Category: Ukulele

Ukulele in Storytime

A graphic featuring a teal ukulele. The text reads: “Ukulele in Storytime at Storytime Katie”.

While I’m figuring out exactly where to start with storytime posts and how I want to format that at this point, I thought I’d write about one of my newest loves in storytime: the ukulele!

History (of me & the uke!) 

I’ve always loved music, as evidenced by the music programming (and kits) on the blog. But the violin is not exactly the made-for-storytime instrument that I was looking for. (And I’m dreadfully out of practice at that.) When my beloved co-worker J introduced me to Wiggleworms music, I started looking at the Old Town School of Folk Music and saw that they taught adult music classes which included the ukulele. 

So, I signed up in spring of 2019 for an Introduction class. Honestly, I learned enough at the Introduction class to play ukulele in storytime! And I also fell in love with the instrument, and wound up taking more classes. 

 

In Storytime

I’ve played my ukulele a couple of different ways in storytime: as an extension activity in a traditional storytime, and as a whole storytime unto itself — thirty minutes of ukulele! I also hosted three virtual Ukulele Concerts over last summer which incorporated music knowledge, history of the instrument, and caregiver early literacy tips. 

Because of when I learned uke and (finally) felt comfortable performing in front of a storytime audience, I’ve only done two in-person ukulele outreach storytimes (30 minutes). Everything else has been virtual — which means I’ve had the ability to tape a chord sheet above the computer/phone and follow along there. 

My goal when I return to in-person programming is to have each song mostly memorized, with the chord sheet only there as a back-up. 

 

Resources

(specific to storytime) 

  • Storytime Ukulele: My favorite resource for storytime songs and chord charts! This blog has both an A to Z list and a subject list, which are very helpful to search to match storytime themes.
  • Ukulele Storytime: Rose has both tutorials for how to play individual songs AND full ukulele storytimes available for you to view! My favorite song that I’ve learned from Rose is “Peace Like a River”.
  • Miss Mary Liberry: My good friend Mary has fantastic ukulele tutorials on her blog. In addition to all the other things she’s taught me about storytime — which are MANY — her finger-picking tutorial on “Sleeping Bunnies” is not to be missed. 

(to learning the ukulele & getting music)

  • Cynthia Lin Music: I love having videos on demand to watch and play along with. Cynthia Lin’s videos are wonderful and her video was the only way that I was able to figure out chucking.
  • Ultimate Guitar (app): While I have multiple ukulele apps on my phone, I think this one has the most selection when I’m trying to find children’s music artists (like Laurie Berkner!). On the app, I do switch to searching “ukulele” to make sure I’m getting uke chords, but that’s mostly while I’m wading through the popular music. 

 

Ukuleles

As for ukuleles, I have four. My “Introduction” teacher said once you start buying ukuleles, you kind of don’t stop — and….well, that’s a yes for me. Two of my ukuleles come with me to outreach storytimes: one is a Mahalo soprano ukulele that I let the children touch and play at the end of storytime; the other is my primary uke — a concert fluke from the Magic Fluke company.

[Note: the storytimes where the children touched the ukulele were pre-pandemic storytimes.]

My other ukes are a Kala soprano travel, and a Kala mahogany concert (in blue!) that I’ve re-strung with a low G string. I haven’t brought either of them to use in storytime, but I did feature the soprano travel in one of my Ukulele Concerts where I talked about the different sizes and shapes of a ukulele. 

 

I’m planning to include PDFs of my chord charts when I post anything about ukulele in storytime. (I made the chord charts to how I best read charts, so it may not be suited to everyone’s preferences.) Other than that, I’m happy to attempt to answer any questions!