Kids, News

Introducing Ukes To Youths

Ukulele. Image: Wemba.

The kids at one elementary school in eastern Toronto get to play ukuleles every week.

The ukulele lessons are thanks to Melanie Doane and James Hill, two musicians who helped launch the Ukulele in the Classroom program, an ongoing teacher-training program and ukulele teaching method.

A ukulele is a small string instrument that looks like a mini guitar. It has a long neck and a hollow body, but instead of having six strings like a guitar, a ukulele only has four.

Making music with a uke is a good way for a big group of people to learn about and experience music. “It’s a springboard into music,” says Doane.Girl playing a ukulele

A uke is small and affordable, so people of all ages can learn the basics of how to play, like plucking and strumming the strings. From there, groups of ukulele players can learn how to play together to create harmony and layers.

After only a short time, even beginners can create melodies. “Because you can make music, it is so exciting,” says Doane.

The ukulele is a relatively new instrument (it is less than 150 years old, compared to a violin which is 2,000 years old). Recently, a lot of pop music uses ukuleles, like Hey Soul Sister by Train, and I’m Yours by Jason Mraz.

Learning to play the uke is simple and fun, but learning about musical elements through the uke is more interesting and complex. “People look at the ukulele and they see fun. But they don’t see the depth of the instrument,” says Hill. “It’s real fun. The fun of connecting with people through music.”

Educators across Canada can learn how to implement and teach the Ukulele in the Classroom program to their own students.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Do you play a musical instrument? Which one(s)? How do you feel when you play your instrument?

If you don’t play an instrument, explain which instrument you would like to play and why.

Reading Prompt: Comprehension Strategies
Before you begin to read the article, take a look at the title. What do you think it means? What is a uke?

Now brainstorm all of the things that you know about a ukulele.

After reading the article, identify all of the new information that you learned about ukuleles.

How has your understanding changed by reading the article?

Identify several reading comprehension strategies and use them before, during, and after reading to understand texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appro- priately before, during, and after  reading to understand texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Grammar Feature: Short form
Many words are made into short forms. For example, “uke” is the short form for “ukulele”.

What short forms are used for the following words:
1. basketball
2. example
3. etcetera
4. children
5. laugh out loud