Last week I ended up teaching a class ukulele lesson in an outdoor classroom in a corner of the playground.
No whiteboard, no computer, no backing tracks… that’s what music-making is all about!
This little song popped into my head, and provided the basis for the whole lesson;
There are as many verses as you can manage rhymes for the numbers. Five is usually “learned to dive”, as being more nautical than anything to do with beehives. I usually go to Devon in verse seven. Ten seems a good place to grind to a halt.
I taught the song by just singing it; the children soon got the idea and joined in. Then we added the actions. It’s not a bad idea to limit the movement and excitement by singing sitting down on the floor.
one – hold up number of fingers; jump – jump; Captain – salute; this way – sway to left (or right); that way – sway to right (or left) – best to get this agreed in advance, and then enforce it, or the children WILL tip each other over); forwards – sway forwards; backwards – sway backwards (anyone who falls over backwards is OUT); over the Irish Sea – make wave movements with your hands in front of yourself; bottle of rum – hold imaginary bottle; to fill my tum – rub your tummy; that’s the life for me – thumbs up.
There. That’s a full body workout, and nine more verses to go!
Next: divide the children into small groups and allocate them each a number; challenge them to come up with their own verse. Then go back to groups 1, 2 and 3 and make sure that they are not being too lavatorial in their choice of rhyme.
Sing the song again!
Now to learn the chords: change the words to “an F, an F, an F, an F, a C, a C, an F” These same words fit all four lines except for line three when I sing “We’re go-ing F and F and F and F and C and C and F”. The break in the pattern for “we’re go-ing” gives everyone a chance to sort their fingers out if they’ve got themselves tangled up. You can divide the children into three groups: the F group, the C group, and the “switchers” who can play both chords. After another ten verses, quite a few children should have joined the “switchers”.
Now what – ten minutes left before the lesson ends… line up the children and walk around the playground singing and strumming for another ten verses? Why not!