What do I need to start the course?
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 who will be joining in, a concert or a tenor will have the same tuning but slightly bigger size and sound). In previous groups, 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).
New ukuleles tend to lose their tuning very quickly at first, and take a while to settle so you may wish to invest in an electronic tuner like this. But there are also apps you can use on your phone!
You’ll also need some colourful dot stickers to mark the chord shapes.
Will my child need my help to complete the course?
Yes and No! I have found that younger learners really benefit from following this course alongside a grown up, but older students should be able to follow this course independently.
Is this course suitable for my 4 year old?
This course is based on my face to face classes run for children in reception and above, and so some 4 year olds have completed the course! This depends a lot on individual children, but getting the chord shapes does require fairly developed finger dexterity, so you may find younger children struggle from week 7 onwards when we start using 2 fingers to form chords.
You can watch a preview of the videos here to check whether the pace and tone would work for your child.
How often should my child be practising?
The teaching videos are designed as ‘play along’ videos so your child will build their technique as they go through them – they may find they benefit from playing each one a few times, and some of the longer songs are taught over 2 videos with one explaining more, and then other being a playalong. Through my years of teaching, I’ve found that children enjoy an instrument more when they feel they are making progress, and this is easier if they play regularly, even if just for a few minutes a day! So just having the ukulele around to play, explore and improvise with will really help develop musical skills, but as a parent myself I’m realistic in understanding the pressures and complications in juggling this!
Can siblings join in? Is there an additional cost?
The price per course is for your whole family, so siblings are very welcome to join in (as are grown ups!)
Does my child need prior musical experience?
No, this course doesn’t assume any prior musical training. The ukulele is a great ‘starter’ instrument and we’ll introduce musical terms that might be useful for learning other instruments in the future.
Is the course suitable for older children?
I’ve heard anecdotally that some older siblings have been taking part too! I’d suggest you take a look at the video previews to see if the tone and pace would be suitable for your child, and an older child might find they go through the course at a faster rate.
Does my child need to be able to read music?
No, it’s not necessary to be able to read - or learn to read - music to enjoy this course.
What if my child is left handed?
There is some debate about this among ukulele teachers! My own daughter (now 7) is strongly left handed but has learnt to play ukulele right handedly without any trouble, and this has helped her progression into learning violin, which tends not to be taught differently for right and left handed students. Both hands are used skilfully but in different ways on the ukulele, so having the dominant hand playing chord shapes can be useful for a left handed player! However, I’ve found when teaching some students that they really find it much more comfortable to play left handedly, and would then encourage them to play the way they feel most comfortable. I’d suggest starting trying the right handed position, but if this is clearly not right (you can usually tell!) switching the other way round, and tuning the strings the other way round (unlike the violin or guitar there is only a tone difference between the outer strings, so whilst you can buy a specialist left handed instrument, for a beginner I’d suggest re-tuning a standard soprano ukulele).
Anything else you would like to know? Please do get in touch and ask away