How to Teach the Ukulele to Kids
The ukulele is a great instrument for kids. If you can't afford music lessons, it's easy to teach even for parents who have little or no experience playing an instrument or reading music. Add to that, they're affordable instruments to buy. You can get a good ukulele for around $40.
The ukulele is also a great starter instrument for kids who want to learn guitar. It may be difficult for children under age 9 or so to learn to play a guitar. Ukulele's are smaller, so it's easier for little hands to form chords. They have only 4 strings, making it easier for smaller children to remember the finger positions of chords and notes. The experience kids gain from strumming and changing chords can make guitar learning easier later on.
How to Learn
There are a few different ukulele learning books available that are aimed at kids. In my opinion, the best is Alfred's Kid's Ukulele Course 1. There's also a book 2 or you can buy a combo of both books called the Complete Series. Get the version that comes with a DVD. Book 1 only introduces 4 chords: C, C7, F and G7. That doesn't sound like much but it's perfect for beginners. It can be difficult for younger kids to remember chord positions, so introducing just a few that can be used for many songs is fine for the first months of learning. And you should be able to find lots of songs using these common chords.
The book also introduces the notes E, F, G, A, B and C. Some of the songs have a mix of chords and notes. Book 2 introduces more notes and chords. If you feel book 2 may be too confusing for your child, you can skip it for a while and continue to focus on learning songs with chords.
How to Find Songs to Play
The best way to find songs is to use Google. Search for "ukulele songs with 2 chords" and "ukulele songs with 3 chords" and you'll find lots of simple songs. Try to find songs with at least two chords your child already knows. Over time as you introduce new songs, your child will learn far more chords. Again with younger kids you don't want to rush them. Learning too many chords might start to confuse them. It's better if they know 7 to 8 chords very well than 20 they constantly get confused about.
YouTube has many ukulele tutorials
YouTube has ukulele tutorials that can be helpful to parents. Your child may or may not want to watch them. If they do, that's great. If not, you can watch and learn what you need to pass onto your child. Some people post videos showing how to play particular songs as well.
Try to practice every day including on the weekends. Ten minutes or so should be enough for younger children. For variety, teach a few songs at a time once your child has become familiar with a few chords. Early on, those songs may feature the exact same chords but the point is to hold your child's interest. They'll also feel like they're making more progress if they're learning lots of songs.
When learning a new song, focus on learning chord position and changes first. Ask your child to find the position of each chord in the song. If they don't remember help them. Do this a few times. Then work on changing the chords without strumming. Once they can do that, have them play the whole song. It may take younger children weeks to remember the chords and master chord changes.
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