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!

Get your copy now!

Embrace the Joy of Music by Learning Ukulele

Embrace the Joy of Music by Learning Ukulele

Right now as many of us are sheltering in place, we have time on our hands. Several folks are learning something new. Many embrace the joy of music by learning the ukulele.

When you learn like a child, you can lose your inner critic. As adults we often berate ourselves when we don’t learn right away. We allow our expectations  to get in the way of learning. 

If you are willing to learn like a child, you will do something over and over again until you get it. Anyone who’s watched a baby learn to walk can see the determination of the baby in developing this skill. Well, that’s what learning ukulele can be like. You can become so absorbed in what you’re doing, that your mind becomes free of all the stresses around you.

 

Embrace Your Inner Child

I recently gave a lesson to someone who wanted to return to her ukulele. She described her day job as giving her inner PTSD.  She wanted to get away from that. And she felt that playing music would help her access her joy.

Laugh at Yourself

During the lesson many  things that went wrong from breaking a string to messing up reading lyrics in a song. My student was laughing at herself before long and had returned to the joy that children have when they are engaged with learning something new.

The Ukulele is Soft, Gentle and Rewarding

At school, I teach children one of the hardest instruments around, the violin. However, the kids don’t get frustrated. When their sound is screeching and out of tune, they look at me and say, “Why is it doing that?” The child’s not causing the noise. Rather it’s the violin that is screechy. There is no inner criticism, simply an observation.

So, I answer the question. I explain how they can fix it. The child says, “Oh, I see” and tries again.

We’re lucky that the ukulele is much more forgiving than the violin with its beautiful gentle sounds and soft strings. The ukulele will reward with all of its joy and gentleness.

Children are used to learning new things. They’re used to being beginners and trying until they get it.  Along the way, they experience joy in learning.

So now, in this time of sheltering in place, embrace your inner child, and try something new. Embrace the joy of music by learning ukulele. Pick the ukulele and learn how to play! You’ll be glad that you did.

 

Do you want to play hymns with confidence?

In our Hymn Kits you'll find something for varied learners, from beginners to a little more advanced.

Get your Hymn Kit today!

Bondi Ukulele – The Power of One Ukulele

Bondi Ukulele – The Power of One Ukulele

rythm and reason

At 21 Ukulele Songs, we love music because we know what an important role it plays in society. We cannot imagine life without music and always make our best effort to promote it. This is the reason we’ve partnered with Bondi Ukulele – to help support their Rhythm and Reason Initiative.

Rhythm and Reason Initiative by Bondi Ukulele

Bondi Ukulele is a unique company that makes and sells all things ukulele, from ukuleles to tuners and straps. We find the folks at Bondi Ukulele different from other ukulele companies in the following ways:

  • They make affordable instruments without compromising quality.
  • Most of their ukulele products come packed with all essential accessories so you don’t go looking for them elsewhere.
  • They hold your hand as you start the ukulele journey by providing support via videos, Skype lessons and learn-to-play books.
  • They have a genuine interest in giving back, especially through the Rhythm and Reason Initiative.

Bondi’s Rhythm and Reason Initiative is a program aimed at getting music into Cambodian schools by adapting and producing music that all kids can enjoy. Bondi empowers teachers with a ukulele, know-how, and ownership to ensure a self-sustaining educational program. For every Bondi ukulele sold, a percentage is contributed to putting a Cambodian school teacher through a special ukulele training course. Getting this training allows the teacher’s students to have music as part of their education.

Unveiling the Ultimate Bondi Ukulele Starter Kit

Jenny got her own Bondi Ukulele starter kit package. To give you a sneak peek of what to expect if you get your own, she posted the video below.

As you can see, the starter kit is just wonderful. It has all you need to get going in one package!

Play Your Part

We think the Rhythm and Reason Initiative is an awesome program and we were eager to be part of it. (Full disclosure: We are receive a small commission from Bondi if you purchase your starter kit through the link. The commission does not affect the price you pay.)

So do you want a fantastic ukulele complete with all necessary accessories while at the same time contributing to a worthy cause of bringing music to Cambodian classrooms? Look no further. Follow the link below and play your part.

7 Reasons You Should Buy a Ukulele for Your Kid

7 Reasons You Should Buy a Ukulele for Your Kid

cute-kid listening to music

Music plays an important role in our culture. It is an essential part of every child’s development.Parents instinctively know this. From birth, they use music to soothe their kids, to engage with them and to express their love for them. That’s why we’ll be discussing 7 reasons you should buy a ukulele for your kid in this post. 

Here are 7 beneficial effects of music on a child’s development:

Facilitates Learning Other Subjects

There is strong research to suggest that studying music makes learning other subjects like math and science easier.

