Tag Archives: Easy To Play

How can I get my child to do their music practice?

Here are our 5 top tips to achieve regular and effective practice between music lessons…

1) Don’t set unrealistic goals.

10-15 minutes good practice 5 times a week will achieve a much better result than an hour crammed in before a lesson, or no practice at all because you can’t fit in a longer session around other activities. Without the pressure to set aside an enormous amount of time, children will often play for longer by choice (or by accident!) once they get into a routine of little and often.

2) Treat regular instrument practice in the same way that you treat other homework.

You wouldn’t let them off Maths homework would you? By treating music lessons with the same importance yourself, you are setting an example to your child. Even if you don’t play yourself, or them wanting music lessons seems like a bit of an unusual choice, by gently giving the message that you expect it to be taken seriously, you are giving them the best chance of making the most of the opportunity they have.

3) Make sure your child has all the necessary tools to work with.

If playing an instrument is a new venture, it is understandable to make a minimal financial investment until you are sure your child is committed to learning to play, especially if they tend to get bored with things. However, there are two things which are proven to improve the chance of them sticking to music lessons. A stand for their instrument so it is on display instead of hidden away in a case means that if they only have a few minutes to spare, it’s easy to pick up and play. It’s also less likely to be forgotten until just before the next lesson, or damaged accidentally. Also, a music stand will make it easier to practice in the correct position and achieve progress more quickly. It’s impossible to follow all of a teacher’s rules if you’re leaning over the bed or sofa to see your book!

4) Be aware of the reasons why your child might be avoiding playing.

It’s less likely that your child will stop playing because they dislike doing it and far more likely that other factors will play a part. The most common are peer pressure, other activities, reaching a point where it seems hard to progress (a plateau) and issues with the teacher. It’s very easy to get into a battle of wills over music practice but a quick chat to see if any of these are causing a problem is much more productive and less stressful.

Often, it’s simply the style of music being played that causes frustration. Most teachers are very happy to mix in modern pop and rock, jazz or other styles to keep things interesting. Don’t be afraid to approach them and ask.

5) Encourage involvement in group music opportunities.

Students who play in orchestras, jazz groups, rock bands and even sing in choirs have a better track record for continuing to play. Find out what activities are available at school or get in touch with your local Music Hub who will be offering all sorts of music groups for all abilities throughout your area. In North Tyneside, you can visit www.ntmeh.co.uk to see all the fabulous, free activities your child can enjoy.

Which ukulele should I buy? (Part One)

Ukuleles come in five sizes. Here’s a quick round-up of the features of each and some of the reasons you might choose them…

Brunswick Ukulele Sizes

Soprano Ukulele: The smallest ukulele is often mistaken for a child’s guitar or toy. In fact, it’s a versatile instrument which is easy to master and ideal for adults and children. For anyone who is starting to play for the first time, the soprano uke is the perfect choice because they’re cheap and often come in a variety of bright colours. The easy chord shapes are a great lead in to starting to play the guitar. Start playing uke with your child at around 3-4 years old and get one for granny too!

Concert Ukulele: The concert ukulele is the next size up from the soprano. It has a longer fretboard so it lends itself better to more advanced playing. Because the tuning is the same as the soprano uke, many people, particularly men, who start with a soprano uke graduate quite quickly onto the concert size because it gives them more room to manoeuvre. The concert ukulele will normally ‘sound better’ than a soprano ie: it offers more resonance, and is great for both chord and melody playing. The perfect choice for someone who already plays other instruments or who has been playing a cheap soprano ukulele for a while.

Tenor Ukulele: The tenor ukulele is also tuned in the same way as the soprano and concert models, meaning that players can switch between the three with relative ease. The tenor uke is bigger than the concert ukulele. In some ways, it is the most versatile of the uke family as there are various string sets readily available with different combinations of wound and nylon strings and high or low G string. This makes it easy to find the sound you like best and also means it can be adapted easily to be a melody or a chord instrument. Great for guys who still feel cramped on the concert size and anyone who likes a slightly more guitar style sound.

Baritone Ukulele: The baritone ukulele is tuned like the top four strings of a guitar (although you can buy strings for it which are tuned like a standard uke). The baritone uke is very popular with guitarists who find it easy to pick up and play and because it tends to have two wound strings, it sounds very like a guitar. The compact size makes it a perfect travelling companion. It’s also a good harmony instrument, often used to play the harmony line, or chords, in a ukulele group.

Bass Ukulele: The largest of the ukulele family is the most expensive and least mass produced. Normally only used to give extra depth to the harmonies in group playing.

Visit Part Two for our top tips on the best brands of ukulele to buy and how to get the best uke for your budget.

Ukuleles are HOT!

So, ukuleles are just little guitars with 4 strings for babies, right? Wrong! Ukes are fab little instruments that are easy to play, sound great, incredibly cheap and SO funky! And best of all? They are trashing the recorder!! Schools are wising up to the fact that kids are loving the uke (and so are their grannies). Anyone can do it – why don’t you?

Here’s a couple of links to some of the cutest uke designs we’re offering and the coolest accessories for your ukulele;

The UK has been a hotspot of national pride since the Olympics and the Jubilee, so how about a Union Jack uke?

It’ll sound great if it’s bang in tune – the Snark Clip-On Ukulele Tuner is a great little gadget to make tuning easy.

Anything from Adele to ZZ Top, with Black Sabbath in between. Bring your favourite tracks bang up to date with sheet music for your ukulele.

If you would like a taster of just how cool the ukulele can be, check out this video of the Ukulele Orchestra playing Nirvana!