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Music - String your pupils along

What it's all about

Music at Brighton College Nursery and Pre-Prep School has always been a crucial part of the curriculum but is now even more dramatic and colourful, writes Sam Dixon.

After watching a friend perform with a local group, The Ukes of Hazzard, I realised that ukuleles held exciting possibilities as a classroom instrument. Small instruments with four strings, ukuleles are easy to hold and make a pleasing sound. They are easier to play than other stringed instruments, are affordable and come in a variety of colours that appeal to children.

Teaching is done by ear, which adds freedom for all pupils - particularly those on the dyslexic spectrum - and enables them to explore melody, tempo and rhythm. Skills practised include singing, picking, strumming and ear training.

Lesson 1: Introduce the ukulele, naming each part. Get pupils to make a labelled drawing, including the strings' letter names.

Lesson 2: Show pupils how to hold the ukulele correctly. Get them to practise plucking strings individually and performing a basic strum.

Lesson 3: Explain what a chord is and how the pitch of each string can be changed by shortening its length. Teach pupils the finger position for the chord of C and practise strumming between open strings and C.

Subsequent lessons could incorporate the DVD Ukulele for Kids by Marcy Marxer, which progresses sequentially.

What else?

Guess the musical instrument in sarahcon's PowerPoint quiz. Pupils listen to sounds and click on the corresponding picture. bit.lyMusicalSounds

Use The Blagmusic Project's touchscreen piano to explain chord theory or get pupils performing to the class. bit.lyTouchScreenPiano.

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