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Reading Music on Ukulele Series - The Basics

by Curt Sheller, Curt Sheller Publications

The first step in learning to read is to first recognize the notes on the staff and know where on the fingerboard they are located. Knowing the name is also a beneficial skill.


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Note Recognition

notes_heads

Music uses a five line staff with four spaces and the first seven letters of the alphabet ( A, B, C, D, E, F, and G ) to names notes. Notes can fall on the lines and spaces of the staff and above and below the staff. Additional lines called ledger lines are added for notes above and below the staff.

The ukulele uses the treble or G clef.

The Lines and Spaces of the Staff

FACE_EGBDF

The lines are named, starting with the bottom line, E G B D and F. This has been traditionally remembered as Every Good Boy Does Fine. Other popular nemonics include Empty Garbage Before Dad Flips,

The spaces are named, starting with the bottom space and going up, F A C and E. This spells "face".

Practice reading and writing these notes.

There are two notes that fall directly above and below the staff. There are D and G. D is the first space below the staff and the G is the first space above the staff.

Sharps, Flats and Naturals - Accidentals

accidentals_sharp_flat_naturalThe Sharp(), flat() and natural() symbol always appear to the left of and before the note. Just say the sharp, flat or natural after the letter name of the note. C sharp, B flat, F natural, E flat, etc...

The sharp raise the pitch of a note 1/2 step or semitone.

The flat lowers the pitch of a note 1/2 step or semitone.

The natural return a previously sharped or flatted note to it's original "natural" note.

Learn the recognize these sharp, flat and natural notes. Where to play them on the ukulele will come after learning the locations of the natural notes.

For more information on whole step and half steps visit this lessons page on the The Chromatic Scale

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Ledger Lines

leger_lines

Ledger lines are small lines that appear above or below the staff. These extend the range of notes above or below the staff. The ukulele will use one or two ledger lines below the staff depending on the tuning you use. C tuning uses one ledger line below and a C tuning with a low G uses two ledger lines below.

cs_yo.png

More music notation basics coming soon!!!
This should be enough to get you started.

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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

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