The key to getting any kid to stick with a musical instrument is to make practicing it as much fun as possible. Considering this gamified smart ukulele makes every practice session seem like a round of Guitar Hero, your kid will have no trouble sticking with it.
A ukulele is probably not the first instrument you envisioned your kid learning to play. But once you see the Populele in action, you’ll change your tune. It’s a handsomely crafted 23-inch uke made of European maple that rocks Italian Aquila strings and has 72 LEDs integrated into the fretboard. As in GH or Rock Band, those LEDs light up to show strummers where to place their fingers to learn those chords. Also, if you’re really cutting lose to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” they’ll go off in “dazzle mode to light up your jam session.”
Populele syncs via Bluetooth to your smartphone or tablet and its app grants access to a built-in auto tuner, chord dictionary, song recorder (yes, you can record and share on social media), and aforementioned games. There’s also a continuously updated library of popular hits Junior can learn to play, everything from Shakira to Bruno Mars to songs from one of the most successful ukulele bands of all time, the Beatles. The Populele’s battery gets 10 hours on a single 2.5-hour charge but if it runs out, no biggie: it’s a real ukulele and doesn’t need electricity to be enjoyed around a campfire.
Finally, Populele also tackles the other problem with kids learning to play musical instruments: price. It only costs $149 now on Indiegogo ($199 after the campaign), so it won’t be a big deal when your kid upgrades to an acoustic guitar and the Populele finds itself retired to the closet. Right next to that Guitar Hero controller.
(Pre-order for July 2017)