Making music involves more than the using the voice to sing or the fingers to play an instrument. That’s because a child learning about music has to tap into multiple skill sets, often at the same time. Learning this ‘brain coordination’ helps them make faster progress when learning other skills.

Improves Social Skills

When kids are learning music in a group setting, they get to interact with each other, help each other, and work together. This greatly improves their social skills.

Inspires Creativity

Music can inspire creativity. A lot of the activity needed to sing or play an instrument such as the ukulele requires some form of creativity or even improvisation. Children learn to tap into their inner creative spirit which can help them be creative in other areas of their lives.

Boosts Confidence

A lot of times kids will perform what they learned in front of their parents, teachers or classmates. Performing helps them develop confidence in front of others. And it’s also a great way to encourage kids to express themselves.

Also, learning music is hard.  When a child masters something that used to be difficult for them they feel more confident tackling a new challenge.

photo showing the words be smartBoosts Their IQ

Studies show that music study can boost a child’s IQ. Kids who took piano lessons consistently for one year saw an IQ bump as high as 3 points- this is according to Jessica Grahn, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Western Ontario.

Improves Memory

When your child plays the ukulele, they learn how to create, store and retrieve memories more efficiently. This is the equivalent of giving their memory a workout. And who couldn’t use a better memory?

Teaches perseverance

No one can become a good musician in a day. At first the new skills your child needs to play ukulele will seem hard. But over time with regular practice they will become easy

The process of learning an instrument teaches kids to persevere and be patient. For many music students, especially those who are quick in school,  playing an instrument is the hardest thing they have ever tried. Through music study they learn the importance of daily effort and also how to manage frustration.

After they achieve their goal, say strumming to their favorite tune on the ukulele, they’ll feel a sense of satisfaction and achievement that will ripple through to their other activities.

Why Learn Ukulele?

So out of all the instruments, why the ukulele? There are numerous reasons why the ukulele is a perfect instrument for all ages and you can read our blog here to know all about that.

Today, we are interested in three characteristics that make it perfect for kids.

1. The ukulele is small and portable. A six-year-old child can easily hold a soprano ukulele without straining his or her hands. Kids can easily carry it on school trips and play it for their friends. Kids love the ‘baby guitar’.

2. Another thing that makes the ukulele perfect for your kid is that is easy to learn. The learning curve is not as steep as for the guitar or the piano

It is surprising how fast someone can move from “just starting”  to “sounding pretty good” with regular daily practice. This ensures that kids can quickly begin playing their favorite songs without needing to learn a lot of chords.

3. The ukulele is very affordable, especially compared to a piano.

How to Shop for a Ukulele

So you might be wondering how to go about shopping for the ukulele. No worries, we made a couple of videos just for that purpose.

 

How to Choose What Songs your Kid Should Play

A lot of the time, kids will begin ukulele lessons by learning to play a song. In order to help your child stay focused on learning an instrument, you need to help them pick the right songs to practice.

Here there are 3 general guidelines you can follow:

1. Choose a song that kids know and like

You need to capture your child’s interest.  If they are playing a song they know and like, they are more likely to be willing to work hard to learn it. They will definitely practice more because playing songs they like is exciting, satisfying and fun.

2. Start with songs that have few chords

If the learning curve if too steep, kids tend to back away from a challenge and label the activity as “too hard”.  It is therefore important at first that they stick to songs with only one or two chords. A harder song can always be modified to use fewer chords.

As their skills grow, they can start to play songs with more chords. Everyone learns faster by playing a greater number of easier songs building up gradually to more difficult ones.  Starting with too hard of a song can lead to an abrupt end to music learning!

3. Choose a meaningful song

Select a song that has a meaning and teaches something. Songs are part of our culture. Most songs communicate ideas and messages, some of which may not be beneficial to your child. Learn to listen carefully to the song lyrics.

Choose a song that teaches your kid about history, science, your values or faith or the like. This type of song will not only grow the child’s musical skills, it will also ensure that they learn something beyond music.

In case you didn’t know, we have a great collection of YouTube video tutorials covering popular hits. Your kid could easily follow along. To show you what we mean, below is a video tutorial for Country Roads by John Denver. 

  

Click the button below to subscribe to our YouTube channel and learn many more songs and great ukulele skills.

Let music help your kids’ brains!

Music is a wonderful way for kids to have fun, learn, grow, and develop as human beings. Through music study, your kids will become faster learners, grow their social skills and be inspired to be creative. Studying music can also boost a child’s confidence, memory and patience.

The ukulele is a perfect instrument for children to learn music. Its small size and ease of learning make it an instant hit with the kids.

