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How does the GCEA method fit into my existing Music classroom?

Well... the simple answer is... any way you want it to! For example, consider what you want out of incorporating Ukulele into your existing program:

  • Whether as a 'sing-and-strum' instrument or a holistic tool;

  • Songs featured in the GCEA program offer lyrics, chords and melody to complement many stylised units or functions - whether junior or senior, from blues to rock and rhyming songs to fine-motor development.

  • Many songs feature 'one finger' melodies - i.e. only using open strings plus 1 finger. This makes learning very quick - a 10-minute session can go a long way!

  • The Ukulele is set in a natural singing range for students - meaning they can sing what they play. This makes it an invaluable aural training tool! (And singing voices do improve as a result!)

  • This pedagogy does not work against methods such as Kodaly or Orff - it can slot right in! the program features a simple, logical progression of skills and songs, many with the potential for movement or action while playing and singing - the Ukulele is certainly one to multi-task with!

     

 

How much time each lesson does it take?

No matter what... Always sing and play! Begin by checking tuning as a group - Teacher (or selected student) plays and sings "Green Crocs Eat Ants", followed by whole class. In time, students can self-check minor tuning issues with surprising accuracy - even at early years...

 

How much time do you have?

 

5 minutes?

 

  • Play an open-string game!

    • Yes, even senior primary classes seem to enjoy these - who would have thought?

  • Do a simple aural activity: As a call and response activity, sing and play any combination of GCEA notes - first teacher, then student/s...

    • Add or subtract notes depending on song or current level - from 2 open strings to complete pentatonic scales.

    • Direct at multiple or single students - a great, quick aural singing or playing quiz/assessment piece!

 

10 minutes?

 

  • Do an easy song - using one finger or one chord (there are plenty of these to choose from!)

    • Depending on the level, some of the "Hot Cross Fun Variations" are great for short sessions...

  • Introduce one new note and son - the GCEA mnemonics really do make the process easy and fun!

    • If the students are reading music, using a story such as 'The 3 Dots' to link the note to staff notation (with repetition through the term/year, etc) helps.

  • Compose a short song based on a pentatonic scale (the simplest being C-D-E-G-A, but the 2nd finger D-E-F#-A-B is also surprisingly easy to pick up!)

    • The 'Composing Cubes' are awesome to use for this purpose - There's one for any level!

    • Oh, and the Cards have also been very popular...

  • Play a game!

    • Have you tried 'Crocco'? 

 

More than 10 minutes? Do a combination of the above!

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But they're out of tune... again!?

Great!

 

This can be an excellent aural teaching time - and it gets quicker with practice and consistency. This can even be achieved through the progression of songs and games, depending on level.

I always start with the call and response 'Good morning every one' (or similar), sung to the GCEA notes:

 

 

 

 

(In time, mix up the order, add new notes or scales, major/minor, etc....) It's amazing how, especially for the teacher, the pitch-perfect notes soon get stuck in your head!

 

  • So, even before ukes are added, just get students singing to your (in-tune) ukulele notes - "Green Crocs Eat Ants". (Or so-do-mi-la, etc...) Sing while playing the 'GCEA Song games', or other open-string songs. When the ukes are added, most will have the notes stuck in their heads already (even from the 'Good morning' jingle sung each lesson...)

  • With ukes, teacher sings and plays "Green Crocs Eat Ants", and students echo - then ask, "Is there anyone who thinks their ukulele is out of tune?" Do the call and echo again, then invite one (preferably with only one string out) to play their strings solo. Ask the class "Which string was out of tune?" If unsure, sing all as a class again: "Green Crocs Eat Ants", then ask again. 

  • Ask all students who have untuned strings to line up out the front to get checked by the teacher (or eventually by a student?). Again, this takes some time to practise, but soon each student could take as little as 5-10 seconds!

 

Look, I know this is a contentious issue - but it is worth it! As a teacher, your perfect pitch (or relative pitch) skills will be honed, and you will be able to assist students with a quick flick of the tuning pegs as you walk by - and some keen students will get competent at tuning their own, and others' as well...

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© 2016 by Nathan Cahill Music. 

   ABN: 84558491147

|  Tel: +61 0417 002 949

|  E: info@nathancahillmusic.com