Your First Ukulele Lesson: A Beginner’s Guide to Playing Ukulele | Ukulele Magazine


so, you want to learn how to play a uke ? Welcome ! The first thing to notice is all the encourage, felicitous people around you, cheering you on and helping you out. The uke is a social instrument, a sung machine that magnetically draws people together to enjoy themselves. Be warned : The uke spirit is highly contagious. adenine soon as you master your first chords, strums, and songs you may find that you, besides, are moved to share it with a ally .

A Note On Hands & ‘Handedness’ on Ukulele

Both hands have much work to do ! One is the chording hand, holding down strings, while the early hand is the strum or “ public speaking ” hand. Most people, even some lefties, will strum with their right hands and chord with their leave. But some lefties find expressing rhythm challenging with their non-dominant hired hand. They have two choices : to flip it round, play upside-down-backwards, and devise their own harmonize shapes, or to restring their instrumental role. Restringing is bare and can liberate a left-handed pitcher from debilitating frustration. For our purposes, I may refer to the strumming hand as the right hand and the chord as the left. besides, harmonize diagrams are always drawn in the standard right-handed manner. If you are a left-hander who has restrung, you credibly know what to do—flip all diagrams and instructions to make them left-centric .
All players will find things are a lot easier when the nails of the harmonize hand are cut very short. The strumming hand can have longer nails, as they can serve as picks—or plectrums as they are known in british countries.

Holding The Uke

Start your musical journey on good foothold and teach to hold your uke. In the Suzuki violin method acting, an enormous come of meter is spent learning the proper way to hold the instrument and bow. Kids begin with a box and a adhere until the teacher knows they are fix for the very thing. Uke is much more forgive, but it ’ mho important to strive for full proficiency veracious from the begin. A little mindfulness at beginning means you won ’ metric ton have to unlearn bad habits subsequently and may keep you from straining your tendons .
Standing or sitting, the instrument should be held close against your torso. many people use a strap to keep their instrument in an optimum military position, but others prefer not to. Without a flog, the right forearm secures the instrument against the chest. For now, let your leave hand hold the neck where it reaches the headstock, broadly. If you ’ rhenium seat, choose a chair without arms. Slumping back will make things harder, so until you are a confident player, sit up at the edge of your induct. Try crossing your properly stage over your left and let it rest gently against your thigh. Allow your shoulders to relax. Don ’ t forget to breathe !

Thumb Strum & Your First Chord

Place your fingers between the frets, with a easy arch to each finger, with your ovolo on the back of the neck, opposite your exponent feel .
The strings are numbered 4-3-2-1 from top to bottom. Gently stroke the strings with the diggings of your ovolo, one at a time. Anywhere you are comfortable strum is fine, but the dulcet descry is properly in the area where the neck meets the body. Sing along with the numbers of the strings ( 4-3-2-1 ) and the pitches ( G C E A ). now, play them again while saying the words to the classic tune associated with uke tuning, “ My Dog Has Fleas ! ”
It ’ s a courteous, soft sound. now strum all four strings together while you count a firm rhythm : 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4…. Sing the song “ Row, Row, Row Your Boat ” along with your strum. ( hint : if you ’ re having a hard time finding the first note, it is C. Pluck the third base string to help get you started. Remember to count your strings up from the bottom ! ) Over time, your strum will develop to use other fingers and patterns, but regular, rhythmical down strokes are the basis .
When you play all the open strings together, the notes you strum make a chord called C6. The C6 harmonize is comprised of the notes G C E A. good companion ? Those are the notes we tune our ukuleles to ! It ’ south called “ C tuning ” and is the most common way to tune a uke. ( You may find old books that ask you to tune lower, to Bb tuning, and in Canada, many people tune higher, to D. The music you find on-line and in contemporary books will constantly call for C tuning. ) This chord is made up of all “ open ” strings, that is, there is no chording going on with the leave hand .

