Last term I had lots of fun teaching multi-part arrangements with some of the junior school groups. Eaton Primary did Just Can't Get Enough by Depeche Mode, the Pink Panther and their favourite Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes.
The Tuesday Avenues group also did Seven Nation Army, along with Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles, Budapest, the Milna Song (one of my own arrangements) and My Generation by The Who.
I was super impressed at how well they all worked together, not just in the classroom but learning and practising their own parts at home so that they were ready to practice as a group each week. For some of them it was the first time they had worked like that and was quite a big learning curve, but they all stepped up, and their playing and enjoyment improved a lot because of it.
So I had a challenge this term. To find more songs for the juniors that I would be able to be split into several different parts, at different difficulty levels and that the children would like. You can't please everyone, so this term I have chosen 3 very different songs for the junior school groups to learn, in the hope that everyone will like at least one of them!
After watching Stranger Things over summer, I renewed my love of The Clash, and so I worked out a 4 part arrangement of Should I Stay or Should I go. This is also a song that the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain have been doing for some time, so it's no stranger to the ukulele. It should be lots of fun.
I then trawled through a load of Beatles songs (as requested) to find one that I was excited about teaching and that would be a challenge enough to some of the more advanced students. Although not originally by the Beatles, I went for a personal favourite 'Til There Was You'. This song has some more unusual chords in it (G dim, G+, Ebm) and it'll be fun to see who can play the middle 8 solo. Most of my students are a little shy at singing, so the vocal line will also be played on the ukulele.
Then I thought I should really do something more current. At the ripe old age of 36 i thought Firework by Katie Perry was really current. Turns out it's over 6 years old. When i was 8 years old I would have thought any music that was more than a year old was ancient. So although I'm attempting to do something that I think is current, 6 years old will have to do. Katy Perry's still current, right? I've put in a chorus to 'Shake It Off' by Taylor Swift in the song too. I know she's around at the moment...
I like the sentiment behind Firework. I'd never paid much attention to it before but after seeing the video I thought it's a good one to teach. It'll also fit nicely with the Bonfire season. So hopefully some of the Year 4 girls that requested some Katy Perry will do me proud by singing with it too.
The new starters at Recreation Road and Colman Infant will be learning the basics and the classics including 'Strumming Ukulele' , 'My Dog Has Fleas' and 'Yellow Submarine', I may even try my new song idea 'That's Cool, That's Rad', but it might be a flop.
Year 3's that have already been with me for a year will be learning how to read TAB and learning new chords and strumming techniques. The Monster Mash Medley will be their project for this term, and possible the 12 bar blues.
So that's the plan... I can't wait to get stuck in and see if my song arrangements work and inspire. Watch this space as I endeavour to add audio and possibly video recordings of the results.