WVMS ukulele unit – big lessons, tiny instrument


WVMS ukulele unit – big lessons, tiny instrument

March 15, 2021

The strumming of ukuleles carried from Room G-8 into the halls of the middle school like a pleasant Polynesian breeze, as Mr. Shane Peters and his sixth grade general music students continued practicing their way through their “uke unit.”

After only a few sessions, the students in Mr. Peters’ class have learned a handful of chord shapes and strumming patterns, and are playing songs.

“We just started with it and we’ve learned a lot already,” said Violet Tinnirello. She also plays ukulele as a hobby, and says that it’s simple to get started but there’s actually a lot to learn on the ukulele, and the more you learn the more you can do with the instrument.

Classmate Zoe Moller agrees, and added that, “Playing ukulele is easy, until it isn’t.”

Mr. Peters also leads the district’s Ukulele Club.

“Students in grades 5 through 8 have the opportunity to join Ukulele Club,” he said. “It’s a chance for them to learn pop songs and perform covers. This year we’ve been meeting virtually.”

Along with music theory and technique, the students are learning some of the history and folklore behind the ukulele. Did you know that the ukulele actually originates from Portugal?

It was introduced to Hawaii in the 1800s by travelers and traders. The great King Kamehameha enjoyed the instrument so much, that it became an important part of Polynesian culture — from preserving the oral history of the Hawaiian archipelago and its people, to the ukulele’s influence on popular music. The diminutive instrument carries quite a large history with it.

Uke student Harry Valentino summed up his take on the tiny instrument’s huge appeal like this:

“You may play the ukulele… but it is the ukulele that you play.”

We get you, Harry! The ukulele’s universal appeal is undeniable, and the uke unit is perfect proof.

Finally, a nice benefit of their size that makes ukuleles particularly perfect for this year – they are super quick to sanitize between classes!


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