SALE: Forever Site Access Memberhip for $149 $279 Get It Today! • An Annual Membershop is $81 a year. • Live Streaming Every Thursday 11AM EDT (-4 UTC)

News

Ukulele

Lessons

Series

Songs

Books

Videos

Ukes

Calendar

Access

Search

Fest 2020

About

Jazz Ukulele - Technique

Yes! You can play jazz on a ukulele!!!

What is Technique?

cartoon_hand_RHMusical technique is simply the physical aspect of playing a musical instrument. The ability to exert efficient, optimal control in order to produce the precise musical effects that are desired. Improving one's technique generally entails practicing exercises that improve one's muscular sensitivity and agility. Technique is independent of musicality.

To play the guitar or ukulele effectively, your fingers need strength, agility, flexibility and coordination.

Here's Wikipedia's definition of Technique:

Technique is the physical control and coordination needed to play an instrument or sing. It involves position, efficiency of motion and effort, as well as exercises to develop specific skills.
WidipediA link

Technique

Technique is the physical side of the instrument. Beginning with fundamentals like fingering hand position. Technique is pretty mucj style agnostic and transferable to a wide range of styles and genres.

For guitar one aspect is using a pick, the pick hold and the picking motion.

Fingerstyle on the ukulele and guitar can and should also be explored.

Strength, independence, coordination, and endurance need to be developed for both the right and left hand, regardless whether using a pick or fingerstyle or the hybrid technique of pick and fingers.

All aspects of the right hand and the left hand technique can be developed through a series of graduated exercises to develop this strength, independence, coordination, and endurance. The mechanical emphasis is just the beginning. Once you have a grip on the physical skills, you graduate into a musical technique. Scales, arpeggios, intervals and sequences are all explored through the six essential fingering principles. The goal of these studies is to give you the control you need to play what you hear.

No Movement - No Sound

cartoon_hand_RHThe right hand, for right hand players and left hand for left hand players, is responsible for getting the strings moving – No movement - no sound.

Strings can be plucked, picked, strummed and any combination of the same to get the strings moving.

Pick up your ukulele and finger a C chord. Nothing happens until you get the strings moving. Everybody sounds the same until they get the strings moving.

An interviewer once told the great guitarist, Chet Atkins. “That guitar sounds great”. Chet put the guitar down and then asked “How's it sound now?”

Initially my fingerstyle technique was limited to Bossa Nova style accompaniment using the technique I learned as a jazz guitarist. It wasn't until I started developing my concert repertoire for ukulele that I really started exploring legit fingerstyle technique. With 20 plus years as a private guitar, bass and ukulele teacher, and up to 60 students a week at times. I know the value of dedicated practice when it comes to learning a specific instrument techniques.

So I set out to explore fingerstyle and incorporate in to my playing repertoire.

Fingerpicking can be organized into two styles:

  • Alternating Thumb Style — a strumming style that utilizes the thumb and two fingers. on guitar it's called Travis Picking and on banjo it's Scruggs Style
  • Classical Guitar Technique — uses the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers. The traditional p i m a classical guitar technique.

Left Hand

cartoon_hand_LHThe Left Hand is the fretting hand, responsible for fingering notes and chords on the fingerboard.

The names of the left hand fingers are identified using the Arabic numbers: 1 2 3 4. For guitar and ukulele the thumb doesn't count as it's main role is in support of the fingers applying an opposite and equal motion to the fingers.

Right Hand

cartoon_handThe Right Hand is responsible for plucking or strumming the strings. Either using a pick, fingers or a combination of a both pick and fingers.

If you're studying classical guitar these would be initial p i m a of their corresponding Spanish names. We're not so we'll use the English initials thumb, index, middle ring, pinky

Technique Lessons

Here are all the lessons tagged covering technique on Learning Ukulele with Curt.

Advanced Single Note Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Jan 4, 2016

To develop strong and independent left hand technique these series of graduated drills or finger gymnastics will increase your the comfort zone of usable technique.

This lesson expands basic single string drills using multiple strings.

Developing finger strength and independence will allow your to explore your full musical potential. This will able your to explore more challenging musical situations.

Basic Single Note Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Sep 30, 2010

Basic one, two, three and four note single string drills for ukulele for developing finger strength and independence.

It's critical a player develop the finger strength and independence to explore their full musical potential. By developing a great fingerboard hand, you will be able to explore more challenging musical situations.

