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Recorder v Ukulele-teaching

Acorn4 09 Jan 20 - 04:11 PM
Acorn4 09 Jan 20 - 04:12 PM
Doug Chadwick 09 Jan 20 - 06:49 PM
GUEST,Jerry 10 Jan 20 - 03:37 AM
GUEST,Grishka 10 Jan 20 - 10:01 AM
leeneia 10 Jan 20 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,Jerry 10 Jan 20 - 11:11 AM
Helen 10 Jan 20 - 01:50 PM
leeneia 11 Jan 20 - 01:08 PM
Mo the caller 11 Jan 20 - 02:19 PM
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Subject: Recorder v Ukulele-teaching
From: Acorn4
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 04:11 PM

Interesting letter in this month's "Educate" Magazine - of interest to teachers/ex teachers:-

Why teach the ukulele rather than the recorder? (Educate, Nov/Dec, page 40).
Answer: ukuleles are unobtrusive instruments. 'Three chords and you have achieved the object.Tick!
If half the class is strumming on the wrong chord it will not spoil the effect.Tick! No melody involved, no skill involved on the part of the teacher, no music-reading involved.Tick
If you're attempting to teach the recorder there are issues of music reading and wrong notes. Recorders cannot be taught in a class situation, no matter how many people say they can. I am speaking as a music teacher of some 45 years' experience.
The music-lite ukulele deceives the children and their parents that they are having a musical education.
It doesn't furnish them with the skill of music reading or playing a melody. It doesn't equip them with the skills to try an orchestral musical instrument. It's a questionable venture. and I would say it is worthless.
But it ticks the box! Anyone can teach three chords and play along with a track. It is less noisy and cheaper than the “wider opportunity' or “first access' schemes promoted in some authorities, which involve rackety saxophones and trumpets en masse.
The recorder takes expertise and time. Too much to ask when the spectre of Ofsted and its cravings for instant, quantifiable results, hovers over us all. With the ukulele, it will look as all are achieving; this is a scandalous fiction.


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Subject: RE: Recorder v Ukulele-taching
From: Acorn4
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 04:12 PM

Sorry - thread title should read "teaching" - thought I'd corrected the spelling.


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Subject: RE: Recorder v Ukulele-taching
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 09 Jan 20 - 06:49 PM

Think of it from the parents point of view. As a father of four, I have sat through endless numbers or recorder performances. Give me the ukulele every time. At least I can be thankful that they weren't being taught violin!

DC


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Subject: RE: Recorder v Ukulele-teaching
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 03:37 AM

How about the autoharp? Arguably even easier because you don’t have to even form the chord shapes. However, just like the ukulele, there are other techniques involved if you want to play it properly, rather than just make a rhythmic noise.


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Subject: RE: Recorder v Ukulele-teaching
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 10:01 AM

Ideally, each pupil shall be taught according to her or his individual preferences and talent, and according to the available groups (bands, orchestras). If compromises are required, the best ones still depend on the pupils. Unfortunately, the weakest point is often the teacher, followed by the parents; they may well choose the way of least resistance. Most of today's teachers (in Europe and North America), unless specialized for music, do not play any instrument, as a result of the previous generation of teachers who were dealt with as suggested in the OP. In other words: once more, a dated satire has been outrun by reality.


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Subject: RE: Recorder v Ukulele-teaching
From: leeneia
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 11:00 AM

Bear in mind that the letter in the OP is sarcastic. The last line is "With the ukulele, it will look as all are achieving; this is a scandalous fiction."

When students learn recorder they learn to read a melody line, and if there's time, they can learn basic theory. These are good things to know no matter what they do the rest of their lives.


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Subject: RE: Recorder v Ukulele-teaching
From: GUEST,Jerry
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 11:11 AM

Quite so. I think it’s also more encouraging for both pupils and their parents to be learning to play recognisable tunes.


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Subject: RE: Recorder v Ukulele-teaching
From: Helen
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 01:50 PM

While I understand the OP's concerns, I can still see the benefits of teaching some sort of music to kids.

Some kids will probably never progress past the basic ukulele strumming stage, but the chance to open their minds to what makes music, the component parts like rhythm, melody, singing etc and the joy of making music together is too good to pass up.

For the kids who progress past the basic chords and strumming, who learn what music notation is, that melodies can be picked out, fingerpicking styles can be used, the uke can accompany other instruments or singers, and they can join in at the community uke learning events, groups and festivals, then the uke is a stepping stone to a world of infinite musical possibilities.

Some kids have musical opportunities because their parents can afford music lessons, but a lot of kids don't.

Looking at it as either the majority of kids get no music opportunities at all or they get a window into the musical world with the options to move forward if they wish into more skilled areas and maybe even rock fame, fortune and the rock lifestyle (joke, in case you are unsure), then I would opt for any musical playing experience at a young age is better than none.

When my sister and I were in the last year of primary school, our teacher taught the class a plastic whistle closer to a penny whistle than a recorder, because the notes went up the scale in a simple manner, not the fancy digital footwork required of a recorder (which I don't play). We learned music notation so that we could play melodies and maybe even some simple harmonies, and we learned to play together as a group, and we even performed at the school assembly a few times. When we had a school reunion about 30 years later, a few of us brought our plastic whistles along and gave a brief performance for the teacher.

Going back even further, we had a music appreciation class in infants school. We had the whole school in one room - only about 50 kids - and the head teacher would give us a lesson on music and musical instruments, and then we had a percussion "band" which I imagine sounded fairly dinky but we had a lot of fun and from the age of 6 it opened my eyes to music and its possibilities for me. I began to see the link between what I heard on the radio and how it was made.

All through school we also had the national radio broadcast of the music for schools programme. There were books supplied with music notation and lyrics for the chosen songs for the year. I believe at least one prominent folkie named Chris Kempster was "instrumental" in getting this programme started.

There are some very good ukulele community-based groups here in Australia, and one of the best (IMHO) is right here in my own regional city. There is a real wave of DIY music here for children and adults of all ages, which I can only see as a positive thing.


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Subject: RE: Recorder v Ukulele-teaching
From: leeneia
Date: 11 Jan 20 - 01:08 PM

Well said, Helen.


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Subject: RE: Recorder v Ukulele-teaching
From: Mo the caller
Date: 11 Jan 20 - 02:19 PM

Ideally teach both recorder AND uke.
A melody instrument and a harmony one.
And teach playing by ear as well as from music.
I learnt recorder at school and piano (from music) privately so I am fairly clueless about chords & harmony.
Have improved my ability to play by ear by annoying people in tunes sessions but it took time and still isn't perfect


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