What are the Best Christmas Gifts for Ukulele Players?

What are the Best Christmas Gifts for Ukulele Players?

So, you’re wondering what are the best Christmas gifts for the ukulele player in your life? Here  are 30 ideas  for things your loved one might be excited to find under the tree. We’ve listed the approximate price to make it easy to stay within your budget.

FYI Ukulele Sisters gets a small commission for purchases made through links in this post. The commission doesn’t affect the price you pay.

Practical Ukulele Christmas Gifts

Here are some suggestions to help your loved one be more comfortable and sound better as they make music.

1. Music Stand - $25

A sturdy, high quality music stand is a great place to store music. And it’s a lot more fun to play ukulele if books and music sheets are not falling on the ground all the time.

2. Clip-on Tuner - $15

A clip -on tuner makes it a snap to get a ukulele tuned up and ready to rock out. Snark Tuner is the go-to brand for clip on tuners.

3. Capo - $10

Ukulele capos make it possible to adapt sheet music to different keys. Don’t worry if you don’t know what that means. You can learn more about it with our post about using a capo.

4. Ukulele Strap - $10 - 20

Slip into something more comfortable with a ukulele strap. Having a strap to hold up the ukulele makes it much easier to play the ukulele.

There are two kinds. One of them goes over your head and does not require an end button. The advantage is that you don’t need to take your ukulele to the shop to get an end button added. The disadvantage is that you still have to keep a hand on your ukulele to make sure you don’t drop it.

The other kind of strap needs a button installed onto the ukulele. The strap is then attached to the button which means you can use your hands to do something else and not drop your ukulele. The downside is that you might need the help of a music store to get a button added to your ukulele. And some people don’t like how the buttons look.

Oldtime Music has published a nice review of the top 7 ukulele straps. 

5. Chord Chart - $10

A ukulele chord chart to post in your practice space will make it easier to quickly find the chord shape you need at the right moment. We like this laminated ukulele chord chart.

6. Felt Picks $10 - $15

If your ukulele player does not like using their fingers to strum and is worried about damaging their uke, a felt pick could be the answer. This combo pack of a capo and felt picks is a great deal.

7. Humidifier - $15

Ukulele humidifier. Many ukuleles are made of wood, which prefers a modest and constant humidity level. If you live in a dry climate or have a lot of drying indoor heat in the winter, a ukulele humidifier is a MUST. Unless you really like buying ukuleles…

8. Ukulele Stand - $25

Ukulele stand: Having your ukulele out of its case and ready to grab for a quick practice session is makes it much easier to fit music into your daily life. This zebra wood stand is good looking and a good price too. 

9. Wall Mount - $15

A wall mount also makes it easy easy to grab a ukulele, but it also turns your musical instrument collection into a decorative statement.

10. New Strings - $10 - 15

Strings wear out over time and need to be replaced. Having a spare set is a great idea. Aquila is a standard string type that lots of folks use. Be sure you get the set of strings that matches the size of ukulele belonging to your musician.

Soprano strings

Concert strings

Tenor strings

Baritone strings

Fun Ukulele Christmas Gifts

Enough with practicality! What about some playful, fun gifts for ukulele players?

Ukulele Christmas ornament – there are a lot of cute ones out there. We liked the strumming Santa and the blown glass ukulele with flowers.

11. Ukulele Christmas Ornaments - $10 - $15

There are a lot of cute ones out there. We liked the strumming Santa and the blown glass ukulele with flowers.

12. Hawaian Shirt - $35 - $50

13. Lei - $15 - 75

And what is the perfect accessory for your Hawaiian shirt? Why a lei, of course. If you’re going with fresh flowers, your local florist might be able to deliver something or get in touch with the Hawaiian Lei Company

 

14. Ukulele T shirt - $15 - $25

If your loved one isn’t much for collared shirts, how about a Ukulele T shirt? Our favorite is the one with cats found here. There are also fun “ukulele girl” shirts out there.