Carefully choose the songs your kids study. Look for songs your kids like that also communicate a beneficial message.

So what are you waiting for? Head over to the nearest store and buy your kid a ukulele. You can have fun watching them grow as they learn.

Happy Strumming!

How Ukulele Can Help Engage Developmentally Disabled Kids

How Ukulele Can Help Engage Developmentally Disabled Kids

How the Ukulele Can Help Engage Developmentally Disabled Kids

developmentally disabled kidsMusic is a proven way to help developmentally disabled children function better in a school environment. And the ukulele can really help engage developmentally disabled kids.

Our society is becoming preoccupied with tests and achievements to ‘rate’ individuals in school. We are more interested in what our kids get on a test than if they really learned anything. Consequently, school can very well end up being a competition rather than a source of knowledge. Kids may feel the pressure of having to be the best.

Developmentally disabled kids can particularly feel  this pressure. Music helps open a  child to new concepts and experiences unlike other subjects such as math and science.

Music can help with:

  • attention
  • social interaction
  • communication
  • self-discovery
  • improvement of speech and motor functions
  • recognition and
  • stress relief and enjoyment

So how do you design a music program to cater to developmentally disabled kids so that they find something that they can relate to? Jenny shares her experience with teaching developmentally disabled students. Keep reading to find out how she built a program to cater specifically to their needs. Again, we recommend ukulele as the instrument of choice. You can read more about why here.

Ukulele, the perfect musical instrument for the developmentally disabled kid

I found that these children were more frustrated with the recorder, an instrument where you blow and cover holes with your fingers, than with the ukulele. In addition, the fine muscle coordination required by the recorder was quite frustrating.  These special children are sensitive to sound. Often the sounds they produced were high screeches, and they would often shut down in response.
 
On the other hand, the ukulele was soothing. All of the children could strum down strokes on the open strings with a steady beat. With a simple re-tuning of the A string down to the note G, the open strings of the ukulele create a C chord. Students can strum the open strings without having to put any left hand  fingers down. An F chord and a G chord can be created by barring one finger at the 5th and 7th frets respectively. The same effect can be created by sliding a plastic slide to stop the strings at that fret. That way students with limited finger strength and muscle tone can be successful strumming and singing.
 

How to teach ukulele to developmentally disabled kids

Each week, during the special education music class, I would pre-teach the material we were going to learn in the regular music class. The special needs children were able to sing and strum with the beat and to hold simple chord shapes with their left hands. If the child had fine motor issues in their hands, the child could strum the open strings of the ukulele. The open strings of the ukulele create a beautiful consonant chord without a left hand chord, so simply strumming the strings allows the children to participate with age-group peers.

One of the beautiful things about working with these children was that most of them loved music. With a few modifications, these children were able to perform as well or better as some of their peers, probably one of the few places where this could happen during their school day. Because the songs were simple and international, these children could relate to them and feel proud of what they could add to the class. One child even gave me the words of Frere Jacques in Assyrian.

Wrap Up: Ukulele is the perfect instrument for a developmentally disabled kid

Music is a perfect way for special needs children to grow in class. It is not based on tests and abstract ideas but on activity that actually relaxes the mind and gives enjoyment. Through it, developmentally disabled kids are able to discover new and exciting experiences. They are able to develop social and communication skills through music. Other benefits include improvement of motor and speech function as well as a sense of recognition.

The ukulele is a tested instrument to be used for any classroom, special needs or otherwise. The kids can easily get proficient at it, achieving something that they can be proud of. This boosts their confidence to learn even more. Structuring the program for the special needs kids is an important piece of the puzzle. Jenny pre-taught the developmentally disabled kids the material they were to learn with their peers. Ukulele for All is a perfect guide to developing a suitable pedagogy for teaching ukulele in the classroom setting. Moreover, pedagogy may be adapted to cater to kids with developmental disabilities.

We hope this post helps teachers and parents to expose developmentally disabled kids to the wonderful benefits of music through the ukulele.

Happy Strumming.

The Path of Stroke Recovery Through Ukulele

The Path of Stroke Recovery Through Ukulele

 Stroke Recovery Through the Ukulele

 The ukulele can play a vital role in stroke recovery. Read what one reader had to say about stroke recovery through the ukulele: 

 

“Thanks, girls! This is wonderful.

I had a stroke that weakened my left side. I have been trying to learn guitar but without much success. I have two guitars and a guitarlele, which is getting more airtime lately. Your approach to the ukulele and your enthusiasm has improved my life and my activity somewhat.

