The Video Ukulele Method
Looking to buy access to the method?
What is the Video Ukulele Method?
The Video Ukulele Method is a way to teach ukulele in a classroom setting, and requires access to a projector or large LCD screen, as well as a sound system. The method is a series of Google Slides presentations, introducing chords in the order that they are most frequently used (with some exceptions, such as F before G), and using existing video content (songs) to reinforce those chords before adding new chords. While I prefer Keynote for my own presentations, Google Slides works on any platform.
So I could just use these videos without buying the method?
Yes. You can use any of the more than 1200 video ukulele play alongs that a number of creators (including myself) have created. I have created an index for all these songs (ukeplayalongs.com), and have tracked which chords have been used most frequently. The method combines this data to make an order of chords, and then organizes the videos based on which chords are used. I would hope that the (small) fee associated with this method would be worth the time that you will save organizing content yourself. But all of the content in the method is free elsewhere, intentionally.
What is included in the method?
I include the following elements in the Google Slides:
- A static title slide of a new chord (if you want to teach the chord yourself)
- A video about how to play the chord (a future goal is to re-record these in the future, but they work)
- A skill drill video which introduces the new chord in the context of the chords they already know
- Songs that fit the chords the students know when following the method
- I also have a few graphics as well as a “Background and Instructions” document included as part of the method.
What about the copyright concerns over the play along videos?
YouTube has algorithms that match songs to copyright holders, and the copyright holders receive revenue from the ads that appear on the videos. So when you watch the videos, it is just as if you are watching the videos from another device, and some in-line ads will even pop up from time to time. You should also know that content creators (the people who make the videos) cannot monetize these videos.
Can I share my copy of the method with other teachers?
I’d prefer if you didn’t. I’ve set the price low to make it easy to contribute to the work I am doing.
What if I want to teach melody on ukulele?
You can teach melody on ukulele. However, I think we do a lot of teaching melody in music education (Orff instruments, recorder, Boomwhackers, piano, band instruments, orchestra instruments, singing in general music class). Ukulele is a great chance to play harmony to accompany singing, which is how the ukulele is most often used–both in a historical and current context. If you plan to make a ukulele orchestra, where each student plays a different note in an arrangement, this isn’t the method for you. But if you want to teach in the way that students want to play, and how adults generally use the ukulele, this is a powerful method.
Have you used the method yourself?
Absolutely. Necessity is the mother of all invention. And I needed this…and use it myself. I have taught over 600 students using this method–and if they choose to participate (not all schools require nor do all schools have a climate of participation), you will see incredible results from this method.
What are some benefits of the method?
In addition to having students who can play a number of songs on the ukulele, I think there are a number of other benefits:
- A wide variety of music, not just public domain folk songs
- A massive savings of prep time for you as a teacher
- A way to save your voice rather than trying to talk over a room full of ukuleles
- A way to duplicate yourself so you can roam the room and assist students individually, or tune ukuleles
- You can search the original YouTube videos and send the links to students to practice, such as in Schoology or Seesaw
- A fun approach for students and teachers alike
Will you update the method? Or delete it?
I will update the current year’s method as the North American school year goes on. In the summer, I will begin a new version for the next school year, which would require a new purchase–allowing for the continued curation of contenting the method. The old version will still exist but will no longer be updated. I suggest opening the method (once access is purchased) and to use the “Make a Copy” feature of Google Slides to replicate the presentation so that you can delete songs you do not want to use. Copies that you make are yours to do with as you please…but again, please do not share the method with other teachers.
What if I don’t have access to the Internet or YouTube at school?
This isn’t the method for you, then. I would, however, make a case to your administration and/or IT department that we are in the 21st century, and access to both items should be standard for teachers.
How do you assess students?
I simply use one of the skill drills, and let the various levels be a grade or standard rating. Successful performance at 1 chord per 4 beats…a C. Successful performance at 1 chord per 2 beats…a B. Successful performance at 1 chord per beat…an A. It’s easy to make videos of students while they play along with a video on the screen. A rubric is easy to create using this differentiated model.
Any other thoughts?
The method works. I enjoy using it, and my students do, too.