To develop this great technique there is a series of graduated drills or finger gymnastics/exercises that allows you to play at higher and higher levels, as well as increase your comfort zone of usable technique.

Four Finger-Four Note Basic Single String Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Mar 20, 2020

To play the ukulele effectively, your fingers need physical strength, agility, flexibility and coordination. This four finger-four note drill is designed to get your hands in shape. These exercises work no matter what style of ukulele you play or want to play.

Fingerstyle on `Ukulele - Single and Multi String Exploration • Updated: Oct 17, 2011

Exploring fingerstyle on ukulele. This lesson covers the common terms used for identifing the fingers used. And, presents a series of single and multi-string exercises for exploring and developing the techniques needed for this style.

`Ukulele String Combinations • Updated: Mar 22, 2012

All possible one, two, three, and four string combinations on ukulele. Used for single note technique, fingerpicking, harmonic intervals, and chord string families.

Chord Switching - Double Stops • Updated: Apr 27, 2014

Switching chords are all about finger independence and working together. This can be developed using the double stop fingering drills presented in this lesson.

double stop is a term borrowed from violin technique where you are stopping two strings or two notes - an interval.

Double Stop Chordal Drills

These series of drills develop finger independence and finger co-operation in pairs. The term double stop is borrowed from the violin string family and simply means that two notes are stopped and sound together.

Proper Fretting Hand Placement • Updated: Feb 7, 2020

Efficiency is the key to technique. This lesson shows the proper finger and thumb placement for the fretting hand.

Three Finger-Three Note Basic Single String Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Jan 24, 2013

To play the ukulele effectively, your fingers need physical strength, agility, flexibility and coordination. This three finger-three note drill is designed to get your fretting hand in shape.

Two Finger-Two Note Basic Single String Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Jan 17, 2020

To play the ukulele effectively, your fingers need physical strength, agility, flexibility and coordination. This two finger-two note drill is designed to get your hands in shape. These exercises work no matter what style of ukulele you play or want to play.

One Finger-One Note Basic Single String Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: May 17, 2019

To play the ukulele effectively, your fingers need physical strength, agility, flexibility and coordination. This one finger-one note drill is designed to get your fretting hand in shape.

Repeating Note - Four Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 1-2-1-2 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lesson starts with the finger combination 1-2.

Repeating Note Single String Fingering Drills • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with a repeating note or two. This series of lessons although the examples are shown for ukulele are appropriate for any fretted string instrument like guitar, banjo or mandolin.

Repeating Note - Four Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 1-3-1-2 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 1-3-1-2.

Repeating Note - Four Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 1-4-1-2 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 1-4-1-2.

Repeating Note - Four Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 2-3-1-2 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 2-3-1-2.

Repeating Note - Four Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 2-4-1-2 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 2-4-1-2.

Repeating Note - Four Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 3-4-1-3 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 3-4-1-3.

Repeating Note - Four Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 2-1-1-2 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 2-1-1-2.

Repeating Note - Four Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 3-1-1-2 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 3-1-1-2.

Repeating Note - Four Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 4-1-1-2 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 4-1-1-2.

Repeating Note - Four Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 3-2-1-2 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 3-2-1-2

Repeating Note - Four Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 4-2-1-2 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 4-2-1-2.

Repeating Note - Five Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 1-2-1-2-3 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 1-2-1-2-3.

Repeating Note - Five Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 1-3-1-2-3 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 1-3-1-2-3.

Repeating Note - Five Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 1-4-1-2-3 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 1-4-1-2-3.

Repeating Note - Five Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 2-3-1-2-3 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 2-3-1-2-3.

Repeating Note - Five Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 2-4-1-2-3 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 2-4-1-2-3.

Repeating Note - Five Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 3-4-1-2-3 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 3-4-1-2-3.

Repeating Note - Five Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 2-1-1-2-3 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 2-1-1-2-3.

Repeating Note - Five Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 3-1-1-2-3 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 3-1-1-2-3.

Repeating Note - Five Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 4-1-1-2-3 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 4-1-1-2-3.

Repeating Note - Five Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 3-2-1-2-3 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 3-2-1-2-3.

Repeating Note - Five Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 4-2-1-2-3 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 4-2-1-2-3.

Repeating Note - Five Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 4-3-1-2-3 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 4-3-1-2-3.

Repeating Note - Four Note, Single String Fingering Drills Starting with Fingers 4-3-1-3 • Updated: Feb 26, 2013

Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with a repeating note or two. This lessons starts with the finger combination 4-3-1-3.

