Rainbow Ukulele and Rainbow Guitar
The best ideas are sometimes the simplest, and the “rainbow” idea is certainly very simple indeed – every string is given a colour. All the notes on that string are printed in that same colour, throughout the books. Simple though the idea may be, the learning effects are very powerful. The musical stave becomes a friendly, accessible place to even the complete beginner. The massive task of learning to read all the notes on the stave is broken down into smaller, manageable tasks – and I mean manageable even while three-quarters of the pupil’s attention is taken up with the physical reality of learning to play the instrument.
When I trialled the colour-string approach with six-year-old ukulele pupils, it worked so well that I developed it into a beginner’s tutor book, “Rainbow Ukulele”. After that, it seemed only natural to take the same approach to the guitar, so “Rainbow Guitar” soon followed.
The books have a website of their own, www.ringingstringspublications.co.uk, where you can find much more detail and plenty of extra resources for both teacher and pupil.
At every stage of the way, I have been helped enormously by being able to work with Kate Molloy of Little Designs. Apart from being an all-round pleasure to work with, Kate has a background in both music and in graphic design. So while the Rainbow books were still in a very rough state – just piles of drawings and scribbles – she was always able to understand where I was going with an idea musically, and at the same time solve the problems of how it would need to be laid out on the page.
The original books were intended just to take the pupil through the very first steps on the instrument, but soon other teachers asked if there was going to be a Book 2 with the same approach. There is now a Book 2 for each instrument as well, taking the pupil to roughly Grade 1 on the guitar, and roughly Grade 2 on the ukulele.