For each of the past three years, Pulizzi-Smith has successfully implemented a 9 week “Ukulele Unit” for the 3rd grade team as well as running a Ukulele Club and an adaptive ukulele class for students with special needs. Upon receiving this current grant, she has been able to complete an entire class set of 30 ukuleles and cases. She chose the baritone ukulele for this program because traditional notation methods for ukulele and guitar are alike for both chords and melodies. Thus, the transition from ukulele to guitar would be easier for students wanting to continue studying string instruments. During 2013-2014, she also consulted with Mr. Jay Albert, a professional guitarist/teacher and BCSD parent. He is currently writing a ukulele method book that demonstrates new ways for her to present her ukulele unit to 3rd grade students.
Over the past 3 years of teaching ukulele, Pulizzi-Smith’s program has evolved from an experience in playing ukulele with an alternate tuning system and alternate chord fingerings to a curricular introduction to folk songs and rounds. Until she received this Foundation Grant, her students shared their instruments with a partner during class as well as take turns during the 30 minute class. All students will now have the opportunity to play their instruments for the entire 30 minutes during each of the two classes per week.
The 3rd graders began their unit in January, 2015, and Pulizzi-Smith will start the 3rd grade club during the 4th quarter for students who want to continue playing. The club for the 4th graders began in October, 2014, since they have already been introduced to the instrument. The additional instruments will enable her to implement the ukulele club for the 4th graders who also wish to continue playing during their 4th grade year. Students who have a ukulele at home are allowed to bring them to use in the ukulele club, and students with special needs are also able to participate with a modified ukulele class. She offers the ukulele unit to every 3rd grade class during a 9 week period of their general music class.