Week 26 – Long live the Uke!

Wow Monday’s feel better after a weekend of nice weather!  For me there are really two main things that feed my spirit, one is music, and the other is the outdoors!

Last Week’ highlights in Music Education:

There are no words to describe the experience I was privileged to be a part of in Leask last week.  Students there have worked with community Elders and the shop teacher to build a floor drum using moose hide.  Last Thursday a Drum Feed ceremony was held to bring the drum to life.  As a learner in this cultural environment I had no idea really what to anticipate.  What I have learned in this process is that this drum isn’t just an object for making music, rather it is a means of acknowledging Aboriginal culture, traditions, and values.  It means acknowledging the People.  The many tears that were shed by Elders, community members, staff, and even some of the students showed me that this drum is so very much more than just a drum, and it is only just beginning!  THANK YOU to all those who have been involved in seeing this particular project come to fruition!

2014-03-13 13.19.54


Long live the uke!

The more time I spend around ukulele’s, the more the things seem to take on a life of their own.  I ran into the Uke Guru (message me if you’d like to know who this is and how to get him to come to your school) earlier this week and he pointed me to a website called The Mighty Uke.  It is awesome, and so I share it here with you.  Please be sure to play the “Flight of the Bumblebee” for your students.  Our Hepburn classes were in awe! 🙂


One of the challenges of getting teachers to feel more independent of me when teaching with ukulele’s has been overcoming the issue of tuning.  Because I am a trained musician I also have a trained ear.  I can tune the class set of uke’s in only a few minutes, but acquiring that ability simply takes time and lots of practice for most to be able to do it that quickly.  Many teachers don’t necessarily have that ability yet and so tuning uke’s can be a very time-consuming and frustrating process.  So over the past couple of weeks, we have been experimenting in the Hepburn gr. 5 & 6 classes a bit to see how much of this the students could actually do themselves.  We have done a couple of classes where we as a class all worked together to tune each individual uke and the students had to help each other determine  when the pitches were in tune.  With as many as 25 kids, yes this pretty much took most of the class, but in spending that time, the students really understand what tuning is, why it matters, and how to do it.  It also gave me a chance to see how well the students could determine when a string was in tune or not, and guess what?  Turns out they have better ears than we sometimes give them credit for.  So this week we tried an experiment.  Myself and the classroom teacher tuned only one uke each, then the students had to form into groups of 4 or 5 and send one person to the teacher to get their pitches from.  Once that one student was in tune, they returned to their group to work together to get the rest of the group in tune.  10-15 minutes later, the whole class was rolling!  Success!  Some of them weren’t perfect, but most were pretty close, and it is easier to fine tune a few as you go through class rather than the teacher trying to tune all of them.  The beauty of this is that this will actually get even faster as the students get more practiced at this particular skill.  So not only have we created tools to make for an independent teacher, but also tools for students to be independent learners.

Schedule for this week so far:

Monday:  DO board meeting – All day

Tuesday: Hepburn

Wednesday: AM Leask, PM DO

Thursday: Open

Friday: AM Leask, PM DO

Let me know if you need anything from me this week!  Have a great one!