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View Full Version : Help! I'm teaching a six year old on Saturday!!!



joeybug
10-28-2010, 12:15 PM
Hi everyone,

It's Joey again. Now, as you all know, I'm a beginner, getting there with my own playing but still got a lot to work on. Now, for my God daughter (who lives with my and her mum, who is my carer - just some backstory for you there!) Darla was six on the 21st Oct, I gave her her first Ukulele, a lovely blue one same as Astrid my purple on, who she has named "Mei". Now, she asked me today if she could have lessons so she could "play songs like you Aunty Joey", which just melts my heart!

We decided that every Saturday we'd do like a 30-60 mins lesson so she can learn the basics. I'm planning to set her up with a notebook like mine with all the chord formations in it the front and then songs she knows written out in another section and a final section for any songs she writes/can play/whatever she chooses. It's worked for me and I think it'll work for her too.

My questions are as follows:

Should I try to teach her two chords for the first lesson and just strumming? Or add a simple song in there too? She's just learning to read and write, so I'd write the songs out for her, but the chord names would be easy for her to read because mostly their letters which she already knows.

What are some simple one/two/three chord songs that you think might appeal to a six year old tom boy - she likes Ben 10, dinosaurs, pirates, that kind of thing, so any songs on those subjects that are easy would be great!

How do I keep this "fun" for her? My worry is she'll get bored with just practising the same stuff, and lose interest and the Ukulele SHOULD be fun. I also don't want to give her too much to practise and have her overwhelmed and think it's too much work, again, taking away the fun of the Ukulele! What kind of balance is there? Two songs? Three? Four? More than that?

How much emphasis should I put on strumming up and down with her hand, or should I just let her get the feel of whatever direction is comfortable for her and then slowly introduce the second one?

I did have a website of "Madeline's Ukulele class for children" which I would love to use, but seemed to have lost along the way! I was thinking about us watching one of those together and trying it out together and going slow, but not too slow because she'll get bored. Does anyone have the link to that website? If you know what I'm talking about of course!

Basically, I want her to love it as much as I do, but learn it as well, I want it to be fun and not seem like work, because although she loves school, she doesn't want that at home too. I think I'll probably approach it from a "if you want to do it this Saturday we can, if next Saturday you don't want to, that's fine.." not gonna to force her, the love of it will make her want to play it one day!

Thanks for your help and advice, sorry this is a bit long!

Joey

Tudorp
10-28-2010, 12:18 PM
Basically, being 6, do songs relevent to her, and her age. learn Spongebob squarepants theme or whatever that age is into now. Don't get too "technical" for now at that age, just let them do a downward strum for now. Ask the child what songs they like, and learn those. They will play what they like, and not get board with it quikly..

definatly teach her a song she can play immediatly. When she hears a familier tune to her, that she is doing, that is the best medicine, and hook..

Good luck..

Penguinofsorts
10-28-2010, 12:23 PM
This YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0piM1L3a9Rc) might give you some good ideas on teaching small children!!

joeybug
10-28-2010, 12:24 PM
Basically, being 6, do songs relevent to her, and her age. learn Spongebob squarepants theme or whatever that age is into now. Don't get too "technical" for now at that age, just let them do a downward strum for now. Ask the child what songs they like, and learn those. They will play what they like, and not get board with it quikly..

definatly teach her a song she can play immediatly. When she hears a familier tune to her, that she is doing, that is the best medicine, and hook..

Good luck..

Thanks for the advice, I think I'll see if I can find any songs from TV that she likes or other tunes she sings that are easy to learn. She wants to learn "You've got a friend in me" because of me learning it for the contest, but it's a hard song, and I don't want to set her sights that high this soon and have her get bored and frustrated trying to get it right!

I will concentrate on just getting her to strum all the strings with a down strum and then when she's mroe confident go from there...Thanks again :D

Uncle Rod Higuchi
10-28-2010, 12:26 PM
Row, row, row your boat = 2 chords I believe.

London Bridge is Falling down = 2 chords.

