I’ve mentioned a few times, probably more, that I’m giving ukulele lessons to kids this school year. It’s been great, we learn lots of chords and songs, but I’m always trying to come up with ways to keep it fresh and fun.
One of the things I’ve recently kind of become obsessed with is finding games that we can play during ukulele lessons. I am looking for games that will help my students improve as players, but will also keep them having fun and looking forward to their lessons. So far, I’ve found three games that the kids and I love. I hope to come across more soon.
Here are three three we play:
Ages: 5 and up
The leader asks the group to play a certain chord. “Simon says play ‘C’. Great job! Now Simon says play ‘G.” This game gives the group a chance to review the chords they have learned so far, and gives the leader a chance to gently help them correct errant chord shapes if there’s a need for it. The group has to pay attention to make sure the leader says “Simon says” first. It’s always funny when I don’t say “Simon Says” and they okay it anyways. I like to trick them.
Once the group is more confident with playing, you can take turns letting the students be the leaders. They love doing trying to trick everyone.
Soft and Loud (Hot and Cold)
Ages: 5 and up
One of the group goes out of the room. The rest of the group hides a stuffed animal (or some other object) somewhere in the room. The group decides together what chord progression they will play. (This will vary based on the age/skill level of the group. For very young students, I’ve had them simply play one chord over and over again. For older students, we usually play a simple progression like C Am F G.) The student in the hallway comes back in the room and starts walking around. As they get closer to the hidden object, the group plays louder. As they get farther away, the group plays softer. This continues until the object is found. No one is allowed to talk about or give hints about where the object is. They must “tell” with their ukuleles.
This one has been the crowd favorite so far. They almost always ask to play it as soon as they get into the classroom. It gets them playing chord progressions, but it also helps them realize they they don’t have to hammer on their ukulele all the time. They can control the volume with how hard or softly they strum.
Ages: 1st grade and up
The group sits in a circle. The first person plays a chord and announces what chord they are playing. The second person repeats the chord, and adds one of their own. The third person must remember the first two chords and add another. This keeps going around the circle. Whenever someone forgets the order or plays the chords out of order, they are out. This keeps going until there is one player left who is crowned the winner.
I just started using this one this week, but it’s been a lot of fun so far. It gets pretty crazy once the chord progression gets long. I struggle myself, sometimes, to remember the order.
This one is good for chord review (the older students always want to trip everyone up by throwing a Bb or something like that in there) but it also helps develop their memory for remembering chord order, which will come in handy, as they become talented little musicians.
That’s what I’ve developed/discovered so far. If you know of any ukulele games, or music games that are adaptable for ukulele lessons, PLEASE SEND THEM MY WAY! I AM HUNGRY FOR MORE!
Thanks, and happy uking!