Scared to teach ukulele? Have zero experience teaching strings and now you’re suddenly tasked with teaching the ukulele? I got you. I was you. Now, I feel pretty confident teaching the ukulele and have learned a lot of tips and tricks along the way. I will share them here with you.
Analisa’s Advice: Ukulele Brands and More
- Kala – great soprano ukulele, perfect for beginners, affordable price range (Shark/Dolphin) My classroom set of ukuleles are the Shark model of ukulele and they do well, however I notice that the students complain of a buzz coming from the machine head and the headstock. They hold their intonation really well once the strings are broken in!
- Makala – another great soprano ukulele choice, great reaction time
- RBI – my ukulele club student’s play on these ukuleles and they are a great bang for the buck! Reasonably priced so I was able to purchase a class set with a limited budget and lightweight so I didn’t worry about the portability for students to take them home. They hold their intonation really well once the strings are broken in!
- Kohala – I personally own a Kohala Concert Ukulele that I randomly purchased on Facebook marketplace to have a backup at home, but ended up loving it so much! Smooth strings, great reaction time, amazing tone quality for such a lower priced ukulele.
- Mahalo – Several of my colleagues own Mahalo and speak highly of them. I have played on them during conventions and they have a gorgeous tone.
I do not personally use any one specific program but the following are ones that I’ve personally seen, used excerpts from, and have been to professional development courses that use them.
- Rainbow Ukulele
- Elemental Ukulele
- Ukulele in the Classroom
- Rainbow Ukulele
Online Resources for Ukulele
Ukulele Tabs and Chords – https://ukutabs.com/
Recommended YouTube Channels
- Justin Guitar – For the teacher to learn
- Ukulaliens – Absolutely fantastic for pop tunes, beginner tracks, fantastic resource
- Cynthia Lin Music – Great step by step resources for beginners
- One Music School – Great step by step resources for beginners
How I Teach Ukulele
I begin teaching Am7 on day 1 and get the basics of holding the ukulele correctly and strumming down. More on how I teach this in my blog.
The chord progression I follow is C, Am, F, G7 for my general classes. At my campus I teach ukulele in 5th grade starting around February – end of the school year. I do not teach ukulele every time they come to music (once a week) nor do we play for the entire 50 minute class. We play for about 20 minutes each class we do play ukulele.
For my ensemble I continue with D7 and G. From there the ensemble students have a pretty good understanding of how to fret chords, read the chord chart and can learn any chords needed for the songs we are programming.
List of Folk Songs for Ukulele
|Song Title||Chord Used||Strumming Pattern|
|A Ram Sam Sam||C/G7 or F/C7||DU, DU, DU, D|
|Bow, Wow, Wow||C/G7, F/C7||D, D, DU, D|
|Button You Must Wander||C/G7, F/C7||D, D, DU, D|
|Charlie Over the Ocean||F/C7||D, D|
|Doggie, Doggie||C/G7||D, U, D, U|
|Eensy, Weensy||C/G7, F/C7||D, DU, D, DU|
|Hot Cross Buns||C/G7, F/C7||D, DU, U, D|
|Old McDonald||C/G7, F/C7||D, DU, U, D|
|Looby Loo||C/G7, F/C7||D, D, D, D|
|Mouse, Mousie||C||D, U, D, U|
|Old Brass Wagon||F/C7, G/Hawaiian D7||D, DU, D, DU|
|Old Joe Clark||G/F||DU, DU, DU, D|
|Peas Porridge Hot||C or F||D, D, D, D|
|Rain, Rain||C or F||D, D, D, D|
|Row, Row, Row Your Boat||C/G7||D, D, DU, D|
|Sally Go Round the Sun||C/G7, F/C7||D, D, D, D|
|She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain||C/G7/F||D, D, DU, D|
|Skip to My Lou||C/G7||DU, DU, DU, D|
|Star Light, Star Brightt||C/G7||D, U, D, U|
|Tideo||C/G||DU, DU, DU, D|
|Twinkle, Twinkle||C/F/G7||D, D, D, D|
|We Are Dancing in the Forest||C or F||D, D, D, D|
|Let Use Chase the Squirrel||G/D7||DU, DU, D, D|
|Are You Sleeping||C or F||D, D, D, DU|
|I Know and Old Lady||C, F||D, D, D, D|
|Wheels on the Bus||C, F||D, DU, D, DU|
|There’s a Hole in the Bucket||G, C, Hawaiian D7||D, D, D, DU|
Tips for Teaching Strumming
- Use either the thumb or first finger
- Make sure students are brushing the strings, not pushing into the strings
- Use a light strum, not a heavy strum
- Make sure students strum all the strings, the tendency is to omit the bottom string on the down strum