Students in my General Music Classes are diverse in terms of age (grades 9-12), music education background, ability (including students with low-incidence disabilities), where they live in the city, and musical interests. Around 35% of students in our school are Hispanic, 30% are White, 20% are Black, 10% are Asian. Over half come from low-income families.
My students are funny, strong, creative, beautiful, honest, caring, musical, emotional, wise, curious teenagers; they deserve every possible opportunity to learn and create together as a class.
Our school has a thriving performing arts magnet program into which students from all over the city audition. We are also a neighborhood school for all students in our local attendance boundary; these are the students who typically take my General Music course. Because of funding inequities in our state, some K-8 schools in our district don't have music education programs. This means that some of my students have had little, if any, music instruction before coming to my classroom, especially if their families don't have the resources to seek out private lessons. Therefore, it's important that I incorporate as many hands-on, music-making activities as possible so that they can develop fundamental musical skills.
In our General Music course, we focus on the elements of music, basic music literacy, and music history. Most students' favorite unit (also mine) is the recorder unit--yes those plastic instruments everyone (except for many of my students) plays in 4th grade--in which they learn to read music from the treble staff. This is the quarter of the year when students are most engaged, most motivated, and have the most fun. And it's also the part of the year where I watch students grow most as musicians. Some students seek out their own sheet music or figure out how to play familiar melodies by ear. Students perform for the class, play in ensembles, and even compose a bit. It's a great unit, but the recorder certainly has some limitations.
I say it's time for a UKULELE UPGRADE!
A set of ukuleles would allow me to further challenge students who learn quickly and work well independently. Playing ukulele allows students to explore chordal harmony and further develop their fine-motor skills. Once they learn a few basic chords, they can play SO MANY SONGS (search "four chord song axis of awesome" on youtube.) And here's the really exciting implication for my classroom of diverse learners: students who advance to the ukulele can then accompany other students playing a melody on recorder! The collaborative possibilities are endless!
The chances of a student continuing on to take a band, choir, or orchestra class after learning to play an instrument in General Music are SO much higher. Whether on the recorder or ukulele, making music is a MUST for my students. Please help us get strummin'!
|Satin Mahogany Soprano Ukulele No Binding • Woodwind and Brasswind||$54.99||8||$439.92|
|Lightweight Case for Soprano Ukuleles • Woodwind and Brasswind||$27.55||8||$220.40|
|Super Snark 2 Clip-On Tuner • Woodwind and Brasswind||$29.99||2||$59.98|
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