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Thread: What age for a child to get a uke?

  1. #1
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    Default What age for a child to get a uke?

    Hello. My granddaughter is 1.5 years old and loves music. I was thinking of getting her something like a pink dolphin soprano to play with. Is she too young? My mother bought me a baritone uke when I was about 10 or so (wish I still had it!!). Thanks for any input.
    Doug
    Last edited by socal16; 05-24-2021 at 12:02 PM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by socal16 View Post
    Hello. My granddaughter is 1.5 years old and loves music. I was thinking of getting her something like a pink dolphin soprano to play with. Is she too young? My mother bought me a baritone uke when I was about 10 or so (wish I still had it!!). Thanks for any input.
    Doug
    What can they do at 1.5yr old? I guess they can walk? So, if you tie up the uke with a rope, maybe she can pull it? Depending on the flooring, maybe it'll make some interesting sounds?

  3. #3
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    My experience is 8 year olds have hand eye coordination and the finger strength to play.
    Some younger ones are capable, but iffy. Rhythm is a different story get her some kind of percussion instrument and have her bang to the music.
    Keep Strummin'

  4. #4
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    That's young enough it could be dangerous if strings break or pieces come off. A bit older and a uke as a toy could work. It'll be a while before they play it as an instrument, but they can enjoy making sounds. They may be more percussive than strummed! For the parent's sanity tune it to an open chord

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    We start kids at age 7. Seems that, younger than that, their attention span is pretty short. Toddlers, whom I don't care for, tend to like to break things.
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  6. #6
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    My grandson is 6 and just starting piano. He is doing well. So, I think he's old enough to actually learn something on the Uke. I'm going to be working with him on that.
    "The sole cause of all human misery is the inability of people
    to sit quietly in their rooms." - Blaise Pascal, 1670

  7. #7
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    I was able to watch a fabulous player cultivate musical interest in his son (toddler) at a pre-COVID workshop. This certain dad could teach the kid to play anything, but instead his approach was completely hands-off. He basically set him up with a cheap uke at the song circle and let him participate in the music however he saw fit - no expectations or any attempts at showing/lessons AT ALL. The son just sat next to his dad and bashed away making noise and having a blast. The dad told me at one point basically that "he'll figure it out when he wants to."

    I've seen external (i.e. parental) hopes/goals/expectations take away the fun for a number of young students over the years. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Best thing you can do is provide a safe musical environment (if you give them an instrument, you'd/the parents better be prepared to suffer the noise - don't bother otherwise) and see if anything grows there.
    Brad Bordessa

    6th Sense Course - Learn to play Hawaiian-style, 6th harmonies

    Listen to my ʻukulele podcast!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by socal16 View Post
    Hello. My granddaughter is 1.5 years old and loves music. I was thinking of getting her something like a pink dolphin soprano to play with. Is she too young? My mother bought me a baritone uke when I was about 10 or so (wish I still had it!!). Thanks for any input.
    Doug
    It all depends on what you want to achieve so maybe think about that and define that first.

    Although we school (teach) children in year groups (well we do in the U.K.) children actually develop at noticeably different rates so what some seven year old can do a nine year old might struggle with. It’s cruel to push a child to do more than it’s comfortable with or to force some interest on them.

    Some of our Primary Schools do use Ukules with their older children, I’d need to somehow check but my guess is that that’s children of nine, ten, and eleven. Of course Schools are focused on teaching a curriculum and teaching it to a whole class whereas some slightly younger children (than those year groups) might have the physical and mental wherewithal to happily strum and play in a less formalised way. Some Primary Schools have mixed ability year group classes and others stream whole classes within a year according to similar ability; mixed ability year group based classes are used by my local Primary and it sub groups children by ability (to group work tables): it works well for them, it is flexible and it is inclusive but it has a few downsides to manage.

    A Baritone at ten might have been when your Mum felt that you were physically old enough for that (large) size, it might have been when she could afford for you to play, it might have been when she thought you mentally ready, etc, etc. We don’t know what your Mother’s drivers were but I recon that just a little earlier for a Soprano would be OK, so Junior School age rather than Infant School age. Of course if you’re happy for a Uke to be a toy then any age from which a child can safely play with toys, perhaps best if it has Nylon stings though (well something that’s easy on little fingers).

    Edit. If I remember correctly Baz Maz gave Dolphins to his children when they were small, the Dolphins stood up to the task. Indeed quite a few people have given Dolphins to tots and the Dolphins seem to survive and do the job: they’re basically a toy to the child but can be more later. I’ve had a few second-hand Dolphins, they’re cheap and reusing stuff is good, and with a decent set up and some Aquilas Dolphins are quite usable and will last for decades.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 05-25-2021 at 11:20 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike $ View Post
    I think 1-1/2 years old is plenty old enough to play the uke. A soprano would be perfect. Look into a Kamaka, it can be her 'forever' ukulele.



    Definitely too young - as said in an above post, something in the percussion department should suffice to see if they have any musical inclination.
    Last edited by Croaky Keith; 05-24-2021 at 10:57 PM.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  10. #10
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    The younger, the better, even without the fine motor control yet. If it were me, I'd consider getting her a Ohana sopranissimo in a fun color; their O'Nina willow laminates seem a bit more burley than the O'Nino solids. O'Ninas come in red, yellow, green, blue, purple. Most of my sub-sopranos & their cases came from Mim's. I've worked out a set of fishing line that works best for me on the sub-sopranos (see "about me") & am happy to drop some off into snail mail for you, if you choose to get one of these for the little one. Just PM.

    That said, what is relevant to brain development now might be how notes relate to each other. I remember a doll who had different notes on hands, feet & chest, when each part was squeezed. Unlike playing a clear note on a uke at age 1.5, playing a note on this doll will be easy for such little hands. In addition, this doll's shirt displayed colored notes that coordinated with each hand/foot. This was like a jump start to reading music, or at least intuiting how each note relates to each other.
    B3F2EFC8-0F4F-4EE8-8726-91D34FBE4D78.jpg

    I think a keyboard or xylophone might be good too. One that works for little fingers as well as one that works for little feet. Something like this floor keyboard can be a fun way to build music sense, as well as use big bigger muscles, not just little ones. Can learn intervals possibly more quickly this way...
    3A321F6B-C3B6-4FD7-8624-495DAC839498.jpg
    keeping an eye out for a very special pre-owned concert....

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