Albury Public students embracing ukulele in music classes

STRUMMERS: Albury Public School students and teachers are loving the switch from recorders to ukuleles in music class. Picture: CHRIS YOUNG
STRUMMERS: Albury Public School students and teachers are loving the switch from recorders to ukuleles in music class. Picture: CHRIS YOUNG

THE recorder has traditionally been the instrument of choice for primary schools across the country, but students at Albury Public School have started strumming to a different tune.

Pupils are being given the option to learn the ukulele in lieu of the recorder from this term, thanks to some fundraising efforts by the school’s P&C Committee. 

Thirty ukuleles were purchased for students thanks to the group’s fundraising efforts

While still in its infancy, the program has been a hit with both students and staff so far. 

Teachers have been taking lessons, learning basic chords and music reading, which they will then teach their classes.

A dedicated music teacher will also work with students once a fortnight.

Albury Public’s Christel Pargeter said the lessons had been a welcome change – but added that the recorder hadn’t necessarily waned in popularity either.

“There’d been some moved to revamp the music program, and the direction it took was for students to pick up an instrument they might not have experienced before,” she said.

“The students have been so positive about it all, we’re very lucky that whatever we decide to put in place, the students receive it so well.

“There’s a bit of difference between the ukulele and recorder in the basic notation.

“At the moment the children are learning basic strumming patterns and chords.

“Learning ukulele also means there’s an opportunity for a bit of singing as well.” 

Teachers have also been given free instruction from the Murray Conservatorium.

“Some of us have come in with a little bit of background knowledge from guitar, others are brand new to ukulele,” Mrs Pargeter said.

“I think we’ve all picked it up quite quickly, and we’re quite keen to add it to our curriculum.

“In a way it does help that we’re learning alongside the students – it’s been a really fun experience so far.

“Last year we found that students were still out in the playground with their recorders, playing together.

“It’s something a bit different to go along with that.” 

Students have started by learning simple tunes such as the 'Sad Stingray Song’ which was popularised in the the viral YouTube series 'Beached Az’.  

In addition to the ukulele, funds were also raised to purchase some djembe drums, traditional African instruments that have recently been used in assembly performances alongside the ukuleles.

The smaller size of the ukuleles, as well as only having four strings, has made it easy for students to physically manipulate, as well as assisted in learning chords.

Lessons will continue throughout the year.