Strategies for Getting Started

When choosing a setting and age group...

  1. Consider students' developmental readiness: Ukulele has a very gentle learning curve for most students in 4th grade and up. With each grade younger, or with students with special needs, the progress of the group will simply be slower.
  2. Consider teachers' readiness: Teachers who already play a stringed instrument (or better yet, the ukulele itself) are better suited for getting a program off the ground relatively quickly.
  3. Decide on goals: Is the goal to use the ukulele to help students meet state or national standards in music education? Then a classroom program is the way to go. If the goal is to simply offer an alternative kind of ensemble, then maybe an extra-curricular program will do.

When pitching a program...

  1. Make sure you've done your homework: You should be able to play the ukulele at a basic level (at least) and speak fluently about the assets it offers as a school instrument.
  2. Follow the appropriate chain of personnel: If most of the decisions affecting your program are made by a district music supervisor, go to that person first. If there is no music supervisor, try the building principal. If you're looking to get ukulele into an after school program funded by the PTA, go directly to them. Avoid bypassing important people.
  3. Tailor your pitch to your audience: Keep in mind what's most important to whomever you're speaking. Is it cost? Convenience? Effectiveness? Musical versatility? All of the above? The ukulele has many strengths to play up. Choose wisely!

When looking to supply instruments...

  1. Explore grant and fundraising opportunities: It's possible to buy a class set of ukuleles and cases for little more than $1000.
  2. Work with a local dealer: There may be opportunities for discounts as a school district or bulk order. It's also good to have a place to go if/when instruments need repairs.
  3. Promote student ownership at every turn: A starter ukulele costs less than many non-essential items parents buy for their kids. Many parents are eager to support their children in learning music and just need to be asked. It's a shame not to take advantage of the instrument's affordability, portability, and the increased rewards of home practice.