Ukulele sparks students’ musical interest

“The excitement to play the ukulele poured out of our elementary students and even affected our middle and high school students as well.” – Beckie Lehman, Valley Christian School teacher

Beckie Lehman understands the value of musical literacy. And as a music teacher at Valley Christian School, she has designed a new program to strike a chord in her students.

Through the Ukulele in the Classroom program she designed for her fifth-grade students, Lehman is providing a new challenge and something fun to catch their interest in music. The ukulele is the perfect instrument, she says, to encourage independent learning, creative thought and basic music theory and rhythm.

Beckie Lehman says ukuleles are the perfect instrument to encourage independent learning, creative though and basic music theory and rhythm for her fifth grade students at Valley Christian School. Thanks to a Celebrate Education grant last year, she was able to purchase 22 instruments that are now giving her students a new challenge. Valley Christian photo

“I had my high school choir class clamoring to open them and help begin tuning the ukuleles. We also had many families come forth and say that their children asked for ukuleles for Christmas,” says Lehman.

A Celebrate Education grant last year allowed Lehman to purchase ukuleles for her students as a portable, inexpensive and rather popular instrument. The benefits to adding ukuleles to her students’ repertoire include the mellow sound they make, which is ideal for teaching ear training, the ability to sing while playing the instrument and the increased difficulty to play it.

“In our third and fourth grades we focus on note and rhythm reading by playing the recorder,” says Lehman. “Then the fifth graders use the ukuleles to build on that foundation. I’ve found that their ability to hear if their instruments are tuned correctly increased significantly from their tuning practice.”

By introducing a new instrument into the classroom, Lehman has witnessed an increase in students’ confidence and musical literacy. The ukulele provides the ability to learn about song structure, chords and alternate rhythms in strumming patterns that students wouldn’t normally learn with a recorder.

Celebrate Education is an annual event hosted by the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation in partnership with the Mid-Morning Kiwanis Club of Oshkosh, Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce, Wisconsin Public Service Foundation, Oshkosh Area School District and the UWO College of Education and Human Services, with grants awarded from funds such as the Edward and Belle Rudoy Fund and the Zmolek Family Education Fund of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.

Learn more about Celebrate Education and past grants

Celebrate Education will be held at the Oshkosh Convention Center from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Monday, March 21, 2016.

Register online

or call 920-426-3993

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