Music lessons up and down the country have been marked by the shrill whistle of badly-played recorders, but a school in the Black Country is singing the praises of a different instrument.
Year four and five youngsters at Oldbury’s Rood End Primary are instead strumming away on ukuleles during their weekly half-hour classes.
They picked up the instrument made famous by black and white screen favourite George Formby in November on the suggestion of head teacher Barbara Carter and the school’s music co-ordinator Tom Corbett, who started playing the ukelele himself around 10 years ago.
Tom said: “It’s easy to pick up and fun to play. It’s also nice and portable and easy to carry – all the benefits that make it ideal for the children.”
The school has equipped itself with around 30 ukuleles, costing around £14 each, for the 70 children learning to play.
“They were very excited when they came in and saw we’d got a load of ukuleles,” added Tom, aged 25. “But they’d seen me play it before so they weren’t completely unfamiliar with it.
“At first they found it a bit tricky but since they mastered their first chords, they’ve been coming along nicely and can now play a fair few songs, like If You’re Happy And You Know It, Ten Green Bottles and She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain.”
The move was described as “shame” among recorder fans, but ukulele-lovers welcomed the decision, saying the stringed instrument was easy to play.
Fred Pearson, secretary of the Ukulele Society of Great Britain, said: “With the ukulele you can get going and get great songs played in just a day.”
Bob Whitmarsh, secretary of the Society of Recorder Players said it would be a shame if the recorder disappeared from schools. “There’s a lot to be said for it as a first instrument to learn music on.
“There’s a lot of skill and coordination involved in mastering it,” he added.