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View Full Version : Help. Teaching a Beginners Class at a Rescue Mission



ukuraleigh
03-28-2012, 08:25 AM
I could use your help and feedback.

I've offered to teach a beginner's ukulele class at my local rescue mission. God has blessed me with the small amount of ukulele skills I've picked up over the last 18 months and I'd like to share the joy of the ukulele with those that are struggling to get their lives back together.

My goal is for each student to have a hobby that brings them joy, takes their mind off their current circumstances, and teaches them to play perhaps one of the most beautiful Christian hymns ever written--Amazing Grace.

I've put together the following 5-week syllabus, but would appreciate any advice from those that have taught similar groups.

Many thanks!

Each lesson 35-45 minutes.


Week 1


Introduction and purpose of the class
Brief history of the ukulele
Types of ukulele music and musicians
Sizes of ukulele
Identifying the parts of the ukulele
How to hold an ukulele
How the ukulele is played
Learning the C chord
Learning the basic strum pattern
Playing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"
(Ukuleles available for those that wish to practice between lessons)




Week 2


Explaining the GCEA strings
Tuning the ukulele
How to read chord music
Introduction to Amazing Grace
Introducing the C7, F, Am, and G7 chords
Practicing each chord shape




Week 3


3/4 Strumming explained
Practicing 3/4 strumming
Playing Amazing Grace


Week 4


Class practice of Amazing Grace




Week 5


Learning a Hawaiian Vamp (F vamp)
Graduation. Certificates & ukulele for those that attended all 5 lessons.

BlueLatitude
03-28-2012, 09:26 AM
I've never taught, so take this for what it's worth, but maybe you should just get them right into playing and intersperse the history and types of music as you go.

If they're feeling low (and they probably are if they're at a rescue mission), they might not be interested in listening to even the shortest, friendliest lecture/speech/talk.

Good luck, I feel sure the moment they all strum that first C chord is gonna be magic!

grandpoobah
03-28-2012, 09:49 AM
have you watched any of the lessons from UU+? Might not be a bad starting point.

JamieFromOntario
03-28-2012, 09:50 AM
Looks like a great opportunity and a good set of lesson plans.

Here are a couple of suggestions:
- In general, go light on explanations and talking and do more playing. Remember that these folks will probably be more eager to play than to learn about the nitty gritty details. I think that the interest in these comes once someone is hooked on playing. You can always have the folks practice strumming the Cmaj chord while you give some explanation and historical details.
- Maybe try to teach two chords the first class. I'd be concerned about trying to teach four chords in the second class, particularly since you got the G7 in there. This one is a finger-twister for new players and is significantly harder than C, C7 or Am. In fact, maybe you could skip teaching the C7 chord (Or only teach it quickly in passing, and students who are feeling more confident can try it. If half the group plays C and the other half plays C7, it'll still sound good.). So maybe do C and F (one easy, Cmaj, and one somewhat harder, Fmaj) in the first class and then introduce G7 and Am (one hard, one easy) at the middle/end of the second class.
- I wouldn't spend too much time talking about 4/4 or 3/4 time. I know what you're getting at, but i think that the strumming is just going to be down-down-down-down-down-down... They'll be spending their time trying to get the chord changes and just to remember the chords.
- Consider learning Amazing Grace in small sections. I'm not familiar with what the chords are, but maybe there's a section that uses only two or three of the four chords that everyone can learn on week two or three. This way they are not overwhelmed with too much content, and they will feel like they are actually learning a song, not just random theory and history (at least, it will feel random to them).
- I would cut the Hawaiian vamp entirely...or, at least, give yourself more time on Amazing Grace. Keep the vamp in your back pocket for the folks who are getting Amazing Grace quickly and want more. I think giving certificates/awards is a fantastic idea.

Sorry for my long-windedness...I've been a teacher and get quick involved with my lesson planning.

Ooo, one more thing: tune all the ukes beforehand yourself, even if you want them to learn how to tune themselves. You will save yourself a great deal of frustration.


Good luck and good on you for spreading the word of uke...all the while spreading that other Word!

ukuraleigh
03-28-2012, 10:11 AM
Thanks guys!

I like the feedback on cutting back on the technical/history side of thing and just focus on the playing. I think I can cut all of this...

Introduction and purpose of the class
Brief history of the ukulele
Types of ukulele music and musicians
Sizes of ukulele
Identifying the parts of the ukulele
How to hold an ukulele
How the ukulele is played

...down to less than 10 minutes. Maybe I hand out the ukuleles first, so they're holding them while I talk.

I like the idea of putting the Vamp in the back pocket and see how far they progress first - that was my intention. ;)

My goal is to teach them Amazing Grace. It's a Christian rescue mission, so want to give them an easy, recognizable song to learn. Here are the chords for the song:

[C]Amazing [C7]Grace, how [F]sweet the [C]sound,
That saved a [Am]wretch like [G7]me.
I [C]once was [C7]lost but [F]now am [C]found,
Was [Am]blind, but [G7]now I [C]see.

If anyone knows a version that is easier--maybe without the G7--let me know.

Thanks and keep the feedback coming!

JamieFromOntario
03-28-2012, 10:17 AM
I think G7 and G are comparably difficult. I was thinking you could drop the C7 (or make it optional) and then they have one less change to deal with.

ukuraleigh
03-28-2012, 10:28 AM
I think G7 and G are comparably difficult. I was thinking you could drop the C7 (or make it optional) and then they have one less change to deal with.

Perhaps, but the C7 is pretty easy to play, no? It's that pesky G7 that is hard for beginners. ;)

joejeweler
03-28-2012, 10:57 AM
Be sure to bring plenty of donuts and coffee,.....a satisfied crown always easier to handle! :D

ukuraleigh
03-28-2012, 11:06 AM
Be sure to bring plenty of donuts and coffee,.....a satisfied crown always easier to handle! :D

Hah, good tip! Thanks!

JamieFromOntario
03-28-2012, 12:05 PM
Perhaps, but the C7 is pretty easy to play, no? It's that pesky G7 that is hard for beginners. ;)

I agree, C7 is just as easy or even easier than C. But, it wasn't so much the mechanics of playing the chords that I thought would be a challenge for the folks learning; rather, I was thinking that the C7 is just one more chord that they need to remember.

ukuraleigh
03-28-2012, 12:22 PM
I agree, C7 is just as easy or even easier than C. But, it wasn't so much the mechanics of playing the chords that I thought would be a challenge for the folks learning; rather, I was thinking that the C7 is just one more chord that they need to remember.

That is true. I'll see if I can simplify the chords somehow. Thanks!

ukuraleigh
04-28-2012, 05:21 AM
Just a quick update. The first class was yesterday and the adult students appeared to love the class. Lots of great questions and a real enthusiasm to learn the ukulele. They already get classes on computers and office skills, so this was a welcome departure for them.

As much as they enjoyed it, it was an even bigger blessing for me to teach them. I can't wait until next week!

Thanks again for all of the advice and encouragement!

yorick
04-28-2012, 05:35 AM
ukuraleigh - just wanted to say, much respect for what you are doing. What a great way to share the uke. I've only been playing a short time, but I KNOW the world needs more uke. That's for sure. It makes people feel too happy to not share it.

Keep up the good work.

ukuraleigh
04-28-2012, 05:50 AM
ukuraleigh - just wanted to say, much respect for what you are doing. What a great way to share the uke. I've only been playing a short time, but I KNOW the world needs more uke. That's for sure. It makes people feel too happy to not share it.

Keep up the good work.

Thanks. I'm not much of a player either, but I only need to be better than someone that's never played. ;)