I was recently asked in an email if I had any advice about strumming patterns for groups of people who are learning to play the ukulele. I thought I'd share those thoughts here...
I would take any tune and if there are two or three people out of twenty who can't get the chord changes then live with it and they could just play one chord whenever it comes up. (we have one or two people in one of my groups who just play one or two chords at times and they are happy just to participate). If there are more than 50% who struggle with the chord changes then you need to simplify the lesson. You can pick a tune with chords that are held for longer or you can amend the chord structure of that particular tune.
Let's say it has two bars of each chord C Am F and G. Get them to play four bars of each and see if they can manage to get to all the new chords before they have to move on to the next chord. Then see if they can manage two bars of each chord but at a slower tempo. Individual confidence will grow when they are able to take part with the whole group either with slower changes of chord or a slower tempo. Try increasing the tempo with four bars of each chord. Then slow the tempo down for two-bar changes. Then work to one-bar and then to two beat-changes.
I feel that group strumming is about taking the majority with you and finding the tunes that they can play but using stuff like changing the number of bars and the tempo as an exercise will let them know they can play to their limit and then they can extend their limit.
I was going through strumming patterns yesterday with one primary school who are doing a war medley. I got them emphasising the first beat in the bar, then the second and fourth beats and a few other variations. With Run Rabbit Run, when we got to 'bang bang bang, goes the farmer's gun' they emphasised beats 1,2 and 3. I've never really found strumming patterns to be a problem but if there is anything fancy then they may have to be taught.
As for the more advanced players, they can be playing an intro or an outro or an instrumental verse. That will keep them busy and happy. You will always have some players that are better than others but isn't it great that ukulele clubs are all inclusive :-)