Some people only DREAM of meeting their FAVORITE MUSICIANS....
I get to teach mine
Last week, the 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students started to learn how to play the ukulele! They are doing a great job! They have learned 3 chords (F major, C major and C7) and are getting really good at changing chords during a song. There are lots of songs that you can play with just 2 chords (F and C7). Here are a few:
Polly Wolly Doodle
Skip to my Lou
Sur le pont d’Avignon (the 3rd and 4th graders know this song in French!)
Ain’t gonna rain no more
The Wheels on the bus
Go tell Aunt Rhody
My Bonnie lies over the ocean
Down in the valley
Don’t be surprised if your child asks for a ukulele for his birthday. If you are planning to purchase one, here are some things to consider:
We bought the SRE ukuleles from Guitar Center near 119th and Metcalf. They carry good quality Ukes and have knowledgeable sales reps who can guide you. The ukes we have at school are made by Fender and are tenor ukuleles (just slightly bigger than the standard soprano ukulele). A soprano would be just fine for your child. I decided to get higher quality Fenders for the school because the instruments will be getting a lot of use by hundreds of children and we want them to last. You don’t have to buy the most expensive instrument (and they can get pricey) but DO buy a good quality instrument. A crummy ukulele is worse than no ukulele at all. You can purchase a nice ukulele for between $50 - $100. Lanikai is a trusted brand that GC carries. There are some other good and inexpensive brands but I don’t know enough about them to make a recommendation. You’ll want to ask the sales rep about the quality of the sound and how well they hold up (especially the tuning gear).
If your ukulele doesn't come with a soft carrying case (also known as a "gig bag") you can usually purchase one for under $20. I highly recommend having a gig bag so your child can bring his ukulele to school and keep it protected from the elements.
When you first get your ukulele, you will need to tune it every day (sometimes several times a day depending on how much you play). Don’t worry about this – new instruments have to be trained to stay in tune. The strings aren’t used to being stretched and want to pull back to where they are comfortable. After a few weeks the strings will get used to being in tune.
Speaking of tuning, you may also want to get a tuner for your ukulele. I use a “Snark” tuner. You clip it on the ukulele (or guitar) and it will display the name of the note you are playing, letting you know if you are flat or sharp. Be careful when you are adjusting the “snark” so you can see the display; they do swivel, but can break if you twist too much. We’ve already have a snark break at school (I taped it back together and it’s holding OK for now).
Finally, open the attachment “Ukulele Chords pdf” and print it if you are interested in learning more chords. I’ve included some blank charts that you can use when you are learning new chords that are not on this list.
What can parents do to further their young children's musical development?
During music classes for our younger students at SRE, we focus on developing healthy, tuneful singing voices, discovering different ways to move to music and solidifying a steady beat. These broad concepts and skills are the basis for everything we do in music from preschool to old age.
The best thing parents can do for their child is to sing together often (at bed time, on car rides, when you are doing household chores - just like the old days). Also, dance with your child - When my son was little I would dance around the room with him moving to the music. That movement helped him develop a feel for steady beat and meter that has served him well now that he's playing the violin in his high school orchestra. Play hand clap games that you learned as a child, nursery rhymes, jump rope chants and fingerplays (such as “here is the church, here is the steeple”); anything that is spoken to a steady beat will help your child internalize a steady beat. Finally, play a variety of different kinds of music at home - Classical is great, but also jazz, bluegrass, folk, pop, and music from other countries and cultures. I-tunes is a great resource - just poke around and discover music that YOU like, and share that with your family.
We learn new songs and games and play different instruments all the time in music. When your son or daughter comes home from school on a day that we’ve had music class, ask him/her to sing some of the songs or to tell you about a game we played. Let her sing a song for grandma over the phone - every time she gets to sing by herself she's developing her voice and her self esteem as a musician.
You don’t have to be a professional musician to do these things – you just have to love your child want to share the music you love with her. I guarantee you'll have a lot of fun together!
This summer (2014) I spent two weeks in Dallas, TX at Southern Methodist University earning my Level 1 Orff certification. I've wanted to do this since I started teaching at SRE. "Orff" (named after the composer, Carl Orff) is a process of teaching music that I use with my students. In it's simplest form it is "singing, saying, dancing and playing!" The xylophones and other barred instruments in our classroom are called "Orff instruments." They were developed by Carl Orff in the mid 1900s, specifically for children.
I have two more summers of study (there are 3 levels of certification) and I can't wait to go back and learn more! It was an incredible experience for me, and I already see a difference in the way I teach.
Here is (an old) photo of our music room. I promise to post a more receint shot soon, since we've added quite a few new instruments and technology in the past few years.
Pictured below you will see Xylophones, metallophones, glockenspiels, tubano drums and "boom whackers." SRE students learn to play all of these instruments and more. As part of our time in music we also experience movement and folk dances, singing, reading and writing music. We play lots of music games that help strengthen our musical skills and knowledge.