The Chording Hand & The C7 Chord

Hand holding a ukulele neckHand holding a ukulele neck Pretend you have a windsock puppet on your hand and you are making it talk. Most probably your wrist is straight, and your four fingers are in a line, tapping on your hitchhike. Make that creature look at you. That ’ s a big startle for how your leave hand should be aligned on the musical instrument .
How to play a C7 chord on ukuleleHow to play a C7 chord on ukulele now, bring your hand around under the headstock and put the neck of your instrument in the puppet ’ second mouthpiece, and locate the foremost string ( that ’ s the one close to the floor, the A string ). Place the tips of your fingers in between the frets, with your index finger on fuss 1, center finger on 2, ring finger on 3, little finger on 4. Let your fingers curve gently. Your finger should be lined up with the exponent finger on the binding of the neck, and your wrist should distillery be straight. Remove all but your index finger. It should be on the first chain, beginning fret. If you could make the instrument disappear, your bridge player would look like an “ OK ” sign, with the fingers gently curved, thumb touching index finger, wrist still straight. now strum the strings. Congratulations, you are forming a C7 chord—now you can accompany yourself while you sing a one-chord song, like “ Old Joe Clark. ” ( You can hear and learn this old favorite in the associate video content. )
Chord shapes will become second nature after lots of rehearse, but until then, harmonize diagrams are handy reminders of how to finger a chord. The dark horizontal note on top represents the nut of the uke, and the four upright lines are the strings, from left to right : 4 3 2 1. The thin horizontal lines are the frets. If you laid your legal document vertically adjacent to a harmonize diagram they would correspond. The department of transportation exemplify your finger on the string, and sometimes have a number inside to instruct your finger choice. Look at the C7 and F diagrams above and finger those chords .

Reading Chord Diagrams

Ukulele chord diagrams for F and C7 chords with fingeringUkulele chord diagrams for F and C7 chords with fingering many times, familiar songs are written out “ campfire vogue, ” with chord names or diagrams above the lyrics. The chords should appear directly above the syllable where they change. “ felicitous Birthday to You ” is the prototype of a song everyone knows, and a perfect song to play with your first two chords. Bring your uke to the adjacent birthday party you are invited to and try it out. You may witness a miracle—everyone singing together in the same key !
The originate pitch is C. Find your note on the third gear string and sing the beginning of the birdcall to yourself before you start. The rhythm method of birth control of this song is 1–2–3, 1–2–3. strum that rhythm, holding down a C7 chord and count to get a find for it, and then begin singing “ Happy… ” on the third perplex. When you get to “ Birth… ” throw to F, and therefore forth. It may be hesitant at first gear, but the goal is to keep a sweetheart rhythm while strumming and singing and changing chords. Play and sing along with this song and check out the video recording above .
How to play Happy Birthday on ukuleleHow to play Happy Birthday on ukulele

The F Chord

How to play an F chord on ukuleleHow to play an F chord on ukulele The fingers of the fret hand are numbered 1–4, index through little finger, but for clarity, we will call them by name. When you are playing your C7 chord, the index finger is on the inaugural string, beginning fret. Shift that fingertip up one string so it is now on the moment chain, first fret. now take your middle finger and put its tap on the fourth ( the top ) string, second fret. That ’ s an F harmonize. Give it a strum. Make sure you are on your fingertips ; if your fingers are touching early strings the chord won ’ t ring clearly. While you are exploring, keep an eye on your wrist and thumb. Keep them relaxed and in proper position. now is the time to develop capital habits. experiment with changing between F and C7. You will notice that the middle finger lifts off, and the index can well shift down to the first string. Create a map between them in your mind and find an economy of movement. Once you feel fluid, strum four dull, flush beats on each chord, anticipating when you are about to change. Once that is successful, speed up or reduce the number of beats .

Learn The G7 Chord

Ukulele G7 chord diagramUkulele G7 chord diagram Position your fingers for an F harmonize ( as constantly, check that rascally ovolo ! ). To switch from F to G7, the index finger stays anchored on the 2nd string. The in-between stays on the second fret but drops to the 3rd string. now add the call finger on to the first string, second fret. Being on your fingertips and proper thumb position will make this snug position potential. notice that this chord shape looks like a triangulum orient towards the nut. Give a strum and adjust your fingers until it rings absolved. Sometimes it will take a while to build finger potency and dexterity. Be kind to yourself as you work and know that training your body is a process. This is the most demand chord in this example, therefore pat yourself on the back ! Try switching from F to G7 in the manner you learned the transition from F to C7, and then work the G7 to C7 move.

Need some chords to start playing your darling songs ? Download our FREE uke chord graph !

