How young is too young for a first uke?

ScooterD35

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Understand what you're saying, Graham – no expectations here, though. I don't mind if she ends up playing an instrument when she's older or not. It's just what she's interested in at the moment, so it'd be nice to be able to give her something to strum/bash that makes a reasonably gratifying noise with no skill required.

@clear, my sister does play the piano – probably only a couple of times a week for herself, but she'll plonk out nursery-rhyme requests from the kids. Plenty of time for 'Play Twinkle Twinkle on the piano' to develop into 'I'd like to be able to play Twinkle Twinkle on the piano', but it hasn't happened yet.

@ScooterD35, I've never played a Strumstick, but I did have a go on a Seagull M4 at a shop over here a couple of years ago. At the time I couldn't imagine picking it up over any of my guitars very often, but it was fun.


 

KoaKat

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My grandson turned 2 recently. Someone gave him a Luna uke as a gift. I said to my step-daughter, "You know that is a REAL ukulele, right? It's not a toy?" She said, "Yeah, they thought he was turning four."

Step-daughter and her hubby are big Beatles fans so the grandson hears Beatles music all the time. I saw a Yellow Submarine uke on eBay that said "For Ages 3 and Up". So cute, I had to buy it. I will give it to him on his next birthday although I don't expect him to actually play it (more like "play WITH it".)

kathy
 

mjh42

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Spouse started violin at 5 , son started violin at 4. The both can play the ukulele better than I can after a little time with it.

I went to a lot of Suzuki lessons when my son was young, generally enjoyed the experience. Make lessons short, fun, but with intent. Make the whole thing special.

Heck, going to Suzuki lessons got me interested is learning an instrument and the uke is it!
 

man0a

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I agree that the only way for a young child to really learn ukulele (or any other musical instrument) is with structured lessons, either from a professional teacher or from dedicated parents. It is true that Jake started at 4 or 5 years old, but he says he learned from his mother (before he started with professional teachers). I'm not sure what kind of musical training his mother had, but Jake said they played her Kamaka. Over the years, Jake's mother (and brother, who also learned from his mother) have sometimes performed with him. There are a few "ukulele for children" books out there (including one authored by Jake) that maybe you can give to the parents along with a ukulele for the child.
 

barnstorm

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"How young is too young for a first uke?" - 2
I remember wondering why the tambourine wasn't in its usual place when the same niece was two, and finding it being used as a shovel in the sandpit!
 

ripock

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Years ago I attended a Suzuki convention for music teachers and the presenters bought a group of star students from Japan for the demos and concert. The children were 3 to 5 years old and darned if they could play violin like a whip. Actually heard a Vivaldi concerto played well! The problem with the Suzuki for Westerners is it requires heavy parent participation. The mother normally learns and practices with the child, and that ain't gonna happen in most households. So, yeah, a 3 year old playing is certainly possible if the parents have the time to invest. I wish I could have started that young. At 3 I think I was mostly playing with dirt and catching bugs...
What I remember about the Suzuki method is asking my teacher if I had to practice everyday. He said of course not; just on the days when you eat.
 

socal16

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My 1.5 year old granddaughter has a little xylophone but definitely not ready for a uke. Maybe in another couple of years I’ll get her one.
 

captain-janeway

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Understand what you're saying, Graham – no expectations here, though. I don't mind if she ends up playing an instrument when she's older or not. It's just what she's interested in at the moment, so it'd be nice to be able to give her something to strum/bash that makes a reasonably gratifying noise with no skill required.

@clear, my sister does play the piano – probably only a couple of times a week for herself, but she'll plonk out nursery-rhyme requests from the kids. Plenty of time for 'Play Twinkle Twinkle on the piano' to develop into 'I'd like to be able to play Twinkle Twinkle on the piano', but it hasn't happened yet.

@ScooterD35, I've never played a Strumstick, but I did have a go on a Seagull M4 at a shop over here a couple of years ago. At the time I couldn't imagine picking it up over any of my guitars very often, but it was fun.

Another loud one. Steel strings? Too cute! Love the banjo sound
 

GalexC

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8 months I would think sounds about right or even 7 or 6 months. Before birth that is.
 

PeteyHoudini

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I was part of the James Hill Ukulele Initiative for part 1 and he said "Grade 4" was a good begining age for uke instruction.
 
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tonyturley

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My 6 yo granddaughter has asked me to build her a "little guitar" like mine that is small enough for her. I have talked with my wife about it, but while the girl is smart and well beyond her age in math acuity, she is also very busy and already thinks she knows better than most adults. I've never been a patient teacher (just ask our daughter), and neither of our adult children play an instrument, so I don't think it would serve our granddaughter to just hand her a uke, even if I kept it as simple as possible.
 

clear

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My 6 yo granddaughter has asked me to build her a "little guitar" like mine that is small enough for her. I have talked with my wife about it, but while the girl is smart and well beyond her age in math acuity, she is also very busy and already thinks she knows better than most adults. I've never been a patient teacher (just ask our daughter), and neither of our adult children play an instrument, so I don't think it would serve our granddaughter to just hand her a uke, even if I kept it as simple as possible.

If she asked for a guitar and you give her a uke, would that be classified as an upgrade or a downgrade?
 

donboody

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My 4 yr old likes to strum the open strings of her Mitchell soprano and sing little songs in private. My 19 month old likes to slap the soundhole with the same Mitchell laying flat on the ground. I put the multicolored aquila strings on it and I let them put stickers on it. I try to make it look as appealing as possible and I keep it near the toys. I try to keep it in tune. They see me play like every day, often on their uke so they know it can make the same music my ukes can. When one is ready to learn, they'll tell me.
 

tonyturley

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If she asked for a guitar and you give her a uke, would that be classified as an upgrade or a downgrade?
She calls all my ukes "little guitars". She doesn't seem interested in learning the name "ukulele". Another reason I don't think she's ready.
 

barnstorm

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Just bumping this to say, in case it's useful for anyone else with young kids in their life, that the best thing turned out to be a Triola.

The really cool thing about it is that she can ask for a particular song and we can write out the notes for her in a form (coloured blobs) that needs no explanation at all.
 

kerneltime

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If nothing else try to do ear training. I don’t remember where I heard this but it is much easier before 5 to ear train than later. Once ear trained learning music will be a lot easier at any age they decide to learn. That said no 3 is not too young.
 

plunker

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The yet to be born can hear and know their mother's voice, I would say mommy should start playing on her bump at about 16 weeks.