Suzukulele – Ukulele for Suzuki students

Well, another year done! After last night’s portfolio wrap-up webinar session with James Hill and my fellow Level 2 teachers, I have now completed my second year of studying/teaching with JHUI. No stopping now…on to Level 3 at the end of July in Vancouver, for me. I’ve also completed my first full year of teaching the ukulele program at the OCDSB and am really looking forward to continuing with my students and hopefully many new ones in September. But for right now, my summer project is developing the “Suzukulele” senior program for this coming fall at SuzukiMusic.

After successfully bringing in the ukulele to the younger student musicians at SuzukiMusic’s summer camp last year, the idea for offering ukulele as a fun, team-building, skill-building option for senior Suzuki students has been brewing away in my head ever since.  As a one week summer camp enrichment class with the younger students, we mostly focus on singing fun camp songs and strumming together, while making parallels between their main instrument (either violin, viola, flute, guitar or cello) and the ukulele. We can find many things in common with each of these: number of strings, size, clef, shape, materials, etc… and the children realize that being a musician is not limited to the instrument you play. You can use and build your existing musical skills into many different styles and purposes. Suzuki students already have a great natural ear and are used to the group environment so ukulele class is a really fun exploration for them. I’m really looking forward to summer camp again this year.

When it comes to introducing the ukulele to the senior students this fall, building camaraderie between instrument groups and challenging their musicianship skills will be the main focus. We’ll be working on ensemble playing in parts, classical, jazz and folk styles and singing too. Shinichi Suzuki said: “It is necessary to be concerned about the importance of educating a really beautiful human spirit”  What better way than to bring teen spirit together in song? Oh yes, there will be singing.

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