15. Mug - $15 - $20

If a shirt isn’t in the budget, how about a mug with ukulele chord stamps or fun sayings.

16. Socks - $15 - $20

Ukulele socks are another affordable choice. From colorful to neutral there are a lot of choices.

17. Hat - $15 - $20

If your loved one likes to cover his noggin there are a lot of cute choices available. We liked this neutral one and this more colorful one too.

19. Fun Ukulele Case - $25

Sheet Music is Always a Great Christmas Gift

Of course, we are authors so we are biased. But most players will always be happy to have new tunes to try. Do your best to buy something at the right difficulty level and when in doubt it’s best to get something easier rather than harder. It’s not so fun to get a new book and not be able to play any of the songs in it. 

20. 21 Songs in 6 Days: Learn Ukulele the Easy Way - $15

by Rebecca Bogart and Jenny Peters. This book is for someone who has never played ukulele before. It covers five basic chords (C, C7, F, G7 and Am) and three fundamental strumming patterns by working through the six days and 40-plus lesson videos.

21 Easy Ukulele Songs for Christmas ukulele book cover

21. 21 Easy Ukulele Songs for Christmas - $15

Also by Rebecca Bogart and Jenny Peters. This book features great sounding yet easy to play versions of classic carols. It’s intended for beginning ukulele players who have learned the C, F, and G7 chords and a few basic strums. Includes a free video course.

22. 21 More Songs in 6 Days - $20

by Rebecca Bogart and Jenny Peters. Your uke lover will learn the most important intermediate ukulele chords, how to fingerpick melodies and accompaniments, and new fancier strumming patterns. Plus, this book has an introduction to blues improvisation and basic music theory. 

23. Learn Easy Ukulele Chord Melody Today! Online course - $100

If your ukulele player has been complaining about wanting more variety in her playing, she might love the gift of our chord melody course. It’s only for sale through Dec. 15, but once purchased can be accessed any time.

25. Hymn Kits - $250

For those who love playing sacred music, our hymn kits will give them lots of tunes and skills for making great arrangements.

26. The Daily Ukulele - $30

by Jim and Liz Beloff. This fabulous book is full of good songs – most of the recent tunes are from the 60s and 70s. There is no lesson information, but if your uke lover knows five chords, they should be able to tackle some of the songs.

27. The Daily Ukulele Leap Year Edition - $35

by Jim Beloff. More fabulous songs from Jim. This second volume has more modern tunes by groups such as Black Keys and Green Day.

28. Easy Songs for Ukulele - $10

29. Fiddle Tunes for Ukulele - $15

Also by Lil’ Rev. Great little guide to old time familiar tunes arranged for ukulele.

30. Disney Hits for Ukulele - $15

23 songs included. This book is for someone who’s played for at least a couple years.

We hope you’ve found some gift ideas that will work for you in this post. Do you have a great idea we didn’t mention? Let us know about it in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy holidays!

You want to fill your home with Christmas cheer! You know a few chords and strumming patterns. And you’d like to play the melodies too.

Look no further. Our Christmas book offers all this and more!

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Top 10 Ukulele Songs for Kids

Top 10 Ukulele Songs for Kids

Today we are offering our top 10 ukulele songs for kids. This is a curated list, and you can scroll down to download the songs now! Jenny has taught these songs to kids from Kindergarten up to 8th Grade. We recommend the ukulele as a great instrument for kids. Read more about why you should buy a ukulele for your kid here.

We all agree that music plays an important role in our society. It’s safe to say that we humans can’t do without music.

Our connection with music begins when we are infants. Music is an essential part of every child’s development. Researchers have found that singing is one of the most meaningful ways we bond with our children.

“Infants pay more attention to singing than speech” says Dr. Sandra Trehub at the University of Toronto. 

But most parents don’t need scientists to tell them this. Anyone who has lulled a child to sleep with a lullaby knows how important music is to children.

As children grow, music remains a crucial part of their development. One of the best ways your child can reap the benefits of music is to learn how to play an instrument.

