This is what I have sketched out for myself for the first four weeks of Wider Opportunities Ukulele lessons.
I’ll be teaching several keystage 2 (age 7-11) classes in two different schools.
Intro – expectations, ground rules etc – listening, no plinking when I’m talking!
Warmup – concentration game 1st level, everyone say everyone’s name going round circle
Songs Row row row your boat, star light, star bright, I went to the animal fair ,
Ukulele – how to hold it (flat against stomach, not like a frying pan, insist on playing it “normally”, no special treatment for left-handers, check that everyone has got their left hand organised properly ( thumb round the back, fingers under the neck)
Name and learn strings; G C E A, make up phrases like Good Children Eat Apples etc and sing them while playing each string
Strumming – decide if you are using thumb or 1st finger (I use 1st Finger). Listen and copy. Sing concentration strumming open strings. Sing star light strumming open strings
Intro – remind expectations, ground rules etc
Warmup – concentration game level 1, and level 2 children individually say own name and neighbour’s name
Songs Row row row your boat, star light, star bright, I went to the animal fair, Rain on the Green Grass (starting on C)
Ukulele – revise how to hold it and string names
Strumming – decide if you are using thumb or 1st finger (I use 1st Finger). Listen and copy. Sing star light strumming open strings
Teach C chord – “easy peasy threesy C” “It’s as easy as 1 – place first finger on A string, 2 place second finger on A string, 3 place third finger on A string” Stress A string to help learn names of strings
Sing Row Row, Rain on the green grass, and Animal fair strumming in time with C chord
Warmup – concentration game level 2, and level 3 – the real game
Songs Row row row your boat, star light, star bright, I went to the animal fair, Rain
Ukulele – revise how to hold, and string names
Strumming – Revise C chord – “easy peasy threesy C” “It’s as easy as 1 – place first finger on A string, 2 place second finger on A string, 3 place third finger on A string”
Sing Row Row, Rain, and Animal fair strumming in time with C chord
Teach Am chord (preparation for F chord); Finger 2 on G string – the top string, the one that’s nearest your nose. Chant “Finger 2, not near your toes, but up near your nose on the G string”
Sing and strum Star light alternating C and A; first divide class into two groups, one place C chord, other plays Am, taking turns. Swap groups. Then practice switching between chord Am and C (new chord to “easy-peasy threesy C”) by setting up an Am, then chant “move your fingers, play a C!”
Try other way round; set up C, “move your fingers, play Aminor”. Children should be moving their fingers as they say it, ready to play the chord when you say.
Warmup- SONG AND RHYTHM ACTIVITY Bee Bee, Bumble Bee (C, Am) pass shaker while singing,, person who is “out” plays a rhythm on a shaker,
ACTION SONG My Hat it has three corners (F and C )
Songs- When I was one I had some fun (FFFFCCF every line) Rain on the green grass in F
Ukulele –Revise strings; G C E A
Teach how to read chord charts. Draw chart on whiteboard, hold ukulele beside picture, show how they relate to each other. Draw C chord and Am chord charts. Revise C and Am chords, revise switching between them. Sing and strum Starlight Starbright, sing and strum Bee Bee Bumble Bee
Show chart for F chord
Teach F chord; Finger 1 on A, then finger 2 like the Am chord. Chant, slowly, “One” (place finger 1 on A,) “move your finger” (place finger 2 on G, “TWO!” (strum). Speed up chant, until fingers are nearly going down together
Strum an F chord on first beat of each line Rain on the green grass F major,
Sing and strum “When I was one I had some fun” – divide class into 2, some playing the F chords, some playing the C chords. Teach swapping same way that you did last week. Sing again, see if any of the class can manage to swap from F to C (easy) and C to F (harder)
After four sessions, the groups will have made different levels of progress depending on age (some classes will be 7-year-olds, others may be 10-11 year-olds. They will also have had very different previous musical experience. My target is that they should be comfortable with Am, C and F chord by the end of the first term. I’ll also work on composing some kind of Christmas carol using the C pentatonic scale which they can perform, accompanying themselves with C and Am chords.
Most of the songs and activities have already been posted up on the Jungle in previous years, if you don’t already know them. I haven’t included any “listening to music” in these sessions. That’s because I reckon the children will be impatient to be able to do something with the ukuleles to begin with. Later on, I’ll factor in some “listening and responding” activities.