Practice With A Song

practice is therefore much more fun when you are strumming a song, so let ’ s shimmer. F, G7, and C7, in that regulate, are the chords you need to play and sing “ 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall. ” By the time you get to the last bottle you will be an adept on your chord changes ( and possibly potty ). Another fun song to whistle and act is a traditional song from Hawaii with the same progression, “ Popoki Make a Cat, ” which comes with an excess bonus : a hawaiian language example ! If you don ’ thymine even read notes, you can learn by ear with the video recording .

Home Base: The C Major Chord

Ukulele C major chord diagramUkulele C major chord diagram You have learned C6 and C7 chords, now let ’ s learn a C major chord. Make your windsock creature hand, and again put it on your uke, thumb on the rear of the neck, and all four fingers on the first chain. Release all but the finger and closed chain finger, which ought to be on the third erode. strum ! C major is a chord you will be playing a batch of. Because our instruments are tuned in C tune, the C harmonize is like home base .
You can hear that a C major sounds different from the C7 and C6 chords. Without diving into music hypothesis, an explanation : The “ C ” in the chord name tells us that these are all chords based on the note C. The number or discussion after the “ C ” tells us what flavor, or qualities they have, like a musical adjectival. major chords, because they are the most frequently used, and have a neutral “ flavor ” are normally written without an adjective, that is, we plainly say “ C ” for C major .

Rhythm Drives Music

Bob MarleyBob MarleyBob Marley. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
Bob Marley ’ s “ Three Little Birds ” is a fun, perennial favorite. It uses chords from our newcomer compact and is easily to play and sing, specially because you may already be familiar with the tune and attention-getting, insistent lyrics. This song is enlivened by a potent backbeat, and a dear prospect to try out some easy strum variations .
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and … This rhythm is the bones of most of the songs we know. The numbers are the beats and are when we strum down the strings, or downstrokes. They are arranged in groups of four, and as this is the most common rhythm method of birth control in music, we call it “ common time. ” The ands are the upstrokes. It ’ mho hard to strum up with the finger, so this is where we introduce the right fingers .
Relax and pretend you are standing over the kitchen slump, shaking off water off your hired hand without making a mess. There is credibly a small campaign from the elbow, a little flex of the wrist, and a snap of the fingers. That ’ s what a good strum should look like. You can use equitable the exponent finger, or a combination of several fingers. Use what is comfortable. Everyone develops his or her own style ; the most authoritative thing is to keep steady and relax .
We bring variety show to our play by leaving beats out or giving them stress ( stress ). For a simpleton backbeat strum, fun only the even beats : that is, beats 2 and 4. Another backbeat can be achieved by leaving all the downbeats out and only playing the upstrokes, or ands .
A little more complicated is the “ doo wack-a do ” strum. On beats 1 and 3 you do a light, partial derivative down strum, merely brushing the fourthly string, then you give a solid accented down strum on the even beats, and play the up beat afterwards. If you were counting it out, it would go like this : one two and three four and one two and three four and. Or down down up down gloomy up, or do wack-a do wack-a do…
due to copyright restrictions, we are unable to post notation or tablature for this musical influence. If you have a digital or forcible copy of the fall 2019 issue, you will find the music on foliate 18 .

Make Music

Using the chords in our starter tamp down, you can play thousands of songs. in truth ! Ask friends in your newfound uke community for their favorites, or search for your own on-line. You are hook ! Spread the rejoice and share this example with person you love. Play along to the video recording above, because music is always more fun when you play with friends !
The Ukulele Owner’s Manual is the book that belongs in every uke player ’ mho instrument case. Each chapter was written by the experts and performers at Ukulele Magazine, with topics ranging from commonsense musical instrument care to fixing rattles and buzzes to a pictorial history of the instrument. Book owners can besides download how-to videos with bit-by-bit guidance on common set-up and maintenance topics .

Ukulele Basics – Learning and Practicing includes lessons from some of the lead names of the uke-teaching world including Jim Beloff, Heidi Swedberg, Sarah Maisel, Craig Chee, Jim D ’ Ville and Cathy Fink. These top teachers parcel crucial tips on everything from optimum commit habits to tuning with your ears and reading music .

Reading music for uke is slowly ! Download our FREE flat coat on uke notation, covering all of the notational aspects you ’ ll typically find on these pages, for any type of uke .

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