If she can practice forming the 2 chords for these songs and work on changing
from chord to chord at, say 4 strums each (withou any reference to the melodies
of the songs, just chord-changing practice), then you can introduce the melody
(without lyrics), and then, when she can form the chords and do the changes
without looking at her fingers or interrupting her strumming (plain, up and down
at this point), then you can finally add the lyrics.

the key is to take her through the process step-by-step. she may impatiently
want to begin by playing a song, but her little fingers do not yet have the necessary
muscle memory, or even the digital strength to form the chords or make the changes
smoothly to begin by playing a song.

I know it sounds like drudgery, but if one can't form the chords and make the chord
changes in time with the beat/rhythm of the song, in the end, they really won't be
playing the song - there will be too many interruptions.

Just my thoughts.

Hope you have a great time bonding with her and sharing your love of the uke.

Keep uke'in',

aquaticsloth
10-28-2010, 12:30 PM
This is awesome!! Think about the first time you picked up a ukulele... What did you do and feel? I was just interested in strumming it and getting the feel of holding it etc. As a 6yr old I imagine she'll be excited just to be with "Aunty Joey" and spending time with you! I wouldnt worry about having a lesson plan laid out or anything. Just see how she does on the strumming and then you'll have a sense if she's ready or not to try out a few chords. Since Christmas is going to be here before we know it you can try to slip in some chords to her every once in a while so eventually she'll be able to play Jingle Bells http://www.storytimesongs.com/guitarchords/jingle.html I know you're really excited to teach her the uke, but just enjoying your time with her should be the first goal and if she really wants to learn she will keep asking to come back for more lessons! Good luck and tell us all how it goes!

joeybug
10-29-2010, 12:15 AM
This YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0piM1L3a9Rc) might give you some good ideas on teaching small children!!

That was the class I was talking about!! Thanks :D


Row, row, row your boat = 2 chords I believe.

London Bridge is Falling down = 2 chords.

If she can practice forming the 2 chords for these songs and work on changing
from chord to chord at, say 4 strums each (withou any reference to the melodies
of the songs, just chord-changing practice), then you can introduce the melody
(without lyrics), and then, when she can form the chords and do the changes
without looking at her fingers or interrupting her strumming (plain, up and down
at this point), then you can finally add the lyrics.

the key is to take her through the process step-by-step. she may impatiently
want to begin by playing a song, but her little fingers do not yet have the necessary
muscle memory, or even the digital strength to form the chords or make the changes
smoothly to begin by playing a song.

I know it sounds like drudgery, but if one can't form the chords and make the chord
changes in time with the beat/rhythm of the song, in the end, they really won't be
playing the song - there will be too many interruptions.

Just my thoughts.

Hope you have a great time bonding with her and sharing your love of the uke.

Keep uke'in',

Thanks for the advice, I planned to use your teaching techinique because it so helped me when I was first learning and it's how I learn a new song that I don't know all the chords to, so will definately try to keep this in mind :D


This is awesome!! Think about the first time you picked up a ukulele... What did you do and feel? I was just interested in strumming it and getting the feel of holding it etc. As a 6yr old I imagine she'll be excited just to be with "Aunty Joey" and spending time with you! I wouldnt worry about having a lesson plan laid out or anything. Just see how she does on the strumming and then you'll have a sense if she's ready or not to try out a few chords. Since Christmas is going to be here before we know it you can try to slip in some chords to her every once in a while so eventually she'll be able to play Jingle Bells http://www.storytimesongs.com/guitarchords/jingle.html I know you're really excited to teach her the uke, but just enjoying your time with her should be the first goal and if she really wants to learn she will keep asking to come back for more lessons! Good luck and tell us all how it goes!

