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Down in the Valley
Traditional, arr. James Hill

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Three-part arrangement in F (C6 tuning - g, c, e, a)
Three-part arrangement in G (D6 tuning - a, d, f#, b)

Painting by David Williams

This traditional tune in waltz time (3/4) is arranged here in three-part harmony. Ukulele II has the melody while ukulele I plays a higher-pitched harmony part. Ukulele III plays a lower-pitched "bass line" part. All three parts are high-4th friendly.

Activity #1:

Teach students to sing and strum Down in the Valley by ear (this is best done by echo-singing each line, i.e. "I'll sing something and you sing it back to me"). The first verse is as follows:

Down in the valley, valley so low
Hang your head over, hear the wind blow
Hear the wind blow dear, hear the wing blow
Hang your head over, hear the wind blow

Because there are only two chords (tonic and dominant) in Down in the Valley, this is also a perfect ear-training opportunity. Explain: "start on the tonic (I) chord (F in C6 tuning, G in D6 tuning) and sing the melody. When the tonic chord sounds wrong, change to the dominant chord (C7 in C6 tuning, D7 in D6 tuning)."

Activity #2:

Now that the melody and chords of Down in the Valley are familiar, teach students to play this three-part instrumental arrangement of the tune (see teaching notes below for suggestions and strategies).

Related Reading: What is a waltz? | Additional Lyrics

In This Issue: PRELUDE IDEAS & LETTERS UKULELE REPORTS INTERVIEW FEATURE ARTICLE FREE ARRANGEMENT PEDAGOGY CORNER FROM THE VAULT

 

 

Down in the Valley:
Teaching Notes

View print-friendly PDF Teaching Notes

Focus On:

  1. Ensemble skills
  2. Note reading
  3. Keeping a steady tempo

Key Points:

  • Teach students to sing and strum Down in the Valley before teaching them this instrumental arrangement. That way the melody will already be familiar to them.

  • Sight-read the Uke III part as a warm-up. Note: there are only three pitches in the entire Uke III part (and two of them are open strings!).

  • The teacher provides light, strummed accompaniment. This allows students to focus on their picking skills. You may challenge advanced students to pick Uke III and strum on beats 2 and 3 of each measure (see this Pedagogy Corner article for more).

  • Be clear with your tempo and stick to it! Students will rush the long notes if you allow them to. Rushing the tempo with undermine the spirit and dignity of this melody.

Additional Suggestions and Comments:

  • Have your students sing their parts (to the lyrics of Down in the Valley or to the syllable "la" or "loo"). All students should try picking and singing their part at the same time. Advanced students should try singing their part while picking a different one!

  • If your students are using the flatpick, this is an excellent tune for applying a tremolo technique on the long notes. Try a soft, 16th-note tremolo on the sustained notes.

James Hill is editor of Ukulele Yes! and co-author of Ukulele in the Classroom, He also maintains a busy touring schedule as a performer; his latest CD release is True Love Don't Weep. Visit www.ukulelejames.com for more.