I’ve always wanted to learn a musical instrument and when I found out about the Ukulele I was beyond excited, because not only did it seem a somewhat easy instrument for me to pick up, but it also seemed a great fit for my 6-year-old son! It had the cool look of a guitar, only way smaller and less intimidating, and I also felt that if we began learning to play the Uke together it would be an amazing way for us to connect deeper with each other.
After the 2nd session, though, I realized that it was going to be a tough challenge to motivate my son to keep practicing the Uke (persistence is not one of my son’s strengths!), so right from the start I decided to implement some strategies:
#1 – Telling him that we only need to practice 5 minutes a day
I’ve read that the key to learning any musical instrument is not playing it for hours on end, but consistency. So when my son is having a bad day I often tell him that we only need to play for 5 minutes, which often works to make him begin playing. Most of the time, though, the practice sessions last for much longer than that, averaging 30 minutes!
#2 – Teasing him with a bit of healthy competition between mother and son
My son is very competitive and I imagined that he would get a kick out of competing with me throughout our Ukulele learning experience. Early on, we decided that we would try to perform in front of an audience (his grandparents) once we reached a certain skill level, and each of us would try to beat the other one. Often, when I remind my son of how far ahead I am in the game, he quickly picks up the Uke!
#3 – Putting up a chart on the wall so we can monitor our achievements
When I thought about starting a competition between us two, I decided that it would be nice if we could put a chart on the wall so we could both see a visual representation of our milestones. So I imagined some initial milestones for us to reach (Can we hold the Ukulele properly? Can we play the F7 chord? Can we play and sing a song at the same time?) and then I drew some columns, which my son could later fill with paint as we reached each level. He loves it and the fact that the chart is right in our living room helps us remember to play.
#4 – Using the Yousician app
When I found out about this app I knew my son would love it and it’s really helping to motivate him to play. Once you download the app, the software picks up the sounds coming from our Uke, helping us tune our instrument and practicing chords. So while we are actually playing our Uke, the app shows us a little ball on our laptop screen, jumping between chords, and we try to follow along, playing the correct chords at the right time. The software is not perfect and won’t pick up the correct chords sometimes, but it works wonders to get my son playing, so I don’t really care.
It’s been an amazing ride, learning the Ukulele with my son, and I definitely recommend it to all the parents I meet. If you end up doing it as well, be sure to try these strategies!