View Full Version : Ukuleles and kids

10-16-2008, 08:50 AM
I was hoping we could share some of our experiences with our ukuleles and the little people in our lives.

I started out with the ukulele with the intention of learning so that I would be able to teach my two children how to play. Between scouting and martial arts, squeezing music lessons in seemed a little impractical.

Starting this summer, we finally had enough ukuleles for all three of us to play at once and we started our lessons. My nine year old has learned how to read tab and can form C, C7, F, E7, A and Am chords. She's recently been rocking out some simple blues riffs. My five year old can do the C and C7- he's especially good at that A string fourth fret- he still enjoys Elephant Town.

I homeschool my own two, but I am also pleased to be surrounded by younger children as well because I run a small home daycare. I'm dealing with mostly 2 and 3 year olds right now. I have learned a whole lot of Raffi and Lori Berkner tunes on my uke to entertain them in the afternoon. They love our singing and playing time and I get a kick out of playing the "official" version of these songs on the cd player sometimes. The kids' eyes always light up and they look at me, saying "Miss Lonna, Miss Lonna- you play this song!" It is a rewarding feeling to know that these little people are connecting with music through me and my ukulele.

I also had the pleasure a couple of weeks ago of volunteering my time to my daughter's girl scout troop. They were earning a scouting through the decades patch and the leader had asked if anyone would be able to teach the girls a song from the 60's. I volunteered and taught 25 girls the song Yellow Submarine. If you've never had a whole lot of kids singing along with you while you play, you've got to try it!

All of these experiences got me thinking about other opportunities ukulele players could find to bring music into the lives of children.

Has anyone else found an outlet to volunteer their ukulele skills? It would be great to have a thread full of ideas to inspire one another to bring our love for our instruments to children.

Thanks for reading!:)

10-17-2008, 11:24 PM
Thanks for starting this thread!

As for volunteering...I lectured at a local primary school about ukuleles during their music class. I made a powerpoint presentation, brought music, etc. The kids loved it. The picture with Spongebob Squarepants with uke was a hit! They now learn to play uke in that school instead of the recorder - and they love it!

Due to many requests, I teach uke to youngsters at my shop (around 6yo). It's very satisfying as they love their uke and practise every week.

In addition to method book tunes, among others, I have covered these songs that worked well:

- Tetris (thanks to UU)
- Flintstones (melody)
- Twist and shout (and all those standards with this chord progression)

I would be intersted in hearing from people what songs they'd suggest to play with kids this age (6-10). I teach reading, fingerpicking and strumming etc.

10-20-2008, 08:08 AM
Thanks for sharing your experience!

I would suggest that you would be able to use some of the same songs with 6 to 10 year olds as I do with my younger kids. I would bet that they would be able to identify with some of these songs and they might already have had some exposure.

I like to use silly songs that have a repetitive nature about them. Two that go over really well here are Corner Grocery Store and Boom Boom (ain't it great to be crazy). Raffi's got a song book out and a few of his songs are very simple to play- two and three chords.

Ella Jenkins has a great collection of call and response songs that I've been listening to since I was little. (and she plays the uke!)

Another suggestion I would have would be to ask the kids what they want to learn. That may or may not work out, depending on what sort of ideas they have.

You could also do 'theme' lessons- for instance, chose a typical "camping" song and then encourage the kids to bring their sleeping bags and flashlights. Older kids will pretend, and love to, they just need some gentle encouragement.:)

Anyone else?

Kids need ukes!

10-20-2008, 08:20 AM
Cool thread Lonna! I love watching kids play ukes (even when they don't quite have it down).

10-20-2008, 09:19 AM
There's a lot of 3 chord or less songs that children learn
in school, Lonna:


Joyce Flaugher has put together books for all types of
volunteer work:


You might even ask the children for their favorite songs and
then learn and play them.

We play a lot of volunteer gigs for community groups. My involvement
with kids has been that relating to my own.

I like to introduce music to my children and grandchildren in
the venue that interests them. My youngest granddaughter
has an affinity for keys. Ric





10-20-2008, 09:33 AM
Teach them early, it lasts forever!


10-20-2008, 09:59 AM
I had no idea when I picked up the ukulele last January, the impact it would have on my family. We all play different instruments, but the uke really brought us together. All four of my kids play now. I'm still working on the husband.
in another life I taught children to sing and dance. When I retired from that job, I really missed teaching. I have decided to teach ukulele to kids through our local recreation department after the first of the year. I'm looking forward to working with kids again.

10-21-2008, 03:28 AM
Great. thanks!

I asked some kids what they wanted...

But my first pupil ever said, Rage Against the Machine and Tool! He's only 6, but his dad listens to that stuff, haha! Anyway, I thought I'd give him a challenge straight off (he had played a bit of piano before), and that is Stairway to Heaven - at least it's by a rock band :). He loves it, and even though it is fingerpicking and not easy for a beginner, he was so keen that he got it down in a few weeks!

My second pupil said he wants to learn 'the blues' - he's the same age as the other kid! We did a few blues progressions. But then he wanted to do Indiana Jones, so we are working on that.

At the same time, Spongebob Squarepants is their hero.

I found that the more challenging the songs are, the more the kids are interested in it. It should be still do-able for them, but they definitely like to sweat on these songs.

10-21-2008, 06:55 AM
hoosierhiver- Thanks! My kids love your bees!

Ric- thanks for the links, I'll definitely be checking those out. Your granddaughter is adorable. We have a large collection of instruments in our house, just in case someone gets the urge to play one. I've been known to beat the djembe myself under certain circumstances.

Jeff- never too early to start, right? Babies seem to love ukes.

salukulady- I'm glad to hear you'll be reuniting with the little people soon. I couldn't imagine doing anything else with my time. I'd love to hear how things are going come January.

Gaby- It looks like I'll have to actually leave the planet to escape Sponge Bob, eh? I'm impressed with the drive your students have. Instead of picking songs, I've been giving my nine year old scales to learn and have been encouraging her to explore within those scales. She's also into the blues. My (almost) six year old is the kind of kid who, after I show him a chord shape, will turn around and "show" me one. He's come up with some interesting chords, that's for sure.