Learning the ukulele is considered by many music experts a great introduction to the experience of playing a musical instrument for all ages. Uke4Kids is a unique Melbourne based music program that helps primary school kids learn to play the ukulele, understand and enjoy music and much more.
One of The Uke Group’s chief aims is to deconstruct and revolutionise instrumental music education. And we are glad to say we’re not alone in this.
These days if you want to learn piano, guitar or another instrument there are some great programs and books that make learning the instrument and the theory that goes with it easier and more fun.
Since starting the Uke4Kids program in 2008, we too have been seeking to constantly find new and better ways to approach instrumental music education and particularly the ukulele. We also use the best of teaching methods of the past. We are not trying to reinvent the wheel, just improve it as much as we can.
These are some of the things we are doing:
Learning to Read
The way most instrumental programs work is by teaching traditional notation and (if it is a chordal instrument like guitar or ukulele) chords. With traditional notation, learning up to 3 notes is not that hard, but more than that and kids get really confused. Many instrumental teachers can attest to the patience and stamina required for a young student to learn to read and play the melody of a song like “Ode to Joy” which has 5 different notes in it and is often used as a melodic piece for beginner students.
We use a unique form of tablature notation which relates to the practicality of playing a ukulele and also features elements of traditional notation such as rhythm markings. Tablature (or “tab” for short) is a commonly used notation form throughout the world. The hybrid that we use makes it so much easier for people to start reading melodies while also introducing them to some elements of traditional notation. When we introduce traditional notation later in the program, students find it much easier and end up being musically bilingual so to speak!
With chords, it is often thought that to play the most basic songs you need to know at least 2 or 3 chords and change between them while strumming. Many present and past ukulele and guitar books have this attitude. But changing chord positions is hard for most beginner students, certainly too much to expect in the first lesson. When we looked into it, we discovered that there were great well known songs from many different genres that only had one chord in them! A student having their first lesson and already being able to easily play and sing a song is a great thing indeed.
Fun, relevant content
In all our years of teaching the ukulele, we have not found another ukulele method book so far that incorporates modern popular songs. Please let us know if you know of one. Even though the ukulele is now learnt by many people world-wide for the purpose of playing their favourite pop songs, the method books are still teaching old Americana tunes like “Oh Susanna”. When choosing content for our programs, we always look for music that covers a range of styles (including modern pop), is entertaining and is a good vehicle for teaching a new technique or concept.
Our research shows we are currently the most ACCESSIBLE high quality instrumental music program in Australia.
Our highly accessible program means:
- We teach from Kinder to VCE and beyond
- Small group lessons enhance the learning experience. It’s not just learning music but also learning to play together
- Kids can learn to play, read music and sing at the same time – a fun skill which coincidentally enhances coordination and brain development.
- Kids can learn with their friends
- Early success for kids – our students are playing and singing songs from the very first lesson
- An awesome range of songs and really clever tricks for kids to learn
- Creativity (songwriting, composition, improvisation) is encouraged
- Stick with the program to learn up to an advanced level. The ukulele is now offered as a VCE instrument and there are some superb virtuoso ukulele players in the world today
- Uke4Kids is flexible and responsive to the needs of students, parents and schools
- A high quality, fun, engaging program
- An Orchestra program for very keen students
- In school classes offer one less thing for parents to juggle
- Discounts for families and health care card holders
- All our teachers are trained in the Uke4Kids method and have current WWCC certification
Our program includes:
- 30 minute weekly lessons during the school term
- Lessons held at school during school time or after school
- Lessons also held at other community locations
- Groups of 3-6 students
- Student groups based on age, ability level and school timetable
- Low fees and even lower concession rates
- Beginner to advanced levels
- Uke4Kids Method Book play-along CD included
- Option to buy equipment when enrolling
- Private lessons available