I have written a little about my experiences in incorporating ukulele into the choir curriculum at my middle school. As this school year approaches, I am changing the definition of choir into a program with three areas of emphasis:
- Sight Reading (with Dale Duncan’s S-Cubed program)
What we did with the ukulele last year was a tremendous start, and it is time to create this new hybrid approach. I believe that students that come out of my program will be able to sight read better, have better developed ears, have a better understanding of music (chord progressions), and have the ability to succeed at the high school level in “real choir.” My students will be missing the experience of singing in three and four part choirs through 8th grade–but they will have the ability to accompany their own singing on an instrument than pretty much any person can purchase. Those students that don’t continue in high school choir (70-75%) will have a skill that they can use the rest of their lives, or a skill that transfers somewhat easily to guitar. This is a win-win and a no-brainer.
Over the last weeks, I have been arranging music for voice (unison or two part) and ukulele–all of it intended for a holiday concert. I will post some of these arrangements–particularly those that are in the Public Domain. Choosing repertoire is a little tricky as sacred music is “out” for choir in my school. Even so, I have come up with thirty-two songs that refer to Christmas (or Hanukkah) in terms of a secular season versus a religious holiday. Sacred music, in our school, needs to be in extra-curricular ensembles (where people choose to be and are not required to be), or just out of school in general. I am thinking of offering an extra-curricular ukulele choral ensemble that will play sacred holiday music (e.g. “Silent Night”) at local retirement homes (and so on). And to those of you who are wondering–this is NOT worth the fight. Our high schools can still pursue sacred music, and if my willingness to avoid it makes it possible for them to pursue it–that is worth the cost. And you know what? There is a LOT of music out there, even “secular” holiday music. Some of that music is surprisingly difficult to play/sing/arrange!
All that said, ukulele is out of the focus and scope of this blog, which is focused on technology in music education. While this is “my” blog, it does have a theme. Technology does play a part in all of my teaching (and all three areas of emphasis noted above), but the ukulele content needs another location–and as far as I know, no other school or teacher in the country is creating a hybrid choir/ukulele program.
As a result of all this, I have created a new blog for that ukulele content. If ukulele content interests you, check it out: https://ukestuff.wordpress.com. There are already a number of posts on the blog (I wanted something there before making things public).
And if you are a teacher that uses ukulele and would like to write something but not commit to a regular blog, let me know. I would be happy to include a post from a guest.