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Thread: Teaching Kids ukulele

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Montgomery, AL

    Red face Teaching Kids ukulele

    Hi friends!

    I am going to be teaching elementary students how to play the ukulele for the first time this summer. I already have parents asking me what the best ukulele is for beginners, and I was wondering if you had any advice on this. I was thinking of the Makala since they are pretty inexpensive, but I've never owned or played one. Are there any better options? I have a Waterman, but I can't make it sound great, so I'm reluctant to recommend it.

    Also, does anyone know of any recourses for teaching someone how to teach kids?

    Thanks for any and all advice!
    "Ah, Music. A Magic beyond all we do here!" - Albus Dumbledore.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Northen California


    You might start here for the Canadian Schools curriculum

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Twin Cities Area, Minnesota


    This is such a detailed topic. Feel free to DM me and we can talk about some aspects. You have to decide what your goal is with the program. The Doane/Hill methodology (Canadian) stresses development of the entire musician through the instrument. Other methods, including my own approach, focuses on using the ukulele as an accompaniment and getting kids to participate in the music that they want to play and sing. The Doane/Hill method doesn’t stop that approach, but it differs as it does focus on the ukulele as an instrument with which to play melody, harmony, and rhythm.

    As for good starter instruments, there are a bunch that fit that description, and Ukulele Underground isn’t always the best place to ask that question. I have seen people recommend a $1300 Kamaka as a first instrument. What is important is that the ukulele be rugged and set-up properly. Most Enya ukuleles are arriving ready to go (Amazon), but otherwise I would recommend a purchase from Mim or Uke Republic at the parent’s price point, knowing every instrument is set up for the player.
    Playing ukulele since January 2016.

    Have you participated in the thread, "How the Ukulele Found You?" If not, please consider adding your story--they are just fun to read.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Torrance, California


    I've been teaching ukulele to 3rd - 8th graders at my school for several years. We've used several brands at school, including Makala sopranos. Makala sopranos have been great for our purposes as classroom instruments.

    Always feel free to message me for any specific questions! Have fun.

    Kala KA SC Concert, Fluke Tenor, Flea Soprano, Gretsch 9121 Tenor, Waterman Soprano, Stagg Union Jack Soprano

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Port Hueneme, CA


    I am using Ohana SK-10’s for my kids program. I like the neck a little better than the dolphin.
    Good luck !!!!
    Keep Strummin'

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    West Virginia


    Our local elementary school system does ukulele in the classroom, and I found out the other day that they have the students use ukuleles with twelve frets. (They were referred to as "starter ukes" and I refrained from mentioning that my KoAloha Opio soprano is twelve frets.) I thought that was an interesting aspect. Most are Luna brand, but there are Waterman, Mahalo, Diamond Head etc. being used as well.

    I always recommend the Enya ones since they seem to have good quality control.
    Last edited by actadh; 04-11-2018 at 07:22 AM.
    - Laura

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2018


    Since this year,Our Enya founded a volunteer team , every week we will go to local primary school to teach the kids the knowledge of ukulele and how to play ukulele for free. Children are so happy to hold a ukulele and most of them have a good talent with it.

    Hope you will enjoy the process of teaching kids the ukulele. We have many entry level ukulele model for choice. Message me i would send you more details. Thank you
    Enya Musical Instruments Company

    Manufacturer of Ukulele in China

    We are looking for distributors all over the world! welcome to contact!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2010


    I have taught kids, but it all is a matter of opinion as well.

    You can follow a few methods - the Ukulele in the Classroom is an educational spin-off from the canadian system, and most method books you find in music shops are rather step-by-step methods. But my experience is that you can find you own way, by paying close attention to your pupils:
    - see what bores them, see what tickles them.
    - a lot of variation is good - some rhythm stuff tapped out, a new chord, a song, a riff, back to the rhythm... you get the idea. No hour-long repetitions of three songs, that would probably work against you.
    - I have the habit of only gradually stepping up to three-finger chords - there's a lot you can do with just one finger chords. And a Em7 is a great way of going into a G (or you can go to G7 by first learning an F).
    - also, repertoire is a thing. Rowing boats and falling bridges usually have a lukewarm reception, but if you sneek in some simplified Aloe Blacc or Bruno Mars you'll have them wanting to play.

    The first few years I mass ordered good ukuleles for students, which had the benefit of good instruments and serious discounts. It also had disadvantages: waiting times, administration of orders and payments, prefunding. I gave up, and made a list of good shops (real ones), points to watch out for when buying, and a category system of bad, ok, good and seriously good brands, along with the respective price categories. One of the recommendations is that you buy an instrument you like. If you love your pink unicorns, or a shell-shaped ukulele, or one made out of 'real wood', you're more likely to play it than one from the classroom herd.
    Last edited by ukulelekarcsi; 04-17-2018 at 04:38 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010


    I have been very pleased with the playability of the Kala 15S. They are pretty easy to get in local stores as well as set up by any of the online retailers.

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