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Wednesday November 2, 2016 at 12:24pm Age: 2 yrs
Category: District, Middle School


When middle school students first learned the ukulele was now the instrument of choice in general music class, they didn’t know what to expect. But listen to them now!  


The 6th grade class - Parker sees the ukulele as a more manageable mini guitar, perfect for his arm- length, and he’s thrilled that his teacher, Mr. Peters, always knows a way to make difficult steps a lot easier. He is also mindful that Mr. Peters is helping him develop a greater appreciation for music. Anastasia holds no special memory of playing the recorder in elementary school, and never dreamed she would enjoy the ukulele. Now, she can’t believe how much fun she’s having in music class. Calleigh who played the flute in band, wishes her fingers wouldn’t hurt quite as much, but she’s determined to conquer, and loves being in Mr. Peters’ class. 


The 7th grade class - Aidan played the trombone and expected to find the ukulele “annoying.” Instead, he’s finding it friendly and a lot of fun to play. He had been oblivious to the family’s guitars at home but is now using them to practice his ukulele exercises. Jacelyn was one of the first students to take advantage of the ukulele program when it first started in the second half of the last school year. She remembers being scared she might not be able to play it. Worse, what if she were really bad at it? Now that she knows better, she is having a great time, and thinks of Mr. Peters’ class as a break from the demands of other subjects – and homework! Isabella played the clarinet for the last two years and welcomes the more playful and simple ukulele.


The 8th grade class - Richard, who had some experience with the guitar, prefers the size and ease of the ukulele and has a lot more fun playing it. Valerie is surprised with her progress and excited with the idea of getting her own instrument. Jack can’t believe how quickly he was able to play the instrument and recommends it to everyone.


All students express ample praise for their teacher, Mr. Peters: nice, easy-going, fun, and a really good teacher!


This is Mr. Peters’ second year at Minisink Valley, as a teacher, but he’s very much at home in the district--even if his former teachers are now his colleagues. Shane Peters is a MVHS graduate, Class of 2011.


“I feel so fortunate to work in my home school district. I couldn’t believe it when the opportunity presented itself, just as I was graduating from college,” Mr. Peters said. 


In addition to the ukulele, students explore a variety of composers and world music cultures (6th grade); music through the decades and Broadway hits (7th grade); and film music and songwriting (8th grade). “I want my students to have a broad and relevant music education. I want them to think of this class as a conversation about music, and to leave here with skills and knowledge they can use the rest of their lives,” Mr. Peters said.


As a testimony to the success of the ukulele program, the number of students who have shown an interest in additional, after-school ukulele opportunities is increasing each day. “Stay tuned for more information as we work to figure out the best possible options for such opportunities,” Mr. Peters advises.


You can find short videos of ukulele class performances on the district’s Facebook page