You have also sparked some enthusiasm in my fiancée. We will marry next year and move to a place near where she lives (about 2000 miles from where I am now) so at that time we will join a ukulele orchestra and we are hoping that all this left-hand exercise will help to rehabilitate my left arm. 

Thanks, heaps!”

What Is a Stroke?

A stroke is a sort of ‘brain attack’ that occurs when blood flow to part of the brain is cut off. When this happens, the brain cells are deprived of oxygen and consequently begin to die.

A stroke can happen to anyone at any time. This makes it the fifth leading cause of death in the US.

Stroke Recovery

After the unfortunate event of a stroke comes a painful journey of recovery and rehabilitation.This process will involve making changes in physical, social and emotional aspects of the victim. It is normal for survivors to feel anxious, discouraged, depressed or even angry.

Enter Music.

Re-activates the Brain

Music, in general, extensively activates the human brain. For stroke survivors, this excitement causes increased blood flow to the brain, helping it recover by restoring blood vessels and synaptic connections damaged by the stroke. Experiencing music requires a large portion of the brain, scientists, therefore, believe that music is able to bypass the damaged area of the brain and form new neural pathways.

Improvement of Speech and Motor Functions

Perhaps the immediate evidence of a re-activated brain is the improvement of speech and motor functions.

A strange thing happened in Sweden in 1763. A young man with brain-damage was unable to speak but astounded townspeople when he was able to sing hymns in church. When music therapy is used,  it has been observed that the speech of some patients with expressive aphasia — the significantly decreased ability to use language, often because of a stroke — had noticeably improved, both in the clarity of words and also the increased ability to get the words out.

Music also goes a long way to help regain motor functions of stroke survivors. This is due to changes in the sensorimotor cortex. Musical activities require patients to coordinate their movement in terms of temporal and spatial organization, which stimulates greater change in the brain than rehabilitation alone.

Boosts Mood and Motivation

Uplifting music is a source of pleasure. When we focus on a favorite song, we combat de-motivating brain signals associated with fatigue and boredom. When you feel good and motivated, you are more inclined to continue rehabilitation.

A study done in 2008 in Finland found that if stroke patients listened to music for a couple of hours a day, their verbal memory and focused attention recovered better and they had a more positive mood than patients who did not listen to anything.

Music Relieves Stress

As said earlier, stroke survivors tend to be worried about a lot of things. They are thinking about work, their relationships and are anxious to get better sooner. This anxiety ultimately leads to stress. Music helps to reduce stress by increasing sense of enjoyment and relaxation.In addition, calming music has been found to steady emotions of stroke survivors.

Why the Ukulele?

So we see music, in general, is a great way to help stroke survivors rehabilitate. There are hundreds of instruments to choose from, so why is ukulele a special one for this particular job?

It is Easy to Learn

One of the biggest sell points of the ukulele is that it is easy to learn. It is completely unintimidating. Anyone, old or young, can take it up and before long is able to play some tunes with it. It is important that in the rehabilitation phase, you don’t take up activities that will frustrate you more. Having an instrument that you can quickly learn and master in your music therapy is important. The ukulele, while being a serious musical instrument is extremely easy for beginners to learn. This makes it the perfect instrument for stroke survivors to try out.

It is portable

The ukulele is a relatively small instrument. Furthermore, it is light and can be carried around easily. Stroke survivors will be comfortable lifting it and walking about with it. This provides adequate motor functions stimulation without being too much of an exertion. They can also carry it to places where other instruments like the piano would present a challenge.

It Sounds Majestic

Those four strings of this little instrument produce a gentle, calming and majestic sound that cannot be matched. This helps to relax and calm the nerves.

How to Start

21 Songs in 6 DaysSo how exactly do you kick-off a stroke recovery program through the ukulele? Start out slow, and don’t be too hard to yourself if you can’t play something on your first try. Our book, 21 Songs in 6 Days, offers a beginner-friendly introduction to playing the ukulele. It starts with one chord songs and the simplest possible strumming patterns. New chords are introduced one at a time to make learning very gradual and easy.

Consequently, 21 Songs in 6 Days can be a comfortable guide in the rehabilitation process. Jenny even has colleagues who have had tremendous success teaching developmentally disabled students using the 21 Songs pedagogy.

Conclusion

Recovering from a stroke is a painful and tasking experience. It requires physical, mental and emotional exertions on the victims part in order to be successful. Any assistance towards this goal is invaluable. Music, as we have seen, is a perfect help for stroke survivors’ rehabilitation. The ukulele, in particular, is an ideal instrument to help with stroke recovery. 

If you are recovering from a stroke or know someone who is, encourage them to take up playing the ukulele and singing along as they play.

Happy Strumming!