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Thread: Ukulele Class for Children - What Songs to Teach?

  1. #1
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    Nov 2019
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    Default Ukulele Class for Children - What Songs to Teach?

    Hello All,
    I've been asked to conduct a beginning group ukulele class for children from low income environments who are under-served in the area of the arts. My group class teaching experience to date has been with people over 50 so this will be a switch for me. I have no idea where to start as far as what songs to teach them. I don't think "Blowin' in the Wind" will resonate I'm also not sure about the usefulness of old Kids standards like "This Old Man" and "Hokey Pokey", for instance, and whether the modern kids even learn those songs anymore. I'm leaning toward things by Bruno Mars, etc. The songs must be appropriate for beginners as well, of course. Any thoughts anyone?
    Thanks in advance!
    Pat

  2. #2
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    Mar 2014
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    Ames, Iowa
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    What age kids?
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...tective+Agency

  3. #3

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    It's hard to go wrong with I Wan'na Be like You (The Monkey Song) from The Jungle Book, fairly simple and great fun.
    ‘If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair.’ - Samuel Johnson

  4. #4
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    I'm not sure yet exactly what age the kids will be but I suspect somewhere between the ages of 8-12.

  5. #5
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    Thanks, I will check that one out!

  6. #6
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    I teach 3rd graders and I teach them ukulele in groups of 6. They are 8 years old going on 9. I start with “On a Coconut Island” because it only has two chords, C7 and F. Then I move to Jambalaya and You are my Sunshine. Jambalaya is just C and G7 and You are my Sunshine is F, C and G7.
    They have a lot of “Strum down-up in a sweeping motion, keep the back against your tummy, strum with the hand you write with and hold the uke with the inside of your fore-arm” to work on before the songs they learn get much more interesting.
    If life seems jolly rotten,
    There's something you've forgotten,
    And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing! - Eric Idle

  7. #7
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    Sep 2019
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    Los Angeles, CA
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    I teach total beginner group classes. My current class has students 2nd-5th grade. I teach them to play "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and "Let It Be" and they all love the songs. Besides the basic chords and strumming, I also teach them note reading, the C major scale, and how to fingerpick melodies. The only "kid" songs we do are when playing melodies, like "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," which, surprisingly, the students enjoy playing. As for contemporary pop songs, I won't do those with my group classes just because I want to broaden their horizons and, frankly, I just don't want to. If they get competent with chords and the C scale, I'll have them do "Alona Waltz." If they get good at chucking, they get to do "Stand By Me." I work with kids from both low-income/underserved areas as well as high-income areas.

  8. #8
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    Some great insights and advice, Xtradust and FatherMother! Funny thing - the songs you mention like "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and "Jambalaya" are some of the same songs I teach to adult beginners. Some songs are just classics, I suppose, and stand the test of time.

  9. #9
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    May 2018
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    Classics are well and good, but the great thing about teaching pop songs is that students suddenly realize they can use this thing to play *their* music, not just their teacher’s music.

    I can’t get my 13 year old to attend uke strum alongs with me anymore, because the song lists appeal most to her grandparents’ generation. But she sings and plays a darn good Riptide, and she’ll spend hours working on contemporary pop songs. That reminds me, I’m supposed to help her find a few chord substitutions for some Khalid song . . .

  10. #10
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    I've never taught little kids, but I am the accompanist for a summer reading program here for underprivileged kids. They usually don't get themselves wrapped up in the current hits until around twelve or thirteen. Before that it is pretty much whatever you want to throw at them. If it were me I would start out with two chord songs and build on that. Anyway, that is the extent of my experience with little kids and ukuleles. As far as older kids, the old songs that you play are in all likelihood new to them. You mentioned Blowing in the Wind. I play a lot of sixties and seventies songs for thirteen and fourteen year olds and it is all nothing they've ever heard before. I might as well have made them up myself, because they don't have any idea who I'm playing. What's old to you is new to them, so they like what they like. Give them a few to learn and see which ones they gravitate toward. That's my advise, take it for what it is worth.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...tective+Agency

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