk and see what they have to offer.

I was planning to offer uke lessons locally through the music store here, but the high chances of getting kids in the class has deterred me so far. I break out in hives around children and start muttering about how 'in my day' they still used the strap in school... but there are a lot of good resources for teaching kids online and I might partake of them and take some antihistamine before I start a class...

Haha yes you would definitely be running that risk!

http://www.ukuleleintheclassroom.com/playukuleletoday/index.htm looks like a good resource to start with. I may order it to get some ideas of other directions I could take.
Although I think it would be pretty fun to host an afternoon workshop in which 5 or 6 of us built some cigar box ukes, or put some kits together...


I'm a little nervous to commit to teaching one or 2 kids because I feel like more will follow... But thats a good thing right?

tuscadero
07-01-2010, 02:18 AM
Dude, I think you're kidding, but you know what? If you were in a class with someone who didn't really like you and didn't know how to approach you, you wouldn't feel comfortable, right? Neither do kids. Teach an adults only beginners class and advertise it as such. Leave the childrens' classes to someone who doesn't need to pop a benedryl to make it through ;)

MissJonib
07-01-2010, 04:50 AM
We were lucky enough to learn from someone who teaches a kids class daily at his school! I've since been able to teach a kids club at the school where I teach. Based on the way we were taught, I found the best thing possible is to start out with 2 chords--c and f.. There Ain't No Bugs On Me is a great first song, since it only has two chords and about a million verses. The Spongebog F.U.N. song in C is also a great 3 chord song. You can find tons of great two and three chord songs online. Find out what kind of music the kid likes--my son is a big Beatles fan--and tap into that, too.

Is your goal to teach the kid to read tabs, or do you ulitmately want him to understand the fretboard and be able to read the treble clef? I think that second stuff will come, if the child is natrually inclined. For now, I would make it fun. With a good head start, I have been amazed at how much a child can do on his or her own after the initialy introduction. My son, who is 9, knows tricks and chords that I don't know. He often shows me second position and better fingering. Don't underestimate a kid--just keep it simple at first, and keep it fun!

Congratulations on your first kid student!


I've been asked to teach a 9 year old how to play the ukulele his mom brought him from Hawaii. I feel that I play reasonably well enough to tackle this, but am unsure where to begin!

What do you teach a kid in the 7-10 year old range that will really capture their interest, instead of boring them to tears?

I was thinking of starting with a simple 2 chord song & work on strumming & the chord transition?

Thanks
S.

sharp21
07-01-2010, 06:03 AM
Great reply, thanks!

I'm not thinking that far ahead to be honest. Just want to spread the uke love & get him playing! How far he takes it will be up to him, but I certainly wont be forcing anything too advanced on him. I'll just keep showing him how easy & fun it is to play

S.

spookefoote
07-01-2010, 06:17 AM
We've got eighteen players in our High School Ukulele Orchestra with ages ranging from 12 to 17. They love the Uke and we play anything from Abba to The Muse to Kylie Minogue to Oasis. It's my favourite class of the week to teach. The Ukulele is now the number one instrument of choice in the school. They're cheap to buy, easy to learn, more addictive than crack but far less dangerous and offensive.

Lori
07-01-2010, 08:21 AM
This site is great for Beatle fans who play the uke. It might be a little hard at first (the chord changes are fast), so maybe in a few months try it out. You have to be near a computer to use it... play along, no printouts. Some songs can be simplified by using fewer chords. http://www.beatlesite.info/
Nothing like trying to learn a song you love, to make you stretch your playing skills.
–Lori

jamdead
07-01-2010, 11:50 AM
I am a 4th grade teacher and I teach my class how to play ukulele. It is a blast. This year I started with basic vocabulary briefly (such as frets, chords, strumming, picking etc.....) then chords c and f. Then I taught them really simple songs like "The Wheels on the bus", "If you're happy and know it" to get them to learn to strum and sing. These songs, of course, are too childish for a 9 - 10 year olds, but we performed them for the kindergarten classes. They were rock stars. Every week they got a new chord to learn. The class picked songs they wanted to learn. This was a little difficult since many of the songs they liked had lyrics that I was uncomfortable with teaching, so we didn't sing many of them. By the end of the year they could play "I got a feeling" by the black eyed peas, "When I come around" by Green Day, and "Teardrops on my Guitar" by Taylor Swift. They really liked these songs the best. I also used UU's Uke minutes as a guide for basic techniques.
I was amazed at much quicker they were to master finger picking than I was. They can now pick top string to bottom, bottom to top, and inside to outside technique. Amazing.
Have fun

sharp21
07-01-2010, 07:42 PM
I've been to beatlesite.info before. MusicTeacher2010 also has a beatles channel so I've been hitting that up.
S.

