Teaching Ukulele To A Six Year Old Child
I’ve undertaken the project of teaching ukulele to my next door neighbour’s six year old daughter. Her name is Sophie and she is in kindergarten at her local primary school.
What I’ve done is taken the Suzuki violin program and adapted it for the ukulele. This is not an original concept. I’ve seen bits and pieces on the internet about adaptations of Suzuki to a variety of instruments, including ukulele.
Song number one in the repertoire is “Twinkle Twinkle”. We are playing it in the key of “C” using the top three strings. As Sophie has no experience playing a musical instrument, progress has been slow. We have spent the last two weeks working on the first four bars of the tune. This has been interspersed with some basic rhythm clapping and singing.
Music And The Brain
I believe that playing a musical instrument is the best brain-training available. Piano lessons are the penultimate in brain-training. Two hands doing completely different things simultaneously has benefits that go way beyond music. It’s all about building connections in the brain.
Selective High Schools
I had a block of classroom teaching of music at Sydney Boys High School This is one of the most competitive schools in the state to be accepted into. I asked a class of twenty how many of them played a musical instrument. 19 out of 20 hands went up. I then said to them to leave their hand up if the instrument they played was the piano. 18 out 20 hands remained raised.
How Can I Make A Difference?
I can’t play piano, so I can’t teach piano, but I can play ukulele and the ukulele has got to be one of the cheapest musical instruments available. Low cost equals accessibility.
Advantages of the Ukulele
I see the ukulele as having at least five significant advantages for early childhood music education.
1/ Low cost
I’ve seen quality ukuleles selling for $33 at a local store in Newtown.
They are the perfect size for young hands
3/ Only Four Strings
The ukulele is basically a four-stringed, scaled down guitar. Less strings means less complexity.
4/ Kids Think They’re Cool
A kid’s perception of a ukulele is that it’s an instrument for them, because it is little and they are little.
5/ It’s pitched in “C”
With standard tuning (G C E A), the ukulele is pitched in “C”. This means there are no sharps of flats to deal with when starting out.