Open String, Two Finger Single Strings Fingering Drills • Updated: Mar 10, 2013

Using the original two finger-two notes single strings gymnastics, incorporate an open string. This develops the ability to get the finger on and off notes rapidly - getting out of the way when needed.

Open String, Two Finger Single Strings Fingering Drills • Updated: Mar 10, 2013

Using the original two finger-two notes single strings gymnastics, incorporate an open string. This develops the ability to get the finger on and off notes rapidly - getting out of the way when needed.

Four Finger, Single Note, Single String Gymnastic Variations • Updated: Dec 26, 2014

All the basic single string one, two, three and four finger gymnastics can be revisited and variations created by moving note to higher strings. Rhythmic variation are also possible.

This lesson takes the original four finger-four notes single string gymnastics and creates adjacent string variations.

Fingering Gymnastics - a.k.a. Fingering Drills Introduction • Updated: Dec 18, 2018

Ukulele Gymnastics series contains quite a few lessons for developing your finger strength and independence of the fretting hand. The fretting hand is responsible for playing chords and single notes. The fretting hand and plucking hand are responsible for getting the music out.

Adjacent String Pairs Fingering Drills • Updated: Mar 9, 2017

Building on the one, two, three and four finger finger gymnastics, these adjacent strings drills add a change of direction to the exercises.

Developing Your Finger One Barre • Updated: Jun 11, 2019

The ability to place a single finger across more than one string, a “barre” is an essential technique for chords as well single notes and double stops.

Fingerpicking on Ukulele - Alternating Thumb Style • Updated: Jan 23, 2020

The Alternating Thumb Style lessons are in their own section and book .

Two Finger Slide Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Jul 23, 2013

Slide is used when the passage can not be played within a single 4 fret span or when more notes per string are needed to produce a particular effect. It’s also used in situations where a gradually ascending or descending diagonal motion best solves the physical and musical demands of the passage.

The following two finger gymnastics will aide in the development of the physical skills to effectively incorporate the slide fingering principle into your playing.

Three Finger Slide Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Jul 23, 2013

Slide is used when the passage can not be played within a single 4 fret span or when more notes per string are needed to produce a particular effect. It’s also used in situations where a gradually ascending or descending diagonal motion best solves the physical and musical demands of the passage.

The following three finger gymnastics will aide in the development of the physical skills to effectively incorporate the slide fingering principle into your playing.

Two Finger Pass Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Jul 23, 2013

Pass maximizes the number of notes per string, making the timbre consistent. It’s used to move up or down the neck to cope with a passage in which the range is unusually large. The pass provides an effective way to move straight up the first string. It’s particularly useful in developing 3 octave fingerings and in playing melodies with an adjacent drone stringy.

The two finger pass gymnastics in this lesson will aide in the development of the physical skills to effectively incorporate the pass fingering principle into your playing.

Four Finger Slide Fingering Drills for Ukulele • Updated: Jun 23, 2014

Slide is used when the passage can not be played within a single 4 fret span or when more notes per string are needed to produce a particular effect. It’s also used in situations where a gradually ascending or descending diagonal motion best solves the physical and musical demands of the passage.

The following four finger gymnastics will aide in the development of the physical skills to effectively incorporate the slide fingering principle into your playing.

Fingerpicking for Ukulele - Getting Started • Updated: Jun 20, 2019

There are two distinctly different fingerpicking styles.

One is the Alternating Thumb style commonly called Travis Picking in the guitar world and Scruggs Style in the banjo world. Both named after the most famous musicians that made the style famous.

Second is the Classical (pima) style most associated with classical guitar that involves the thumb and three fingers.

This focus of this series is on the second, classical style.

How To Use Metronome • Updated: Jun 11, 2019

A metronome is a device that produces an audible click or other sound at a regular interval that can be set by the user, typically in beats per minute (BPM)

Guitar (applies to `Ukulele also) Fingering and Creativity • Updated: Jan 8, 2016

This is a guest lesson/article by internationally renowned jazz guitarist and educator Chuck Anderson

Normally, we think of fingering as a technical subject. Using a good and efficient fingering makes sense. It should make anything that you play easier and more dependable. It has value to the reading guitarist because the guitar fingerboard is a treacherous trap of options. The same notes are in too many places. The same C note is on string two, fret one and string three, fret five and string four, fret ten and string five, fret fifteen. Unlike the piano which has one location for each note, the guitar compounds the problem with too many options and then throws in open strings to further confuse the issue. When reading is positional and stays within a four fret region, it’s much easier to read. However, writers and arrangers don’t attempt to stay within a four fret region of the guitar. They typically do not know or care about the guitar’s fingering option issues.