We’ve provided a video tutorial and chords for each song so that you can play along. We hope you and your kids have fun playing through these online ukulele lessons!

 

And here’s our top 10 ukulele songs for kids…

 

10. Puff the Magic Dragon

To start us off, we have Puff the Magic Dragon at number 10. This popular classic was written in 1959 by Leonard Lipton and Peter Yarrow and recorded by the American folk group trio of  Peter, Paul, and Mary in 1963.​ Here is our lesson.

9. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

​At number 9, we have Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. In 2002, the song was added in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress. Here is our lesson.

8. Edelweiss

​Next up, we have Edelweiss. Most of us will recognize the song from the musical The Sound of Music , which it was created for. Edelweiss refers to a type of flower that is rare and short-lived. Here is our lesson.

7. Buffalo Gals

​Buffalo Gals comes in 7th. This is an old American folk song, having first been written in 1844 by John Hodges and since then, it has been widely popular in the United States. Here is our lesson.

6. Clementine

​Clementine takes position 6 in our top 10 ukulele songs for kids. This old western folk ballad is believed to have been inspired by Down by the River Liv’d a Maiden by H. S. Thompson. Here is our lesson.

5. The Yellow Rose of Texas

​We are at number 5 ! The Yellow Rose of Texas takes the position. This song can be traces all the way back to the 1850s and it was chosen by Western Writers of America as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time. Here is our lesson.

4. Happy Birthday

​This is perhaps one of the most popular songs in the planet and it is in the Guinness book for being the most recognized English song. It comes in at number 4 in our list. Here is our lesson.

3. The Lion Sleeps Tonight

​Of course The Lion Sleeps Tonight had to make it in the list. The song was written and recorded by Solomon Linda, originally in Zulu, but was made popular when it was adapted in English by the  doo-wop group, The Tokens. Here is our lesson.

2. Buffalo Gals

Buffalo Gals is a great folk song with only two chords. It is really fun to sing and strum. Here is our lesson

1. Molly Malone

​Molly Malone takes first place! It is recognized as an Irish folk song although there is no conclusive evidence that it of Irish origin. The lyrics of this famous song are interesting as it tells the story of a pretty girl who sells fish and seafood in Dublin from her wheelbarrow. Enjoy. Here is our lesson.

So there you have it, top 10 ukulele songs for kids. We hope you enjoyed playing through them. You can subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch more video tutorials.

Happy Strumming !

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Positive Ways to Teach Music and Ukulele During Pandemic

Positive Ways to Teach Music and Ukulele During Pandemic

It’s back-to-school week but we cannot go to school so Jenny is finding positive ways to teach music and ukulele online.

Today is the first day of e-Learning at schools in Illinois. 

Spring Break is over, but we are not back at school. With the Covid 19 pandemic, teachers are at home learning how to teach online. Students and families are also at home missing their routines. And, some of us are experiencing tragic losses of relatives and friends. All of us are uncertain and anxious.

So, what can we do that is positive?

I have found that the following practices have helped me in this trying time. 

  1. Building a daily life with routines that include outdoor exercise, meditation and music.
  2. Going on a diet with regards to the news-checking only a few times in a day
  3. Playing my  ukulele to keep me happy
  4. Sending music-grams to loved ones in this trying time.

For my public school teaching job, I teach orchestra. Musical ensembles such as band, orchestra and choir cannot be taught in the traditional way with everyone playing or singing at the same time. All of the video conferencing apps have a time lag of about a measure of music. This makes it impossible for groups to play together online. The beautiful videos we see of people playing together from different places involve headphones, a count-off and lots of video editing. 

So, we have to come up with new ways to teach.

Positive ways to teach music and ukulele

This is where my experience with online ukulele teaching comes into play. I can use the following resources to better reach my school students.

