UMSL professor Fred Willman instructs a fifth grade music class at Oakville Elementary School in south St. Louis County on how to play a ukulele.

Fifth graders at Oakville Elementary School in south St. Louis County learned to play a new instrument last week during music class. Fred Willman, Curators’ Teaching Professor of Music and Education at University of Missouri–St. Louis, led a special ukulele workshop for students.

“These workshops are fun for me because I don’t get to work with kids this age very much,” Willman said.

Students at Oakville, which is in the Mehlville School District, learned about the origin of the ukulele and the instrument’s different sizes.

Oakville Elementary music teacher Karen Dickinson (MA music 2002) invited Willman, who brought ukuleles for every student in the class to play during the workshop. The fifth graders learned how to hold the instrument and about finger placement. The group then performed and sang along to “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and “Are You Sleeping, Brother John?”

“I received several positive comments from students about the workshop,” Dickinson said. “They told me how much fun they had playing the ukulele.”

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Jen Hatton

Jen Hatton