Back in June on the floors of the ISTE Conference in Chicago, I discovered a fun company out of Hong Kong called Dalton Learning Labs.
I was intrigued by their DIY Ukulele and amplifier – the STEAMusic: Integrated Music Learning & Maker Kit. (Full disclosure – they sent a free assembled ukulele and amplifier home with me so I could play with and review it.)
For weeks after I brought home my kit, it sat in my family room. It was not uncommon for random music to float through the house. My teenage kids (and me and my husband) could help but pick it up, turn on the amp and play a few chords as they walked through the room. I have to admit. It made me smile.
The kit includes everything needed for kids to build their own ukulele and electric amplifier. A great example of STEAM in action! I did not get to build my kit, but I wish I did. It seems simple enough to put together that even your youngest aspiring musician can successfully decorate and construct their own personalized instrument. I really like that there is no soldering needed to assemble the electric amp.
Pros and Cons
This is a fun classroom product. Here are some pros and cons of this kit.
- Complete kit – the Ukulele and amp kit comes with everything you need to complete a playable amplified ukulele. No special tools or soldering is needed to build your instrument. Everything you need is in the kit!
- Maker project – There is something cool about playing an instrument that you made yourself. The kids can become maker musicians. By build this kit, kids can learn about instrument construction and basic electronics. When done, they have a playable instrument. That’s a great accomplishment.
- Creative expression – My favorite part of this kit is that you can decorate your new instrument and amp to reflect your personality. (I’m going to give mine a nice coat of hot pink glitter paint.) This lets kids make it truly their own and reflect their personality.
- Companion app – Once you have built your instrument, learn to play on the using the Monster Chords School Edition app for iOS. Monster Chords gamifies the learning process. Cute little monsters help your budding musician learn how to play a bunch of different songs. They can even compose their own music. Monster Chords School Edition can be found in the iTunes store for $11.99.
- The only con I saw was that the ukulele does not always hold its tune. You need to remember that this is beginners instrument that is designed to spark an interest in STEAM and music. It is a great way to get you kids interested in music and learning the STEM concepts, If you child becomes interested in building their ukulele skills, you might want to upgrade to a different instrument. However, this is a great way to let them play and explore.
Overall, this is product is a creative way to introduce your kids to music and STEAM. The kit is wrapping up a successful indegogo campaign that ends on September 29. For $35 (plus shipping), you get the Ukulele and amp kit. for $49 (plus shipping) you can add the app.
I wish Dalton Learning Labs continued luck on their kit. Also, check out their website for their other products such as a downloadable Chord chart, free digital art lessons and their AR app, Mindful Ocean. Happy strumming!