You see, that year I did quite well with the younger classes. I had ideas I’d learned from my university course and all my music teacher training, and I could use my personality to engage with the young students in lower primary and they loved what I did.
However the older classes just didn’t respond. They didn’t like what I gave them, and they didn’t respond to me very well, because I just couldn’t give them what they needed – which was music that they actually liked!
That’s when I took the step of opening that cupboard door again. I was scared, I was nervous, but I had to figure out something that could turn my fortunes around for my upper primary classes.
However, the things I tried with the ukulele didn’t really work. The students weren’t motivated, and the songs I had to play on the ukulele were a bit average and not really songs that they liked.
I realised the problem wasn’t me, or my lack of skills, because I was working really hard to teach it and I could play it perfectly well myself. The main problem was that I had no underlying system for making my students successful on the ukulele.
The students would look down at their hands, or look at their ukulele necks, and consequently would crouch over with a terrible posture and never really get anywhere with their playing.
That’s when I decided to make a change.
I finally realised that I needed to get out of the way of the teaching, and find a way to display the music in such a way that the students could really have success. What I was doing with bits of paper all over the place and teaching by rote wasn’t working!
I started writing stuff up on the whiteboard, and pointing along with a stick, while they played a song. And guess what, suddenly they started to have success!
Once I realised that I needed to get the music out of their heads – and away from bits of paper, that they’d have on music stands and on the floor mostly – it changed everything! I started using Youtube videos. But then I discovered what a terrible quality most of them are! I also found such inconsistencies in the way that they are presented, so I had to find a better way.
Back when I was teaching, I couldn’t make that happen. I could see what I wanted in my head, but couldn’t make it happen. Fast forward 15 years and I am the creative director of the Fun Music Company, so when it was suggested that we create a ukulele program, I knew it had to be special!
So that is why I told my team here at the Fun Music Company. I instructed them to come up with a new way, a new animation style that would make it easy to teach ukulele and have it be fun for the students as well!
For three years they worked flat out, trying out different animation styles and ideas, and eventually they came up with: