View Full Version : First time uke teacher

07-19-2012, 03:49 AM
That’s teacher without the capital T

A friend recently became a grandmother and decided that she wanted to learn to play the uke that she had sitting around. We bought her a “learn to” book as congrats gift. During a fourth of July pig roast she convinced my wife and another friend that they should learn to play too. I said that I had a uke to lend the other friend if she wanted. The three of them said “Great and you can teach us!” Gulp.

My background is in physics not music and have only been playing for just over a year (after a 40 year sabbatical). I did have a couple copies of Daily Ukulele so paged through that to find easy songs in C. I then made up some big chord charts showing the fingering of C, Am, F, and G7.

Last night everyone shows up and after we all get in tune using Snarks I get out the chord charts. C is pretty easy as is Am. F is a bit harder and G7 tough for some. We rotated through those chord for a bit when one of them said “when are we going to play a song?”. I kept going through the chord progression and started singing Lollypop, Shaboom shaboom and You Send Me. They just looked at me sorta weird. Off to the Daily Uke book. We started out with Jambalaya. C and G7. We get done and they are all smiles. “We actually played a song”! We fumbled through some more then called it quits.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is don’t be shy to teach someone the basics. I probably wouldn’t have offered but am glad they insisted. If you keep it simple and focus on having fun you can get through it.

Hell, if I can do it anyone can

07-19-2012, 05:14 AM
It sounds like you were a success. I think some of us who have been playing for a year or two forget that a brand new beginner doesn't even know the basics, so we could easily bring them along with some careful instruction, as you are providing. We build confidence by having a lot if little successes in small things. Now that they know they can actually play a song, the whole world is opened up to more complicated songs.

07-19-2012, 05:50 AM
That is great. I have a 28 year old son that wants to learn but I just can't break it down for him. I admire you guys.... and ladies, that can teach. Congrats to you. now you have people to jam with.... sort of :)

07-19-2012, 06:01 AM
Kind of glad you posted this. I got suckered into teaching 25 kids on playing their ukes at a music day camp next week. Long story, but what you posted helps.


07-19-2012, 06:32 AM
One of the ways to learn to teach is take a workshop and observe the teacher and their methods.
If you are serious about teaching, then there are classes designed for teachers.
If you just want to help folks get started, keep is simple. Teach two chords and a two chord song.
"Jambalaya" is a great one as almost everyone knows it. Add a third chord and you have "You are my Sunshine.

07-19-2012, 06:47 AM
That sounds almost like how I had my initial introduction. When I lived on O'ahu my wife's uncle let me play and basically taught me some chords by using the "you wen put your fingahs up heah on da neck, den wen you want make different sounds jus press da buggahs"

It's the same approach I used when "teaching" my god daughter.

Briefly I was at a bbq last year and brought my Luna. I was playing when my god-daughter asked if she could try. I handed it to her, showed her how to make the C, G, D, and D7 (Hawaiian kine) chords by telling here where and how to put her fingers, and before you knew it she was jamming out "You Shook Me All Night Long."

When I left that bbq it was without the Luna (which I gave her), but with another uker.

I think some of us who have been playing for a year or two forget that a brand new beginner doesn't even know the basics, so we could easily bring them along with some careful instruction,

Sometimes I think a person with maybe only a year under their belt is the best person to teach a beginner, because we still remember and share some of the confusions, questions, and problems.