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

Recommended Brands

  • 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.

Ukulele Curriculum

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

Ukulele Resources

  • Rainbow Ukulele

Online Resources for Ukulele

Ukulele Tabs and Chords –

Recommended YouTube Channels

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 TitleChord UsedStrumming Pattern
A Ram Sam SamC/G7 or F/C7DU, DU, DU, D
Bow, Wow, WowC/G7, F/C7D, D, DU, D
Button You Must WanderC/G7, F/C7D, D, DU, D
Charlie Over the OceanF/C7D, D
Doggie, DoggieC/G7D, U, D, U
Eensy, WeensyC/G7, F/C7D, DU, D, DU
Hot Cross BunsC/G7, F/C7D, DU, U, D
Old McDonaldC/G7, F/C7D, DU, U, D
Looby LooC/G7, F/C7D, D, D, D
Mouse, MousieCD, U, D, U
Old Brass WagonF/C7, G/Hawaiian D7D, DU, D, DU
Old Joe ClarkG/FDU, DU, DU, D
Peas Porridge HotC or FD, D, D, D
Rain, RainC or FD, D, D, D
Row, Row, Row Your BoatC/G7D, D, DU, D
Sally Go Round the SunC/G7, F/C7D, D, D, D
She’ll Be Coming Round the MountainC/G7/FD, D, DU, D
Skip to My LouC/G7DU, DU, DU, D
Star Light, Star BrighttC/G7D, U, D, U
TideoC/GDU, DU, DU, D
Twinkle, TwinkleC/F/G7D, D, D, D
We Are Dancing in the ForestC or FD, D, D, D
Let Use Chase the SquirrelG/D7DU, DU, D, D
Are You SleepingC or FD, D, D, DU
I Know and Old LadyC, FD, D, D, D
Wheels on the BusC, FD, DU, D, DU
There’s a Hole in the BucketG, C, Hawaiian D7D, 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

You can find more information in my blog: In the Music Room with Mrs. Byrd