dans003
07-03-2010, 09:48 PM
I've been asked to teach a 9 year old how to play the ukulele his mom brought him from Hawaii. I feel that I play reasonably well enough to tackle this, but am unsure where to begin!

What do you teach a kid in the 7-10 year old range that will really capture their interest, instead of boring them to tears?

I was thinking of starting with a simple 2 chord song & work on strumming & the chord transition?

Thanks
S.
Ha!!! Being a lefty I could get him to mirror me!!!
I didn't have to try hard.
I dont know what to start with but that age range can be patronised easily, so ask him his favourite song and if you know it, transpose to C and teach him that

sharp21
07-26-2010, 05:39 PM
Well we had our first lesson & it went great!
His uke though... Steel stringed soprano! Couldn't tune it to save my life & it hurt his fingers...
So I'll be going back with a new set of strings & go with that
S.

farmerboy
07-26-2010, 10:54 PM
great. I'd add another couple of tunes to the list - ain't nothin but a hound dog tends to go down well, as does don't worry 'bout a thing. Really anything they want to learn. The uke group at school got fired up from the start because we were learning Jason Mraz etc on the ukes and the kids were able to show off to their friends without feeling like "twinkle twinkle" patronism was having its full effect on them.

RKNNDY
07-27-2010, 05:33 AM
I saw that someone already suggested Spongebob songs as a jumping point; you might want to pull up the original Tiny Tim videos on youtube. He'd likely get a good laugh out of it, and 'Tiptoe Through the Tulips' is an easy beginner song.

cocohonk
08-15-2010, 06:48 AM
Any tips/website recommendations/song recommendations on teaching kids under 3 how to play?

I have 2 nephews I have been asked to teach music/ukulele for, but I'm not sure if 2.5 years old is old enough for that. They do love seeing me play ukulele and they'd sing along, so might be interesting to see how they'd fare playing an instrument.

Here are my "skills":
- I'm not a great ukulele player (or even that good - been playing solidly for a little more than a year), but I should be fine teaching them simple chords and songs for the while. They have yet to really enjoy music that aren't solely for children. (Their favorite song, weirdly, is Happy Birthday, plus a handful of the usual London Bridge type stuff, and some Japanese/English cartoon songs too.)
- I've had years of piano lessons in my youth, plus a handful of flute, so I have some memory of basic music theory. Not looking to really educate them on that, but it would be nice to teach them the do-re-mis a la Sound of Music, so they'd know what the notes are, and later on, how to read music (FACE and EGBDF type stuff).

My question is, hm, how to begin?

Thanks!

cocohonk
08-27-2010, 02:31 PM
Mini Bump.

Any tips on teaching kids under 3 would be the most helpful, thank you.

SimonAlojipan
08-27-2010, 04:20 PM
Make SURE you teach about theory, and timing. There are countless musicians out there who play good, but don't know things to the bone. I understand that teaching is hard, but start with simple facts, information about the Ukulele. Then you should go on to teaching him about the strings, chords, scales, letters/notes. BRING A BEGINNER'S BOOKS. When he finishes that set of books, get one in the higher level. Follow everything in the book, and ad in a piece or two separate that he likes.

luvdat
08-27-2010, 10:52 PM
We've got eighteen players in our High School Ukulele Orchestra with ages ranging from 12 to 17. They love the Uke and we play anything from Abba to The Muse to Kylie Minogue to Oasis. It's my favourite class of the week to teach. The Ukulele is now the number one instrument of choice in the school. They're cheap to buy, easy to learn, more addictive than crack but far less dangerous and offensive.

Going to see Muse in October!