I’m DELIGHTED to be launching my brand new online children’s beginner ukulele course! This is a ten week course for kids aged c. 4-8 and their families, delivered via a private facebook group with weekly bitesize teaching videos and a Wednesday afternoon livestream playalong! All the content is based on the classes I run in real life, so has been tested thoroughly.
The online course is just £25 per family and the next group starts with teaching videos arriving on the 13th May, and livestream classes for ten weeks every Wednesday at 4pm from the 20th May onwards. The teaching videos arrive the week before and the classes reinforce the learning in a more ‘live class’ style (with interaction through comments!) Participants will need a ukulele (see below for some info on buying a ukulele – you can still get these online for delivery!) and a parent or guardian with a Facebook account who can sit with them to access the videos and teaching.
In all classes, our focus is on rhythm, pitch, composition, improvisation and enjoyment, with lots of movement, singing and games! In the online term 1 we start with C major, and over the ten weeks will cover 5 chords and learn songs that use these chords, sneaking in lots of other musicianship skill along the way. I hope that the classes form a great foundation for learning other instruments (or more formal ukulele classes) further down the line! Between classes, there will be videos online to play along to and as reminders of what we’ve done so far (and to keep parents in the carers in the loop as to what we’re up to in the drop off classes!).
What Ukulele should I buy?
For classes whilst we have some ukuleles available, we’d recommend that children do have an instrument of their own to play at home too. To start your ukulele journey, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on a fancy instrument to learn the basics, particularly as a young starter’s instrument tends to get a fair bit of bashing about! A soprano ukulele will do the job nicely (although if you’d like a larger instrument for a grown up, a concert or a tenor will have the same tuning but slightly bigger size and sound). In previous terms, lots of beginners have started on a mahalo 2500 (around £20 – amazon link here). My favourite starter instrument is a ‘makala dolphin’ which feels a bit sturdier (around £40 – amazon link here). Most music shops have a good selection- locally South London Music sell them and have knowledgable staff who can give you advise, if you fancy a trip to a specialist shop, the Duke or Uke in East London has a brilliant and huge range, and they’ll be able to give you lots of advice!
Bear in mind that new ukuleles tend to lose their tuning very quickly at first, and take a while to settle – by no means essential, you may wish to invest in an electronic tuner like this. But there are also apps you can use on your phone!
What happens when the schools go back?
Even if/when schools go back this term, these online classes will continue to run this same way! Do remember you can access the videos in your own time, and catch up on the livestreams later (as I’m aware there may be a few complicated weeks as we all adjust into new routines!). Once we’re back to normal, I hope that Martha and I will be returning to run our small group ‘face to face’ sessions – we do after school groups and more musicianship based preschooler sessions, and if you’re local and interested, the online courses will dovetail into these courses! The face to face classes have a maximum of 8 participants, and as well as the chord/song learning, we do a lot of composition, improvisation and movement too. I am planning that the online courses will continue to run in the Autumn too, and will be looking at developing a ‘term two’ online too!
What if we miss the livestream?
The live-streams happen so we can have a ‘live interactive’ element where the kids can play along in real time, but all the main ukulele learning content is covered in the videos, which you can do totally in your own time. If you miss a livestream – which, as a mum to a 3 and 7 year old myself, I understand that our timetables and moods don’t always go to plan, you can catch up later.