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Innovative Educator: Mrs. Bailey's ukuleles, a perfect fit for beginners in Boise

Kathy Bailey believes learning to play the ukulele could lead her students into a lifelong passion for music.

BOISE, Idaho — Editor's note: This content is sponsored by CapEd Credit Union

At the beginning of the school year, Sacred Heart Catholic School music teacher Kathy Bailey wanted her students to still be able to make music together, but without spreading germs to each other, including COVID. In other words, no singing in a crowded classroom at that time. Her idea turned into Mrs. Bailey's Ukuleles.

"How can you not love it?" Bailey asked rhetorically referring to the rhyme.

The kids sure seem to love it. The plinking and plunking sounds of ukuleles being played in unison now fills the air in her classroom.

"They have been fantastic. I'm so proud of them," Bailey said. "They have really jumped in with both feet, both hands, and they jumped in and took on the challenge with no problems."

Bailey says ukuleles are a fine fit for her fifth through eighth graders' fingers.

"It's a perfect size for beginners because it's a smaller instrument," Bailey said. "There's only four strings as opposed to the guitar's six."

It's a perfectly practical instrument to prepare them for guitar or orchestra instruments in high school.

Credit: KTVB

"So having that facility to be able to move fingers and separate what the right hand and the left hand are doing is a vital component to learning those instruments in a quicker fashion as they get older," Bailey said.

When fingers start falling on the right frets and chords ring out clearly, it's music to Bailey's ears.

"The light bulb moment. It just makes your day so absolutely wonderful," Bailey says smiling. "It's the best. It's just the best."

Over her 16 years teaching Bailey says she has done her best to expose students to new things in hopes of sparking a passion they'll enjoy for the rest of their lives.

"There's nothing more beautiful than getting an email from a student later on saying 'hey you taught me this thing when I was eight, and I'm still doing this. Thank you for that.' Every educator's dream," Bailey said.

It sounds like Mrs. Bailey's ukuleles could lead to a few of those emails a few years down the road.

Sacred Heart Catholic School bought 30 ukuleles at the beginning of the school year. A $750 grant from CapEd Credit Union paid for more than a third of them. Mrs. Bailey says she'll be able to use the ukuleles in her music classes for years to come.

Educators, for information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit www.capedfoundation.org.

If you would like to nominate an Innovative Educator who is going above and beyond, send us an email to innovativeeducator@ktvb.com.

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