Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ukulele by Dot

Have you hugged your UKE today??!?
My sixth graders have caught the ukulele bug!  Over Christmas vacation, a ton of them got a wide range of ukuleles from Santa or from Christmas money.  It is fun to see them so excited and practicing on their own at home, with their own initiative leading the way.

We have been learning to play a few chords since the beginning of the school year.  The last two years, my students have been picking up the chords as I teach them, much more rapidly, due to my "chords by dot" instruction.  I have placed small colored dots that can be found easily at office supply stores, on the frets for each chord.  Then, when I teach C, for instance, I say, ring finger on the yellow dot.  This really helps all students find the correct fret, especially helping visual learners. 

Yellow = C    Green = G    Red = F   Blue =am

 I start my students with the C chord first and we practice simple one chord songs.  I add G next, even though it is more difficult that F, because I want them to understand chord relationships.  Plus, once they've learned to play G, they can play ANYTHING!  Our favorite two C and G chord songs are "Fish and Chips and Vinegar" in canon and "There Ain't No Bugs on Me."  They even wrote their own verses for "Ain't No Bugs."  This cycle, we learned F and a in the same class period.  They are becoming chord switching maniacs.  Some students still struggle to place fingers quickly and we are working on putting all fingers down on a chord together, instead of one at a time. 

Great wall mounts keep our ukuleles safe!

Ukuleles line the walls of our music room.


  1. Love that! I've been toying around with the adding ukes to my classroom for a few years now and I love the dot idea to initially get kids fingers in the right place fast. And when you only see kids once a week-- extremely helpful!
    I'm curious, though, why you've taught your kids using "the middle finger" for the C chord. Just to ensure we're discussing the same finger-- finger two. Is it because that finger is stronger than finger three? Or is the transition easier between C and G to slide finger two to the second fret and add the other fingers rather than having to change strings? Just curious. I've only played uke for a couple years now and I certainly haven't learned all the tricks of the trade. :)
    I've pinned this on my Pinterest board though. :)

  2. That is an error on my part. We don't use the middle finger for C. We use the ring finger, 3rd finger. I'll have to change that! Thanks for asking!

    The kids to love the ukes and pick it up quickly with the dot use. Glad the post was helpful.