View Full Version : Running a middle school ukulele club

07-25-2011, 10:52 AM
Hi there folks,

I was hoping to pick some brains here. My name is Robert, and I'm a seventh grade teacher. I'm going to be running a ukulele club at my school next year. I've been playing ukulele myself for about two years now. Just wondering if anyone has any experience running a youth uke club, and if so, if that person could share any tips. I anticipate many of the kids being much better players than I am (actually hoping to learn from them too) but I want it to still be a worthwhile experience for all the kids. Anyway, like I said, any tips would be very much appreciated, both by me and the kids who will be in the club.

07-25-2011, 11:23 AM
I run a club at a secondary school in England. That's like middle school and high school combined, by California standards. In practice, the "Juniors" and "Seniors", A-level students, don't have time to be in the club. So, 6th-10th graders basically. The core are 8th and 9th graders. Some of them are getting pretty good.

Lessons I've learned, and tips I would give:

1. Singers are really important. Make sure some people are willing to sing.
2. If you have access to YouTube, it's an amazing resource. Show the students what they're aiming at, skill-wise: Jake Shimabukuro, James Hill, Taimane Gardner. They need to know how good you CAN get at ukulele. UkeMinutes is great for... well, everything. Also, when you're learning a song, you can play and sing along with the video. (If you don't have access to YouTube, beg, borrow and steal for it.)
3. Try to get a range of kids in. Try to prevent it from becoming a clique. There is a faction in my club which is also just a social group in school. So, that makes it harder for new kids to join, as they're not part of that social group. Trying to work out what to do about that.
4. Try to get songs sooner than later that have some arranging; that is, not everyone is doing the same thing. It gives the better players a chance to shine.
5. If kids are getting their own ukuleles, try to get the word out FAST about which brands NOT to buy. I had a problem early on in that all the kids went to the BAD music store in town, who sell terrible ukuleles. For the same price, and 200m down the road, they could have paid the same for Makalas, which are pretty decent.
6. Once you have some kids who are good, get them to mentor new members. And make them do it. Spreads friendship and music.
7. If you have a way of posting things online that kids can use, post chord charts and things. They'll use them, and some kids don't navigate the web as well as we think they all do. ;)

Hope that helps.


07-25-2011, 04:20 PM
welcome to uu!

i've run a uke club for adults for a while. but a dude on here named "haolejohn" has had some uke experience with young kids in his school. i'm not sure in what capacity.

if you'd like, i've done some uke intro sessions with a middle school music teacher who started teaching the uke to her kids. i could maybe get you in touch if you'd like.

let me know!


07-25-2011, 04:45 PM
I will be trying to kick one off next year as well, and at the same time actually teaching Ukulele as a class to a group of kids at another school nearby (Some of my HS friends are starting a music program in a school that lost theirs)- pulelehua, these thoughts are gold.
Right now we have more or less a daily "Hootenanny" with whatever anyone wants to bring at lunch, but I am hoping to formalize it a bit. Best bet is the Youtube there- I have a Smartboard in my room and we watch the video, and then figure out the tune for now. one of our fellow UU'ers will chime in soon I am sure and was kind enough to send me songs the kids like that he uses with his groups- but I forget the user name (Chris- you out there?). Also another UU'er (why am I forgetting everyone"s user names?) did this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLFltCON0SM) with a group of kids- it is gold...hoping he chimes in as well.
Good luck with it and be sure to report back in November and let us know if it is any fun ;)

07-26-2011, 11:31 AM
Thank you for the help. Those of you who offered contacts, I may be taking you up on that. I think some ideas are starting to gell in my head. Thanks again. I'll definitely come back and update on how things are going.

07-26-2011, 07:07 PM
I think there is a guy here who goes by ukulelemike on youtube but has a different user name here. He is a teacher in Seattle and I think he does stuff at schools. He has a lot of stuff on youtube, check it out. OK he's MusicTeacher2009.

07-27-2011, 03:35 PM
Good luck with your club!

07-27-2011, 03:35 PM
I like the daily hootenanny!