Music teachers are continually looking for new approaches to enhance student learning and engagement, all while adding fun to their musical experience. In recent years, the ukulele has gained significant traction in schools and districts across the country. Teachers recognize the ukulele as an instrument that allows students to experience music-making with high levels of enjoyment – as well as an affordable instrument that enables players to continue creating music outside of the classroom. This is why we created Ukulele Elementary: A Classroom Jump Start.
Getting Started With Ukulele
We recognize that many teachers are out there looking for the right place to start learning. West Music has been working on a new workshop for teachers who are new to the uke or have the desire to teach it. We are here to help you find the vital information, skills, and ideas to get a program started. Our pilot workshop is happening in October 2019, and we’d love to have you join us!
For many teachers without a background in fretted instruments, the ukulele may seem challenging. Even beginning skills such as holding the instrument and basic techniques can feel clumsy at first. Don’t fret; this is entirely natural, and our workshop, Ukulele Elementary, is here to help.
Why Choose Ukulele?
Most everyone has the desire to play an instrument. We have found a large number of adults wishing for outlets to make music. One of the most sought-after instruments, at any age, is the guitar. We believe this is because of its stage presence, association with all genres of music, and most of all, its versatility! With continued study, players can write music, find personal enjoyment through playing, jam with friends, perform on stage, and much more. The possibilities are endless with time and commitment!
Ukulele vs. Guitar
While the guitar has been successful for many to engage in music, we have found increased success through learning the ukulele. Ukulele is a much simpler instrument with two fewer strings than the guitar. The softer nylon strings have more space between them. You are less likely to unintentionally mute the other strings, which can frustrate the player.
Additionally, the smaller body and lower cost make it much more accessible than the guitar. These factors provide hope and a sense of accomplishment without the intimidation factor. After all, we’ve found most people tend to lack high-performance expectations from the ukulele as compared to the guitar. As a teacher, It is rewarding to see that “Aha!” moment when students realize they CAN play and see how fun and engaging it is.
Ukulele in Our Schools
What better way is there to share the ukulele experience than within school music education programs? Music teachers have the opportunity to introduce the ukulele to hundreds of students each year to inspire lifelong music makers.
Ukulele Elementary: A Classroom Jump Start
To realize the vision of helping teachers acquire the skills to teach ukulele, we’ve collaborated with a team of experienced consultants to create a workshop called Ukulele Elementary, for elementary and general classroom music teachers to learn. Here are some of the features of the workshop:
- Enhance and improve your ukulele skills
- Learn how to add ukulele into your classroom
- Learn how to remove the intimidation of learning a new instrument
This day-and-a-half workshop is designed to give the attendee an in-depth experience to explore the needed skills and concepts to implement ukulele. The majority of ukulele training sessions take place at conferences, clocking in at only an hour. We see this longer format is a practical approach to reinforce learning. Registration is limited, so don’t miss out! For more information on attending a Ukulele Elementary workshop
Are you interested in materials for your classroom?
Check out our Ukulele in the Classroom resource for ukuleles, storage, accessories, and curriculum options.
Sam Marchuk is an Education Consultant for West Music specializing in folk instruments and curriculum for the elementary classroom. He has been playing ukulele since 2005 and is an avid collector of vintage and contemporary ukulele models. As an Education Consultant, Sam assists with the selection and acquisition of instruments and curriculum with teachers across the U.S. He enjoys matching up players of all skill levels and classroom teachers with the right ukulele to fit their personality, style, and budget. Sam has demonstrated the potential of the of the ukulele at numerous state and national music education conferences, helped with the startup of ukulele programs across the U.S., and has taught beginning ukulele at the annual Strathmore Ukulele and Guitar Summit in Rockville, MD.