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Ukulele Karate with Grant Elementary

The local graduates of Grant Elementary’s “Karate” course are breaking barriers, not boards.

Grant Elementary’s Ukulele Karate Class- Long Beach, CA

One of the biggest challenges facing educators today is how to provide engaging learning experiences for their students. Keeping everyone involved and invested in the lesson and experience is tough, especially with ever shrinking funding for arts programs, including music.

Music Education has been shown to uniquely tie a number of learning modes into one experience. Helping students grasp not only counting in time, but aspects of mathematics, physics and tactile coordination— as well as teamwork and interpersonal skills.

When Scott first reached out to us about his plan for an after school program, I knew this idea was a winner. As a ‘band kid’ growing up, I understand the extra sense of community learning an instrument can bring— which is so important as we more frequently rely on technology to connect in modern times. Seeing the way Scott interacts with the students and the respect they have for him and what he’s teaching really made it clear it had to be an ongoing project— as long as he was willing to head it!

At Ohana, we believe in supporting our local and global programs dedicated to helping kids, adults, and those young at heart find their passion for making music. Some of the most rewarding projects we are involved in are dedicated to just that.

To keep his students engaged, Grant Elementary’s 5th grade teacher— and Local Ukulele Ambassador— Scott Karkanan has started “Ukulele Karate.” As students learn new chords and are able to play new material, they earn a colorful “belt” that affixes to the headstock of the ukulele. Having achievable goals for the year-long program helps keep the students invested in learning more about music and this unique instrument.

Ukulele Karate “Belt” Image Source: Scott Karkanen

I can’t believe our ukulele club is getting close to wrapping up our fifth year. It’s amazing what these kiddos have been able to accomplish! After using Music K-8’s Recorder Karate program to teach third graders how to play and read recorder music, I decided to adapt the songs and karate belt system to the ukulele. It has been awesome! The karate belts have been a great motivator to get students reading music. It’s so exciting to see their reaction to passing a belt, especially when it has taken three or four attempts.These kiddos have embraced the spirit of the ukulele community and help each other each and every day. Although our club only meets once a week for 45 minutes, you’ll often see students at their recess time strumming and working through their songs. Fifth Grade Rocks at Grant Elementary School!

At the end of each academic year, the participants of the after-school ukulele program put on a concert showcasing the skills and tunes they’ve pick up with Mr. K. Students learn songs from a number of genres— including current pop music, classic rock, and American folk standards. Youngsters that show particular prowess are invited to help lead some selections and also assist fellow students.

 

Ohana was more than happy to work with this local program to support student enrichment, and help students start their lifelong love of music! Check out the Ukulele Karate class in action in the video below!

Are you an educator working to keep music alive in your community?  Share your stories. We’d love to hear how you’re working to bring more aloha to your school!