  1. Organizing and creating YouTube videos to teach new music.
  2. Sharing videos and  reflection questions to deepen thinking about music. Encouraging students to think about how music brings joy to people, especially in this difficult time.
  3. Encouraging students to share with family members and each other by sending music-grams.
  4. Sharing screen casting videos to explain the intricacies of musical notation.
  5. Video conferencing to discuss feelings about what is going on.
  6. Video conferencing with students muted but still practicing with piano accompaniment to give the feeling of a live rehearsal.
  7. Paying it forward with gifting joy of music to others.
  8. Using music for private expression.
  9. Sharing music education sites to teach music theory and history.
  10. Encouraging musical composition and creativity with music notation, sound engineering and video editing software.
  11. Encouraging students to create parodies of existing songs to bring humor and levity to what is currently going on.

Please let us know what you think. Your ideas will help all of us!

I am hopeful that these ideas will be useful to my public school students and to my colleagues. I am also hopeful that we will be able to use some of these ideas to create an even better online ukulele learning experience for you. 

If you have any thoughts or questions, please comment below. We send you our best wishes for health and happiness in this uncertain time.

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Jenny Teaches Teachers in Arizona

Jenny Teaches Teachers in Arizona

Jenny teaches teachers in Arizona and here’s her latest update.

I just got back from Mesa, Arizona, where I attended the Arizona Music Educator’s Association Convention as a Clinician. My presentation was titled “Sing and Strum Your Way to Success: Ukulele in the Music Classroom.”

42 teachers attended the clinic and there were enough ukuleles for everyone. We went through much of the wonderful pedagogy and songs in our book, Ukulele for All.  It was thrilling to have so many beautiful voices raised in song as we strummed our ukuleles to the tune of  Frere Jacques. 

  • Unique UFA pedagogy begins with one chord songs to give students instant success as they learn solo and ensemble skills.
  • For today's digital learners, the INTERACTIVE Practice studio - included free - offers multi-screen video lessons, play-along recordings, and more for every song in the book.
  • The informative Teacher Edition will make it easy for you to succeed with teaching ukulele.

Get your copy now!

Buy From Amazon Link

 

The attendees were very interested in ukulele and asked lots of questions. I really enjoyed explaining how the ukulele can be used in a school setting to teach music and have fun at the same time. 

Jenny Peters during RAGBRAI 2019

Here’s the view from my hotel room.

Music educators are fine singers. They can take a simple song and create a round as well as an instrumental verse in almost no time. Also, the singing and strumming was beautiful! Indeed, it was so much fun to create community right there in a clinic in Arizona.

Lastly, I really appreciated the beautiful weather, which is so different from winter in Chicago!

Jenny Peters making music on RAGRBRAI 2019
Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh Ukulele Tutorial

Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh Ukulele Tutorial

With our new video “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh” ukulele tutorial, let’s learn a novelty song about summer camp. Alan Sherman and Lou Busch wrote the song, inspired by letters from Sherman’s son while he was in Camp Champlain. “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh” (also spelled as “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah”) was a surprise hit, reaching number 2 on the Billboard charts (Hot 100) in 1963.

Don’t forget to check our blog page for other easy ukulele tutorials featuring different types of songs ranging from folk, rock, pop, blues and even hymns. Also, you’ll find many easy ukulele songs for various occasions such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and 4th of July.

If you’d like to receive weekly ukulele tutorials which includes sheet music, subscribe here.

HELLO MUDDAH, HELLO FADDUH  UKULELE CHORDS

Definitely, we’ll need to know a lot of chords to play along with “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh” ukulele tutorial: eight chords plus four additional ones for the bridge. The ukulele chords for the first and last part are: C, G7, B7, Em, G, D7, E7, and F. While the chords for the bridge are: Cm, Fm, Eb and Ab.

Just as with “My Favorite Things” ukulele tutorial, you’ll also use a B7 and Em chord change with this song. Instead of using the normal B7 chord with a bar, Jenny employs the alternative B7. This way, the finger positions of the alternative B7 chord shape are just one string above the Em chord. Thus, changing chords become a lot easier.

