Why Try the Ukulele in Schools?
By NAfME Retired Member Jenny B. Peters
The ukulele is affordable, accessible, and fun. Its joy brings people together for fun times and memories. Anyone from age 8 to 88 can successfully learn the ukulele.
It’s no surprise that the popularity of the ukulele is growing rapidly. It is now “cool” to play the ukulele. But what’s interesting about the ukulele is that it is popular for all ages. Seems it’s never too early or too late to start playing the uke. These and many other reasons would explain why everyone loves the ukulele.
Kids instantly fall in love with this tiny instrument. A seven-year-old child can easily hold a soprano ukulele. They won’t have to strain their hands. It is easy to carry anywhere.
The ukulele is also an ideal instrument for kids to start to develop their music skills and learn music theory. If you haven’t already, think about trying ukulele for your child. You won’t regret it!
“My son loves the ukulele. I heard him playing in bed last night! He also loves your online ukulele courses!! Thanks for entertaining him and teaching him something new! He has made more musical progress on the ukulele in a few days than he has in months and months of trying other things. Thank you for giving him such joy.”—Kimberly
Teenagers are also embracing the ukulele. One main reason is that it makes them look “cool.” Ukuleles come in sleek designs that appeal to teens. And besides making them look good, the ukulele offers teens a quick way to learn a musical instrument.
Everything about learning the ukulele is easier than other instruments—from tuning to playing. The ukulele’s friendly nature ensures that teens’ interest is maintained long enough for them to learn how to play it well. By then it is so fun they can’t get enough of it. The ukulele, and music in general, helps develop teen minds. It’s a worthwhile change of pace from activities like television and video games.
Ukulele in Schools
Because of its affordability, the ukulele can be a great addition to any school program. A classroom set of ukuleles costs around $1,000. And a set of books is about $150. In my school we were able to have the PTO provide ukuleles when we were short of them.
There are many teaching resources online. And many of our professional music organizations offer professional development in ukulele. The instrument starts at a basic enough level that a trained music teacher can learn the basics—and then teach them to their students.
Another option is to have a ukulele specialist come into your school for a day to teach the basics of ukulele. Then you can decide if this is something you would like to continue.
Your students may be so excited that they go home and share this new skill with their parents and grandparents!
Many adults are trying to learn along with their students. They see how much fun it is, and they want to try it. It’s a great instrument to play with others, especially family members!
“A few weeks ago I bought three ukuleles for my granddaughters and myself. I was looking for something that I could do when I visit them. Learning to play an instrument will help them to develop stronger focus, and will give them a new skill. It will also create a lot of fun memories.”—Nancy Stary
The final group of the ukulele fan base is the elderly. For many, old age is about calm and serenity. It’s about taking life easy and learning at a comfortable relaxed pace. The ukulele provides an excellent chance to learn a new musical instrument without too much effort.
About the author:
NAfME member Jenny B. Peter’s mission is to guide people to find their inner musical selves. She is a sought-after clinician, composer, and creative musician. She composes music, offers music courses, and teaches privately.
Jenny composes and arranges for string orchestras. She teaches piano, violin, viola, ukulele, and improvisation from her home studio. She is an accompanist and chamber-music coach.
Many of Jenny’s former students have gone on to successful music careers. Jenny’s main joy is in teaching people from diverse backgrounds to love music. Whether it’s violin, viola, ukulele, or piano, Jenny delights in showing students how music works. And how they can improve at music when they put in the effort.
Jenny and her sister, Rebecca Bogart, created the unique pedagogy of Ukulele for All, released by Kjos Publishing. Jenny and Rebecca are also the authors of the Amazon best-selling 21 Songs in 6 Days series of ukulele books. Jenny is a popular YouTube ukulele personality. She is a sought-after clinician for music educators learning to teach ukulele. She has been a guest clinician for All-State Music Educator Conferences in Illinois and Arizona.
Jenny recently retired from a successful public school orchestra program in Skokie, Illinois. Before that she taught Elementary General Music for ten years. She has served on the faculties of Lake Forest College and the College of Lake County. She taught piano, violin, and chamber music at the Music Institute of Chicago.
Jenny holds a Master of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Illinois. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Washington. She earned her teacher’s certification from Trinity International University. These educational credentials allow her to share her passion for music with students of all backgrounds.
The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.
November 28, 2023
November 28, 2023. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)