I get really nostalgic around this time of year. I'm not going back to work until January (which I am super thankful for) but I will really miss the whole community aspect of getting a classroom ready. Do you know what I mean? When all the teachers are back from summer holidays and you can catch up a bit. When your room is perfectly clean (thank you caretakers) and your supply bins have not yet been messed up. When there is a sense of promise in the air - for students who are eager and excited to learn and teachers who although they are longing for more summer are gearing up to do the best they can for the students they teach. I thought I would write a post to help with my nostalgia and realized I hadn't written much in the past about ukuleles.
Before I went on Mat Leave the first time, I purchased a whole bunch of ukuleles from Empire Music. I let the kids play around on them a bit in the last few weeks of school to maintain interest as we all know how rangy they can get towards the end. While off on Mat Leave I went to a ukulele workshop run by James Hill and although I left feeling woefully inadequate in my uke-ability I was excited to use his method book, Ukulele in the Classroom, with my students. What I really liked about was the fact that it encourages note reading and was not solely chord-based. Students learn by first playing melodies on the open strings.
The first few lessons I taught were structured around the following:
1). Selecting a uke - the team leader from each team would select enough ukes for the whole team. This cuts down on the number of students out of their seats. I'm all about limiting the chaos.
2). Taking the uke out of the case and putting the case under the chair without playing the instrument.
3). Tuning the instrument - this can take forever and since I don't have time to pre-tune them all I decided to train one person from each team each class with the goal being that each student would be able to tune themselves by the end of the first month. This was not perfect and I had a bunch of tuners go missing so I will be working on improving that come January.
4). Perfect ukulele posture - this was super important for me because I like to think of what the students learn from playing recorder and ukulele as training for when they start playing wind instruments in Grade 7. You know the saying "dress for the job you want to have not the one you do have?" That's how I feel about posture. If they look good, they'll sound good.
At the end of the posture lesson, I had the students do a quick write in response to the prompt: What does perfect ukulele posture look like? I was extra smart and made sure to cover up the anchor chart.