WHY A UKULELE? The Ukulele (commonly pronounced “you-ka-lay-lee” but officially pronounced “ooh-koo-lay-lee”) came to Hawaii via Portuguese immigration.The Hawaiian name translates to “jumping flea” – uku (“flea”)and lele (“jumping”). The bright sounds of the nylon and fingers hopping about the fretboard provide a strong testimonial for the name. But why start with a ukulele instead of another instrument, like guitar, piano, or recorder? Over the years, guitar players develop thick calluses on their fingers, but, at the beginning, the steel strings on the guitars are usulally more expensive than similar quality ukes. And younger children may not be able to handle a full-size guitar. A Piano has 88 keys and generally remains in a single nad generally remains in a single location.
A ukulele has 4 strings and travels easily. Recorders provide good motorskills, and experienced players
can create a beautiful tones. But with children, the sounds can sometimes be hair-raising.
Developing solid mouth techniques (“embouchure”) takes years.
In contrast, ukulele are easily playable. They are happy instruments – seeing someone play a
ukulele always brings smiles. Ukulele provide :
- Flexibility : You can play nearly all types of music.
- Individuality : Ukes produce a unique sounds.
- Portability : They go anywhere.
- Playability : Nylon strings are easy on fingertips.
- Ease of Learning: Four strings, four fingers on each hand, plus thumb.
- Adaptability : A ukulele can lead to other instruments, particularly guitar.
In Montessori classroom, a ukulele provides opportunities for both gross- and fine-motor skills. Holding the uke is one skill. Striking the strings and playing chords is another. From toddlers on up, music is fascinating to watch when performed live (or over Zoom). The fascination increases when they are ones creating music. Structure and repetition are parts of songs, and there are many opportunities for movement for both players and those dancing along.