May 1, 2018

Price went extremely well today. I planned to drum, but the kids all wanted to play ukes and guitars, so we did that for a good 35 minutes. I let one kid at a time rest in the hammock swing.


J was there and ready to play. He brought the ukulele back. The R sisters brought the guitar back. I brought another electric guitar into the mix. The kids each got a turn. J, N, and C could all play the three finger chords, D major on the guitar, G major on the uke. I taught them to switch back and forth.


Burrowes went extremely well too. I really feel like I cracked the code with that class. I brought in 5 extra ukuleles for a total of 10. I was ritualistic about the class, very slow and paced, took breaks with guided stretching, used cues like turning our ukes over on our laps to talk, etc. The kids did so well, both trying, listening, following directions, and learning that I could not decide who to give the loaner uke to. So we ended up picking a number. The one who guessed closest took home the uke, a sweet girl named M. Whenever she needed help she quietly whispered in my ear. K brought his guitar from home, he needed three strings, but the guitar was broken at the neck, and unplayable. I tuned it up anyway, told him I’ll bring strings next time. He was very disciplined this class.


I didn’t pass out instruments right away. I used incentives. I taught them to strum up and down by slapping their knee down and slapping their other hand held above with the back of their strumming hand. Whoever got the motion got a uke, one at a time. It motivated all the kids to get it, and they all had a uke after 5 or 10 minutes. Whoever could make the strum on the uke with their fingers then got a pick. Eventually, they all had ukes and picks. We built their skills from there.

 -George Yellak, SWAN music teacher

The names of students are represented by a letter for privacy reasons.