Thanks for the link, I do intend to enjoy the time with her, I've been waiting for her to ask me to teach her songs or how to play it because I didn't want to push her into it and then her think it was boring and work like, y'know? So yes, I am very excited about this, and I want to do it right, I think I'm gonna spend the first lesson just letting her get a feel for the Uke and strumming and everything and maybe use the video lessons from Madaline that Penguin linked me to, I used those when I was first learning and although they don't do much for telling you how to strum, they do teach at a kid's level and onlu one/two chord songs, and the first is Old MacDonald, which she does know, so it would be nice for her to play a song she knows and hear how it sounds on the Uke!

Thanks for your advice and I may post a video of us "learning" or us doing a song or something!

mm stan
10-29-2010, 12:40 AM
Aloha JoeyB,
Here's some song she might know...http://www.fretplay.com/tabs///m/misc_childrens/nursery_rhymes-crd.shtml
When you get there, scroll down the page...Let me know how it works out for Darla and you.....Stan....

Hippie Dribble
10-29-2010, 02:07 AM
Aloha JoeyB,
Here's some song she might know...http://www.fretplay.com/tabs///m/misc_childrens/nursery_rhymes-crd.shtml
When you get there, scroll down the page...Let me know how it works out for Darla and you.....Stan....

aaawwwww ya big ol' softy!!!! :)

all those unforgettable songs from childhood. It's amazing that they're indelibly imprinted in our memories. Hope you have a great time with Darla Joey. It's awesome mate. I agree with everything that aquaticsloth said...have a ball together and keep us in the loop re how it's going :D

The one I was gonna suggest was "How Much is that doggy in the window" or "Skip To My Lou" both use just "C" and "G7"...but Stan's link is an awesome one too! Can't wait to hear how she likes it...

joeybug
10-29-2010, 02:14 AM
Aloha JoeyB,
Here's some song she might know...http://www.fretplay.com/tabs///m/misc_childrens/nursery_rhymes-crd.shtml
When you get there, scroll down the page...Let me know how it works out for Darla and you.....Stan....

Thanks for the link, will have a look at teaching her some of those too. :D


aaawwwww ya big ol' softy!!!! :)

all those unforgettable songs from childhood. It's amazing that they're indelibly imprinted in our memories. Hope you have a great time with Darla Joey. It's awesome mate. I agree with everything that aquaticsloth said...have a ball together and keep us in the loop re how it's going :D

The one I was gonna suggest was "How Much is that doggy in the window" or "Skip To My Lou" both use just "C" and "G7"...but Stan's link is an awesome one too! Can't wait to hear how she likes it...

I shall keep you all in the loop, just printed out chord sheets and yet ANOTHER Christmas song book for both myself and Darla...going to put the chord charts in her book for her to reference to when she gets to the stage of playing songs herself. She said her goal is to play "Jingle Bells" for her mum at Christmas, so we'll start with small songs and go from there!

Thanks for the advice both of you :D

Mandarb
10-29-2010, 03:40 AM
Some great advice as already been given - simple two chord songs that she can learn in a short period of time. Have fun and enjoy. Let us know how it went. Good luck.

Fuzzy
10-29-2010, 04:03 AM
Most important tip; have fun. If you have fun then she'll have fun.

mm stan
10-29-2010, 09:24 AM
Aloha Joey,
This one might be more children's rhymes and may be better....Check it out...Http://www.baby-patch.com/guitar.html
Have Fun and enjoy.....MM Stan...

scottie
10-29-2010, 06:51 PM
2 chord songs
strumming and rhythm
Have fun.

StevieC
10-29-2010, 10:25 PM
Six year-olds as a rule don't tend to be all that well co-ordinated so I would stick with one chord before teaching two. Just make up something simple - she will love having her own 'special' song. You could even write it with her!

As well as having the advantage of being able to stick on one chord you would be able to limit the range of the melody. Most young children have a range of only about a sixth ( think of the tune of twinkle twinkle little star) and can't manage to sing any higher or lower. As most songs require a greater vocal range, this ends up with them singing out of tune, or on one note. A tune you might make up with a small range would make it easier for her to sing in tune.

Hope this doesn't sound too complicated - at the end of the day the most important thing is for her (and you) to have fun and come back for more. Good luck.