On the Ground with Gary Peare

On the Ground with Gary Peare

JHUI Level 3 Certified Teacher Gary Peare shares some quick insights into what’s working in his teaching programs

JHUI Level 3 Teacher Gary Peare

JHUI Level 3 Teacher Gary Peare

I’ve been teaching a combination of private lessons and adult group classes at Lamorinda Music in Lafayette, California since 2009. Before JHUI, I was primarily a self-taught player, and taught a standard “paint-by-numbers,” chording and strumming method.

Since then, I’ve come to realize that nearly everything that advanced students want to learn—chord solos, fingerpicking, and especially playing ensemble arrangements—all requires basic music literacy and an understanding of the fingerboard. The challenge is, how do you convince intermediate players to go back to square one and learn to read music? Especially when you’ve gotten them this far with the old follow-the-diagrams method!

A favorite technique I gleaned from JHUI is the concept of Stealth Teaching. I love to trick intermediate students into pressing the reset button by introducing them to the world of canons. I start out with Russian Lullaby. Can’t read it? Easy, it’s just the C scale. Don’t know the C scale? Let me show you. And off you go. Note reading, keeping time, ensemble playing, basic harmony—it’s all in there. 

Here are some lesson plan ideas that have worked for me. Sit in a circle, assigning parts by first pairing up students next to one another, then by skipping one, then with a player opposite them in the circle. You’ll be surprised at how dramatically the performance improves when students start listening to one another. Final tip: be sure to memorize the entire canon so you can direct and jump in as needed.


The New Ukulele Program Starter Kit

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• The C-Chord Trap (And How to Avoid It)
• Detailed Sample lesson plan
• Top 10 Reasons to Choose Ukulele
• Parent letter template
• Two fun Songs to teach Right Away
• Easy Pickin’s: Melody for Beginners
• Words of wisdom from ukulele teachers around the world

and much more!