What about playing with a plectrum?

Generally the books are just as applicable to a plectrum pupil as to a fingerstyle pupil. All the pieces from Book 1, and almost all the pieces in Book 2, can be played just as well with a flat pick as with thumb and fingers.

Some ukulele players also use a soft, thick plectrum – usually made of felt – for strumming. These can be very useful in the early stages, especially for faster down-and-up strumming.

Ukulele grades

(It’s important to point out that the music for a grade test will be printed in black and white, so pupils will need to have made the transition to reading notes without colours. Check out the Rainbow Ukulele Black and White Tunebook #1 and #2).

The ukulele is still something of a newcomer on the music education scene, but yes, there are grade tests for ukulele! Several of the smaller exam boards have developed their own syllabuses. Here are some more details and links, and some idea of how the Rainbow Ukulele books fit in.  Continue reading

How do the colours help the pupil?

The musical stave is a beautiful, neat, elegant way of representing music on the page. Once understood, it tells us everything we need to know about the shapes and rhythms, textures and intentions of a piece of music. But as a beginner quickly realises, the stave tells us nothing about how to coax this music out of THE ACTUAL INSTRUMENT WE ARE HOLDING. Colouring the notes allows us to add some of that concrete, instrument-specific information without spoiling the simple shapes and contours of the stave, or adding any extra labels or clutter.

In the case of string instruments, one way to use colour is to have a colour for each string. This breaks the stave up into small, manageable zones. Once directed to the right string, the beginner pupil only needs to make simple 2- or 3-way choices. The mental load is lightened, the pupil will “get to the the tune” with less effort, and the logic of the stave lines and spaces can be learned at a gradual pace.
Continue reading