At Uke4Kids we don’t demand that our students practise between lessons. We do encourage our students to keep trying the things they have learnt in their lesson. Listening to the play-along recordings can also be helpful and enjoyable. Lots of our students want to play at home, and some do not. As with swimming, dance, karate and other extra curricula activities all our students get a lot of benefit and make progress just with their weekly lesson. If your child feels inspired to play or practise at home then naturally they will probably move ahead more quickly. The nature of our classes means we are able to accommodate different rates of progress. Our group lessons are a special space for children in the rhythm of a school week. Away from the class and teacher, playing alone can seem daunting or unappealing. In our experience “forcing” children to practise (or even encouraging too strongly) can set up a negative association with music. It certainly isn’t productive for anyone to fight about it.
Having said all this, if your child can be gently encouraged to play their uke, it can be a good thing. Our teachers always give our students Learning Journals and write in them at the end of every lesson, so you and your child can get a sense of what they did in their lesson and what they can work on for their next one.
I spoke with a parent once who was concerned that her child was not practising. I told her about our philosophy about practising and referred her to this page. After a few months she sent me an email. This is what she said:
“Just to let you know, I took your advice previously, didn’t ‘force’ Ashley to practice at home. He now asks me if I want to hear him playing! He would sing and play at the same time and he is getting better 🙂 I am very happy to see that he is genuinely enjoying it.”
Here are some creative ideas to help kids who are willing to play or practise outside of their lesson time. One of the BEST features of the ukulele is that it is small and portable, and it can be played in many places with hardly any setting up! To help kids get more playing time during the week and enjoy their playing time, we suggest:
- TV practice – silent chord changing during the show and/or playing normally during ads. Bonus – this also means they are learning to multitask (not necessarily a bad thing)!
- Play during car trips. To and from school is ideal.
- Listen or play along with the Uke4Kids Play-along and Reference CD (inside the front cover of the book and track listing also in the book). Being familiar with the music you are learning is great for confidence and enjoyment, and listening is what music is all about after all even when we make the music with our hands.
- Play for parents during meal preparation. There’s nothing like having a bit of music to cook to.
- Practise before bed – sleeping after any learning activity helps people to retain new information.
- Play or practise for a bit before school – if too busy after school.
- Drum machine apps can be downloaded for free or purchased for smart phones, tablets and PC’s. They not only make practising more fun but also help students practise difficult parts slowly and keep a steady beat. Organs and cheap electronic keyboards can often be used too.
- Listen to interesting ukulele music; look up, listen to and watch ukulele songs and videos online. There is great and inspiring stuff out there!
- An adjustable music stand makes reading sheet music easier.
- A clip-on electronic tuner helps keep the uke sounding nice between lessons – available from us and from most music shops.