You’ll also need to practice the bridge a bit more because it has difficult chords. Cm, Eb and Ab are bar chords.

HELLO MUDDAH, HELLO FADDUH UKULELE TUTORIAL

As for the strumming pattern, let’s follow a D-DU-D-DU (D-down, U-up) arrangement. However, you may change that to a simple D-U strum when you get to the bridge. The bridge is where the lyrics goes, “Take me home, oh Muddah, Fadduh…”

 

NOVELTY SONG THAT BECAME A SURPRISE HIT

Sherman and Busch created the novelty hit song “Hello Madduh, Hello Fadduh” from the letters sent by Sherman’s son while he was away at summer camp. The song is a parody that describes the “fun” the child and his friends are enjoying at the camp. In the song, the child details the “fun” experiences such as a friend catching poison ivy and another one that appears to be lost and needing a search party.

“Hello Madduh, Hello Fadduh” became a surprise hit. Aside from achieving the second spot on the Billboard Hot 100 list, the song also won a Grammy award. Allan Sherman won Best Comedy Performance for “Hello Madduh, Hello Fadduh” at the 6th Annual Grammy Awards held in May 1964.

Are you struggling with strumming?

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Ukulele Tutorial for My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music

Ukulele Tutorial for My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music

Let’s play along to this easy ukulele tutorial for “My Favorite Things” from the musical and film “The Sound of Music”!

We’ll need nine chords for “My Favorite Things” ukulele tutorial. And these are: Em, Cmaj7, Am, D7, G, C, B7, A and A7.

Visit our blog page to check more ukulele videos and tutorials for many other easy ukulele songs.

Most importantly, subscribe here to get our weekly emails. You’ll get free sheet music and a new video lesson in your inbox each week, plus three free songs when you subscribe.

UKULELE TUTORIAL FOR MY FAVORITE THINGS – TRICKY CHORD CHANGES

Normally, the B7 chord is made by using a barre on the second fret and pressing your middle finger on the third fret of string 2. For this song, Jenny uses another version that is easier for a B7 to Em transition. If you compare the chord shapes for Em and the B7 chord barre version, you’ll see how this progression can make changing chords challenging.

So Jenny uses the alternative B7. First, she places the index finger on the E-string second fret. Then she puts the middle finger on the C-string third fret. Finally, she places the ring finger on the G-string fourth fret. This alternative B7 chord shape has finger positions just one string above those for Em chord.

There’s another chord progression at the end that you’ll need to practice. This is the part when you need to change chords from G to C fast a couple of times.

As for the strumming pattern, Jenny follows a D-DU-D (D-down, U-up) repetition.

TUNE FROM THE SOUND OF MUSIC

The renowned musical writing team of Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote the Broadway musical “The Sound of Music” which included the song “My Favorite Things.” Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II collaborated and released several hit musical shows starting from “Oklahoma!” in 1943. “The Sound of Music” which got a  great reception on Broadway in 1959 and was the last musical that the duo worked on. Hammerstein died due to stomach cancer several months after “The Sound of Music” opened.

20th Century Fox released a film adaptation of “The Sound of Music” in 1965 which held the highest-grossing film distinction from 1966 to 1971. In addition, both the musical and the film received numerous accolades including Tony Awards “Best Musical” and the Academy Awards “Best Picture”.

Mary Martin was the first actress to sing “My Favorite Things”. She played the female lead character Maria in the original musical production. Maria sings the song in a scene with Mother Abbess at the Nonnberg Abbey where she was a postulant. However, Julie Andrews, who acted as Maria in the film adaptation, sings the song in a scene with the children during a storm.

In addition to “My Favorite Things,” several songs from “The Sound of Music” became popular and are still performed today. Some examples are “Do-Re-Mi,” “So Long, Farewell,” and “Edelweiss.” Check out our ukulele tutorial for “Edelweiss” here.

Are you struggling with strumming?

With our book and course, you’ll become a fluent 3-chord strummer.

Get your copy now!