Ukulele Tips

So apparently the ukulele is becoming super popular among storytime librarians.  I had no idea until I actually got my own ukulele and starting telling people about it.  Almost every storytime librarian I know has one, which is great because librarians are great about sharing what we know.  And that especially comes in handy when you are learning a new instrument.

I knew pretty much from my first storytime that I wanted to incorporate music into my storytime in a big way, since music can be a powerful literacy tool.  (And it is my favorite thing.)  I could go on for pages, but I’ll save that rant for another time.  Instead, lets talk about the ukulele.

I found my ukulele by accident, at an indoor flea market while visiting my grandfather in Las Vegas.  It was only $25, a good deal.  I was originally a little bit wary of it’s quality, but I’ve gotten so many compliments on the way it sounds.  I have a soprano, so it’s littler than standard uke’s, and has a higher pitch.  But the finger is the same for either, so I might move to the standard one day.

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I should say that learning to play the uke is way easier than learning to play the piano.  If you have played an instrument in the past, the uke will be a breeze.  And even if you’ve never played an instrument, it’s not hard.  Here’s what you need to know:

  • Tuning the ukulele is easy.  Just get an app, and it will show you if your strings are too sharp or too flat.
  • There are a lot of great fingering charts on Pinterest.  A great one for beginners is this monster finger chart from spaceheaterco on Etsy, but you can just as easily find basic ukulele chord charts by searching google images.
  • There are also a lot of tutorials on youtube, which can be helpful or confusing.  I found these videos most helpful in terms of discovering strumming techniques and how to manage chord changes.  This video by Ukulele Tricks was especially helpful for me.
  • Pick one or two songs with minimal chord changes and practice every day.  Just play the chords first, then you can incorporate strumming.  Think about choosing songs that kids know really well, so they can do actions while you play.  I like to do “We Say Hello Like This” to the tune of “The Farmer and the Dell.”  “The More We Get Together” is another great go-to.
  • Also check out this post that Katie Fitzgerald wrote for The Library Adventure Blog.  I found her tips immensely helpful in starting to learn the ukulele on my own!

Did I miss anything?  Comment below if you want to know more, or if you’d like to share how you use the ukulele in your storytime.  Most important, remember to have fun.  The kids don’t mind if you mess up.  For them, it’s just a really cool addition to your storytime!

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