Essential `Ukulele Strums - A Guide to `Ukulele Strums • Updated: Feb 24, 2016

One of the first skills a ukulele player learns is the art and craft of strumming, playing rhythm. This refers to an accompaniment technique suitable for the singer - songwriter or someone who plays a support role for another instrument.

Strumming requires a specific set of skills. They are 1) Memorization of chords 2) The ability to switch chords smoothly and 3) The ability to choose and execute a suitable rhythmic strum. It is this 3rd skill that is our focus of this “A Guide to Ukulele Strums” lesson.

Though strumming looks natural to the casual observer, it’s anything but natural to the beginning ukulele player. Even experienced players have difficulty in identifying and executing certain strums. Though this is one of those topics that is typically taken for granted, there is much to learn about rhythmic feels, accents, dynamics, strum direction, feel, percussive accents, idiomatic styles and tempo variation.

Reading Music - The Basics • Updated: Feb 27, 2016

Music is a common language used world wide and recognized by musicians in lots of different countries even speaking different languages.

This lessons gives a basic understanding on how to read a lead shot, song sheet, chord chart, etc...

Technique • Updated: Apr 5, 2019

Technique is the manner and degree to which one employs the technical skills of an endeavor.

For ukulele or any instrument the use of the hands, It's the motor skills and the efficient application of the motor skills for the specific tasks that are need and required.

First `Ukulele Lesson • Updated: Sep 22, 2016

This is a scan of a typical first lesson that ALL students new to the ukulele might get in one of my private one-on-one lessons. View the full lesson for my notes and my comments on what doesn't make it on every the sheet. There's a lot of that goes on in an individual private lesson and is different from student to student.

Site Access Plans for LearningUkulele.com

Forever Access - With Forever Premium Access, you get Unlimited 24/7 access to ALL lessons, downloads, songs, play-along jam tracks, videos, email access to Curt, resources, related assets, and ALL books by Curt as FREE downloads. Pretty much everything on the site and NEVER worry about a subscription or surprise payment again. And jump the queue for responding to any questions.

If your anything like me (Curt) and getting Subscription overload with everything on-line wanting money from you once a month — I'm with you. For like-minded individuals, this forever plan is a pay once and your done.

The price for Unlimited Forever access is right around the cost of a few months of private lessons. I can guarantee that is more material on-line to keep you busy for a long, long time. And, you get all of my books for FREE. That along is more than the cost of this plan.

Premium Access - This premium gives you Unlimited 24/7 access to ALL lessons, downloads, songs, play-along jam tracks, videos, email access to Curt, resources and related assets. As well as ALL books by Curt Sheller as FREE downloads.

Basic Access - A limited selection of basic lessons — ( currently over 140 ) and 100+ songs for ukulele as well as basic general music reference material — Completely FREE — Simply Register/Signup. HOWEVER - I've been doing ukulele and LearningUkulele.com since 2003 and probably have given too much away already - as reflected in my income from the site in relationship to the time spent on the site. So help support this site and its continued development by signing up for one of the below Premium Access Plans or buy a few of my books. - Thanks, Curt

NOTE: Each higher access level includes ALL the benefits of the lower levels. Private Lessons include all the benefits of a Premium Access Plans as long as you remain a student on the schedule.

Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books!Peter Rhee

Aloha, Curt, All I can say is WOW! What you have accomplished is simply incredible! All the bestGlen Hirabayashi, The Aloha Boys

Folks, if you haven't stopped by Curt's site, do so right now! ..And get his books, they are fantastic. This guy knows his stuff and is able to pass it along too.Alan Johnson Proprietor, The 4th Peg

I can highly recommend Curt's Uke books — I have four of them and they are excellent.fatveg — Portland

Thanks for visiting and checking out the site!

curtieAnim.gif

Original Curtie Animation from 1987 for my first web site on a Macintosh II.
33 years ago.

“Built for myself (Curt), and sharing with the `Ukulele community!”

LearningUkulele.com has one of the largest collections of lessons, songs, and TABS, luthiers, ukulele builders, ukulele festival and club information, and, ukulele links on the web. I’ve been on the ®Internet since the early 1990's and This site just never stops growing!!!

Content is added and updated almost daily - so check back often.