Genius Hour #3

It is easy to say that music makes you feel good, so therefore it should be used in classrooms.  However, for Genius Hour #3 I would like to refer to various educational journals and other sources to analyze just how effective using ukulele in the classroom can be.  While I will not be using any sources set in Japanese classrooms, the idea of using instruments in schools and tying music into other fields is relatively common and successful.  For example, California-based junior high teacher Jim Schaffer often uses hands-on projects to help students grasp concepts in science classes, and his ukulele classes are some of his most positively reviewed, in-demand courses.  Students with and without backgrounds in music quickly have picked up the ukulele, sometimes mastering it within the school year (Pierce).  Greenberg of Music Educators Journal also notes the benefits of choosing the ukulele in particular for music classrooms: “easy to play…low in cost…versatile…an ideal instrument for accompanying songs” (48).  Greater focus and enthusiasm in class is reason enough to include ukulele in schools, but there is more to it.

Bringing ukuleles into the classroom has also been shown to cause increased accounts of good behavior as well as better attention spans and self-esteem in students.  In a 1973 Journal of Research in Music Education, a small group of “problem” boys in an all-black elementary school were introduced to the ukulele in hopes of giving the students something to excel at and enjoy in school, off-setting the negative effects on their self-esteem from consistent failures in school (Michel & Farrell, 80).  The trial was short, only spanning a few weeks (with ukulele lessons being about twice a week), however the positive reinforcement showed promising results.  Although the researchers agreed that the results may have been influenced by several factors, the idea is that the group as a whole exhibited signs of improvement in school due to their newfound hobby.

The final piece I would like to utilize as evidence supporting linking language-learning with music is Dr. Koo’s article in which she teaches Korean as a second language.  Dr. Koo uses self-written songs to introduce new phrases, vocabulary, and grammar points to encourage passive and active learning.  Not only that, but songs were created with language-learning in mind, where words are sung with timing, pitch, and rhythm all influenced by native speaking patterns.  Student attitudes and recollection of material improved in classrooms that were observed using music as the primary method of language-learning.  She argues that music is the most effective way to teach a second language, and its importance should be stressed in classrooms instead of it being strictly supplemental material (Koo, 130).



Works Cited & Useful Documents

Carolin, M. (2006). An Instrumental Approach to Culture Study in General Music. Music Educators Journal, 92(5), 38-41. Retrieved from

Greenberg, M. (1992). The Ukulele in Your Classroom. Music Educators Journal, 79(3), 43-48. Retrieved from

Koo, E. (2000). TEACHING THE KOREAN LANGUAGE WITH MUSIC AND SONGS: THEORY AND PRACTICE. The Korean Language in America, 5, 123-131. Retrieved from

Michel, D., & Farrell, D. (1973). Music and Self-Esteem: Disadvantaged Problem Boys in an All-Black Elementary School. Journal of Research in Music Education, 21(1), 80-84. Retrieved from

Pierce, H. (2016, May 14). Class teaches kids uke can do ukulele. Bakersfield Californian. Retrieved March 31, 2017.


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