Shenkman Arts Centre instructor Joel Jacques simply can’t wait to introduce children to the ukulele this summer, when he will help them learn how to make music using this fun and versatile instrument.
“It doesn’t matter whether they have any musical experience or not,” says Jacques. “I’m going to teach them how to learn music and how to do accompaniment on the ukulele.”
Jacques says some of his teaching will involve the use of electronic capabilities. “Some students might remember Guitar Hero, where you played along with music on a screen,” he says. “I’m going to gamify it a bit so they can learn chords and melodies.”
The classes will take place in a group setting, but Jacques will allow plenty of time for individual attention.
Not only will children be learning how to play ukulele in these camps, they’ll learn dancing as well. “We’ve got a professional dance studio at Shenkman,” says Jolynn Sommervill, arts programmer. “These classes will give children the opportunity to learn a variety of dances like jazz, hip hop and tap.”
The students will be very busy. They’ll learn a new dance each day, and on the fifth day, do a presentation. “So not only will there be a dance recital, the children will get to show off their ukulele skills as well.”
Sommervill says the classes are modelled after the centre’s pottery and dance program, which has been extremely popular. “Adding the ukulele and a musical aspect was a bit of a change,” she says, “and the ukulele is easy to learn and accessible.” The Shenkman Arts Centre provides all instruments for the course.
And while it’s been decades since Tiny Tim popularized ukuleles with his Tip Toe Through the Tulips, several contemporary musical groups have used the ukulele, and many schools now offer classes in this perfect “kid-sized” instrument.
Jacques says he hopes his enthusiasm for the ukulele spreads to his students. “I want to use songs that inspire them and ones that they like.”
If you’re looking for something a little different for your child, why not try the Ukulele and Dance program at the Shenkman Arts Centre? Camps run from July 10-14 and Aug. 28 to Sept. 1, 2017. Sign up at www.shenkmanarts.ca or call 613-580-2787 for more information.